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Rethinking home reading - does anyone not send books home?

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by tambie, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. I'm trying to decide what to do about sending reading books home for my reception class. We have sent home colour coded reading scheme books in the past and I was thinking of moving to phonic books matched to their ability. Then I heard of a local school who don't send books home at all (except a library book to share each week).
    I wondered if anyone else does this and how it works?
  2. I'm trying to decide what to do about sending reading books home for my reception class. We have sent home colour coded reading scheme books in the past and I was thinking of moving to phonic books matched to their ability. Then I heard of a local school who don't send books home at all (except a library book to share each week).
    I wondered if anyone else does this and how it works?
  3. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    If you send home 'phonic book matched to [children's] ability,' are you not running the risk of expecting untrained parents to teach reading?
  4. That's exactly why I was thinking of stopping sending home books as we have before. Parents often don't read with their children, or children say their parents washed up while they read or say their parents wrote in their diary and they didn't read! Many parents also say that the children are too tired after a long day.
    I considered phonic books as this seemed a better idea than our look and guess scheme books but when I heard the idea of not sending any scheme books home this seemed a bit radical but the more I think about it the more sense it makes.
  5. we are in a transition period atm. We send home one scheme book (most of ours are good phonic scheme books anyway, all the look and guess ones were chucked about 18 months ago). I also send home one "proper" book each week which the children choose for themselves. Each child has a bookmark which has the letter sounds and sight words they know and 2 or 3 new ones written on. Parents, and teachers too, use the bookmark alongside sharing the book to allow children to have a go at the words they know or go back and spot the works/sounds once they have read the story. It does seem to be working well. The children LOVE the books and they seem to be learning to read as well as they have in the past just with scheme books.
  6. We're just starting a new method (Oz) in my school where we have given the parents a table of what to expect for this term, then building on a term at a time. Naturally those who are already reading will be catered for appropriately. Actual reading scheme books won't be sent till mid-year so that the kids get exposed to literacy games, letters and sounds in the environment, etc. When I worked in the UK the tradition was to send home a reading scheme book. That's not the case in my school though we sure are heading in your direction.

    Are early readers a good thing or not? As always it depends on the ability of the child and commitment and support received from home. I would rather hold off sending them, but you do need to have a very informative session with your school community if that is the tradition and expectation already. You will get some very challenging questions.
  7. What a relief to know I'm not the only one who isn't keen on sending books home!
    I have parents who seem to see reading books andsome sort of status symbol so I've taken to sending home reading games (word bingo or word and picture matching cards etc) instead. I am really pushing the idea that reading is not ALL about books!! Most seem happy with that too which is good. I am sending some books home though perhaps alternating with games for the ones who can read quite well.
  8. Ok I'm now posting in what I think may be the format of a "troll" but I'm about to rant possibly unprofessionally and entirely as a parent so didn't want to use my usual username (sorry).
    I am truly fed up with the reading books my son brings home. He went to school reading cvc words and could manage some books (not pushed by my i hasten to add he was just keen and I offered him opportunities at every stage, planning next steps as every good early years educator would :). Now he is year one and is at home reading Roald Dahl with understanding, but at times he can become a little engrossed and not play which I think is equally important so I try to encourage him to do other stuff.
    Each night he comes home with a book that is well below his reading level, which I have discussed with school at length (but they can't speed him up, they have a bit but not really). I tried to extend the books by googling subjects in book, drawing pics etc. I spoke to school about how we would be best to go forward and was told don't worry just let him read them to him and discuss? I have been labeled the pushy parent me thinks (teacher who doesn't know when to but out), which is not the case at all it is simply that I want it to be a useful experience that he is not bored with and school reading is something we do because we have to.
    So anyway I have now taken the stance that we are reading the books REALLY quickly no related activities get through them as quick as we can so that he can get to his real stage quicker!!! We are jumping through hoops while I do the washing up or cook the dinner, exactly what I would have never advocated in a million years!
    So my view of home reading is :( and I would advocate games, real reading from environment over books any day, I honestly would have never thought it would be such a bane to my life until I became a mum and this is the opposite end of the extreme to many of friends children who have to battle the kids to read in the first place.
    Ps. I realise there is a bigger issue than the reading books here, and I'm attempting to deal with it but not with brilliant success at mo. Only way that may work is changing school but there are other considerations to that.
  9. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    How is reading for pleasure not play?
    If a child is anjoying his reading and making progress, why will he need his parent ot 'plan next steps'? Surely the next step is the next book!
    It sounds to me as if you're ambivalent about your child's bookwormish habits. Real reading over books? What on earth is that about?
    I do agree that some teachers stick slavishly to schemes due to some weird completionist tendencies even when a child is champing at the bit and perfectly capable of having a go at the more interesting stuff. But please don't ration his reading!
  10. Inky you aren't my son's teacher are you? :). Firstly Reading is not play ?Play is freely chosen; personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child...Play can be fun or serious. Through play children explore social, material and imaginary worlds and their relationship with them, elaborating all the while a flexible range of responses to the challenges they encounter.?
    Best Play - Children?s Play Council
    That's not reading, if I were to say he spent the whole day every day on the psp would you think that appropriate? If he reads all day it means he engages in any interaction, no movement not good for any one. He may be a brilliant reader but he certainly lacks other skills that are not accedemically measured. The more he reads the less easy it is to engage him in anything else, sort of a daze!!
    When I was talking about next steps I was meaning pre reading level. And even now to some degree it's not just about next book, what would be the point if he read the whole library but didn't notice the sign that said stop/ danger? Which is actually the case he rarely notices any signs in the road, but then he doesn't always notice the road :)
    I am a little ambivilant about his reading so many parents seem to "champ at the bit" to boast at thier child's reading level and at the end of the day it is just one element of a child's learning (all be it an important one, and I am excited about his abilities but am equally excited when he makes a huge mess and tells me there was an explosion!). By real reading I simply meant reading a scheme book seems to me like jumping through hoops without any meaning or reasoning. And I echo again my desire for him not to be reading all the time is about him not missing out on other stuff it would be the same if it was another "obsession".
    His school is certainly a slave to the scheme, I've tried to stay really positive about the books they send home to my son but he says "Why do they give me these books when they are so easy". I make up excuses why, when I said to him his teacher needed to be sure he could read all of the books and words, he suggested that he could sit in the library all day and read the books onto a video he thought he could get through at least 40 a day and then she'd know. Made me smile, anyway.
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Mark Twain

    Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.
  12. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Curling up with a book was definitely play for me. I chose to do it, chose the books, and was actively engaged with stories, some of which were fun, and some serious. Through books I explored social, material and imaginary worlds.

  13. Wotworklifebalance

    Wotworklifebalance New commenter

    I'm sorry. Am I missing something? If your son is schoosing to read in what way is it not play by YOUR definition?Freely choosen - check
    Personally directed - check
    intrinsically motivated - check
    actively engages - check
    fun or serious - check
    explores social, material and imaginary worlds - check, as long as your son is reading a range of books.
    I really don't see your problem.
    I have 3 children, all of whom have been avid readers since they were 4-ish and could read. They used to read at breakfast, they read on the loo, in the car etc. Now aged 15,13 and 12 they are all perfectly well adjusted, fit and healthy youngsters with a range of interests. My daughter dances 4 times a week and acts in musicals a couple of times a year, my elder son plays hockey, rugby and cricket for his school and my younger son is a fab cook. They all have friends, still love reading and are, I think, fantastic people (I will admit to being slightly biased). I can safely say thatI never planned any next steps for them!
    Let the boy read if he wants to!
    As to his scheme books from school pay the teacher the courtesy of reading them - if your son is as fab a reader as you say it can't take more than a minute or two. Support the class teacher when your son questions why he has to read them - tell him it's important to read lots of different sorts of books. Some of them aren't that bad, some of them are actually quite funny. If your son is given plenty of opportunities to read a wide range of books outside school spending a couple of minutes readingan "easy" book isn't going to stunt his development. I suggest that if you have serious concerns about the way that your school is teaching reading you make an appointment to have a chat to the class teacher and if you are still unhappy make an appointment to see the head.
    To the OP, whatever you do you need to have your head/senior management on board. My reception children take a "library" book home from our book boxes from day 1, they can change this as often as they like. We have a wide range of books in the boxes - although not as much poetry as I would like. Bizarrely one of my littlies has taken to choosing from the box books which he has at home! Weird, but then he's a funny bunny. I have Where's Wally, Dr Who annuals, non-fiction, beginner chapter books ...
    They start taking a pink level scheme book anytime from the October half-term onwards - when I feel that they are ready to start reading. Last year my last one started taking these home in about May. Because they all change their own books whenever they like there is no competition and no-one is really aware of what any-one else is doing so no-one feels left out.
    In general the books that the children are taking home are a colour level below the level that they are reading in guided reading sessions at school to prevent the terrible tension that can arise between parents and children. Books taken home are for reading practise not for parents to teach the children to read and this is exactly what I say to parents who complain that the books that their children are taking home are too easy. As far as I'm aware all of my parents are happy with this (I teach Reception to Year 2). I review the level that the children are reading regularly - informally every time that I read with a child, formally with my TA in a 1/2 termly review meeting (sounds very posh! We have a quick chat during golden time!)
    If you do decide to scrap taking books home I would plan a parent's meeting, with your head there too, to explain the changes and your rationale. Expect lots of very upset and angry parents - not because you are wrong but because people don't like change and because it is such an ingrained thing that children take a book home.

  14. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    Where I work the F2 class had traditionally taken home colour coded readers (including the lilac ones with no words) from September. I decided not to do that as I think giving children look and guess books defeats all the wonderful teaching of phonics that we do. I got our PTA to buy my class some decoable readers. Children now are given a decodable book once they can successfully blend CVC words. Almost half the class now has a book, and I think there may be 2-3 children who won't get one until the summer term, but most of the others are well on their way. All the children also get to take a story book home from our book box to share at home.
  15. The original post was about whether to scrap reading book go home, I was giving my opinion as a mother (not teacher) which has completely changed from my teacher perspective. The problem is he HATES the books he brings home from school!!! He reads them without a fuss because I am upbeat about them and say we need to do it but he will still tell people how boring they are.

    The post has been hyjacked by my opinions of my child's reading habits. There would not be a problem if he simply read a lot that is not the issue!!! But it is all he does without encouragement to do anything else.
    1) If he reads for more than an hour ish he zones out for a period of about 15 mins (like a teenager).
    2) If you need to talk to him when he is reading you have to physically touch him to get any form of attention.
    3) He does not move.
    It does not present opportunities to build on other areas of his development
    He seriously struggles with sharing, he often is often aggresive to sibling for daring to venture into his space, he struggles with conversations that are anything other than his interests, he struggles with following verbal instructions, his reading is more fluent than his speech, playing with other children or adults is almost non existent. I would honestly have no problem with his reading if he was rounded in his development, his little bro reads books quite a lot but he is not struggling with other areas. Work for life, did you never buy your child magnetic letters because they were interested, or show them how to make letters in playdough, or buy them write words under their drawings because you knew that would interest them? Or anything of the stuff, that is planning next steps I'm not talking writing plans love and actually originally it was tongue in cheek. I didn't want people to think I had drilled him to learn to read it just sort of happened and I facilitated it as he become interested in new aspects.
  16. I sympathise with you - the trolls are at work here, so ignore them if you can. It's always good to have a discussion about things, but when it turns into picking on one's beliefs, then it's gone too far - we can all find random quotes to back up our points of view.
    It's very idealistic to think of a child choosing to read during all of their free-time, but I agree that in reality, this is not a good idea for a young child. Fantastic that he loves reading, but not at the expense of <u>all</u> other skills. I've had children in my class who choose to 'colour in' at every available free moment - fantastic - great for developing handwriting, other fine motor skills, creativity, social interaction (two girls who used to sit together and colour), but I continually offered them other opportunities to ensure they had access to the rest of the curriculum to develop interest, knowledge of the world around them, socialising with other children, etc.
    Another example is my cousin's child - a very bright boy from the outset, who could read simple sentences before starting school. He would have been the same as the child in question, reading at EVERY opportunity, if he could. My cousin made him go to cricket and football training when he was 7, in an attempt to get him moving and socialising. This was the best move she ever made in my opinion! He hated it at first, but now plays county cricket, aged 23, and also has a first class degree in English Literature!
    Couldn't help but join in with this discussion, highlighting my very 'real-life' example, after reading some of these posts. We do what we think is best at any one time - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't - I certainly wouldn't get rid of reading books (some decodable, some not!) in my school after 15 years of being one of the most successful schools in the county, and having had two 'outstanding' Ofsted inspections in the last 5 years.
    Good luck! :)
  17. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I sympathise. Is your son in the right guided reading and phonics groups at school, or is he being made to endure some pointless stuff at school too? If he's in the top groups for everything already, there's no benefit to him reading the boring old school books that come home.
    Someone suggested that you should give the teacher the courtesy of him reading these books. Well why? She didn't go to the trouble of writing them did she? Usually it is the child that has to walk each day over to a box with a particular colour label on it, and stick it in their school bag. It's hardly a big deal for the teacher.
    Unless your son is being questioned about the school readers that get sent home, I would just write some non-descript comment in the reading record each time a book comes home, and not get your son to read it. You could just for example put a tick, and sign your name. You won't have lied.
    You might find that once you stop asking your son to read them, he develops his own sense of duty that tells him he ought to read them no matter how badly written they are. And if he doesn't, well never mind, you've saved him and you some hassle that day.
    Or perhaps he would enjoy reading them if was then allowed to write a review of each book and submit it to the teacher. She might find it amusing!
    I fully sympathise with your other issues with him. It sounds like you have developed a teenager early on in life, but fortunately, one that reads. Is there anything outdoors that fits with the bookish approach that you can nurture in him?
    I'm sure that you'll find that as he gets older and other kids catch up with him on the intellectual side things will improve. He's probably not on the same wavelength as any of them right now, and that's not his fault.

  18. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Oh, and the rest of the thread, I'm afraid I haven't understood a word of it. What is this paranoia about sending books home, like parents might do something dreadful with them?
    How do you prevent parents doing something unsuitable with books they have obtained from elsewhere, which no doubt they will do if you don't send suitable ones home?
    It was quite interesting the point that someone made higher up that there is more to reading than books .......... well yes, but as educators, what is the issue you have with books? How do you feel about those free books that get handed out to children at the age of 12 months and 36 months, and early on in reception? And the existence of public libraries? In the hands of the wrong parents, this is all dangerous stuff.
    What planet are you on?

  19. Mystery and Giraffe thank you very much you both hit the nail perfectly on the head! Unfortunately he dosn't even choose his own book never has (which I think is sad) they put it in a box if it needs changing and then the TA changes it to one they haven't read. I have polietely had several conversations with his teachers, but to no avail really. I am seriously considering changing schools but we don't have many suitable alternatives and child care would be an issue, I have even considered home schooling and joining those groups so we ensure the social side isn't neglected. I'd send him independent, but I know we are going to go through the same stuff again in sept... when little bro starts who already reading, isn't four yet and his maths is at the same level as his brother he's just watching a learning. At school he does more basic stuff than he gets for home, even though he's in the "top" set in a mixed yr 1/2 group. But interestingly his homework is pitched just right, think he gets yr 3/4 homework. Thanks for kind words about things improving when peers catch up to him, I worry that by the time that happens he will have missed out such a chunk of social learning he won't know where to begin. Any way thank you for seeing my point of view. Any way happy sunday we are going to go out to woods little one will run around and look for monsters and bears, big one may join but is likely to take his explorer kit and clip board and look for bugs :) daddy can pickup logs so we can see more bugs and I will squirm, lets hope for not too much rain.
  20. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    If you can find just one child that he can play with regularly who he gets on with (after some practice and bad experiences maybe!) this will be good social practice. It's not the same as being buddies with everyone in the class, but who knows, there's years ahead of him and that could still happen.
    And it might not be another boy. And don't understimate the amount that children learn from seeing your own adult social encounters.

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