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DD, Year 3, has awful spelling. Which is the best way to help her?

(16 Posts)
Pernickety Mon 25-Jul-11 12:22:06

I'm sure this topic has come up many times before, so please forgive the duplication.

My daughter has just finished Year 3 and her poor spelling makes her writing difficult to read. She misses out vowels, puts letters or syllables in the wrong order, writes simple words correctly and then incorrectly or writes a word the way it sounds to her which has no bearing on how it is actually supposed to be written. None of her teachers have mentioned her spelling as a cause for concern. Her teacher was thrilled that her writing (content) developed in a huge leap taking her up several increments of level in a short space of time. So, she’s now considered a very competent writer. But it seems meaningless if her spelling (and often handwriting) are so poor that what she writes is difficult for the reader to decipher.

She reads well, though was late to read and I suspect she never learnt through using phonics but eventually got it through learning enough words by sight.

It’s getting to the stage where my younger child, who just finished Reception and has always seemed more receptive to phonics, is catching up and going to overtake her older sister.

Is her spelling likely to be picked up as an issue by her teachers going on up through the last three years of primary school or ought I start helping her with this at home? And if it is the latter, what’s the best way for me to help her?

sarahfreck Mon 25-Jul-11 12:26:45

I'd try getting her assessed for dyslexia - children can still be mildly to moderately dyslexic and good at reading. Then you might want to "encourage" the school to do some very structured synthetic phonics one-to-one or small group work with her. If she is a visual learner (as suggested by the way you say she has learned to read) she may also learn well by making up silly pictures to go with words, colouring the tricky bits in specific colours and so on.

IndigoBell Mon 25-Jul-11 13:20:09

Is her spelling likely to be picked up as an issue by her teachers - No. She can get a very good level in SATS for writing with very poor spelling and handwriting - so it's unlikely that school will do too much to help her.

They may give her 15 mins a week group spelling intervention or something like that - but they are very unlikely to teach her to spell, or to improve her handwriting.

You'll need to do that.

mrz Mon 25-Jul-11 16:01:13

The new SAT test will cover spelling grammar and punctuation

IndigoBell Mon 25-Jul-11 16:19:10

Didn't the old one also?

Didn't it have a separate spelling test, and wasn't grammar and punctuation marked in the written piece? And handwriting too?

Just that spelling and handwriting didn't add up to enough percentage of the whole mark for school to pull out all stops.......

OP - sorry I'm so cynical. Really depends what problems your DD has whether or not school will be able to teach her. They will try to teach her.

mrz Mon 25-Jul-11 16:26:20

The new test is going to be purely a test of grammar, spelling punctuation not "composition" as it is now (writing composition will be teacher assessed over the year)

mrz Mon 25-Jul-11 16:30:37

The recommendations from the Bew Review were accepted by Michael Gove and will be piloted in 2012 and used by all schools in 2013.

We recommend that writing composition should be subject only to summative teacher assessment…We recommend that teacher assessment of writing composition should be subject to external moderation.

We recognise there are some elements of writing (in particular spelling, punctuation grammar and vocabulary) where there are clear ‘right or ‘wrong’ answers, which lend themselves to externally-marked testing. We recommend that a test of these essential writing skills is developed.

mrz Mon 25-Jul-11 16:32:23


wheresthepimms Mon 25-Jul-11 17:54:18

we just got these and the second one for the medium frequency words they have helped my DS7 to catch up on his as he is similar. We made all the spellings into rhyme and rhythm as he is a very musical child, to the point where the 4 year old can now spell half of them as she knows the rhymes grin We only did one test a week, started from where he was not able to spell them (about half way through the first book) and have just this week progressed onto the second book

Pernickety Wed 27-Jul-11 07:31:34

Last year the teacher revised phonics with the whole class as she thought there were a significant number of children who needed that - but I don't think it has had any impact on my daughter. I think I will speak to her new teacher but look for ways to help her at home. Thank you for the suggestions so far.

maverick Wed 27-Jul-11 08:40:06

Pernickety, you may find the following web page helpful -if you scroll down there's a list of main points to help with spelling, all evidence-based.
I'm a specialist reading and spelling tutor


Pernickety Wed 27-Jul-11 13:11:15

Many thanks. That is very useful.

SuzysZoo Wed 27-Jul-11 15:08:10

A book called Stareway to Spelling (really!) is very good!

sarahfreck Wed 27-Jul-11 21:01:20

I think Apples and Pears is a good programme to use

It is based on synthetic phonics

notimetoshop Wed 27-Jul-11 22:58:59

This is a bit academic
But it is from well respected researchers, showing how words which are phonetically regular 'magician' 'confession' are regular in other ways (you put -ian to show this is someone who does something, magician, musician).

dolfrog Wed 27-Jul-11 23:11:23


The spelling issues you describe can be similar to the problems experienced by those who have an auditory processing disorder (APD) or have a visual-spatial learning dominance.
Those, like me and my family, who learn to speak or new words by learning to saying the whole sound of a word. Spelling is about re-creating the visual notation of a spoken word, or reproducing the graphic symbol or symbols we use to represent the sounds of speech. So those of us who have APD can only match the whole sound of a word to the whole shape of the graphic symbols used to represent the spoken word. Human sequencing skills are controlled in the same area of the brain as our auditory skills and abilities, and so many who have APD also have poor sequencing skills. Which may mean that we know the letters that make up a word, but due to our poor sequencing skills we my written them in the wrong order.

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