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help with year 3 girl who can't spell/ read simple words

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by maizie, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. For a start, weekly spelling tests do nothing at all for children's ability to spell. At best they memorise the spellings, get ten out of ten for the test and then forget them (unless they already had them secure in their internal 'spelling bank'! So I wouldn't worry about her falling behind. Plenty of her classmates will be doing much the same!
    It would be interesting to know how spelling has been taught. Has the child been taught to break words into their component sounds and spell each sound in sequence? Phonics should, right from the start, be taught for spelling as well as for reading, but it is amazing the number of children who don't seem to have grasped the concept that the letters they are writing down represent (or are supposed to represent) the sounds in the word they are writing. Whether this is a difficulty within the child or just poor teaching is a moot point.
    Do the word lists that this child is meant to learn relate to any phonic principle, such as having words which all contain the same sound, but with different spellings, or even, just one spelling of a focus sound. Or are they just a random list?
    I would suggest that your friend buys in the Apples & Pears spelling programme (from the Promethean Trust) and takes the child through it. Also, that letter names are banned when learning spellings (some children find it difficult to remember the correct order of a letter string) and the focus is always put on how the sounds are spelled and the order in which they come in the word.
    One major problem with correcting poor spellings is that spelling is affected by kinaesthetic memory; an association of a word with the 'feel' of spelling it. This is very strong and once the *wrong* kinaesthetic memory of a word is embedded it is very hard to alter.
    Of course, ultimately spelling is more difficult than reading as there is no letter 'prompt' to help (unless the child is amazingly good at mentally visualising whole words). Good phonetic spelling is better than random letter strings.
  2. Does she use phonics at all? For instance does she get some letters right because of the sound? It would be useful to analyse why she is struggling. It could be problems with blending and segmenting (knowing the GPCs does not guarantee that she can blend and segment). It could be that she is being required to spell words she does not come across in her reading. If the words are not in her usual vocabulary she is unlikely to recognise the word each time she hears it and will not associate it with a previously learnt spelling. Does she utter the words as she attempts to spell them? Does she join her handwriting when writing the word - doing this might help to imprint the letter order. When she practises does she spell the word in letter names, out loud, or does she write the word? Writing and saying the word is probably best. But you could try various ways to see which suits her best.
  3. ela86

    ela86 New commenter

    Thanks everyone!
    The spellings she is given have no pattern to them at all- how on earth is this supposed to be helping her!? It just makes me wonder where this school is getting their spelling lists from...or how they are teaching the kids to read/ write for that matter! Mum says that she gets a new reading book everyday even though she cannot read them, she thinks her daughter may be completely demotivated to "learn" to read these books as she knows she will be getting a new one anyway...
    The poor girl doesn't seem to have been taught how to break down words at all, she is struggling to write words as simple as "IS" "and" or "on", she is also struggling to read these- I am quite worried about her, it is not a good sign when a year 3 child soon to be year 4 cannot read or spell simple high frequency words right?
    Mum is pushing to have her assessed just in case she has dyslexia (she is top of the class for maths but bottom for literacy, doesn't make sense at all) I might be wrong, but I don't think it is dyslexia I just think that her teachers haven't had the patience to teach her basics properly- I am fuming as I write this, not sure what to recommend next though!
  4. ela86

    ela86 New commenter

    Thanks Minizog,
    I can only imagine your daughter's frustration, poor thing, I understand what you mean about her feeling like rubbish and finally knowing it was dyslexia probably helped to raise her esteem and confidence again.
    It really makes me wonder what on earth these teachers are thinking of humiliating children, aren't we here to help them learn!?
  5. Amazingly brilliant resources on International Phonics - thank you very much. x
  6. Hi Ela, I don't know if this might help. I know a few people who swear by this method and if you watch the video's on the site I can see why. Might be a bit controversial to some, but hey, if it works, it's got to be worth a look right?

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