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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:57 pm 
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My daughter is great at NVR (full or almost full marks since test 1), and is also excellent in spelling and grammar. Her maths is good - mostly full marks in tests at school, but some areas not taught yet, so not full marks in tests at home.

Her weaknesses, and these have not been raised at termly school 1-1 meeting with teachers, are comprehension which she struggles with, and composition which is also hard for her and is in my opinion very weak. I've started doing these with her in the evening using tests and some helpful workbooks in these subjects and it is beginning to make a difference, but I was (1) shocked how bad she is, and (2) shocked that her teacher thinks that she is fine!! I've also realised that her vocabulary is weak for her age.

There are number of children at her school with english as a second language, and 3 children have extra lessons in class whilst the rest are at prayers so I suspect the teacher is also focusing on KS2 results, and trying to achieve at least level 4 for everyone. I don't think that this is the only issue however.

I am lucky to live close to Muswell Hill and Crouch End where the charity shops sell a fantastic selection of children's books (any size) at 4 for £1. We have 3 bookshelves full of children's books to suit age 6 and 10 and a bit beyond. We have a story at bed-time most days and talk about them. I was a university librarian until DD2 was born so reasonably good at choosing (I hope!)

My older daughter however, would happily spend hours playing games on her DS. We have resticted her to about 1hr on weekdays and slightly more at weekends in the winter when the weather is bad, but I've now realised that might be part of the problem. At the moment we agreed that she would give it up for 3 weeks and read to see if it helps with her English, and if it improves she'll get a treat and DS back but for limited time weekly.

Has anyone experienced this ? Any feedback would be appreciated!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:33 pm
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Location: London
Hi 2girlsmum. I don't have all that much experience of this, but it strikes me that you're expecting a lot from three weeks of giving up Nintendo!

As lots of people on this forum have pointed out, of all the skills needed to pass 11+, reading and comprehension are the ones that can't be crammed but need to be built up over a long period of time.

It sounds as if you're doing very good work with your daughter, but I suspect you'll need to think in terms of building up her skills over months rather than weeks. Your agreement with her that she should cut down on DS time and read more will provide a good kickstart, but the change will have to be long-term if it's going to make a real difference. (Of course, you don't have to tell her that yet! One day at a time....)

You don't say how old your DD is, but presumably she's about 10 and at that age, even a few months can make a big difference in skills, especially if you're supporting her. Agree that the school probably are more bothered about the borderline cases than someone who will comfortably get a Level 4.

I don't think one hour a day on the DS sounds like a great deal - others may disagree, but it sounds reasonable to me. So maybe the DS is not the problem here - it's just something that she finds difficult (as many children do) but that will improve with time and practice.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:38 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 12:06 pm
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Location: Birmingham
We were somewhat unfortunate to have a wii as addition to the house in March. This was entirely my fault as I ended up being cajoled a few weeks before the exams into promising my son that if he gets his first choice Grammar he can have one (we have no other computer games and no TV ariel). I did make it clear that the wii was for his first choice school only and if he got his second choice, well, very good, but no wii.
Well, against all my expectations he gained his first choice and it was down to Tesco to stump up the cash.
As you can imagine, this quickly turned into an obsession (well, 1-2 hours a day). Not ideal for either him or ds2 who still has to get through the exams...

This was my solution:
2 glass jars on the fireplace
Bags of marbles - 5 blue ones for ds1, 5 green ones for ds2 and 5 pink ones for dd.
When they read a good book (i.e not Bob the builder or some such) for 30 mins (at once), they have earned a marble, it goes in the wii bank jar on the right (nearest the wii). When they spend 30 mins on the wii, the marble gets used up and goes back into the left hand 'used up' jar. They have to read for 30 mins in order to put it back in the wii bank jar and use it again.
Fortunately this has ensured that the reading continued without being lost!

I also buy loads of books from the charity shops - and still do. But I have to be honest and say that as they've got older, I've compiled book lists - we either buy these or order them from the library -and through doing that we've really increased the quality of what is read, rather than a 'pot luck' approach. Its also great when I see a book that I know is on the list, in a charity shop!

Hope that was helpful


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 4:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:06 pm
Posts: 46
Location: Kingston upon Thames
I have similar problems with reading. My DD loved reading until this year when she suddenly became more mature and realised that other things are "more cool". She doesn't play a lot on electronic games, probably an hour at weekends (during weekdays no games) but she keeps herself busy with other things and reads less and less. :(
I'm trying to compile a reading list for her - she is level 5c at school, 10 years old - but it's not easy as English is not my first language. I would be greatful if someone can help and suggest some interesting books. Mysteries, adventures - that always goes well.
Thanks.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 4:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 12:06 pm
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Location: Birmingham
Girls may be interested in slightly different books from boys, but my ds (age 11) favourite authors were/are:

Zizou Corder )The Lion Boy series and Halo)
Michael Morpurgo (I think there's over 100 of them!)
Philip Pullman (best known for Northern Lights trilogy but has written many others for children)
William Nicholson (Wind on Fire Trilogy and Noble Warriors trilogy).

I've listed these in order of 'hardness/sophistication'.

Hope that is helpful!


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 4:24 pm 
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My dd likes books by Paul Jennings - and Dahl, but also classics like "Toms Midnight Garden". A while ago she was obsessed with the "Spiderwick Chronicals". Read them all and is waiting for the latest few which have only recently been written.
She also likes Cathy Hopkins for light reading, but they are a little old for her i think, so i keep a check to what the storyline is about.
Oh yeah she is 11 years old :D


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:31 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:06 pm
Posts: 46
Location: Kingston upon Thames
Thanks for your replies. I found in your posts a couple of new writers that my DD hasn't come across yet, so will try them.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:26 am 
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We were stranded (it's a tough life!) in Majorca for 8 extra days over Easter and I managed to be strict and have a 2hrs reading= 1 hr DSi rule. She read 3 books, wrote 2 1 A4 page essays and did 6 comprehension tests! Possibly more than would have been achieved at school:) She made friends with a girls on the beach in yr 8 at Latymer too, which we only realised after talking for a while.....

So...the upshot is that her DSi will be a treat now rather than a daily 'on demand' activity, and only given when good work is done in English. I hate to be strict, but it is already paying dividends in terms of her English.


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PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 10:11 am 
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Location: Not in a hole in the ground but in a land where once they dwelt-the Beormingas
My older daughter however, would happily spend hours playing games on her DS. We have resticted her to about 1hr on weekdays and slightly more at weekends in the winter when the weather is bad, but I've now realised that might be part of the problem. At the moment we agreed that she would give it up for 3 weeks and read to see if it helps with her English, and if it improves she'll get a treat and DS back but for limited time weekly.

Has anyone experienced this ? Any feedback would be appreciated!


We recently purchased a DS and I have noticed the detrimental effects it has upon the reading habit, even though my children are very fortunate to have a mini library at home (we have seven bookcases of wonderful children's books).

In general, I have restricted the DS to the weekend: only 2/5 of my DC are allowed to use the DS for 15 mins during weekdays (as part of their 11+ training).

I also, dislike being strict but I do feel that it is more effective to give the DS in short bursts. My concern is that I have a child who despite her age, is still not in a reading habit and the DS has the most effect upon her. :( I have three DC who still find the time to complete a novel every 3 days but given a free rein with the DS, I suspect it would have reduced their time spent on reading dramatically.


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