Monday 28 September 2015

Reading Levels Reception and Year 1

I've been reading to Aaron since he was less than one year's old. When we started Reception September 2014 the books seemed very babyish compared to the sort of books our reading at home had progressed to. Except, what I needed to have reminded myself of, was the fact that me reading TO him and him learning to read HIMSELF are two different things entirely.

Back in the days when I read TO him; a book he took home from nursery (a book bag is not at all a new concept). This favourite was We're Going on a Bear Hunt:

Fast forward to September 2014 and he needed basic books, with words that were the building blocks of his future reading skills. I just wasn't ready for this transition and despite my personal excellent academic record, knew nothing of "phonics" or "key words" - yes we got issued those too on coloured card.

We were issued a book and a reading record (which I always call a homework book) and given the loose instruction to "read with them everyday". I did it for a while and soon lost interest so it became a once/twice a week activity and nothing that was said in open evenings (parent progress evenings) made me feel any need for alarm.

Fast forward to May and I told the teacher we were going to Ireland for a week to see my Mum. Legally I was allowed as Aaron was still 4 and statutory school age is 5.

Our teacher said "I'll only let you go if you take some books with you, as Aaron is a reading level 3 and should be a 5, with his ability and vocabulary". MAY 2015 and this is the FIRST I hear that he may be less than average or rather below par for his ability. I had NO idea what reading level his peers were on (although I soon found out - although I'll keep that story to myself to protect the innocent ha ha) and I had NO idea till this point that he was behind. 

Trust me, I panicked and reading has been TOP of the agenda ever since.

Suffice to say he was reading level 5 by the time that they broke up in July and as much is confirmed in his end of year school report.

However, little did I know that reading levels are documented on a spreadsheet, by way of a handover from Reception to Year One (and probably for Ofsted to access too). On this spreadsheet with the column headed July 2015 Aaron is recorded as a reading level 3, so fast forward to September 2015 and his first book home in his book bag was a reading level 3 book.

Given that we did lots of numeracy, reading and writing throughout the Summer, when he read this first book of the new school year, he FLEW through it, reading 16 pages effortlessly in about 3 minutes.

I then kept documenting how easy the books were, daily, in his reading record, until the Teacher started to see my comments.

Aaron was off 4/5 days of the 2nd week of school (Tuesday to Friday) with vomiting and diarhoea that he picked up from school. On the Friday I got it, and was ill for 5 days (which being pregnant was not at all fun). So, it took till the end of week 3 for the teacher to recognise his reading skills. By then she said "it must have taken a while for him to feel comfortable with me but he is reading properly now" when he reads one to one with her.

So eventually a reading level 5 book came home in the book bag, with a comment in the reading record "I am giving him this for a challenge". It wasn't really a challenge at all, and Aaron is taking reading level 5 in his stride as you can see here:

So what's your experience with reading and school. Did you take to the early reader books immediately? Did your child? Did your school communicate with you enough as the parent? I think reading is a skill for life and I am so glad we haven't waited too long to come up to speed. Onwards and upwards now!

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