Please help with spelling worries

(21 Posts)
Worriedmum42 Thu 11-Feb-16 21:05:51

Hi, I have name changed for this. I am really worried about my dd spelling and so is her teacher! She is almost 7, in year 2. Her reading is really good (if it means anything KS2 brown books), good expression, fluency and fab understanding. She read early and ALWAYS has her nose in a book!
She has great ideas for writing and a wide vocabulary. She uses capital letters, full stops, commas, exclamation marks, question marks, speech marks etc. But her spelling is a real concern. She also reverses b's and d's. This is not something she has always done but started somewhere in y1 and I think she has made it into a real issue.
She doesn't enjoy writing (long story but in previous school had to do big write every week and grew to hate it). I don't know what to do, we practice spellings and she gets 10/10 in spelling tests but her general writing is full of errors which if I asked her to spell in isolation she could or at least have a much more accurate attempt.
I have some examples that I will try to attach.

Anyone have any words of wisdom?


irvine101 Fri 12-Feb-16 07:19:58

Your dd sounds like almost identical to my ds, except for b and d issue.
Perfect grammar, perfect spelling test, vast vocabulary. Yet, when he is writing, he makes silly spelling mistakes. I was shocked to see his books at parents evening.
In my ds's case, the reason why it happens is, he is more concentrated on writing itself, and not paying attention to spelling, I assume. He can correct himself if he read it again, so it's definitely not spelling issue for my ds. He hates writing in general, so I told him to be careful, but that's all we did. Otherwise, he will hate it even more.

irvine101 Fri 12-Feb-16 07:20:37

By the way, your dd has beautiful handwriting!

CauliflowerBalti Fri 12-Feb-16 07:23:32

My son is in year 3, his handwriting is significantly worse than your daughter's - significantly - and his spelling is on a par, I would say. He used to reverse his bs and ds but no longer does. 3s still sometimes come out backwards though. I am assured that this is absolutely normal. Don't worry.

Worriedmum42 Fri 12-Feb-16 10:59:26

Thanks for your comments. I am not worried about her handwriting it is purely the spelling and knowing how to support her with his, like you say without turning her off writing completely.
Thanks again

maizieD Fri 12-Feb-16 11:06:25

What method does she use for learning spellings?

BosomySusan Fri 12-Feb-16 11:11:00

Watching with interest because we have exactly the same issue with my DD who is 9. Good in spelling tests, hopeless in normal writing. We've tried the say,cover,write way of learning spellings. They're now using thrass spelling cards. But they only seem to help with learning that week's words, nothing makes a difference with her normal writing.

socktastic Fri 12-Feb-16 12:52:28

Can she identify her own mistakes? Have her read over her work and highlight misspelled words. If she can identify them it could be a speed issue. I see it often with children who are so keen to get their ideas out onto paper that spelling strategies go clean out the window.

If not, it could indicate a specific difficulty with spelling. I wouldn't use the word dyslexic though, but it is a dyslectic difficulty (it's a long spectrum and most people are on it somewhere).

Also, from what you describe, your daughter sounds like a fairly switched on intelligent girl. Has she been specifically taught any spelling rules? If not then take the time to explain why her words are spelled wrong. Eg words spelled with tch rather than ch spellings.

maizieD Fri 12-Feb-16 13:42:47

Look, Say, Cover, Write and Check is not a good method for learning spellings. It requires that a child learns, letter by letter, every single word that they need for their written vocabulary. As this amounts to several thousand words it can be an impossibility for many children.

The most effective way to learn spellings is to identify the sounds in a word and spell each sound in the order in which it comes in the word. Ideally this should be done right from the start of a child's systematic phonics based instruction for reading and spelling. Unfortunately it doesn't always happen, or, the phonics based method of teaching spelling is not consisently carried on as the child progresses through the school. There are still plenty of teachers around who think that phonics is baby stuff; not needed past KS1.

One of the biggest problems of remediating poor spelling when children are older is the fact which many people are completely unaware of, namely, that spelling is largely influenced by kinaesthetic memory, i.e the 'feel' of actually writing a word. The more often a word is written wrongly the more embedded the kinaesthetic memory of the 'wrong' spelling becomes. That is why, although a child might memorise a letter string long enough to get full marks in a spelling test, if the words in the test are words that the child frequently spells wrongly, in 'normal' writing situations they will not be concentrating on the letter string need to correctly spell the word; kinaesthetic memory will take over and, of course, that will be the memory of the 'wrong' spelling.

When we were children, many years ago, we always had to write corrected spellings at least 10 times. I think our 1950s teachers had a better grasp of the power of kinaestheic memory than many modern teachers do.

I couldn't see OPs image very well. But would it be fair to say that her DD's spelling tends to be at least phonetically correct?

irvine101 Fri 12-Feb-16 14:13:15

maizieD, after reading your post, I became a bit worried.
My ds doesn't practice spelling at all, but gets 100 % for test.(I think his memory is very good, by reading books, he learns spelling as well.) But when he is writing, he does make mistakes.(He can correct himself.)
Do you think we need to do something about it? Teacher never mentioned any concerns so far.

maizieD Fri 12-Feb-16 19:21:26

I suppose it depends on what sort of mistakes he makes and how many. Does he self correct (does he proof read)? Do his mistakes get picked up for correction in school? Are the mistakes 'phonetic' or are they wildly out?

Remind me, what year is he?

I wouldn't worry too much if he doesn't make many errors, if he can self correct and if school are on his case. But if he's spelling the same words wrong all the time I'd be trying to get him to practice repeatedly writing the words correctly, preferably saying each sound as he writes it, so as to try to create automatic 'correct' spelling. And looking at how he approaches spelling unfamiliar words. Is it sound by sound or by trying to remember letter strings using letter names. The latter is far more difficult for many children.

Experience with struggling readers, and just working at a Sec, tells me that poor spelling is far more of a universal problem than is poor reading and that it is actually more difficult to correct because of the kinaesthetic memory aspect.

As an aside.
I know that a lot of schools are keen on children learning keyboard skills (because nobody write things longhand these days...) but I personally think that it should wait until spelling is secure as it inevitably demands letter by letter spelling and doesn't create the same kinaesthetic memory.

If anyone has access to a good text to speech programme that can be really useful for children learning keyboard skills as it will repeat exactly what has been written and make errors immediately obvious. A word has to be spelled right for the programme to read it correctly!

irvine101 Fri 12-Feb-16 19:43:49

Thank you, maizieD. He doesn't proof read, that's the problem. Spelling mistakes are most likely to be missed letters in the words. When he is writing, he rushes and skip the letter, I think. It seems like more of careless mistake. If I asked him how to spell the word on the spot, he can answer correctly. And when he writes on computer, he always self corrects his mistakes. Also when he has writing homework, I will ask him to read it again, and he can correct himself.(Making him proof read is the hardest part of doing homework, he hates writing.)
I saw quite a lot of mistakes on his books at parents evening, but teacher never mentioned anything about it. And I don't think teacher actually knows he doesn't even practice spelling list at home, because he says he knows how to spell them, and he gets 10/10 every week. Is that something to worry about?

maizieD Fri 12-Feb-16 20:18:53

I don't think he sounds like a lost cause, Irvine! if he really finds spelling that easy it's probably more down to rushing to get through a task he doesn't like.

Would his teacher be willing to chivvy him a bit about those missing letters?

Why doesn't he like writing?

irvine101 Fri 12-Feb-16 21:42:36

Thank you maizieD. I think he doesn't like writing because he is just lazy...
He doesn't mind writing on computer. He hates showing working out on maths as well. And I don't suspect anything wrong with his fine motor skills or dysgraphia etc. Just seems like pure laziness.
I think I might ask the teacher what she thinks about his poor spelling after half term. Thank you for your help.

Worriedmum42 Sat 13-Feb-16 15:58:10

Thanks for the comments. I have been thinking about all the comments and looking at her work. She has always been given spellings to learn using look, cover, write check and I can take these comments on board as she is a very visual learner. What I mean is she will learn those 10 words very quickly, know the order in the list etc so I think she has missed that element of looking closely at the sounds in the words. Also, as I said she read early and now reads well and rarely needs to sound out words. When she does she is lazy in her approach as I think she feels this slows her down and so does not always break the words down accurately. Today I have done some work with her and feel that she is lacking confidence in using long vowel sounds and not necessarily stretching a word (to hear all the syllables) when she writes it.
I plan to do some back to basics with her with these sounds and see how we go. In isolation her spelling is fine but it is when she is writing a story etc it all seems to fall out of her head.
I was thinking just short regular revision of the long vowels etc...

With regard to the reversals of b / d today I just go to focussed on getting her to write b lots of times whilst saying bbbbbbb and then she wrote words with b but not anything with d. Do you think this is ok, so just focussing on the b for a few days and then d and keeping them separate. I was taking this from the comment on getting it into her memory correctly.

Sorry for the ramble but does this seem OK?

maizieD Sat 13-Feb-16 23:19:16

I think your focussing on the b & d separately is a good idea. A suggestion I found quite helpful (for reading as well as writing) is to relate the letters to the mouth shapes made when you say their sounds.

So, when you say /b/ you start with your mouth closed (straight line) then open it (circle). When you say /d/ you start with an open mouth (circle). So when writing them (and assuming that the child forms letters in the correct direction, from left to right) they are written in the 'mouth shape' order, upright line comes before the 'circle' for 'b' while the 'circle' is first for the 'd'.

It is more complex to explain in writing than it is to teach! Let your dd watch you form the sounds first then do it herself so that she can see and feel the difference. (I'm sorry that the /d/ mouth shape doesn't ever form a 'straight line' but once the 'circle is in place the only thing that can come after is the upright line smile.) I sometimes found that I had to reinforce the correct direction for letter forming as the commonest fault children had was, for both letters, to write the upright line first and go backwards to form the 'd' and forwards for the 'b'. Of course, the 'confusers' couldn't remember which letter went which way! Keeping L to R directionality and writing the first part of the letter first should cure this.

P.S All the 'confused' children had been taught the 'bed' trick at primary and it was completely useless!

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 14-Feb-16 18:06:59

That's an excellent technique for getting the 'b' 'd' confusion sorted out. It should reinforce the sound with the correct hand movement.

You could probably leave it a week or a bit more before introducing the 'd' if you wanted. The more secure she is with the 'b' before you reintroduce the 'd' the less likely she is to start confusing the two again, IMO.

I think Maizie is right. Poor spelling in written work is probably a case of overcoming the muscle memory she has already built up by writing the words incorrectly over and over again. It might take quite a lot of writing the words out to wipe out what she's learnt previously.

I wonder if picking a few of the most commonly mispelt ones to start with would help. Firstly individual words, sounding them out as she writes them, then with dictated sentences. Once those are sorted, then pick a few more. If you are going to revise vowel sounds, then you might be able to match it with whatever sound you are revising.

Worriedmum42 Sun 14-Feb-16 22:02:53

Thanks again. Today we looked at long a sound and it was a successful session.

Looking more closely at some of her recent writing there seems to be at least 4 different ways she has written colours for example. Is this indicatative of a specific learning difficulty?
I seem to be worrying about her spelling so much.

Ferguson Mon 15-Feb-16 19:20:43

I think maybe take care that she doesn't worry TOO much about the spelling (which should 'come' eventually) at the expense of 'having a go' and getting her ideas down. If you have a tape recorder, or phone that records, she could DICTATE her material, review it and amend if she wants, and then - eventually - write or type it. At this stage, content and quantity are possibly more important than perfect spelling!

And this book could help:

An inexpensive and easy to use book, that can encourage children with reading, spelling and writing, and really help them to understand Phonics, is reviewed in the MN Book Reviews section. Just search ‘Phonics’ and my name.

mrz Mon 15-Feb-16 20:55:38

Do you correct her spellings when she gets them wrong? Writing a word four different ways suggests she's unsure of the correct spelling. The more times she sees a word spelt incorrectly the harder it becomes ...
If she gets something wrong praise the effort "well done you've heard the sounds in that word ...this is how we spell the sound in that word ...can you put it right? Encourage her to write the word correctly and say the sounds as she writes them. Motor memory helps with spelling as does looking at the word /saying the sounds.

Worriedmum42 Tue 16-Feb-16 22:23:02

Thanks again for the replies. Yes, I have now started to do just that mrz. what I have noticed is that she has been relying heavily on a visual memory recall but I am encouraging her to use the sounds she knows and make a best bet and then if it is incorrect getting her to write it correctly a couple of times. If she can do well when writing the words individually or in dictated sentences do you think this is something we can fill the gaps of rather than being a specific learning difficulty with spelling?


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