DD upset about her spelling test result but I think they were too hard

(41 Posts)

These were DDs spellings to learn this week. She is in Year 2 age 6.

Department store
Double trouble

The sentence was

The department store had to close early because it was dangerous.

I think these are too hard. Any opinions welcome.


redskyatnight Sun 27-Jan-13 11:11:13

I'm not sure general comment is useful. It really depends on your DD's spelling ability. My DD is in Y2 and she would cope with those spellings fine. My DS (Y4) would probably still struggle with them now.

If she's consistently getting spellings that are too hard for her and the teacher hasn't realised this and moved her onto easier ones, I'd suggest having a word with him/her.

Yes I think that these spellings would be hard for a year 2 child. These are my year 2 dd's spellings for this week.


For a start nearly all of the above words are going to be impossible for my dd as she is dyslexic. But even if she had no additional difficulties I'm not sure of the merit of some of these words. Obviously there is a pattern of all of the words having 'ch' in but I'm not quite on board with the methodology behind spellings these days. I don't feel equipped to help dd learn them and they seem to be very de-motivating for the class, most of whom get the majority wrong.

I used to teach so understand that the logistics of differentiation can be hard but it makes no sense to give each child the same set of spellings. Is this usual? There has only ever been one set of spellings for the whole class and putting dd's dyslexia aside, that just doesn't seem appropriate.

mrz Sun 27-Jan-13 11:16:58

I don't think they are particularly difficult spellings but they do seem an odd rather random combination of words

There are different sets of spellings for different children in the class and DD is in the group that gets the most difficult spellings. She is upset that she only got 4 right. Im also cross as the teacher does not tell them what the words mean. She had no idea what panorama meant so why is she learning to spell it?

I dont often get the chance to go in and chat to her teacher because of work but will try next week. Having said that the spellings this week are much easier.

Thanks for answering

Mashabell Sun 27-Jan-13 11:35:02

I think all such spelling tests for young children are absolutely awful.
They are great for children like my grandaughter who gets all of them right every time without having to try. They just stick.

But they give many other children nightmares, and verge on child abuse.

It's easy to see why those words are tricky and have to be learned one by one, but it's quite enough to help children learn them with various excercises, without testing them.

Anyone who still claims that learning to spell English is not difficult, should consider these:
school - scoop - soup
chord - corner
chef - shell
machine - mash
brochure - brooch, bronchitis
chalet - shally, shilly
chemist - kept
headache - fed, bake
chemical - kettle

But u still get people claiming that poor spelling is merely the result of poor teaching.
Poor, poor kids.

Why do we keep spelling so many words so stupidly and leave learning to write as hard as it is?

Mashabell Sun 27-Jan-13 11:37:18

There is plenty of evidence that regular testing of spelling does not help children to spell any better.

fuzzpig Sun 27-Jan-13 11:39:58

Is it still common to have spellings in infant school then? I know I did (1990s) but my DD (yr1) has never had any.

Missbopeep Sun 27-Jan-13 11:41:33

No - but regular learning does.

Why do we keep spelling so many words so stupidly and leave learning to write as hard as it is?

We don't. But you seem to think there is a problem.

Masha- instead of trying to change things why don't you offer support and ideas to help people learn the language as it is- not how you would like it to be? Simple question- can you answer it please?

I agree about it not actually helping children to spell better. A friend of mine who taught english for 40 years has told me this too. It doesnt help that one of the smartest children in the class goes around asking everyone what mark they got and telling them she got full marks. I want DD to see that it isnt a big deal but without making her think spelling doesnt matter.

fuzzpig Sun 27-Jan-13 11:42:03

But I guess as she only got 4 then they are too hard for her - do you know if all children get the same words or are they in groups? I seem to remember that we had different spellings when I was young depending on what table we were on (the tables were set by ability, though we weren't particularly aware of that at the time)

mrz Sun 27-Jan-13 11:42:46

I don't think it is as common to send home lists of words to learn but it is common to teach and "test" spellings in the classroom fuzzpig

Fuzzpig - yes they have different spellings and she is in the group which gets the hardest ones. However this week she has much easier words and will do well with them.

Missbopeep Sun 27-Jan-13 12:02:42

it is a ridiculous list and all it proves is that the teacher has no idea about how to teach spelling.

I teach children who have dyslexia etc and I would spread those words over at least 6 lessons.

-The 3 words ending in -a could go together but you still have words with more than one syllable. She ought to learn all words ending in -a together as a list.

-Then there is the -dge list

-Then the -ous list

-then the -ough list

- then -ou sounding like "u" as in cup

I'd spend one or two weeks teaching each group with pupils.

To lump them all together is simply mad. I would go into school and make the point.

CecilyP Sun 27-Jan-13 12:20:07

The list sounds completely random, so it is not your DD's fault that she didn't do too well and it's a shame that she's got upset about it. It is one thing trying to emphasise a spelling pattern but it seems daft for children to go home and try to rote learn words that they are extremely unlikely to be using in their own writing. Unless they live in a world where they are eating partridge washed down by glasses of champagne, of course!

fuzzpig Sun 27-Jan-13 12:27:09

Thanks, I have no idea if they are doing tests in class, DD hasn't mentioned anything anyway. confused

Glad this week's words are easier - maybe the teacher was just testing the water for pushing them a bit harder last time?

mrz Sun 27-Jan-13 12:29:19

I teach a new sound - we practise spelling words containing the sound as a class - I dictate sentences containing the words we have been learning.

Houseworkprocrastinator Sun 27-Jan-13 13:29:52

Can i just ask, if sending home lists of spellings doesn't help, what way do they learn to spell? my daughter normally has 4 spellings a week. and they are normally similar to each other e.g. silent w or k at start or words with ph in them. but i have noticed that even though she is quite good at getting them right when tested, when she is doing a piece of writing the spelling goes out the window.
How do you teach it so it sticks or is it just something that comes with time?

Thanks Missbopeep. I think I will go in and have a chat.
Houseworkprocrastinator I agree that learning these by rote does not help them retain the words and when she is writing at home she spells things wrong which she previuosly got right in a test. Im not sure how to help the words stick in her brain.
Cecilyp ypu are right. Very little context and we definatly do not live a life of eating partridge grin
Fuzzypig - maybe it was just to stretch them. Maybe she jas been moved down into the next group this week.Will need to check

Missbopeep Sun 27-Jan-13 14:07:07

Housework she may well be learning them visually- not by sound/ symbol connection.

It is classic for children to be able to g et them right in a test then forget 2 weeks later- it means the words are not in their long term memory yet.

Do you have any plastic alphabet letter? Not upper case.

Get her to practise making her spellings with these- you tell her to look away and remove a letter from the pile- ask her what is missing etc. Do it with different letters.

OR- put the correct letters in a bag or purse- something like a little velvet /material drawstring bag is lovely. Paper bag, if need be!
Ask her to take the letters out one at a time and build the word up on the table.

Whe she write the words down, ask her to say the letters at the same time as she writes them- this is called SOS- Simultaneous Oral Spelling. She is using the senes of hearing, sight and movement- all of which help the word to stick.

Try dictating the words to her in very simple sentences- keep to words she knows and with one sylllable.

alanyoung Sun 27-Jan-13 14:07:09

Don't forget Houseworkprocrastinator that learning is not a straight line graph and sometimes children learn something this week and next week it's as though they had never heard of it - any teacher will tell you that. If you then complicate things by asking them to write a story using those words, the spellings become a lower priority and mistakes are made as they are concentrating more on the story line etc. The thing is not to worry; they normally learn them in the end!

Missbopeep Sun 27-Jan-13 14:08:03

excuse typos- in a hurry today!

alanyoung Sun 27-Jan-13 14:10:27

Good ideas from Missbopeep. Making learning fun often helps a lot. Research indicates that learning takes place more easily when the child is relaxed (adults too, come to that) and that's why I can never understand the stress we put our children through - and ourselves as well.

Missbopeep Sun 27-Jan-13 14:18:30

Thank you smile

You can also use playdough, pastry, sand trays, anything really you have around to make the words up.

But iis is VITAL to say the sound and then the whole word when it's finished- not do all these things in silence!

Also- try to apply her learning to every day writing- eg if in the car look at road signs, same in the supermarket, cereal packets, menus, or on a walk- eg "Oh look- there is a word with a silent W- what does it say?"

Missbopeep those are brilliant ideas thanks. DD will love making them with the magnetic letters. Thanks.

Missbopeep Sun 27-Jan-13 14:41:15

Hope it helps- keep an eye on her. Dyslexia is inherited in the main- so if she is struggling all the time might be worth thinking about an assessment etc. Don't leave it up to year 4 etc if she falls behind.

MrsMelons Sun 27-Jan-13 20:30:32

Most of these look fairly ok for say a high level group in Y2 IME but it does seem odd that they are fairly mixed up, I always thought they did similar sounds all together when doing spelling.

It irritates DS (Y2) that he has to spell words he doesn't understand but for some reason he comes home and asks me what they mean as I am guessing they don't have time to discuss them at school.

I don't think I would be that concerned about her being unable to spell all of them if she is generally doing ok at school.

LeeCoakley Sun 27-Jan-13 20:43:08

I would imagine that in her phonics sessions last week they were working on words with an 'ar' sound in them and also words with different sounds for the letters 'ou'. Our spellings are usually based on phonics learning or topic words. This set of words would be the top group.

hrrumph Sun 27-Jan-13 21:13:51

Well mine's in year 2 and they say has a reading age of three years above.

Her spellings are not nearly as hard as these. We tend to have them in similar groups. So days of the week, days of the month, un- words this week.

e.g. Undress, unusual, untidy.

I'd say these were quite hard. Somre are ok but others are tricky.

But my dd has a friend where these would be entirely appropriate for her spelling. It all depends on where you dd is in the grand scheme of things.

Did she get many right? Or did she get the majority wrong? The range of ability is huge at this age.

mrz Sun 27-Jan-13 21:20:28

In Y2 children would normally be learning prefixes and suffixes. The expectation is alternative spellings of the sounds will be taught in Y1.

learnandsay Sun 27-Jan-13 23:03:16

It may not help that the smart kid rubs all the others children's noses in it. But it does sound a lot like life. And if school is anything it's a place to learn about life.

PastSellByDate Mon 28-Jan-13 06:42:50

Hi BrokenBananaTantrums

Agree with Mrs Melons - a lot of sound groups there in the spelling. I'm just a Mum, but this is how I'd tackle it:

Banana (so the trick here is to teach only one 'n' and one 'a' no doubles - Banana - BA - NA - NA (I had DD2 pretend she was Lady MuckyMuck and weiring her dressing gown and her bath towel cape she danced around saying please bring me a BA-NA-NA in her poshest snobbiest voice.)

Panorama (so both of these words end -ama - then drama is DR + AMA and PAN -O - RAMA also spells as it sounds).

Partridge (ridge is a tricky sound - so this might have to incorporate writing the word out a few times as well - but once -idge is learned (part- ridge) is pretty easy.

Department store (well your DC probably knows what it is so should be able to spell it. - DE-PART-MENT & STORE (magic e making the 'o' a long sound).

trouble - so this is learning 'ou' is a sort of 'uh' sound here - both words end -ouble - so it really is just a matter of adding the D or the TR in front (D - OUBLE or TR - OUBLE)

Dangerous - these are -ous endings. Danger can be tricky because children don't always get the 'g' sound right and go for 'j' but again writing out the word - practicing saying it whilst you do so helps - either DAN - GER - OUS or DANG - ER - OUS. (DD2 prefered DANG - ER - OUS because it made her laugh and she seemed to remember it because it was funny). Enormous actually spells well phonetically: E - NOR - MOUS (and because you know the ending you know MOUS is just M + OUS).

Thoroughly - these are the -ough family (possibly best to be taught with a whole list of -ough words and exploring the different ways it can sound - oooo - as in Through but 'oh' as in dough or 'uff' as in rough. But right now you're working with the oooo sound - so teach -ough can make 'oo' [but leave it obvious that it can make other sounds too] - 'Thr' may be tricky - but again writing it out and sounding it out will help - TH - R - OUGH. Thoroughly is therefore much the same principle - TH - OR (first two slurred together quickly) - OUGH - LY.

I agree with those who have suggested that there's a lot mixed up here - but if you tackle this over the week you have the words it can be done. Another feed on spelling had a great idea suggested by mrz - to break up the syllables in the word and write it out on cards/ paper and then put the word together. This reinforces spelling and pronunciation.

Finally if it is any concellation - I've had spelling lists like this too - where you jsut don't know where to start. I work on 3 things.

Writing (so getting them to practice writing out the word 3 times each at first and working on best penmanship)

Meaning (I don't see the point of learning a word if you don't know what it means - so we write sentences using the word properly as well - we also play a game of trying to use as many spelling words in a sentence as we can. We only had it once, but it can be really interesting to look up how old words are and where they're from - DD1 loves Viking and Saxon words and DD2 is into Roman words, probably because she's doing Romans at the moment).

Memory (we have practice tests and each word missed is written out 5 or 6 times first two tests, and then 10 times each subsequent test).

Just to be evil - every now and then when it is a difficult week, I may ask them about the word they're struggling with.

What I will say is both DDs learn their words for their tests, but only one has good recall of spelling weeks later.


Mashabell Mon 28-Jan-13 07:17:51

How do you teach it so it sticks or is it just something that comes with time?
It mainly comes with time, by children writing and having their mistakes corrected. Gap-filling excercises of various kinds help.
Sadly, there are huge differences between children in their ability to learn to spell. Some just remember, make few mistakes, get few corrections, love writing and spelling tests and go from strength to strength.
With weaker spellers, teachers have to be selective in how many mistakes they correct in their writing, in order to prevent them from writing very little so as to avoid getting many words wrong. And the less they write, the less they learn.
Pretty much every teacher knows that spelling tests are useless for weak spellers, but many parents ask for them, especially if they used to get good marks in them as children and believe that the tests helped them to become good spellers, not realising that they were just lucky to be born with a brain that can memorise better than most.

The bottom line is that learning to spell English correctly is very largely a matter of memorisation and we are all much better at remembering some things than others. With some things we just have to work at it, and don't succeed well even then.

Research indicates that learning takes place more easily when the child is relaxed (adults too, come to that) and that's why I can never understand the stress we put our children through - and ourselves as well.
For children who know that they find remembering spellings difficult, it is very difficult to be relaxed about it, but it helps if parents can stay as relaxed about it as they can manage.
If it was up to me, we would reduce this stress on children, by removing some of the worst gremlins from English spelling, but most people, dislike that suggestion.
The diffiulties of learning to spell English are caused entirely by its irregularities:
cool - school, soup...; mash - machine....; speak - seek, shriek....
Really weak spellers tend to feel less bad about their disabilities if they are helped to understand this, i.e. it's not them but the spellings which are stupid. Their logical brains have trouble coping with them.
It worked for my dyslexic son who has ended up as uni lecturer.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 07:24:10

There is loads of evidence that spelling tests do no good at all, and many schools no longer do them. Spelling comes with time and writing. My dd got 100% in every spelling test throughout primary, but her actual functional spelling was and is awful.

Artigene Mon 28-Jan-13 07:48:13

I can't believe how hard those spellings are. My Y2 DD is on the top table for spellings and this week has words like heard, does, real, likes... I've often wondered why they don't stretch her table further as she says they all get full marks but the comments on this thread suggest its pointless anyway. There is such variation in Y2, her best friend's spellings included "up".

diplodocus Mon 28-Jan-13 13:11:10

I also find this really odd. My yr DDs spellings are if anything even harder - e.g. articulate, machinery, chemical. They are obviously not words she's likely to use in the near future, and while she can learn them for a test, they certainly don't stick. I understand the principle i.e. that they're based on the sounds they're looking at in phonics, but can't understand why they don't use more common examples - there are so many much more common words she can't spell.

SunflowersSmile Mon 28-Jan-13 17:33:24

No spelling tests here.
Do get words to put into a sentence which seems more sensible to me.
The school used to send spellings home to learn but quite traumatic for some children.
I have a child who was good at spelling tests but on the same day would spell the word wrong in writing afterwards. Pointless.
Op- those spellings do seem hard and I would be cross about words being sent home that the child did not know meaning of.

Thanks PastSellByDate that is really helpful. And thanks Mashabell that is really good.
I agree that there are so many other words that she could be learning that will actually be useful to her in her writing. They seemed so abstract and I couldn't discern a pattern to them. I have now ordered a whiteboard and some magnetic letters so we can play some games with the words to see if this will help them to stick in her brain.

mrz Mon 28-Jan-13 19:00:20

Write the letters on post it notes and let her build up the words on the fridge or table

Ooo mrz that is a great idea thanks.

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