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Another Parents Evening question - Pushy vs Supportive

16 replies

Moomin · 11/11/2007 11:24

This is probably an old chestnut, but the reading books dd1 is bringing home are just not stretching her. She's in Y1. She and another boy in her class are already on the scheme ahead of others in her class and I think this is their 'nod' to her being good at reading. However at home she's reading books like Horrid Henry and The Twits very fluently.

We've got P.Eve this week and I want to bring it up with her teachers. Would it be seen as pushy or unnecessary to ask why she couldn't move up another level in the reading scheme when she could clearly cope with it? She was put on the G&T register last year for her literacy (which is by the by - I'm a teacher myself albeit secondary so I know that G&T isn't the be all and end all by any means) but could this be used as a lever to suggest a bit more stretching? We write comments in her reading record every night along the lines of 'A lovely book which dd1 read easily' but maybe our hints have been a bit gentle!

Do they have to go through every single book in each stage to 'prove' they are at that level, or can they skip levels if they can cope? and I don't want to imply the teachers aren't doing their jobs properly, so how do I go about it?

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cadelaide · 11/11/2007 11:41

I'd mention it, if she wants to move up a level.

scienceteacher · 11/11/2007 11:44

My instinct on this one would be to leave it. If you know she is being stretched at home, then the same doesn't have to happen at school. At the end of the day, she is growing in her reading abilities. She might be happy with easy books herself, as a confidence booster and encourager. Has she complained about being bored?

What would be concerning would be if the teacher didn't know that your DD was a capable reader.

I think you can probably talked candidly of your concerns with the teacher, especially since you are a teacher yourself.

NKF · 11/11/2007 11:47

I think there is often a gap between school and home reading. Partly it's because those reading schemes are often used to work with some specific aspect of literacy eg punctuation or reading with expression. Or it's linked to some writing work. I think there's no harm in telling the teacher what your daughter is reading at home.

wheresthehamster · 11/11/2007 11:49

Reading every book in a level is a lazy way of assessing reading and getting to the end doesn't prove they are ready to move up anyway.

Does your dd have guided reading/one to one every week with the teacher? This should be when the teacher decides whether children are reading at the right level. I would ask what your dd needs to improve on in her reading to move up. It could be things like comprehension or attending to punctuation etc.

pigsinmud · 11/11/2007 11:53

At ds2's school they are assessed when it it is thought they are ready to move up. They are given a new story and have to get 95% of it correct. Then answer questions about it. I know a few parents who have complained that their child is not on a higher level and have been told they can choose books from any colour box, but they will not officially be on the next level until 95% of test is correct.

As scienceteacher says it doesn't really matter - she can read the school book quickly and then move on to her home book. Ds1 could read fluently, sounding very knowledgeable, but didn't have a clue what was going on in the story when questioned

scienceteacher · 11/11/2007 11:53

I was thinking that too, NKF. Fluent readers still need to learn the mechanics of punctuation, or be able to identify certain writing techniques.

Freckle · 11/11/2007 11:58

We had this with DS1 when he started infant school. I kept putting hints in his contact book, very much along the same lines as you have. It took dh writing something very bald and direct for the teacher to take action. She was clearly aware of his ability because she moved him that day from level 3 to level 7.

So I would say be direct and don't pussyfoot around. Who cares if she thinks you're pushy? You know that you aren't and schools are lucky when parents take such an interest in their child's education. There are so many out there who don't.

roisin · 11/11/2007 12:25

I would definitely leave it - it really doesn't matter.

Case study 1: ds1 - very fluent reader in yr1
Teacher didn't have good, efficient routines for changing books and ds1 was assessed on an inappropriately low level.
Consequence: he had to read only 2 short school books per wk.
Result: It effectively gave us, his parents, control over developing his reading. We spent out time and efforts at home reading all sorts of books together, and him reading on independently.
By the end of yr1 he was reading independently things like Lion, Witch & wardrobe, the Hobbit, the Railway children, etc.

Case study 2: ds2 - very fluent reader in yr1
Teacher had very efficient routines, books were changed every day if they'd been read, and ds2 was on rather more appropriate level for his ability (i.e. free readers - small paperbacks).
Consequence: All his reading time was spent on 'school' books, and he had not time, energy, or enthusiasm to look at books from home.
Result: Ds1 is now 8 (yr4) and does not do much reading for pleasure. And is reluctant to tackle anything 'challenging'. For instance he has never read any of the 3 books above, which ds2 read at 5; and many other books besides.

Moomin · 11/11/2007 15:13

Fair point roisin.
Dd1 isn't reading one-to-one to anyone on a weekly basis though according to her; it's more 'as and when' (which I do understand to a certain extent - she doesn't need as much support as others in her class and so I think she is being left to her own devices some of the time; but that doesn't mean I agree with it). And it wasn't until she decided she wanted to read to me and dh at home a couple of weeks ago that we realised just how fluent she is. She reads with expression and I (as an English teacher) am satisfied that her comprehension of content and the way writing is put together for effect is very good. She comments on how punctuation is used and the more challenging books are really stimulating her at the moment. Therefore, I'm fairly sure that her teachers won't have a full idea of where she's at really.

I'm not really that fussed about 'stretching' her hugely, so that reading becomes more difficult, just to test how far she can go; more that the books that she is reading from school are really not that interesting as far as content goes. They are quite short and concentrate on word sounds and simplistic narratives, which is brilliant for reading every so often and also great for encouraging beginners to reading, but not really where dd1 is 'at' right now. I'd rather the books she read matched her abilities at the very least. She's not bored at the moment, and dd1 is not the sort of child that will kick up a fuss if she's bored; so in that ways she might slip under the radar a bit.

I totally understand where you're coming from in finding a home/school balance in the books that she reads, but I do think that books in a level or two up will have subject matter that she will actually enjoy more and will represent a wider range of the books we have at home at the moment. School will have access to hundreds more books than we have and if she starts finding genres, authors and stories that she likes, we can support this at home by adding to our own collection of books and those we get from the library.

I'm just conscious though that I might come across as trying to tell them their job at P.Eve. I don't think I'm being pushy, I just want dd1 to be stimulated. And I think if she has an aptitude in something she deserves to be recognised for it (otherwsie how can they justify putting her on the blinkin G&T register?)

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Moomin · 11/11/2007 15:15

Realise my comment about reading to me and dh sounded like we've never heard her read aloud to us before! Of course we have but not from a book like Horrid Henry - it's ususally her school books, and we read more challenging books to her at bedtime.

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Freckle · 11/11/2007 15:20

The worry for me, given the books she is allocated by the teacher, would be what else is happening at school. Is everything "dumbed down" for her because it's easier to do that so that she just fits in with the rest of the class? Very often the only clue we have as to how our children's abilities are treated in school is the work they bring home. If her reading books are below her ability, is the work she does in school below it too?

Moomin · 11/11/2007 16:09

Yes, have thought about that to be honest. She doesn't get homework as such in Y1 (not yet anyway), just reading and learning 5 spellings from the Year 1&2 words (which she also knows already). I have thought about suggesting she gets maybe 10 words a week instead of 5, but not sure whether this upsets their 'programme'. But there again, not every child is given spellings so they're all at different stages: it wouldn't matter therefore if she did have extra spellings would it?

I was a wee bit p*d off the other week with something. We took her to London over half term for a day sight-seeing. When we got back she wanted to write about it so I printed off some photos with space to write about each one, thinking she'd just write a caption maybe for each one. Instead she sat and wrote a paragraph for each of the 8 photos- some she asked for spellings for, some she improvised with, and so not all spellings were correct but I really didn't worry about it. The content was fab and really thoughtful (e.g. next to photo from London Eye: "Look how high up we were! The people below look like ants." etc)

So I out the paper into an A4 wallet folder and she took it in for Show and Tell. The day she did it I asked her how it had gone. She said it was fine and she had enjoyed talking about it and reading her work; her teacher had said it was 'nice'. But there wasn't even a comment about it in her reading journal, nor had she been given an effort sticker. I didn't expect anything much but surely the level of effort she'd gone to would warrant a "What a lovely folder!" or something from the teacher?? Am I expecting too much?

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aintnomountainhighenough · 12/11/2007 13:27

Moomin now you are not expecting too much, it sounds brilliant what your DD did and praise builds a childs self esteem. I agree with Freckle and would be aware that perhaps everything is be being dumbed down. My DD has only just started school and it comes across loud and clear to me that they want to treat them all the same and stick to what they've always done regardless of if it works or not. Just to say also I don't agree that your DD should be getting less time reading because she doesn't need to so much help. She should be getting the same as everyone else but it should be at the level required, she should be getting personalised learning.

Mistymoo · 12/11/2007 13:31

Not sure if it has been mentioned but I presume your daughter will do comprehension on reading book. She may be a very good reader but she has to have the comprehension skills to go with it. I would talk to the teacher though. I am having a similar dilema but with maths for my ds.

hana · 12/11/2007 13:31

it's a tricky one isn't it? dd1 also in year one and I don't think she is stretched at school n terms of reading and what books are brought home. She is reading chapter books ( those horrid fairy things, and My Naughtly Little Sister type) and doing really well. I'm alos a teacher and dd1's teachers knows I am. I think at the next parent's evenign I'll say something (will be in Feb I thinkn?) if things aren't any betteri. I know she does a lot fo reading at home,a dnother things too so she is 'stretched' but it's not just aobut the reading and gettting to the next level like someone slese said.

Moomin · 12/11/2007 19:02

Her comprehension is spot on, as are her predictive skills. When we read something together or she reads to me I will always try to build some questionning in to guage her understanding of the obvious and also a bit of the implicit. Obviously I don't go overboard on this ('every night is SATs night in the Moomin house - what fun!') but it's nice being able to reflect on what she's reading. I've also told her that it's perfectly ok to not like a book as well: we had a particularly tedious one from school this weekend so we abandoned it and found something else. And I'd defend this every time (I tell my own pupils this as well - as loing as they know why they don't like it or aren't enjoying it).

Think there will be plenty to talk about on Thursday night anyway!

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