Early reader in reception - what to do in the classroom?

(53 Posts)
onesandwichshort Thu 22-Sep-11 11:28:26

DD has just started in reception. She's been reading for a year or so but we hadn't really realised quite how well. It turns out that in terms of decoding at least, she has a reading age of about 10. (No signs of being advanced in any other area fwiw).

The school are being fantastic about it - not only have they clocked this very quickly but they are also being very open and discussing with us what to do. But I could do with some suggestions from people who have been there before as they seem to be a little bit at sea too.

There are two main problems. One is finding books which are interesting for her but also emotionally and socially at the right level (in every other aspect she is a typical reception age child). School are struggling with this as most of the advanced books are either scary or too socially advanced - it doesn't help that the school only go up to Year 4 as well. Any thoughts on series/ways of going with this. Or do we/they just stop teaching her to read for now and concentrate on other things like comprehension and expression instead?

The second thing is what to do with her in the classroom during all the phonics etc. So far we're thinking of her doing some comprehension work with a TA during the sessions, and also doing a completely other, but challenging activity. (I, half-jokingly suggested teaching her to knit for a couple of years and they were actually quite receptive to this!). But she's quite a shy child, and so I am wary of isolating her from the group too much and making her 'different'.

We've got a full meeting with the teacher in a few weeks time, so before that I would really love to hear from anyone else who's been in a similar situation, and what's been helpful/has worked/was a complete waste of time.

AnxiousElephant Thu 29-Sep-11 22:38:38

Definately Roald Dahl is a favourite in our house although dd1 isn't quite decoding at that level, we have the opposite problem of comprehension being much better than her decoding smile So she completely understands the stories but I sometimes ask her to give me another word for a longer one in the text i.e. descended - he went down, or ask her what it is. i.e. whats a brook - stream.
Enid Blyton famous five? I seem to remember she did some circus based books but can't think what they were called.
TBH I think if her comprehension isn't as good she will still enjoy reading books not at the 10yo level and it really is better that she enjoys and understands what she reads imo.

WideAwakeMum Fri 30-Sep-11 11:37:49

Thanks for this thread, it's really, really helpful! We also struggle finding books that have 'appropriate' content yet are at the right level so will follow up on some of these ideas.

We do find that factual books are really useful as they're not usually scary and don't showcase 'mean' words to our 5 year old! We have some random sciencey books from charity shops which have been a great hit (although some of the info is a bit dated...).

Good luck!

blackeyedsusan Sun 02-Oct-11 15:03:38
blackeyedsusan Sun 02-Oct-11 15:08:41

What does your daughter want to do during the phonics sessions? Does she want to sit in on them or go off and do something else?

mrz Sun 02-Oct-11 15:29:15

School shouldn't be wondering what she does while the other children are "sounding out letters" ! She needs to be there learning with the class and the staff should be differentiating questioning to include/challenge all abilities. My hyperlexic son was failed by a system that thought because he could read extremely well he didn't need to be taught phonics.

onesandwichshort Sun 02-Oct-11 18:50:04

blackeyedsusan - thanks for the recommendations, her birthday is soon so we will be investing in a couple of those sets!

As far as the phonics goes, she says that she wants to do some of the sessions (at the moment they are doing them daily) but then do something different as well.

mrz - I agree with you, but I can also see their problem, as she is reading Jeremy Strong (this week's favourite) and level 14 Big Cat Phonics while the classwork is revolving around learning a couple of new letters and the sounds they make each week. Ao I can see that for a while differentiation may involve her, and possibly one or two other children, doing some additional work with the TA. And it was the TA who was asking what we thought - we'll have a proper discussion with the teacher next week. (If you have any thoughts on what we should ask/expect, I'd really appreciate them)

They do 'whole school' phonics three times a week, where children go to the appropriate class for their reading level, and I can see this being good later on, but for the moment I think it would be a bit intimidating for her. I also agree with you that she does need the phonics teaching (she is spelling words by visualising them in her head), but just perhaps not all of the phonics teaching that is currently going on in reception.

I really am finding this quite hard; right now their idea of differentiation is trying to turn her rather idiosyncratic (i.e. self taught) handwriting into cursive. I am expected to do this at home with her, as there is no support in the classroom for this but it's really hard and it tends to make one or other of us cry. I have asked if we can do the easier letters first, but apparently we have to do them in the order they are being studied in class. S was not a good first choice for the writing. It is also completely putting her off writing and she will now only write in capitals or type on the computer. Not seeming like a good result to me. Do other schools handle this better?

mrz Sun 02-Oct-11 19:11:56

onesandwichshort my son (ASD) was reading the Financial Times when he was in nursery and his favourite reading was the NATO deployment data ... and has never grasped phonics. His reading is amazing but his writing/spelling is shocking.

A good phonics lesson should teach a new sound, (I believe 5 a week) how to write the grapheme representing the sound correctly (handwriting) how to decode words containing the sound (read) , how to encode words containing the sound (spell), how to apply in reading and writing - ~I would ask some children to say the sounds, some child to read the words, and some children to read sentences various levels of difficulty (your daughter) some children to write the sound, some to write single words and others (your daughter) to write sentence (dictation) all the above can take place in a mixed ability group in a 10 - 15 minute session and all levels are successfully differentiated.

If the class are only learning a couple of new sounds a week then I would suggest that this is too slow.

mrz Sun 02-Oct-11 19:14:17

Learning to write "s" should have taken place when the class were taught the phoneme.

mrz Sun 02-Oct-11 19:15:55

Children who have been taught capitals first tend to struggle when they start to learn lower case cursive.

blackeyedsusan Sun 02-Oct-11 19:53:01

if you arer teaching handwriting at home why on earth can't you goup the letters into handwriting families? home is home after all. look on the primary education board to find ways of making it fun.

mrz Sun 02-Oct-11 20:16:24

abcdoes.typepad.com/abc-does-a-blog/jedi-writing/

I also teach my children letter formation jingles which they recite to ensure they form letters correctly in a smooth single motion

Curly caterpillar family
Anticlockwise movements
c round

o round, round and join

a round, up, down and flick

d round, up, up, down, down and flick

g round, up, down, down and round

q round, up, down, down and tick

s round and round the other way

f round, down, down and round – across

e across and round
one armed robot family
down, up and over movements

r down, up and over a bit

n down, up, over, down and flick

m down, up, over and down, up, over, down and flick

h down, down, up a bit, over, down and flick

b down, down, up a bit, over and round

p down, down, up, up, over and round

k down, down, up a bit, over, round, out and flick

long ladder family
mainly down and round movements

l down, down and flick

i down and flick – dot

t down and flick – across

j down, down and round – dot

u down, round, up, down and flick

y down, round, up, down, down and round

zig zag monster
diagonal movements

v down, up

w down, up, down, up

x down, stop – down, stop

z across, down, across

for joined writing we add a "whoosh" to the beginning

iggly2 Sun 02-Oct-11 23:19:30

Another one who believes in the phonics. It really helps with spelling. Lots of precocious readers are whole word readers so do not think of how the word is made up (which helps with spelling). The child gets involved with the class whilst doing it. It sounds like it is when they teach writing as well in some schools as well. Ds was reading Roald Dahl in reception it was only towards the end etc he was really happy as he could group read with another child. Some enjoy the social side of learning.

iggly2 Sun 02-Oct-11 23:24:33

blackeyedsusan thanks for the link to bookpeople. I am a technophobe and normally do not buy anything on the internet , but see how cheap everything is ... I think I will have to .

iggly2 Sun 02-Oct-11 23:35:05

Sorry just realised I posted on page before this ! Threads do get a bit samey.........

blackeyedsusan Mon 03-Oct-11 11:18:16

iggly. there is a phone number or address if you are a technophobe like me.. wink

onesandwichshort Mon 03-Oct-11 14:12:15

mrz - thanks for all of that, I wish she were in your class!

blackeyedsusan - I wish, but she has a handwriting book for homework (although she does nothing in it in school time about which I am a bit hmm. I think I will ask that we just give up on this for now, and I will try only to get her to do proper letter formation for now.

And it's not that she learnt to write in capitals first, she'd got quite good at writing (in my slightly biased opinion) and was using caps at the start of sentences, and punctuation, but the pressure to write cursive has made her feel she can't do it, and so now she will only write in caps for fear of getting the lower case ones wrong sad

Evilclown Mon 03-Oct-11 14:17:24
WideAwakeMum Fri 07-Oct-11 23:11:58

'Usborne beginners' series are great - e.g. your body, ships, solar system, Antarctica etc (I buy on Amazon)

onesandwichshort Tue 11-Oct-11 14:43:50

Thanks for both of the suggestions, much appreciated.

We are meeting the teacher this week, so will know more about what they are planning to do after that. Although we are now getting slightly more sane reading books, which is a relief.

blackeyedsusan Thu 13-Oct-11 14:36:50

any news?

onesandwichshort Fri 14-Oct-11 14:09:20

Yes, there is, we've seen the teacher and are reassured, at least for now. She made the (entirely fair) point that all they've been trying to do for the first half term is allow everyone to settle well, and academically things will ramp up a bit from now on.

The plan for DD is that she'll carry on doing some of the phonics, so that she is still part of the class, but she'll also do some individual comprehension with the TA, and also a sewing project with her as well. I'm also going to get DD to do some short 'book reviews' at home which we'll bring into school, mainly as a way to get her to do some purposeful writing practice without either of us getting too stressed. grin.

They've also heard us about the reading books, and are just letting DD choose any book for the moment. Which I am completely fine about, as she's reading silently to herself, so I'd rather keep the school books short and let her get on with it. All of which was about all we could hope to achieve without turning into the pushy parents from hell at our very first parents meeting.

So for the moment it's fine, and DD isn't complaining she's bored. I suspect - in part from what I've read on here - that this may not come for a couple of years yet. But we are going to wander over to the local private school's open day next week, just to see what they might say...

Usuwi Mon 07-Nov-11 10:10:35

OneSandwichShort, my daughter loves the Anna Hibiscus books, which are from a series called "Racing Reads" by Walker Books - I haven't got the others yet but I'm guessing they are all in the same style - they are chapter books but the subject matter makes sense to a 3-4 year old.

learnandsay Sat 24-Nov-12 14:28:19

simpson, you might find this thread interesting.

simpson Sat 24-Nov-12 20:34:35

Thanks LandS smile

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