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Free Readers

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Jayman, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. Jayman

    Jayman New commenter

    Hi I am a Year 2 teacher and I am just wondering when other schools tend to give a child this prized 'free reader' status? I have a large number that come up from year 1 as free readers and I am dubious about this being possible.

    I feel we rattle through reading bands extraordinarily quickly and then say they are free readers when they get to the end of ks1 reading bands.

    I think there are a couple of reasons for this; pressure from parents to see chn progress and focus on word reading rather than comprehension.

    I have been looking at bug club by pearson - they suggest chn should be still on colour bands towards end of Year 2.
    I realise every child and each cohort is different but I am just curious when other schools see chn becoming free readers.

  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Some Schools i know operate a dual system. That is they still work through a Reading Scheme at their appropriate level and then also have a 'Free Reading Book'. So for 'silent reading / reading after they've done all their work etc they can elect to read from their 'Free Reader'. Needs checking evry so often to ensure they aren't over-stretching themselves, but rarely will a child do that.
  3. Isobeleh

    Isobeleh New commenter

    As a Junior School teacher, this whole 'getting them onto chapter books while in KS1' kills me. I spend the first two terms of the year defending my decision of placing all of the kids back onto a scheme (with only the last band having chapter books) as their comprehension is so poor. I have a little group of parents who literally hate me over this stupid reading scheme. The only saving grace is the children are able to choose a library book every week from our collective school library and if the parent really makes that big a fuss, I tell them not to read their scheme book at home and just keep it for school use. Sorry for the rant, but I agree with @Lara mfl 05 - dual system all the way.
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    As a complete contrast to @Isobeleh , I would get children on to free reading as soon as you possibly can. Once they are happily able to read phase 4/5 words they can more or less read and just need practice. Scheme books tend to be deadly dull and serve a purpose only in the 'learning to decode' part of reading. After that they are just a competition for parents.

    I also wouldn't look at an age for being free readers, but at a reading ability. I used to teach in a school who used ORT books all the way to year 6. They had children in year 6 on stage 16 or some such. Only when a child had read every single book in the entire scheme could they be a free reader. I cannot tell you how much those children hated reading.

    If I had free choice completely I would have decodable books right from the start of reception until children could read the phase 5 linked books, ideally end of year 1/early year 2 approximately. Then really lovely, engaging and interesting free reading books from then on. I'd also have free reading books all over the classroom, not just in the 'reading corner'.

    Our children have scheme books until the end of year 2. I teach year 3 and agree with @Isobeleh that their comprehension is very poor when they arrive, but they are fabulous decoders. I teach, via a whole range of methods, comprehension skills and by Christmas all is well.

    There you go...different teachers use different methods.
    Do whatever suits you and your class.
    digoryvenn, Isobeleh and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  5. Jayman

    Jayman New commenter

    Thank you for your overview Caterpillartobuterfly.

    I realise different people use different things. My concern is the same as what you highlighted.
    Reading comprehension is very poor where as word reading level is relatively good.

    I don't feel chn that I have been receiving of late are able to choose a book that is relevant to their level of understanding.

    I was wondering if other people found that chn were rushed through books rather than understanding what they are reading, growing their imagination and enjoying the content rather than simply saying they have completed a bigger book.

    How would you define a free reader I guess is a better question?
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    My concern, if word reading is good and children are kept on a lower level of scheme, they won't develop comprehension skills because they will skim through too quickly in order to get past the tedium of the dull book. A child's 'reading book' isn't necessarily the best place for them to be learning comprehension skills. Scheme books are great at teaching decoding.

    Maybe ask the free readers to tell you about their favourite part of the book? Or to draw you a picture of a favourite event, making sure they use the colours and ideas the author says in the story? Or ask a few who have read the same book to make up a question for each other?

    When you are doing shared reading, be sure to ask the more able readers higher order questions. Or send them with a TA to read and discuss a more challenging book, that maybe is long enough to go on for a few weeks.

    This gives you some challenging passages for children to read, along with traditional comprehension questions. But, crucially, it also gives ideas for art, drama, DT type activities for each passage as well. Unfortunately not in the preview. Comprehension can be fun!

    Once decoding has been taught, reading should be for pleasure and enjoyment. If a child is enjoying a book, then it is the right book for them at that moment in time.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  7. Isobeleh

    Isobeleh New commenter

    I feel like I should clarify that I do aim for them to be 'free readers' by the end of Year 3 as their actual reading is amazing. I just find it easier to teach comprehension skills with books that are easy to break apart into concepts and ideas, then build up from there. I also agree with @caterpillartobutterfly that reading should be for pleasure and enjoyment. I feel like I got carried away in my initial rant, haha!
  8. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    LOL I'd almost finished mine and then saw yours and thought "Oh *****...might need to clarify that I'm not actually arguing with anyone individually."

    Which is my point (and is so often my point on these boards) Teachers have to do what they find most efficient and easiest. Do whatever suits you and your class! There are a zillion ways to teach reading and to teach comprehension.
    Isobeleh and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  9. Jayman

    Jayman New commenter

    I just feel chn are rushed through reading bands and comprehension isn't considered until they get to Year 2 when suddenly they have a very tricky reading SAT to complete.
    I have parents with unrealistic expectations that because they are a free reader that means they must be working above - but as their comprehension skills are so poor they cannot be.
    It's a problem in my School, but I just wanted to know if other schools had a number of free readers by the end of year 1 going into Year 2.
    My thoughts are that they shouldn't be a free reader without having the relevant comprehension skills. I just wanted to get people's opinions on this before I go to Year 1 team and make some suggestions.
  10. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Forcing a child who is an able reader to read dull reading scheme books is bad, as is rushing children who can't really read through the scheme. Does it have to be one or the other? Can't the genuinely good readers choose what they want, and the not really good readers be on the scheme?

    Children who eat books for breakfast often don't want to do comprehension. It's deadly dull and they just want to get onto the next story. Their comprehension may be fine but that doesn't mean they want to do it in a structured way. That's ot to say they shouldn't be made to - I'm not a believer that everything must be fun - but it might it explain some of their apparently poor comprehension. In an ideal world children would be allowed to just enjoy books until they were much older, then a couple of years of decent comprehension practice would have them sorted for life on that score.
  11. Jayman

    Jayman New commenter

    I agree in an ideal world that would be great. However, we do not live an ideal world and the chn have some pretty challenging comprehension SATs to get through.

    What I am thinking is that there are far too many free readers coming through too soon. I wondered if other had a similar experience.
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Some schools have an intake where more or less no-one is at free reader stage by the end of year 2.
    Other have an intake where the school only uses a scheme in reception.
    As long as children are reading, as often as possible, it matters not if they are a free reader or a scheme reader. They won't get better at comprehension by being on a scheme, nor better at comprehension by being a free reader.

    Comprehension needs to be taught as a stand alone subject, more or less.
    digoryvenn and Lara mfl 05 like this.

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