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Ruth's Blog: Whoopsy Daisy

Me: How’s Daisy doing?

Mark: Not very well, actually. She’s in the bottom group. We’ve just had her end of Year 2 report - it says she’s great at maths but not at reading. The teacher thinks she’s probably dyslexic.

Me: Do you listen to Daisy read?

Mark:  We try, but she doesn’t want to. She hates reading. It’s weird. Some days she can read a bit and other days she can’t. We can’t work out why. It’s not that she’s lazy; she’ll do anything else with us - loves listening to stories. We’re reading Harry Potter at the moment.

Me: What reading scheme is she following?

Mark: Don’t know. They’re different every night.

Me: Can you remember any of the titles?

Mark: Biff and Chip come up a bit.

Me: So she’s reading Oxford Reading Tree books?

Mark: No, not every night. Just now and again.

Me: Can she sound out words?

Mark: Some of them, in some books. Not always.

Me: How does she choose her books to bring home?

Mark: Not sure, she chooses them from a box. Something about bands. Daisy’s not sure why she chooses them either. We do ask.

Me:  Hmmmm. Bands! Bring Daisy over next time you’re here.

The following week…

Daisy arrives with Mark and her mum, Michelle.

I do what I always do – find the Goldilocks spot. (Not too easy, not too hard.)

Daisy can read all the alphabet sounds and a handful of digraphs. She can blend these sounds into words -– albeit a bit slowly. We try the first set of storybooks - too easy, the next - too easy, the next - just right! She can read all the sounds in these books and the stories are just the right length for her, until she builds up some speed and learns more sounds.

Daisy practises reading the words at the front of the book and then reads the story. She reads most words straight off and sounds out a few on each page. She reads the whole book with very little help. She’s a joy to work with - such a bright little thing.

Me: Brilliant.

Mark: Wow.

Michelle: You are so amazing. I knew you’d be able to read.

Daisy: Can I read another story?

Later in the day…

Me: I’ve jotted down how to read my little storybooks with Daisy.

(See my notes to Mark and Michelle at the end).

Mark: Thanks – we’ll really get going now.

Me: What makes me mad, is that no one would teach Daisy the notes B, A, G on her recorder and then give her a tune to play with B, A, G, C, D – and tell her to work out how to play D and C on her own. So why is Daisy expected to choose books from a Banded box with a plethora of reading schemes, all with different sets of sounds and words – only some of which she can sound out? You get an unloved book to read with Daisy every night and she returns it unloved and I bet, more often than not, unread.

She should be taking home two books: a ‘real book’ for you to read to her, and a Storybook at her ‘Goldilocks spot’ that she’s read two or three times. She’d read it with love, and you could say ‘Wow’ every night.

If she’d had any problems, the Reception teacher would’ve given her a bit of extra one-to-one help. She wouldn’t have left her to struggle until the end of Year 2!

Her teacher sounds lovely but she doesn’t realise that these Book Bands are crippling Daisy. It’s not her fault though. She does what most teachers do. Book Banding has become the norm.

What’s so sad is that although you’re educated you haven’t got a clue what’s going on. What about parents who aren’t…

And another thing. Daisy is not dyslexic.

Mark: Phew! We’re on the case. We’ll see you next Friday.

Two weeks later.

Me: How’s Daisy doing?

Mark: She’s reading two books a night. She asks us if she can read now. What’s great is that she knows she can read every word in every book. Her eyes don’t stray to the pictures before she reads each word; she actually looks at each word – willingly! Her sense of panic’s gone.

Notes to Mark and Michelle

Get Daisy to:

  • Read the sounds and words before she reads the story – these are at the front of the book
  • When she reads the story, ask her to sound out the words she can’t read automatically. Don’t make her struggle too much but praise her to the heavens when she succeeds
  • Read back each sentence or page to Daisy to keep the plot moving. (Her energy’s going into reading the words not the story)
  • Practise reading the sound cards ready for the next set of books - as I showed you today
  • Keep reading great stories to her
  • Do it all with patience and love!