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Son in yr2 can spell words at home but at school gets max of 2 words right, suggestions pls as getting low scores.

(32 Posts)
jersey Fri 06-May-11 19:30:23

Son in yr2 can spell words at home but at school gets max of 2 words right, suggestions pls as getting low scores at school but we know he can do it. He also has very bad concentration. Help pls!

letthembe Fri 06-May-11 20:24:59

Can I ask about your practising process? Do you just go through the list from 1 to 10 or do you jumble them up? Many teachers give a list but then do the test in a random order. Your DS could be learning by rote rather than internalising them. Try not to worry too much, I personally don't think spelling tests make children better spellers.

jersey Fri 06-May-11 20:38:51

I mix them up. We start by reading them as some he can't read to start with. Then we break them up into sounds. Last week I wrote each word on an A4 piece of paper and stuck them around the room. Then I ask him to write them out to see which we need to work on as some he knows straight away. Then I get him to practise writing them by copying them out. I have also tried using letters to make up the words as he is more of a hands on child. Each night we spend 5 to 10 minutes running through them and seeing how many he can write with out looking at the list of words. I do a different order most of the time.

He does get very frustrated and has trouble concentrating a lot of the time. This week he had them all correct and was very excited about the test, but only got 2 right to day. This knocks his confidence and we have trouble the next week getting him to learn them.

letthembe Fri 06-May-11 21:20:03

You are definitely doing all the right things. Are they the words he is also coming across in his reading? The teacher might do the test more quickly than you or in a whole class situation he may just become distracted. If he is becoming upset by the situation I think I'd have a quiet chat with the teacher.

TheVeryAngryMumapillar Fri 06-May-11 23:11:50

I usually do some of the things you mention and I also "test" my DD who is also year 2.

I use silly pronunciations and word's a bit kooky but it helps her and she usually gets 9 or 10 out of 10.

So for a word she finds hard such as Yacht...I will pronounce it correctly a number of times and then joke with her about how it really looks like YA CHT

And make the Cht sound literally.

I might do a sound, a silly voice or similar when I say the harder words with her...I might sing them....or do a weird hand movement...somehow it makes them stick. it really helps DD

IndigoBell Fri 06-May-11 23:17:59

Don't get hung up about what he gets in his spelling test. Ask the teacher if he can have less and easier words.

Even if he got 10 out of 10 in his test that won't mean he spells them correctly in his writing.

If he is bringing home words he can't even read then they are too hard for him.

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 06-May-11 23:26:23

Write them down on cards and then set a timer for 1 minute. Call them out and ask him to spell them. All the ones he gets right put on the 'correct' pile, and all the others on the 'learning opportunities' pile.

Give him a score. Praise him. Take one from the learning opportunities pile and work with him on it, just that one. Later in the day, put the cards in a different order (the correct AND the learning opportunities) and play the game again. Make the pile smaller if there are a significant number left undone until he has become quicker at them.

maizieD Sat 07-May-11 11:55:33

If he is bringing home words he can't even read then they are too hard for him.

Hmmm. I nodded my head and agreed with you there, IB; then I started thinking about it!

In theory, if phonics has been rigorously taught he should be able to segment unknown words into their component 'sounds' and have a stab at spelling each sound, in sequence. (Though I admit that having previously read a word a number of times is an advantage as then you can 'see' if the word you've spelled 'looks' right...)

Queries about spelling always raise many questions in my mind. How are the spellings grouped (e.g are they focusing on a particular sound or sound spelling, or are they completely random?), has the child been taught how to segment (though the OP does say they break the words into their sounds) and what happens after he has segmented the word. Does he spell each sound in turn, or does he just try to remember a letter string? Letter strings are difficult because children don't always remember the letters in the correct order. What sort of mistakes is he making in the spelling test? Transposed letters? Incorrect sound spellings?

There has been lots of sound advice given so far; I would just emphasise breaking the words into their component sounds, spelling each sound in sequence (maybe counting the sounds and using a line to represent each one to help with checking when the word is written), saying the sounds (or the word) as they are written to aid kinaesthetic memory, and checking by sounding out and blending the word once it is written.

MrThorne Sat 07-May-11 13:19:05

Try my phonics website smile lots of spellings videos all free smile

jersey Sun 08-May-11 18:12:17

Hi, thanks for all the suggestions. When he spells the words out loud he says the sounds and to make sure I get him to spell them as well. He did have an issue originally because he was behind due to glue ear in both ears which mean't he missed out on hearing alot of the sounds. He is at a new school with a very gd teacher and we discussed the issue as we thought he had a problem with confidence. She put him on yr 1 words and this helped as he got 9 or 10/10. He had a temp teacher who gave him the wrong test and it knocked him back again as he didn't know any of the words. He is on the yr 2 words again, and can spell the words at home but not at school. Last week it was the vowells he missed out at school.

I will try the timer. I will ask the teacher how long they get to write the answer as he is easily distracted and may be missing the next word. Yes some of the words are in his books and he can read them in the story. Thanks for the link MrThorne I will have a look.

We have started on next weeks words; wedding, vicar, groom, church, bride, guests and marriage. I will try some of your suggestions and see how we get on. At the first attempt he can spell them 5 out of 7.

jersey Sat 14-May-11 19:49:37

Sods law they didn't have the test today!

lovecheese Sat 14-May-11 20:15:00

He goes to school on Saturday?

DianaDors Sat 14-May-11 21:45:14

Spelling at school is stressful, its not at home. The problem is usually in the setting up eg. numbering the spellings when at school. Teacher should ask the children to number 1-10 or start calling them out, most kids are so disorganised it ruins their spelling. Really. Make sure he can get the numbers down quickly, sounds lame but truly after many years of teaching this is what stuffs them up most. Second, is he a good handwriter or poor? If he is good then he should only do them orally when practising at home (kids hate writing spelling, knock on effect is they don't learn them because they hate it). If a poor handwriter then that is the thing to conquer, not the spelling (it will come) gross and fine motor movement ingrains spelling in the brain but if letters are formed incorrectly then spelling is also poor. It may be as simple as relearning basic handwriting skills. 3rd, always test spellings in the morning and in context. Many many English words rely on context. Such as 'the WITCH cackled' WHICH book shall I choose. Without benefit of a sentence or meaning it can all become very confusing.

If your child is a poor speller, have them test you on the words and put them in a sentence ' ok mummy, what will the WEATHER be today' WEATHER and then you spell it orally and they mark you right or wrong. Simply by doing this all pressure is removed and subliminal strategies are being planted for spellings as they are developing their own comprehension techniques and marking you off as they go. The weirder the sentence the better they will remember, eg: the WITCH has an ITCH, but WHICH book for WHO? (I hope that makes sense).

Spelling learnt in the morning, esp on the sprint to school if you walk makes the brain recall codes better, don't know why, it just does.

Lastly, play hangman. Strategies of hangman are using the vowels AEIOU to get the answer quicker before being hung.

This should help take the pressure off and help with decoding. Glue ear & being a boy are both hurdles to spelling as is handwriting, but using the above strategies will help. Good luck and let us know how he gets on.

efeslight Sat 14-May-11 21:45:31

you could try showing him 2 options of a spelling for him to 'mark',
eg groom or grm, .... ask him which one 'looks' right?
What's his visual memory like?

When i read your first post, it did occur to me if he could hear the teacher say the word, if hes able to write the consonants then do you think he can definately hear the word? could he sit closer to the teacher, so he's facing her?

they sound quite an odd list of words, what about words we use all the time on the word list for Y2? watch, people etc? can he spell all those correctly? 'vicar' isn't a word i use alot in writing!
I understand they are grouped according to a topic, are they working on a marriage theme? Are the words always this random? Or do they learn some more useful words every other week? i would ask the teacher to explain the choices

jersey Sun 15-May-11 18:59:12

Hi thanks, oops I meant he didn't have a test on Friday.

efeslight - The last group of words I guess are to do with the marriage theme around the royal wedding. This weeks are conversation, remind, mindmap, where, station and sticker.

His writing is very good and he has had awards at school for his good writing. Last week we tried working to a time limit and that did cause an issue to start with but he did get better.

DianaDors - my DH asked his teacher how they do the test and she said they have three groups and each has a different list of words. She goes to the first table and gives them their word, then the next table, and the next, then back to the first and repeats the process. They have about 15 seconds for each word.

I suspect the speed and the ease he is distracted could be a problem, plus I noticed when against the clock he was worried that his hand writing wasn't his best. His teacher did say she might be going to fast for him, but not had any response that she might slow down a bit.

They have SATs this week, but to be honest I don't think he is ready for them although he is nearly up to speed in other areas (we moved schools and he was nearly a year behind this school). I just hope it doesn't effect him going forward.

DianaDors Sun 15-May-11 19:32:27

hmm, tbh I'm a bit annoyed that the T isn't doing more on the key stage words. There's not a lot of rhyme or reason to what is being tested. Some T's get a big idea that they'll focus on the topic words, which, IMO is a bit silly. There is a lovely book (name escapes me for the mo) which is sold in WH Smith for around £3, it has a bright yellow cover and compliments a series of handwriting/phonic books (think they have a giant mouse on front) jolly phonics or some such. Its a half size book with practically all the words they should know at this stage and even better they are shown in their word families such as 'oo' words and 'ation' words if that makes sense!

I would go have a look for a copy, and see what you could be testing him on and helping him learn. I don't think you'll make any headway with the teacher unless all the other parents feel the same way. The trick with this book is that the words are in families so the child learns the spelling patterns in a way that actually makes sense to all involved. This most probably should have been covered in Reception/Year 1, some again in Year 2. It even shows common 'tricky' words. I've never met a T that's used it, they should, but they don't.

I would be interested to know if the T also gives the children dictation as this also relies on spelling and listening within a time-frame and should be relying on commonly spelled words for this age group. The T may well be going too fast and it must be a bit confusing for the kids with the T calling out a word for this table then the next. Kids can go off task so easily and it isn't a way of doing spelling that is going to bring the best out in the children, IMO!

As a parent, I would say sod it. Help him learn words as I've suggested in my posts. If he continues to do badly with the tests at school, don't let him fret. Its actually more important that his day to day work is done well & that he is comfortable using the words in regular writing activities. When he moves onto his next years T and has poor spelling results but excellent work and good spelling outside of tests it will show a massive inconsistency that should scream volumes to his next T about the previous T if they have any sense. Using what I've said at home you'll probably find his spelling is quite good. Its good to learn new words, esp related to the topic ... but I remain unconvinced that without benefit of word family knowledge at this stage the whole exercise seems redundant.

Regarding the dictation though, it would be interesting to see if its done, are key stage words used? Do many children do well or do they struggle because of the speed? Sigh. Because of the good handwriting his word knowledge/spelling in the families should be good also as there's big links between body movement (fine & gross motor) to help us learn. For example: writing 'ing' if you write well, your arm & brain produce well so you are unlikely to write gni for 'winning' 'spelling' 'hopping' IYSWIM. When kids change schools there's a lot to get used to, incl the new T's style, mannerisms, accent etc. Not every kid gels with every T, and not every T reflects on their own practice to consider what they could do differently.

jersey Mon 16-May-11 21:38:31

Thanks Dianadors, I will have a look for the book. I'll not sure what the other parents think as I don't take the boys to school as I work full time. My DH takes them, I will see if he can ask around and see what the others think.

The previous goups of words seem to group around the sounds, e.g. oo, ie, oa.

DS had his first sats test today, and I asked him what he did today without mentioning tests, sats, etc as I don't want him to stress about it because he does worry. He said he did a spelling test and got all his words right, and seemed very happy about today so I hope he getting a positive experience from the tests.

I am interested in this approach for our other 2 boys as well. We have a 4 year old in reception who is fast catching up with DS and needs the continued encouragement as he wants to learn, and a 3 year old he needs the stimulation and I have started using DS2's letter cards from school to teach DS3 as he knows his colours and 2D shapes.

jersey Mon 16-May-11 21:48:31

Hi DianaDors is this the book?

DianaDors Tue 17-May-11 07:37:30

Hi, it looks like the one I'm talking about! Grab yourself a copy and have a good look at the word families and compare to whatever Oxford Reading Tree he's bringing home. Each ORT has a word family and introduces new words as well as drawing on common key stage words (and tricky words as well as comprehension).

I would read aloud his ORT book first, with him listening & following each word and picture as you go. This will ensure he hears the words pronounced correctly, gets a feel for intonation and flow, character expression etc. You should do this one time only, you're not there to read for him, but its a technique you could use a few times and then wean off.

Ensure he reads with a strip of card under each line that he is reading, sliding down the page as he goes. If he is particularly struggling then he should finger point each word as he reads. You should record any errors. Two or more errors, the stage is too hard, full fluent reading with excellent expression the stage is too easy. You can make a spelling list from the word family you find in the book and orally test his spelling at the end. Again, if there are 2 or more errors - you have a word family to focus on for a week (testing orally, daily, give him this as a written test at the end of five days). If the words are mastered continue with the next book and so on. If there are two or more errors after this you will need to consider the ORT stage below and the word family that is in that book.

The idea would be to keep going until you reach 100% spelling, and complete reading fluency with that stage/book and move on to the next stage.

I warn you though, having children undertake extra work all the time & any reluctance on their part severely undermines the learning experience and will cause more harm than good in the long run. You need his agreement to do this and his willingness, you may well want to find some type of reward that he can have if he does the work (not the 100% - the WORK). He should not be badgered or find this method negative. You should work in minutes per year of life, 5years = 5mins, then a break for a snack or play and return to complete anything unfinished but again for the 1min per year rule. This will maximise concentration and prevent you from going 'over'. If he finds you stop after short bursts (5mins) it won't seem quite so awful.

You should be free from distractions, other children & chores, do this somewhere quiet and heap praise on for every little thing, even if its just trying. A negative comment can only be made right with 10 positives. If he responds to stickers, use them - whatever way you can have him see that he is making progress.

Lastly at this stage he should know the names for the letters of the alphabet and the phonic sounds separately. You don't want him to lose his phonic knowledge which should help him sound out unfamiliar words but he should be able or at least start to use the letter name when spelling.

pm me if there's anything further I can help with, good luck.

Mashabell Tue 17-May-11 07:57:20

Maizie, Phonics enables u to have a stab at spelling words plausibly, but not to spell them correctly (frend, sed, hed, bild, froot, wunce, oanly).
Learning to spell English is much more about remembering the tricky bits in them than learning to apply the basic rules:

The main thing for parents to avoid, IMO, is to make children feel anxious about spelling. - Help them to understand that their difficulties are due to spellings which aren't quite what they would expect them to be. Encourage them to do their best, but not to worry about it. Most people get there in the end, although for anyone with a poor visual memory, it can take many years.

jersey Tue 17-May-11 20:19:17

Thank you DianaDors. I will do my best.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 17-May-11 20:24:36

if a child is taught phonics properly they will be aware that there is more than one way of spelling the e sound in head - ea, e, ai etc

Mashabell Wed 18-May-11 06:39:50

Being aware that a sound can be spelt in several ways (send, friend, head, said, bury, any, leopard) does not help anyone to decide which of those spellings should be used in a particular word. Learning that is simply a matter of word-by-word memorisation.

HumphreyCobbler Wed 18-May-11 07:16:50

yes, but phonics gives you the options rather than a word by word approach

that is the point that I am trying to make, you can remind a child of the other ways to make that sound

Mashabell Wed 18-May-11 07:39:37

Even with phonics, children still have to learn, for example, which of the 459 words with a stressed ee sound use ee, ea, ei, ie, eo, i-e, e-e or whatever.

Children learn them in little batches, often grouped by spelling, but in the end they learn the 152 words that use ea, 133 ee, 86 e-e and so forth. This takes on average about 10 years and is sheer memorisation.

And when it comes to the hardest part of English spelling - different spellings for identical words - bee/be, sea/see, been/bean - phonics is no use whatsoever.

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