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If a child can read before they start reception what do the teachers do?

83 replies

camembertandcranberry · 04/03/2009 17:58

Ds has always been very interested in letters and words.

He is now able to read simple sentences of short easy words (I think they're called CVC words?) like 'the car is big and red' (and let me get my little proud mummy thing in here before I burst - he's only 3.8 ).


He starts reception in September and I'm curious, what will they do with the ones who can read already (I'm assuming this isn't that unusual as a few will be able to)?

I'm very, very happy for him to play and have fun but when they do the learning bits (albeit in a playful way as far as I am aware in reception) what do they do with the ones who already know the basics?

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kylesmyloveheart · 04/03/2009 21:20

when ds started school the children were on all different levels. there were a couple of children that could read better than the rest. this has certainly levelled out now with them having been well taken over by some of the other children.

imaginaryfriend · 04/03/2009 21:32

Dd started Reception able to recognise the letters of the alphabet, write her name and few other words by memory and that was it. She started with quite a few children who were reading and writing already. The teacher accommodated the early readers by giving them appropriate level books, it really wasn't a problem - there were so many other things to do and to learn.

Now in Y1 dd can read at least as well as those early readers, in fact according to her teacher she's one of the best readers as her comprehension of what she's reading runs alongside her ability to decode / recognise words. One of the early readers is now lagging behind the readers like dd who have learned more steadily because although she can read anything given to her she lacks the ability to understand and predict what's happening in the story. So she doesn't seem to have particularly gained from reading early.

My advice would be to do some casual reading / writing if a child is very interested but also to keep an eye on understanding and narrative comprehension.

ABetaDad · 04/03/2009 21:52

islandofsodor - I am glad your DS is enjoying Jolly Phonis. Our DS2 had the high intensity ORT treatment and it switched him off completley but when he moved school he went to Jolly Phonics and he loved it.

He reads really confidently now about a year ahead of his actual age and he is happy.

piscesmoon · 04/03/2009 22:02

I did get the ironic tone ABetaDad! I get pretty amazed by the competitive nature of the Oxford Reading Tree, with parents sneaking a look into their DCs friend's book bag to see which they are on.
I wouldn't worry about being a pushy parent,camembertandcranberry-I am one! The secret is that you push nicely! I am always very reasonable, very friendly and don't expect anything above anyone else. They may be a bit wary at first but it never lasts long and I have always had a good relationship with teachers, they know that I am very supportive.

Karamazov · 04/03/2009 22:43

My DD1 is in reception and is a fluent reader (Enid Blyton type books). Her school is a very good school and to help her, they do lots of things with her to stop her getting bored. Whilst she does still do the group reading with other children in her class, she also gets taken out of class to do reading with other boys and girls of a similar reading level to her - so she is reading harder books at school.

As she knows all of her key words, she has to now learn to spell them.

When they are writing in school, the teacher will not help her with spellings as much (or so I'm told), she has to try and work words out phonetically (and I have to do the same with her at home).

She has also got a special writing book, and sometimes she does one to one writing with her teacher - because her teacher noticed that she likes doing writing so much.

She is also being taught other things about reading. For example, she came home the other day and said 'that's an exclamation point, so it has got to be read with feeling'. She is learning lots of things like that too.

She is also being stretched in other areas too, to encourage her to be well-rounded, so she has to do taking away (although I believe not in the curriculum until year 1 and so on...)

That said, DD goes to an OFSTED outstanding school, and my experience is that it is a very good school and they do work hard to stretch her. She does still have to do the whole class stuff, but that makes up such a little part of the day, that it's not a problem. (If she were bored, she would misbehave!)

There are lots of little things a good teacher/school can do to stop teh child getting bored - at least it seems with my DD!

lockets · 04/03/2009 22:52

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piscesmoon · 04/03/2009 23:10

I would go in and say that you feel that DD is really coming on, that you have been writing down the books she reads at home and you wondered if she had had any more thoughts on getting DD onto free readers because DD is very keen and you want to keep her enthusiasm. Say it in a friendly conversational tone-I don't think it looks too pushy and it gives her chance to say that she doesn't think she is ready.

lockets · 04/03/2009 23:16

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piscesmoon · 04/03/2009 23:21

It makes you wonder if she reads the contacts book?!

lockets · 04/03/2009 23:25

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camembertandcranberry · 05/03/2009 10:20

At least you have contact books - ds is only in school nursery class but there is so little communication.

Last time we had a catch up (which happens once a term) the teacher was going to look into ways they could help with ds's reading given he was at a totally different stage to the others in class, but as a nursery teacher she wasn't qualified to do this. She sounded all enthusiastic and then I've heard nothing since. Not the end of the world as he's only in nursery but a bit disappointing.

Anyway, dumb question but what is a free reader?

Also Karamazov - what sort of maths do they normally do in reception then - I thought they did basic subtraction and adding under the NC?

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imaginaryfriend · 05/03/2009 10:39

camembert from what I remember from nursery at dd's school the entire focus was on learning through play and nobody had reading sent home. They did various activities throughout the day - drama, singing, PE, building, making, stories, drawing, etc. and for about 30 mins after lunch they had a short session of carpet time in which they looked at books / numbers. It was very informal which is apparently the best way to introduce most children to school. Dd was interested in words and writing at that point so we just did little bits as parts of games at home.

YR is a stepping stone between nursery and Y1 where the 'formal' education begins. So they start to do more guided activities in literacy and numeracy and have more carpet time as well as bringing reading books home and the YR key words. In between this they explore so many other things through activities, drama, music, etc. The formal education is still not the prime focus.

In Y1 there is a lot more focused carpet time and different ability tables are given different ability work. So if there's an activity to write about the play they saw last week dd's table just get given a blank sheet of paper and are expected to write straight out. The more middling groups have a sheet of paper with 3 beginning sentences ' "I liked the play because ..." etc. and the lower ability groups get sentences written out with gaps for them to fill in words. There's no need for a high achieving child to lose out with this kind of approach - they can write as little or as much as they like. The same happens with numeracy, the work is staged according to the table.

As I said earlier the children who started YR able to read and write had so many other things to do in the day that are just as educational and fun that I don't think there was ever a problem of boredom or a sense of not being stretched. And they do tend to all even out over time. You'll probably find that your ds will be put in a group with other children at the same stage as him so he won't be left out or not noticed - the work will be tailored to fit his needs.

Well in my experience it's been like that in any case.

camembertandcranberry · 05/03/2009 12:03

Hi Imaginary,
He is actually probably a bit behind average or maybe average with pre-writing stuff and drawing so will need plenty of supportwith that anyway.

Not sure I buy the idea they all even out in the end - people say that a lot. There are certainly lots of cases where those a little less advanced than others speed ahead and some even out but not all. Otherwise they would all end up being 'average' which just isn't the case. What I do think is true is that being an early reader doesn't mean you will always be 'ahead'.

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imaginaryfriend · 05/03/2009 12:43

Yes, you're right of course, they don't all end up the same as each other, their skills begin to materialise as time goes on. What I meant was that with reading in particular there will only be a few children at the end of, say, Y3 who can't pick up most age-appropriate books and read them.

For instance my dd's best friend is in the year above as she was born a few months earlier. Dd had always been way ahead of her with reading - in fact her friend was in one of the lower groups for everything, she really struggled academically. But now in Y2 she's soared ahead, has raced up the groups and is pretty much on a par now with dd reading-wise.

christywhisty · 05/03/2009 13:55

My DS was one who caught up and passed the fluent readers from reception in Yr2.
Whereas DD was a fluent reader in reception has has remained near the top of her class.
But as others have said, there is usually so many other things going to keep a very bright child from being bored. My 2 covered a lot of geography, history and science when they were in the infants

singersgirl · 05/03/2009 15:03

Reception is fine as it's so much fun; in fact DS2 enjoyed taking part in group phonics sessions and just read books at his own level. It's Y1 you have to worry about when there is much more 'table work' and much less free time. The pace picks up a bit in Y2 and topic work etc becomes more interesting.

It is an ongoing issue with able children and to be honest the fluent reading is the least of the problems. DS2 is now in Y3 and said only today that he wishes they would teach him something in school that he doesn't already know.

camembertandcranberry · 05/03/2009 16:34

Imaginary - see what you mean - it's a bit like toddlers and talking really. At certain stages there's a big gap between those who can and can't but then there isn't such a noticeable difference even if perhaps some talk better than others.

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imaginaryfriend · 05/03/2009 21:27

Yes and with walking early and talking early. There's a point where most kids will walk and talk but the point varies. And everyone worries if their kids aren't doing what the others are yet! I worried with dd's social skills - she was terribly shy and almost scared of other children. In nursery she spent the whole day at the art table and didn't really make friends. In YR she opened up a bit. And now in Y1 she has a really nice social circle and will talk to anyone!

Hulababy · 05/03/2009 21:40

The teacher will have dealt with children who are able to read before joining school before.

They will do things ike check god phonics awareness - not all good readers are actually that good with all phonics stuff. Phonics is necessary for other parts of the literacy programme so needs checking.

They will look at fluency and expression when reading. Some good readers will merely "bark" words at the page but with ni real expression and feeling. They will get the child to look at the text, the punctuation, etc and read accordsingly.

They will introduce a range of texts - fiction, non fiction, poetry, plays, etc and show how different books can be read in different ways.

They will also check comprehension. Early readers sometimes can read the words but may not necessarily understand what they are reading, esp if reading bookks aimed at an older age range. Comprehension is at least important as the actual ability to decode letters and sounds into words.

A child will often plateau throughout stages of reading. It may look like they are remaining static at the same stage. then they suddenly jumo ahead again. This is normal.

Oh, and agree with what others have said. You may find that some non readers will suddenly "get" it - and overtake in terms of reading, fluency and comprehension. Early reading does not always mea a child will be ahead of their peers. But some may do. Again either is normal.

Hulababy · 05/03/2009 21:45

Oh and DD is at a private prep school, quite academic although not really til prep age - key focus in pre prep is on fun One child out of the 18 girls could read on starting reception. In Y2 two now and all reading at least age appropriate texts bar one who needs a little extra support for dyslexia.

camembertandcranberry · 05/03/2009 22:48

Imaginary - ds was, until recently, similar to your dd was in that he was a bit scared of other children. I'd say he just didn't 'get' them. Has improved a lot now and I'm sure will continue to but he hated that phase where toddlers are unpredictable and you can't communicate with them. It was very difficult socially for ages. Thank goodness that phase is over!

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arcticwind · 05/03/2009 22:58

islandofsodor my ds sounds just like yours - he learnt to read when dd was doing JP in reception and we used the Jelly & Bean books as they are great for young readers

Unfortunatley his school refused to acknowledge that and insisted on starting him on the first 'look and say' books so he started to be naughty as he was bored, with the usual repercussions

Once we moved schools it took them 2 weeks to asess his real level and now he is very happy to read, altho finding age appropriate books for boys seems increasingly impossible!

I think the best thing about children reading is how much they can then learn - my 2 have always enjoyed non fiction books and dd has a huge encyclopaedia which she dips into regularly. Even the teacher says her knowledge of animals is impressive!

imaginaryfriend · 06/03/2009 22:33

I totally agree with hulababy - a girl in dd's group could read before starting YR but in Y1 she hasn't been moved up the reading levels at the rate of the rest of the group because her comprehension / ability to predict what will happen next is not in line with her ability to read the words. Her mum is very frustrated by this as she's a very good reader but the teacher is extremely experienced so one has to believe she knows what she's doing.

thirtypence · 07/03/2009 08:51

Ds got "harder" phonics and higher level books. After a term he went into the year 1 class at reading time. Then he changed schools (unconnected).

The first day he got a completely easy book and was very disheartened, but asked for a harder one and within 2 weeks was where he should be.

They don't just learn to read though, they learn about how stories are constructed, look at the language the author uses etc. Even if you think the books are too "easy" they will be doing more than just reading them, especially if reading them is quick and fluent.

lalalonglegs · 07/03/2009 09:36

IME, the teacher goes into denial that the child can read and refuses to give them any books then expects you to praise their teaching for the wonderful "progress" your child is making with phonics in so short a time.

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