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If schools are beginning to stop sending home spellings to learn, how do children learn to spell?

(73 Posts)
Ruprekt Sat 09-Mar-13 22:33:04

I know the thought is that children learn for the test but then do not use that knowledge in literacy.

Lots of primary schools have stopped sending spellings home so there begs the question, how do they learn to spell?

Ds2 is 8 and a Very able speller......just wondering what to do to keep that going.

Fuzzymum1 Sat 09-Mar-13 23:05:20

The phonics lessons they have in school are as much about learning to spell as learning to read. Our school still sends home spellings (mostly because parents want them I think rather than because they really think it helps), 8 per week with emphasis on a particular phonic sound along with one or two high frequency words. For example this week my Y1 child has fork, sort, worn, torn, cork, born, came and their. Last week he had 'ar' words including farmyard.

cumbrialass Sun 10-Mar-13 10:08:06 gives you an idea of what happens from year 2 onwards once children have covered the phonic rules, we begin to teach plurals, prefixes, suffixes, verb tenses etc. Simply because spellings don't come home doesn't mean they aren't taught! But teaching and reinforcing in the class is a much more efficient and effective way of embedding the spellings.

BarbarianMum Sun 10-Mar-13 10:10:34

<<Ds2 is 8 and a Very able speller......just wondering what to do to keep that going. >>

I suspect you need do nothing, he is probably naturally able in this area and his spelling will continue to improve as his vocab expands.

My ds1 seems to learn to spell by constant usage in his writing. He is not a good speller although extremely able in other areas of literacy. His school do send home spellings each week and tbh it doesn't help at all. He learns the spellings for his test, then 2 weeks later will misspell them in a piece of writing.

My plan is to teach him to use a dictionary/spellchecker as he gets older - just like his old mother does. wink

pooka Sun 10-Mar-13 10:11:30

Reading lots and lots.

StuffezLaBouche Sun 10-Mar-13 11:58:43

I use the Support for Spelling document and focus on an area for a given amount of time, eg. Past tense verbs, comparatives and superlatives, etc.
When the children do their extended writing I home in particularly on these words, which the children must then correct themselves and write five times.
I find it helps identifying rules, but the nature of English means there will always be some exceptions. :-)

teacherwith2kids Sun 10-Mar-13 12:02:22

The short answer is 'they will learn in school, through spelling lessons and through focused teaching within other lessons'.

The 'fetishisation' of 'bringing spellings home to learn' (and how slly this is) is obvious when you slightly change the OP's question:

'My child doesn't bring home any geography [ or art, or history, or extended writing, or RE, or Design Technology, or ICT, or PE], how are they going to learn those subjects?'

noramum Sun 10-Mar-13 12:15:13

My DD, now Y1, never brought spellings home. She is incredible good, hardly makes mistakes.

The school believes in teaching through context and phonics.

We correct spelling when she does her homework though. She reads a lot and we read to her and often follow the words with our fingers.

She likes doing word searches in activity books.

PastSellByDate Sun 10-Mar-13 13:53:53

Hi teacherwith2kids and other teachers or Mums here who have ideas on extending spelling:

Although I totally take the point that at a school which is doing their job well, spelling beyond KS1 can be context-based in class, with learning about suffixes, prefixes, doubling consonants, etc... through class work and exercises...

...what do you do when that isn't working?

We've had lists and now no lists (so I know it isn't weak spelling because lists stopped - problem was there with weekly spelling lists). I think that DD1 (who is in Year 5) still only spelling thorugh plausible phonetic guesswork and I'm trying my best to expose her to some of the rules of English (i before e except after c; short vowel one syllable words tend to double consonant before -ing endings; difference between homonymns like they're, there and their.

Grammar is very shaky - I'm having to teach her what a noun, verb, pronoun, preposition, collective noun is. Although in some cases she has had some of it in class (like 'doing words' for verbs) - in other cases it's new for her.

So if you can recommend workbooks (we're using GCP literacy workbooks Year 4 & hopefully starting Y5 after Easter) or websites (we do use St Ambrose spelling website: - let us know.

Any ideas gratefully received.

Welovegrapes Sun 10-Mar-13 13:56:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MTSgroupie Sun 10-Mar-13 14:21:53

I think that schools should regularly hand out spellings. Having said, its bit silly to go - how is my child going to learn spelling now that the school doesn't do it? It's a list of 10 words or so, handed out each week ffs.

Putting together your own spelling list is not rocket science. What I use to do was go through the children's reading books and make a list of the more difficult words and I would run through them while doing the school run.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sun 10-Mar-13 14:25:15

When I was a teacher I found the only reason I continued to send spellings home was because certain parents demanded I should.

However these were the parents of children who were having no problems learning to spell anyway.

The ones who could really have benefited from some time spent learning spellings with an adult were invariably the ones who never, ever learned their spellings, and it was through no fault of theirs.

It was very frustrating.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sun 10-Mar-13 14:25:57

(which of course did not mean that I didn't spend time teaching spelling in class. I did)

difficultpickle Sun 10-Mar-13 14:26:27

Ds (year 4) has spelling tests. The lists stay in his desk drawer and never come home. Doesn't stop him getting them all correct so he must be learning them somewhere (although he says they are easy and don't require learning at all). I'm grateful as it lessens the homework battle!

Happymum22 Sun 10-Mar-13 14:40:52

At my DDs school (10 years ago now) they had one lesson a week where the whole of Key stage 2 were split into 8 sets, so classes had pupils from all year groups depending on spelling ability. They did spelling and dictation in alternating weeks.
They carried forward spellings so 'dictation' week had spellings from all previous weeks, not just 'the list'.
It somehow worked well for DDs, none were fab at spelling but by year 6 they had reasonable spelling.
Do agree depends on the school and parents- we were at a school with keen parents who made sure spellings were learnt- hence keen pupils wanting to do well.

They also had every single week Grammar, Comprehension, Creative Writing and Poetry lessons.

teacherwith2kids Sun 10-Mar-13 14:58:37

MTS - why? Why do you think that rote-learning a list of words, in isolation, is an effective mechanism for learning to spell effectively in everyday writing?

Learning a 'rule', and having homework that involves researching the words that follow that rule and also finding some exceptions to it - now that's entirely sensible [or at least, as sensible as primary homework gets] - followed by some kind of writing that asks children to use words which follow or do not follow the rule in context... that is proper 'learning to spell', and is what I do in spelling lessons.

PastSellBy - find copies of 'Support for Spelling' and 'Grammar for Writing' online. They are both divided up into units for each year group - though it sounds as if with Grammar you will have to backtrack a bit - and investigate exactly the types of rules that you describe. They are aimed at teachers, but tbh could be followed by anyone prepared to be a little imaginative with activities [as written, they are very dry, and I know no-one who teaches them 'straight from the book', but to dip into as a 'what should they know at this age' they are good resources.

gaelicsheep Sun 10-Mar-13 15:02:22

DS hasn't had any this term. Didn't realise it was a new policy but I don't miss them one bit.

ByTheWay1 Sun 10-Mar-13 15:13:11

my dd is still getting them in Y6 - they have to write out the words in their book, and make a sentence with the word - which becomes a dictionary exercise -

but apparently I'm a "meany" because I tell her she has to do them, and don't allow "I don't know how else to use "disconsolate" in a sentence, so I used it this way"

They are learning from a sheet which states at the top: spellings for Y6 SATs - so I'm guessing they are important..

noramum Sun 10-Mar-13 15:49:29

MTS - why do you think the school is not teaching it just because they don't hand out pointless lists?

What is the point in learning "leaf" if a child doesn't learn in context that the multiple of it is "leaves".

I read somewhere that most children will happily learn words but their spelling is still not better as they have no idea how to apply multiples or past tense or "do" and "does".

MTSgroupie Sun 10-Mar-13 17:08:00

Nora - the OP is asking how do children learn spelling if the schools don't set spellings homework. If the schools are still teaching them spelling at school then the OP's question is still silly because it assumes that a child's ability to spell lives and dies with homework and that a parent has no input.

MTSgroupie Sun 10-Mar-13 17:11:51

teacher - where do I say that learning spelling in isolation is a good thing? As I said in my post, I would take words from their reading books as opposed to arbitrarily picking words from a dictionary.

StuffezLaBouche Sun 10-Mar-13 17:17:02

Not easy if you've got 30kids all with a different book though...
Also, how can you prove what learning's taken place? How can you know which kids can put a verb into the past tense correctly and which can't?
If spelling is taught and assessed correctly in schools, there is no need to send spellings home.

Ruprekt Sun 10-Mar-13 17:21:13

MTS - I object to it being said that my question is silly!

How dare you? angry

One minute they get 10 words per week then it stops! I was just asking the question.

teacherwith2kids Sun 10-Mar-13 17:39:46

MTS, I currently have 32 children in my class. Every one has a different reading book, most read several books per week.

So instead of working out 320 individual words, I teach the class a spelling rule which is a) age and stage appropriate and b) is based on general patterns o mis-spellings picked up from recent writing by the class.

And then they investigate that spelling rule for homework, and I assess the success of the teaching over time through their independent writing.

Arisbottle Sun 10-Mar-13 17:41:26

I have two at primary and they seem to be getting more spellings rather than less.

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