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Wordsearches - useful or useless?

(13 Posts)
Oakmaiden Mon 17-Oct-11 20:01:54

My daughter (Y3) gets at least one, more often two, wordsearches every week as home work. One is normally for spelling and the "sometimes" other is humanities of science. Apart from maths and reading, this is ALL the homework she gets at school. Now I am not complaining that she should get more, but really question the usefulness of wordsearches. She finds them extremely boring and will go to great lengths to avoid doing them - and this is a child who when offered the opportunity last year to write a sentence for each spelling word used to hand in fanciful and well written stories with the spelling words in. ?It just seems a shame that she is finding her homework so uninspiring now.

So tell me - apart from as a visual discrimination exercise, is there really any benefit to getting children to complete wordsearches week after week?

twinklytroll Mon 17-Oct-11 20:06:10

I think any activity used week after week would lose its merit.

I use word searches every now and again - about once a term/ half term to help older students remember key words . The act of searching for the words helps the students remember them. Having found the words they would have to do something with them . For example complete an exam question using all the words they found.

mrz Mon 17-Oct-11 20:12:15

I sometimes use word searches to introduce new vocabulary once they have found the words they have to select the correct word to complete the sentences

Oakmaiden Mon 17-Oct-11 20:28:45

Mrz - it isn't really being used like that, though. She gets a list of spelling words, has to practise "look, cover, check" with them and then has to find them on the wordsearch. There is no actual brain engagement at all. I guess I am just a bit disappointed that she is, for the first time, finding homework boring, and that it doesn't seem to challenge her at all.

gabid Mon 17-Oct-11 20:28:45

Once in a while is fine for above purposes. I found that some children love them and find the words very quickly and for others its more effort and harder to see the words. I personally belong to the latter group, I just can't see the words and it takes me some time to find them.

Oakmaiden Mon 17-Oct-11 20:31:37

Do you think it would be a bad idea to say to the teacher that she finds them very boring, and can she have something I don't want to be seen as a pushy Mum, but at the same time I want to see her involved and stimulated by her learning.

Or should I just keep quiet and help her with the wordsearches.

gabid Mon 17-Oct-11 20:32:17

Does she have to do the crossword? Can't she just learn them as before and write sentences or a story, if you explain it to the teacher?

Oakmaiden Mon 17-Oct-11 20:40:51

I don't know. There is a parent's evening on Wednesday, though, and I was wondering whether to say anything to the teacher about her homework. I just think there are too many wordsearches, and not enough other sorts of homework. But I wasn't sure whether there was some fantastic learning opportunity inherent in the wordsearch that I had missed.....

Mutt Mon 17-Oct-11 20:48:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

falasportugues Mon 17-Oct-11 20:54:37

I would definately talk to teacher about how she feels about her homework. The teacher probably thinks she's giving them something fun that they'll enjoy, and if no-one corrects her on this assumption, then she's not going to experiment with other types of homework. It is not pushy to say your kid finds a particular exercise boring. it might be seen as pushy to question the educational value (about which i totally agree with you) of said exercise. Parents evening would be a great opportunity to mention it I would have thought.

Oakmaiden Mon 17-Oct-11 21:06:38

Mutt - yes, she can do them , but it takes her a fair while (longer because she moans and groans so much about the whole thing). And yes, sometimes we DO have to do things we don't enjoy, but generally there is a purpose to them. I can think of very few things I do on a regular basis that I both dislike and don't understand the reason for. And as a way to make a spelling "stick in your brain" - I am not sure the "letter by letter" approach she uses will help that - she doesn't just look for the word to leap out, but searches methodically for the first letter, and then checks for the second etc. Ignoring the fact that she finds the spellings quite easy anyway....

But that is not really my point. My concern is that a child who has previously been extremely eager to do her homework and took a pride in what she was doing, is now having to be dragged kicking and screaming to do her homework (figuratively speaking!). Which seems to me to be a step backwards - so I just wanted to check opinions as to whether a) word searches had some amazing educational value that I had previously overlooked (opinion seems to be that they have a small educational value as part of a varied approach) and b) whether it would be unreasonable of me to mention to the teacher that my daughter seems to find them very boring and that she far prefers more creative ways of learning her spellings.

CecilyP Mon 17-Oct-11 21:43:32

I think it is well worth mentioning that your dd finds them boring. The teacher probably thinks it is a fun homework (and considering you can buy books of the things, some people must find them fun). So for children who wouldn't normally look at a book but enjoy wordsearches, it might be a worthwhile activity. But as your daughter enjoys other literacy activities, I can't see that they would serve any useful purpose for her.

gabid Wed 19-Oct-11 10:25:19

My DS doesn't like to do his reading, he always moans, groans and then finally does it, but everyone can see that it is important to read every day despite him not liking it.

But wordsearches? I don't think they are that important but may work and are fun for some children but not your DD. Just be diplomatic, tell the teacher that she finds her spellings easy and enjoys making stories out of them (much more worthwhile activity I would say), however the wordsearches seem to frustrate her and don't help her remember the spellings. I am sure the teacher will accept that and ask her for an exciting story instead maybe.

Maybe a good number of the children in your DDs class (often boys) don't like writing much and may like the wordsearches.

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