Reading books issue

(17 Posts)
DottyDetective Tue 12-Nov-19 06:54:33

My DD is in Year1. She’s generally happy in school. She is very good at reading- picked up phonics very well and finished reception reading pretty fluently. She now reads several short chapters books a week independently (think Naughtiest little sister/Isadora Moon types). She loves them and can tell us all about the stories.

She’s still being sent home with Biff and Chip style books which she rattles through and pronounces “boring”. I’ve mentioned on occasion that she says it’s too easy but this generally gets a note back saying she’s very able but they’d keep observing. Since she’s reading a very varied selection at home this isn’t something I’ve been worried about particularly but DD is starting to get upset about still being on the same level (turquoise). We have done work testing her comprehension of the stories and she understands them, reads with expression etc.

How would you broach this topic with the teacher at the upcoming parents evening? I was quite bored in primary school and never felt stretched- I don’t want the same happening to her.

OP’s posts: |
Awkward1 Tue 12-Nov-19 10:21:01

It could be they dont want them to move up too quickly due to wanting to show progress.
I feel dc1 had this. They were reading very well start of yr 1. But on band 7.
Honestly no sudden improvement and start of yr 2 free reader.

LetItGoToRuin Tue 12-Nov-19 10:41:13

The only reason I can think of that she might be sent home with turquoise books might be if they match the level of phonics they are teaching right now in class, and the teacher wants to be certain that all the children understand it fully. I would have thought the teacher would be able to tell in class which children 'get it' though.

I wouldn't be too worried about her rarely reading her book to anyone at school, unless it is upsetting her. Just keep doing what you're doing, and religiously recording it in her reading record, and reassure her that the reason she doesn't get to read to someone much is because she does so well with her reading at home, and some children need extra practice.

I would broach the subject at parents evening pretty much as you've put it in your original post. If the teacher is still determined on the 'watch and wait' approach, I would explain about your childhood experience and say that, reluctantly, you'll need to take things into your own hands and progress her reading yourself, as the school has chosen not to engage. I wouldn't kick up too much fuss about it though - with a school with this attitude, you're likely to have bigger battles in the future.

brilliotic Tue 12-Nov-19 11:47:14

"The only reason I can think of that she might be sent home with turquoise books might be if they match the level of phonics they are teaching right now in class, and the teacher wants to be certain that all the children understand it fully."

This is highly unlikely though, if she is being given turquoise Chip Biff & Kipper books. Those books are not matched to any phonics teaching.

DD is in Y1 as well and made huge progress in reading over the summer, so is now well ahead of the phonics teaching at school. Basically she has worked out the phonetic code (the part that hadn't been taught yet) herself, with some support by me obviously, but no direct /systematic teaching.
I didn't mind at all her being on 'blue' books at school, as these matched the current phonics teaching at school and I figured it was good for her to have that systematic teaching of the phonics she had figured out, and books to match what she had been taught that week. Despite the books being 'too easy'. But these were phonics books designed especially to practise the spellings of sounds she had been learning at school right then.
Unfortunately somebody seems to have noticed that she was finding those books easy, and she has been moved onto green and non-phonics books. She is liking them for now - the first magic key stories start here, she gets her weekly three books on a Monday and reads them all in one (fairly quick) go, she likes the adventures.
However as a parent I notice that the language is incredibly simple, and repetitive. It is WAY simpler than her blue stage phonics books were. You can really tell how the books are designed for learning words by repetition and memorising.
So she is still having books that are much 'too easy' for her, but no longer getting any benefit in terms of phonics.
My strategy is going to be to let her read those books for as long as she keeps enjoying them, because enjoyment of reading is hugely important, and I don't care what she reads or how easy it is as long as she is associating reading with fun. At the same time I will be supplementing with Dandelion Reader books. These are short (6 pages) but intense bursts of phonics, and I can match them to exactly what they are working on at school right now, plus they cover some stuff school don't. And meanwhile I will be introducing her to some other reading material, in the hope that her enjoyment of reading can mature onto stuff that I find more interesting too, not just her. I guess I won't be able to avoid the dreaded Rainbow Fairies on the way though!

OP the school might have all kinds of reasons for keeping her on turquoise, many of them not good reasons at all. Chances are they won't change their approach though . I would consider carefully what you want. You are worried about 'stretch'. But are reading books really where you want your DD to be stretched? I want reading to be something my children associate with fun, not hard or challenging. Something they enjoy. The books they read should not be chosen for maximising their learning, but for maximising their enjoyment. Stretch is important too, but not in reading books, not once you 'can read'. If you want stretch and challenge, you could let your DD do for 10 minutes every day or some such. (We did this with DS when he was in Y1, it is very systematic work on reading comprehension, within four months or so the little-and-often approach got his reading comprehension to the level of a 10-year-old and from then our only issue with reading has been finding large numbers of interesting/enjoyable, but yet age-appropriate books for him.)

I wouldn't have much hope for anything much from school though. Maybe what you can achieve is that they acknowledge your DD's ability, and, if you are lucky, that they don't make her read school books as long as she is reading widely at home. Maybe you could start the conversation by mentioning how a) they are not at the right level, and b) they are so boring that they are putting her off reading. And surely that is not the intention?

Ridingthegravytrain Tue 12-Nov-19 12:33:02

Some schools are just like this. I’ve given up asking for benchmarking now. My y1 child has been on gold since May and read all the gold books the school has. I informed the teacher only to be told she should read them again.

We just do our own thing now and record everything in her reading record as she finds the reading scheme so boring.

Blueshadow Tue 12-Nov-19 21:52:00

Read a page of the school book each. Then let her read some of your own home selection out loud to you. That way you can help her with any difficult vocabulary.

Windowboxgardener Tue 12-Nov-19 22:39:17

We had this, and moved school because of it.
No greater educational crime, IMO, than putting a keen five year old off reading.


jellyjellyinmybelly Wed 13-Nov-19 05:25:51

My daughter is exactly the same, reading pippi Longstocking etc, good comprehension, year 1. She's a free reader at school (since Oct half term in reception). . Bizarrely she was sent home with much more interesting books last year in reception, this year it's variable and she tells me sometimes she isn't allowed to go to the bigger kids library area (think it's a logistical thing as it's inconsistent). What we do is write a book review of the books that school give her in her reading record eg It was nice when the girl shared her chocolate. 4/10 as it wasn't very exciting..

Or little jelly gave it 1/10 as nothing happened in the story.

Biff chip etc is awful though, you have my sympathies. At parents evening you could ask for them to either provide phonics at her level (mastery level type books which they won't have - research the options before you go) or go to free reader. That way you seem reasonable but both options are OK. Like negotiating with a toddler!!

Be prepared for them to tell you she needs to work on her comprehension! Even though she doesn't... For my daughter it's obvious that she's reading with expression eg singing voice if it says singing, so she's scanning ahead and comprehending the words ahead of time. Can answer questions on what she's read eg Roald Dahl. Chapter stories make her laugh and cry. Yet at parents evening they parrot to work on comprehension... I think teacher just doesn't believe a 6 year old can read so well.

Has yours discovered the hideous rainbow fairy books yet?

MrssusT Wed 13-Nov-19 08:54:41

Let the school do their thing (they will run out of reading scheme books by year 3 and hopefully next year's classteacher will be better...) and keep your daughter's reading up to speed at home instead, by picking books to read for pleasure and books that she is interested in. There are some great books for year 1 on this site.

gran75 Wed 13-Nov-19 09:32:35

In English, parents play as big a part in teaching reading as teachers Perhaps even a bigger part. You are clearly doing very well by your DD. So why not just keep helping to enjoy reading and ignore the books she brings home?

modgepodge Wed 13-Nov-19 19:59:22

Ok - honestly. As a teacher it’s extremely hard to read with every child every week (5 mins per child = 2.5 hours spent doing nothing but 1:1 reading). Often it’s TAs or even volunteer parents doing the reading but they may not have the ‘authority’ to move a child up. Focus is often on weak readers and those who don’t read at home; often able kids who are heard regularly at home can go a few weeks without being heard by the teacher.

It’s possible therefore that the teacher hasn’t realised how able they are. Go in nicely and politely, but I’d insist they listen to her and push to get her moved up.

DottyDetective Wed 13-Nov-19 23:12:40

Thanks everyone- I don’t have a problem with her reading easy books at school as such- I just don’t like to see her getting upset about not progressing. She is desperate to please, loves to read and the books are very boring when she is more capable! She keeps saying the teacher thinks she isn’t clever enough which isn’t nice to hear. I keep reassuring her that she can read whatever she likes at home and not to worry about the levels.

Jelli we get the same singsong voice when she’s reading the school books, and I can’t get her to stop talking about the books she loves to read!

I’m happy that she loves to read and enjoys it- I just recall at school myself finding it very disheartening when any academic achievement was downplayed and progress discouraged for the sake of keeping the class at the same level. I want her to keep enjoying school!

OP’s posts: |
CripsSandwiches Thu 14-Nov-19 15:56:29

I just don’t like to see her getting upset about not progressing.

While that's understandable your focus shouldn't be on insisting she moves up book bands so she isn't upset it should be on building her resilience and encouraging her to think of reading as an incredible enjoyable part of life not a competitive performance to be evaluated. As she goes through school they'll be times she doesn't make the progress she wants and the earliest you can focus on effort not achievement the better.

brilliotic Thu 14-Nov-19 19:12:52

Also, she IS progressing. Don't fall into the trap of measuring progress by movement through book bands. And don't let her think the aim of her efforts is to 'move up a band' (or even, be ahead of her friends or some such). She is reading and practising to a) become a better reader, and b) enjoy those books.
At a different school she might be on a different book band, that wouldn't mean she was a better/worse reader! Don't let her think she isn't making progress unless she is moving up bands.

DottyDetective Thu 14-Nov-19 20:26:57

I’m honestly far from pushy (though I know it might not seem like it) we don’t discuss colours or bands at all. She just wants her teacher to know what she can do- she’s at an age where she wants to impress.

We go to the library and she chooses books every weekend and she saves her pocket money to buy books. I have no worries about her love of reading- I have worries about her enjoyment of school!

OP’s posts: |
CripsSandwiches Thu 14-Nov-19 20:55:28

I totally get it - I don't think you're necessarily pushy. When they're just starting to read and they've finally got it and can read well you're proud and they're proud and lots of people want recognition for that but I do think you should encourage her not to worry about having it praised at school or acknowledged via her reading band. Being able to read is great because you can pick out a book and read it to yourself - that's the reward! If she wants a bit of encouragement maybe give her an extra 10 minutes of reading time after her normal bedtime but I would definitely steer her away fro wanting too much recognition or being too invested in achievements relative to her peers at school.

Vanillaradio Wed 20-Nov-19 16:32:24

We are having pretty much the same. My year 1 ds is an able reader, reads Roald Dahl, and chapter books etc independently, yet is still given Level 5 Biff and Chip which he is finding incredibly boring. He was put on to Level 5 towards the end of reception but hasn't been moved up since!
I've broached the subject a couple of times with the teacher but not getting anywhere! Like others am being told that it's about comprehension, well he does comprehend and is able to recount and discuss the story, guess what might happen next etc on books that are a bit more difficult than Buff and Chip have an adventure with the magic key!
Ds doesn't seem particularly bothered about the levels and constantly has his nose stuck in more challenging books so I'm leaving it for now. But I am slightly concerned that whilst last year he would grab his reading book out of his bag the second he got in the door, he's not particularly interested in the books from school now. Like you I want him to think school is fun and not boring!!

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