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help please with ea words - teaching dyslexic DD

(57 Posts)
betterwhenthesunshines Mon 04-Feb-13 19:25:52

DD is 8, in Yr 3 and has a dyslexia diagnosis. We are helping her a lot at home and things are improving although still extremely variable. Her reading especially has improved (EasyRead system) and she no longer panics and can consistently sound out new words, is reading more fluently and she now seems to have a good phonic grounding.

However it hasn't yet transferred to her spelling which is still a tricky area. Any tips for when the -ea- sound makes the short 'e':
bread, spread, head, lead (as opposed to the simple bed, fed, led, shed)

and when the long 'ea'
reach, teach, speak, creak, knead, bead

and when the 'ee'
need, greed

lead tricky one this "My pencil has lead in it"
"My dog has a lead" "I led the horse to water"
Should she just be trying to learn the different words in different scenarios, or is there any rhyme or reason? Any 'rules'?

PS I don't really want a lecture on why English spelling should be changed Masha grin just some tips about the best way to help her!

mrz Sun 24-Feb-13 12:52:53

I think it is important to understand the basic concepts

that letters are spellings of sounds: written language representing spoken language

that a spelling can contain one, two, three, or four letters

that there is more than one way of spelling most sounds: the sound 'ee', spelt as <ee> in 'tree', can be represented as <e> in 'he', <ea> in 'leaf', <ey> in 'key', and so on

that many spellings can represent more than one sound: <ea> can be the sound 'e' in 'head', 'a-e' in 'break', or 'ee' in 'seat'

Feenie Sun 24-Feb-13 12:49:01

but I felt compelled to drop you a line and say that while all the mothers on here seem well intentioned, they don't seem to be of much help to you

How patronising! Several posters here are very skilled and experienced teachers, as well as well intentioned mothers.

betterwhenthesunshines Sun 24-Feb-13 12:29:13

ML0808 Thank you for replying. Good tip about You tube.

You're absolutely right about letting them know that often English spelling doesn't make sense. Ithink that's one of the problems with the way in which synthetic phonics is (sometimes) taught. ie "here is 'a', it makes this sound (short 'a')" and then a few months later they are being told about long vowels, not to mention awful, august, argue etc

I've tried to lift the pressure and more often now just say "here you use xx to make this sound".

ML0808 Wed 20-Feb-13 08:23:52

I just stumbled across this site because I had been Googling for ea words to help my own dyslexic child with his homework. Obviously this wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but I felt compelled to drop you a line and say that while all the mothers on here seem well intentioned, they don't seem to be of much help to you. I think you should be directing these sorts of problems towards one of the sites set up to help parents of dyslexic children. Then you can get some advice that's actually useful and, when needed, a shoulder to cry on (we all have our hard days). You Tube also has some wonderful tutorials from teachers and parents of dyslexic students on how best to teach new words and sounds. As for your original question, my advice (for what it's worth) is to just take it one word and one test at a time. It's really too hard to teach them every word within a sound group. Let her get her sounds right, and let her spell phonetically so that she's getting her words down on paper. Then maybe go through and explain which sounds need to be swapped for similar sounds. My approach with my nine year old son was to tell him that English doesn't make sense, and that some words are just spelt differently. It's no big deal and it's not his fault if he's written the wrong sound down. That's what it sounded like, and it was a really good try. Focusing on the stupidity of the English language seems to alleviate the anxiety and feelings of failure. Then I just deal with his words one spelling list at a time. I'm not sure where you live, but I discovered a Multilit program that is being run at Macquarie University (in Sydney) that might interest you. It's had great success in catching children up to their peers in about 6 months, but it costs $6000. It seems pretty steep, but if I don't have to stress about this stuff any more, or pay for a tutor in High School, it'll be worth it. I hope that I've been of some help to you. But if not, just remember, she'll get there eventually. As long as you keep her confidence intact, the rest will fall into place in it's own time.

maizieD Sat 09-Feb-13 12:20:03

not a lesson on the history/vagaries of the English language, which is what certain posters always jump to on these threads.

I just scroll down quickly past those with averted eyes grin

LindyHemming Sat 09-Feb-13 09:28:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrz Sat 09-Feb-13 08:47:54

I'm afraid there aren't any rules or tricks to help the OPs child right now as has been said previously Euphemia

LindyHemming Sat 09-Feb-13 08:24:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LindyHemming Sat 09-Feb-13 08:23:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

learnandsay Fri 08-Feb-13 23:09:51

Because the printers were business people and they printed for whoever could pay. And in the 1470s the most demanded style of print for commercial purposes in London was Chancery Standard. So, guess what got printed.

maizieD Fri 08-Feb-13 18:08:39

I'm not altogether sure that Chancery documents were printed at an early stage anyway. So why should printers be influenced bythe spellings of chancery clerks? Most early printed material was ecclesiastical in origin and tended to be books.

learnandsay Fri 08-Feb-13 13:03:28

It doesn't matter why the clerks did it. Their documents were only meant for the civil service. It just so happened that their script was the easiest one available at the time for the newly emerging printing presses. So if I was you I'd blame the printers not the clerks.

maizieD Fri 08-Feb-13 12:41:20

We can speculate why the Chancery clerks did this, but they clearly messed up English spelling quite deliberately.

Are you using 'deliberately' to mean 'purposely' or to mean 'purposely with malicious intent'?

It all sounds a bit conspiracy theorist to me...

Mashabell Fri 08-Feb-13 10:22:54

One of the reasons <ea> was added to English spelling was the pronunciation of the sound changed after the Norman conquest

The conquest was in 1066.
The short e sound was spelt e (brest, fethers, in stedde) and the ee sound with e-e (leve, sleve, beleve, treson) until 1430, when Chancery scribes who had previously written only French and Latin had to switch to English.

There is no evidence for any sudden change in pronunciation, just the spelling, especially as many writers did not adopt the Chancery spellings immediately and carried on spelling the old way for another 100 years.

There is not the slightest evidence whatsoever that words which had different spellings earlier (erly, lern, deth - yere, lene, speke), and which still have different sounds now, suddenly changed to one and justified the new use of ea for both (early, learn, death - year, lean, speak).

We can speculate why the Chancery clerks did this, but they clearly messed up English spelling quite deliberately.

mrz Thu 07-Feb-13 17:26:28

One of the reasons <ea> was added to English spelling was the pronunciation of the sound changed after the Norman conquest

maizieD Thu 07-Feb-13 16:49:21

I wonder if many of u are aware...

Quite honestly, marsha, I don't think that many of us care...apart from in a history geekish way.

(hmm does 'us' spell 'yous' in marsha land?)

Mashabell Thu 07-Feb-13 10:37:39

I wonder if many of u are aware that the adding of ea to English spelling in the 15th century was a deliberate undermining of earlier greater English spelling consistency (e.g. erly, lern, hevy, tred, erth - speke, reson, beleve) as found in Chaucer who died in 1400?

Mashabell Wed 06-Feb-13 07:55:14

I was in a hurry yesterday and missed your PS
I don't really want a lecture on why English spelling should be changed Masha

I don't usually do that.
I merely show people what there is to learn.
I gave u all the tricky words with alternative spellings for short e yesterday. There are not that many of them, but they occur in quite a few high frequency words, as u can see.

Learning to spell words with the ee sound takes quite a while. After consonant doubling, it's the second most unpredictable part of English spelling.

This is partly because an exceptionally large number of words have two spellings for the /ee/ sound (47):

Bee/be, beech/beach, been/bean, beet/beat, breech/breach, cheep/cheap, creek/creak, deer/dear, discreet/discrete, eerie/eyrie, eve/eaves, feet/feat, flee/flea, freeze/frieze, jeans/genes, Greece/grease, heel/heal, hear/here, key/quay, leech/leach, leek/leak, meet/meat, need/knead, pee/pea, peace/piece, peek/peak, peel/peal, peer/pier, reed/read, reek/wreak, reel/real, seamen/semen, see/sea, seem/seam, seen/scene, serial/cereal, sheer/shear, sheikh/chic, steel/steal, sweet/suite, tee/tea, teem/team, wee/we, week/weak, wheel/weal, geezer/geyser, leaver/lever.

The spellings for the other 363 relatively common words are completely unpredictable:
Achieve, adhesive, agree, albino, antique, appeal, arena, aubergine.
Beacon, bead, beak, beam, beard, beast, beaver, beef, beer, beetle, belief, believe, beneath, between, bikini, bleach, bleak, bleat, bleed, bleep, breathe, breed, breeze, brief.
Cafeteria, caffeine, career, cathedral, cease, cedar, ceiling, chameleon, cheat, cheek, cheer, cheese, cheetah, chief, chimpanzee, Chinese, clean, clear, clementine, codeine, colleague, comedian, compete, complete, conceal, conceive, conceit, concrete, congeal, convene, convenient, cream, crease, creature, creep.
Deal, dean, debris, deceive /deceit, decent, decrease, deed, deep, defeat, demon, diesel, disease, domineer, dream, dreary, dungarees.
Each, eager, eagle, ear, ease, east, Easter, eat, eel, engineer, equal, era, even, evil, exceed, experience, exterior, extreme.
Fatigue, fear, feast, feature, feeble, feed, feel, female, fever, field, fiend, fierce, fleece, fleet, freak, frequent, frontier.
Gear, geese, genie, genius, gleam, glean, greed, green, greet, grief, grieve, employee, guarantee, guillotine.
He, heap, heat, heath, heathen, heave, hero, hyena, hygienic.
Imperial, increase, indeed, inferior, ingredient, intermediate, interviewee.
Jamboree, jeep, jeer.
Key, keel, keen, keep, kneel.
Lead, leaf, league, lean, leap, lease, leash, least, leave, legal, legion, lenient.
Machine, magazine, margarine, marine, marquee, material, me, meagre, meal, mean, measles, medieval, medium, meek, mere, meteor, meter, millipede, mosquito, mysterious, near, neat, needle, niece.
Obedient, ordeal.
Peach, peat, peep, people, perceive, period, peter, pierce, pioneer, pizza, plasticine, plead, please, pleat, police, polythene, preach, precede, preen, prestige, previous, priest, proceed, proceedings, proceeds, protein.
Quay, queasy, queen, queer, query.
Ravine, reach, really, reap, rear, reason, receive /receipt, recent, recess, reef, regime, region, relay, release, relief, relieve, repeat, retreat, reveal, routine.
Sardine, scheme, scream, screech, screen, seal, sear, season, seat, secret, seed, seek, seep, seesaw, seize, sequence, sequin, series, serious, serum, she, sheaf, sheath, sheep, sheet, shield, shriek, siege, ski, sleek, sleep, sleet, sleeve, smear, smithereens, sneak, sneer, sneeze, souvenir, speak, spear, species, speech, speed, sphere, squeak, squeal, squeamish, squeeze, stampede, steam, steep, steeple, steer, strategic, streak, stream, street, succeed, superior, supreme, swede, sweep, sweet.
Tambourine, tangerine, teach, teak, tear, tease, tedious, teeth, teetotal, theatre, theme, theory, these, thief, thieve, thirteen, tier, torpedo, trampoline, trapeze, treacle, treason, treat, treaty, trustee, tweed, tweezers.
Vaseline, veal, vehicle, Venus, volunteer.
Wean, weary, weasel, weave, weed, weep, weir, weird, wheat, wheedle, wheeze, wield, wildebeest, wreath.
Year, yeast, yield.
Zeal, zero.

So teachers/spelling schemes pick out a few at a time, group them in different ways and just plug away at it.
It obviously takes quite a while to learn them all.

mrz Tue 05-Feb-13 18:25:40

No plusonemore but are you stalking us?

plusonemore Tue 05-Feb-13 18:14:04

Not you two again mrz and lands? Are you stalking one another? wink

kesstrel Tue 05-Feb-13 18:08:27

OP: I believe Debbie Hepplewhite at Phonics International uses a mnemonic story system for these sorts of spellings. She says, quote: "I call it 'word associations' where you need to group and associate certain words together as falling under the umbrella of the same spelling variation.Then these words can be part of a story so that there can be visual images of the storyline - and the storyline itself." I think the idea is that the child is more likely to be able to remember a mini-story made up of words that share the same spelling, so that it can then act as a mnemonic. She has a message board on her Phonics International website, so you could ask her about it.

derektheladyhamster Tue 05-Feb-13 18:05:42

It's great when you can see the progress, well done to your dd grin

mrz Tue 05-Feb-13 17:53:46

So you did see the OP as "Any rules?"

learnandsay Tue 05-Feb-13 17:45:18

Indeed, quite correct.

mrz Tue 05-Feb-13 17:43:58

Check your facts before you post ...

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