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Thread: The Public Primary School Reader (book) System In Victoria. Hmmmm

  1. #1

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    Default The Public Primary School Reader (book) System In Victoria. Hmmmm

    My son is currently in grade 1 at a local public primary school. He did grade Prep at the same school. Despite being a quiet, shy child he settled in well and is a great little student. I only have one concern: the reader system.

    In grade Prep the students are given a reader folder with a book that you have to fill out every night to show that they have have read their Reader Books with you. Well as a mum to 3 children i guess i was slack and didn't do it as often as we should have.

    My DD (who is now in highschool) attended a private primary school... reading at home was more "optional" for Preps as the teachers didn't push homework too heavily in that year. Never the less we still read lots of books together and she learnt to read quite easily despite not doing it every night.

    The whole process is quite different in the public school system it seems. We have been caught out. Last year despite the impression i had that my son was reading to the standard of an average 5yo apparently this wasn't good enough. By grade 1 he was meant to be far more advanced... reading fluently, and with appropriate expression. Being able to read, say, the level 1 Dr Suess books isn't good enough. As a 6yo he can read "The Cat In The Hat" with little assistance.... but apparently most other kids are way past this level. And so my son has been put on the Reading Recovery program! in grade 1!

    Ok so they say they are into "early intervention" but gee... I think he is doing fine for his age (he is now 6). The school really does seem quite uptight about the whole process and "enjoyment" really does seem secondary to "learning". i can't help but think two things:

    1. They are catering to a generation of flash card toddlers (we didn't do this at home) and my child isn't as advanced as the average child of 2010.

    2. The school is working toward maintaining a good naplan result.


    Anyone who knows my son knows that he is a boy with a great attention span... he seeks out opportunities to learn of his own accord and i really don't want to interfere with this process by shoving learning down his throat when he is clearly too tired.... just to please a school. It goes totally against everything I learnt as a teachers' assistant at the Girls' school my DD went to.

    Anyhow... the other point of this thread is to kind of warn parents of preppys in the public system in Vic to do your Readers with them as much as possible otherwise you could find that they are put in reading recovery which means twice as much homework every night


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    I was in the very same position as you when DS12 was in prep. When I was told he would be put in the reading recovery programe the following year I felt devastated. We did our readers every single night and I didn't think he had a problem with reading in the slightest. You know what, it was the best thing ever for him. He absolutely excelled in reading and writing. I only wished his older brother was put in reading recover also. DD9 also was in reading recovery, it is one on one for every session and I was asked to sit in on a few sessions, it was great. It really isn't a bad thing.

    Regards,
    Dianne

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    I understand what you mean Bath. In NSW we do the same thing with the readers - they bring them home and you fill in the book when they have read them. I think it's a bit of a stretch to put him in the Reading Recovery though - I always thought that it was reserved for only those students having real difficulty with reading and they usually have associated learning problems as well, but not for what your DS is doing. However I have noticed over the years that more is expected of them now than what it was when my first child went to school. When he was in Kindergarten (your prep), he only got to a level 7 by the end of the year - mainly because it wasn't communicated very well that we were supposed to write down the books they had read to get new ones - there was no reading book to write it in for a start and it was only when I commented to the teacher that he wasn't bringing new books home that she realised the error. But when I asked about him being behind because of it, she said that they are only expected to get to level 7 by the end of kindergarten, so he met that outcome well enough. Fast forward 5 years though with DD2 in Kindergarten and now they are expected to get to Level 15! Luckily DD is a good reader but I still can't see her getting to level 15 by the end of the year - she is only on a 9 atm. and we aren't very strict with it either - by the time they get home at 4.30pm she is often too tired to read very well and I let the teachers know that and they are fine with it, so we aren't pushing her as much as we probably should be, but I reckon in their first year of school it should be more relaxed anyway in regards to homework. I would try to negotiate with them on the amount of homework he needs to do for it and try to find out exactly where his problem areas are (if there are any) so you can concentrate on those and maybe get him out of reading recovery sooner.

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    The reader system is in the private system now too. I have friends in "elite" schools and they had the exact same systems as not so elite private schools and public schools.

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    Thanks for replying so quick girls

    Dianne: Yes, we are going through with the Reading Recovery program because I guess they are the professionals (the teachers) and I want to believe that they have my son's best interests at heart. However their concern seems a bit over the top... I'm also quite amazed that the approach to reading can be so different between the two systems (private and public). I can't help but be aware that the private school my DD went to achieved excellent results without the high pressure though. My son comes home from school soooo tired some days and it just really seems to go against my instincts to insist that he does the Reading Recovery homework despite his tiredness.

    Trillian: I really value your perspective (being a teacher in training) so thanks I never really wrapped my head around the level system with the reader books last year... so I don't really know where he is at. He certainly has no other learning disorders... for a boy his work is very neat and organised and he has a genuine interest in learning. His attention span is beyond his years as well. DH has a few of his first reader books at home and we have made the mistake of comparing what we were capable of 30 years ago to what kids can do now. I can't believe that in grade 1 my son is expected to be able to handle a spelling list that includes being able to write words like "should, bought, because" etc. As far as being a reader he apparently is reading in a way that is too stilted.... he needs to be able to read more fluently, smoothly, and with more expression. Geeze so demanding.... that is simply something that comes with practise... really think that making him focus on his expression at such an early stage is off-putting. I'll be honest and admit that I don't do it. I just stick with the old fashioned way of simply helping him sound out new words as he comes across them.

    It reminds me of my first and only driving lesson with an RACV instructor. I hadn't driven in about 7 years and had never driven his type of car... he kept saying 'try to drive more smoothly'... good grief let me learn one thing at a time PLEASE!!! clearly simply trying to avoid crashing into the heavy traffic he had told me to drive in wasn't good enough for him
    Last edited by Bathsheba; September 20th, 2010 at 11:20 AM.

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    Could be worse Bath, my son has been failed by both public and private alike. He isn't in school at all and has to fail spectacularly before anyone will do anything. *GRUMBLE

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    We've just got Yasin a reading light. He's allowed to read in bed after lights out and turn out his own light now. He's a bit behind his class because we were too lazy to teach him while we were doing distance education and I figure that it's a low pressure way of giving him more time with books.

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    Posted at the same time Rouge. ah, ok, have they? Oh well... I guess they have subscribed to parental expectation? My only expectation is that my children's natural love of learning isn't tampered with. Too many teachers seem to be working with the assumption that kids are naturally lazy... an idea I strongly disagree with. This kind of pressurised learning can not be a good thing... my lay opinion only.
    Last edited by Bathsheba; September 20th, 2010 at 11:35 AM.

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    2 of mine have had trouble reading "fast enough" for there school, but it was handeled differently.

    They had extra help at school each day, individually, and the homework didn't change as such, he was just sent a variety of readers instead of one, and we worked on what we could handle. They could pick how many, and which degree to do. We got sent the level below and above, so we could do an "easy" one if it was getting them down, or having an off night, or a "harder" one on a good night...

    Homework is also only on Mon, Tue, Wed night, to be handed in on Thur. If you need more time, or are having trouble, you can keep it till Fri too...

    So we would do one reader together, and the other was done in bed. They both picked up very well, without feeling too preasured, so a good result for us that way.

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    And I know from one elite school here in melb that there expectations were ridiculously higher than other schools It's pretty awful.

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    Bath, it doesn't seem consistent that his spelling words are what they are if they aren't happy with his level of reading. When my DD1 was in year 1 last year, she had words like that on her spelling list because she was more than able to spell them - but they had ability graded groups so you had the top % of students doing the harder words like my DD was, then you had the middle % of students and then you had the bottom group of kids who were spelling words that were at most 5 letters long. Maybe ask for a revision of his spelling word list as well just so there is consistency, but if fluency is his main issue then I agree that it is something that will come with time and practice but it is also a catch 22 situation because to get them to develop fluency, you have to practice with them to show them how otherwise they can stay a bit stilted. What I do with DD2 is get her to read it first, so it's like "the. cat. sat. on. the. mat." and when they read like that, they do tend to lose a bit of the meaning of what it is they are reading and then when she is finished, I read the sentence too so it's "the cat sat on the mat" and then she is able to read it like that herself. We have our readers for 1 week, and we will read them both each night, building up each time so by the end of the week she is reading the book fluently. The more the read the same book, the easier it is for them to become fluent. If we have ever had a book that she's struggled with, I write a note in her reading log saying we'd like to keep that one for another week, otherwise they have to start all over again with a new book kwim?

    I am constantly stunned too at what our kids have to learn compared to what I learnt at the same stage of school but then I have noticed a difference in 5 years, so I imagine that from when your DD started (10 years ago?) that the difference would have been bigger still and not so much a reflection of private v public. During an information night a few years ago that I went to at the school they said that the Reading Recovery program is funded separately so the places are usually highly sought after so if they think that he needs it, then they have probably done a lot of consideration and assessing to determine that and it may only be for this year. One thing I noticed too is that they will all of a sudden have a big leap forward. I remember with DS1, he started year 1 on level 7, but before the end of the first term he was on a level 14. I spoke with his teacher about it and she said that it just *clicked* for him and it became so much easier so your DS may be like that too. Oh and another thing, they only benchmark them for their reading ability once a term, so they might wallow around on the lower levels for a bit and you think they aren't getting anywhere, but when they do the benchmarking he may have jumped ahead several levels at once.

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    oh, one thing that helped with fluency, and keeping up with the story was for us to read every second page.
    He would read one page, slowly, brokenly, and carefully, then I would read the next, slowly, but fluently with expression... they do eventually copy....

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    Thanks again Trillian Yes, when the Reading Recovery lady rang and spoke to me she mentioned that being on the program was "like winning lotto!". I thought that was a strange way to describe it... but if you say it's highly sought after... but by whom? Parents? Class teachers? If it's separately funded does that mean they don't automatically run it if there is no student in need of it? I was wondering if in our case they just put my son on the program because compared to his peers he was reading in the least fluent manner... but we live in a faily advantaged area... kids would generally be reading well above the state average anyhow... so what's the benchmark? I'd hazard a guess that DS would be top of the class if you compared him to the kids in less advantaged suburbs... shouldn't the funding go there?

    The Reading recovery lady gives Ds his spelling words. She writes them in the back of the communication book we need to write in every night. He also has to construct a sentence and do extra activities like write a list of words that contain a silent letter.... eg lamb, knight, autumn etc. So essentially we have to do substantially more homework each night than the other children in his class. It's a lot to manage when i have a 4yo who likes to be involved too. But the Reading recovery lady didn't seem to understand how hard it can be to do homework with one child when you have other children in the house. My husband simply shouldn't work such long hours... or I should be able to tuck my 4yo off into bed or something... apparently grrrrr.

    I suspect that reading fluently will just click with DS too. He is a bright child in every other regard.... it just dismays me that he now has this label as being a weak reader when personally I think he is going to be an excellent reader... he shows all the signs if you know what to look for. This is a child that will take himself off to his room and translate a photo of a train into a drawn diagram of his own. The attention to detail is amazing... and he does it often... but mention this to the school teachers and they say 'oh, ok... but when he reads more fluently...." (ie basically dismiss it). Makes me wonder if i really want to get caught up in a system by training to be a teacher when everything just seems so prescriptive... "this is how you teach a child to read... there is only one way... and it's OUR way". All the talk about multiple intelligences and learning styles is just that... talk! This school doesn't walk the talk like my DDs school did. And now I'm rambling....

    ETA: oh and thanks PB yep.... I do something similar... read a page after DS has read it just to let him compare fluency... but sometimes it does seem to dismay him. He has a bit of my perfectionist's streak. But then again i also suspect it's tiredness.
    Last edited by Bathsheba; September 20th, 2010 at 12:59 PM.

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    I will scan the benchmarking sheet that DS had to do and also the Johnsons word list that DD1 did - both while in year 1. It will give you an idea of how they assess them. What the teacher talking about the reading recovery program said was that no parent should feel bad if their child gets selected for it because they get more 1 on 1 time with the teacher to help them with their problems as opposed to staying in a group of children all needing help from the 1 teacher kwim? I don't know about the specifics of the funding arrangement though. I had a google and found this info (bearing in mind it is for NSW) Reading Recovery

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