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Correcting spellings at home

(16 Posts)
bitzermaloney Mon 27-Jun-11 18:14:00

Prompted by a comment on the 'parents as teachers' thread, about not correcting children's spelling in certain circumstances so as not to dent their confidence (e.g. avoid a page full of corrections, especially when the focus of what is being taught is on something other than spelling)...

Just wondering how I should deal with ds's writing mistakes. He is in reception, and at home loves writing simple stuff (just a few words, mostly about Numberjacks grin), but is a perfectionist and gets really upset when he makes mistakes. If he has written something I do praise him, but should I be pointing out mistakes at this stage or just praising the effort?

Lifeissweet Mon 27-Jun-11 18:17:58

It depends what you mean by 'mistakes'. If he is sounding out words correctly and there is some correlation between the letters he is writing and the sounds he is hoping to represent then he is not incorrect and has not made a mistake, but is doing exactly what he should be at this stage. If you can read what he's written then he's doing really well. Plenty of children at this age are nowhere near this stage yet.

I think if he's a perfectionist then using words like 'mistake' is unhelpful. Don't put him off trying. The best thing to do with a perfectionist emerging writer is to get him to understand that the achievement is in getting his ideas on a page. That is what makes him a writer. The 'correct' spelling will come.

AppleyEverAfter Mon 27-Jun-11 18:25:44

Now is probably the best time to tell him about mistakes, he will not only learn how to spell properly but he will be used to constructive criticism when he gets further on in school and the teachers (hopefully) pull him up over mistakes.

bitzermaloney Mon 27-Jun-11 19:41:09

By mistakes I mean like today he wrote "3 wuns rong the bel" (3 once rang the bell). I told him it was brilliant, then when he showed it to me again I showed him how to write 'once' and suggested he put a tail on the 'o' to make 'a' and an extra 'l' on bel. He was OK with it this time as I put it very delicately but on previous occasions has wanted to screw up the paper and got upset. Just wondering if it would have hurt to leave it and just big him up. I suppose I really want to encourage him to write as he's just got interested in it, and wonder if I should wait till he's more confident before i start showing him the exactly right way to spell things. He is very easily discouraged.

swash Mon 27-Jun-11 19:46:22

I correct dd's spellings a bit - she is in Y2. I didn't correct her in reception or in Y1 because it is more important at that age to enjoy writing. It's wonderful that your boy is doing it - I would praise him for writing and just forget about spellings for now.

It's quite useful to just confirm what he has done 'Oh you have written xxxx' - ie give attention and validation rather than compliments. Or say something that is true: 'I like the way you have formed xx letter/kept on the line/anything else that is true'.

blackeyedsusan Mon 27-Jun-11 19:59:40

you write a sentence back modelling the correct spelling. for example, whicj bell did three ring? except you use capital letters... keyboard a bit temperamental...

blackeyedsusan Mon 27-Jun-11 20:36:49

or not... which blush

Taffeta Mon 27-Jun-11 21:55:39

Depends on the child, I think. DD is in Reception and is just starting to write her own words, phonetically. I am so delighted she's finally doing it ( DS did it a lot earlier, DD is an Aug bday ) I really don't care how she spells them!

She wrote pe ( pea ) so I mentioned she could add an a. That was good, she liked that. When she tried pepa ( pepper ) I just said well done.

Plenty of time for spellings in Y1. grin

bitzermaloney Mon 27-Jun-11 22:09:54

Thanks. Yes ds is an August birthday too, started school in January and is very conscious of all the whizzy things some of the September starters can do, which probably doesn't help his fragile ego!

bitzermaloney Mon 27-Jun-11 22:10:38

Good point about the validation and attention rather than compliments, actually - I've heard that before but had forgotten it.

southofthethames Mon 27-Jun-11 22:41:09

I always point out mistakes (I mean to DC and DNs) - but we don't treat this as something negative, we treat it as a discovery process about how things work (eg how spelling works). Grammar is actually trickier, as well as anomalies like "sheep" is plural and not "sheeps". We usually have a laugh and say that the language is funny, and that's just how it has to be. If you don't treat corrections as a personal criticism (and worry that the child will think it is) then it won't dent their confidence.
Also, when children practise things like writing, they are more concerned about getting the letters on paper and don't treat it as a major essay like adults would. Better to applaud and guide their efforts at forming the letters rather than trying to read more into it.
OP, I suppose you can ask him what he is trying to do - if he is just practising his writing you can praise that. But if he says he wants to learn how to spell the words too, you could always praise his efforts at trying to remember and then tell him that he was quite close to getting it right, and teach him what the right answer is. It really depends on how you say it, being positive and encouraging in what he has tried to achieve rather than being too negative or going to the other extreme.

skybluepearl Mon 27-Jun-11 23:43:00

If you correcting him makes him want to screw his paper up than no, don't correct. Don't put him off writing. The most important thing is that he enjoys writing and you encourage it.

wanderingfree Tue 28-Jun-11 12:03:06

that's a good idea from southofthethames to ask him what he's trying to do - practice writing or spelling and only correct if he says spelling.

My DS2 was a perfectionist at reception/start Yr1 and would bang his fist against his head if he wrote something that wasn't as he saw it - perfect. It was horrid to watch and came from nowhere as DS1 doesn't do this and infact does not care at all about presentation or accuracy of work.

I sort of ignored the emotion and asked him would he like me to help him or make suggestions or would he prefer to do it himself? He is calmer now, just with age I think, but if I see he has spelt something incorrectly, I ask him 'would you like me to give you some advice on correct spelling of what you've written or do you want to leave it as it is, because it is neat handwriting and that's great'. He doesn't shriek at this type of comment, or hit his head and usually asks me then to tell him the correct spelling.

You just have to go in at different angles for different children.

NotJustKangaskhan Tue 28-Jun-11 13:12:19

If your son is perfectionist as mine, who on bad days would get upset at any comment he thought was negative, consider asking him if he'd like you to write it so he can copy and see how everything is spelled. My son really enjoyed copying until he gained the confidence to push past some of his perfectionism to try to write more on his own (He was 6/end of Y1 when this happened).

Scholes34 Tue 28-Jun-11 13:57:27

Don't confuse a Reception child by writing in capitals.

sarahfreck Tue 28-Jun-11 13:57:57

He's obviously quite sensitive to correction. I'd have done a lot of the validation type comments as suggested previously and perhaps just picked one thing to talk about. In the example you gave, I would have maybe talked about the vowel sound in "rong" and the difference between the "a" and "o" sounds, but not necessarily actually made him change it unless he wanted to. I would have chosen this because the other words are pretty phonically accurate and the short vowel sounds should be pretty familiar to a child by the end of reception.

Other than that I'd have just been really positive. "Hey wow! You've written about what 3 did. I really like it when you write things down for me. etc" He's only in reception and will learn more of the phonic alternatives as he goes on in school. Better to have a child who likes writing and is enthusiastic about it, even if they make some spelling mistakes than one who is reluctant to write at all!

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