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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.

Dromedary Sun 10-Mar-13 18:05:39

I heard that there'd been research which showed that spelling lists don't make a difference?
My DC gets one, and a test, every week, but doesn't bother with it. I don't push her, as I don't think it's a good way to learn to spell. Much better to do lots of reading and writing. I also do fun spelling quizzes with my DCs in the car sometimes. They can both spell really challenging words (the
younger one is 8 and has never been given any spelling lists).
It has a private school feel to it, so attracts that type of parent (at or would like to be at private school).

ponyandpotatopie Sun 10-Mar-13 18:10:06

Most teachers have known that spelling lists don't work for a long time from their own professional experience.
Parents like it because of the Gove factor - it's how they were taught.

MTSgroupie Sun 10-Mar-13 21:03:40

OP - it is a silly question. I mean, how are kids suppose to learn spelling if the school don't set them 10 words a week?

Well, teacherwith's professional opinion is that there are better ways to teach spelling. If you don't agree then you can always set the list yourself. You don't need a teaching qualification for that.

And if being called 'silly' is enough to make you angry then I suggest that you confine yourself to the Breastfeeding forum and the like.

teacherwith2kids Sun 10-Mar-13 21:10:07

However, MTS, I presume from your earlier post (saying that schools should regularly hand out spellings) that you disagree with my professional opinion and that of other teachers on this thread and elsewhere.

Few children are actively harmed by learning random spelling words (though the implication that spellings are a 'thing that you learn in this random way' is perhaps marginally unhelpful to some) though on average it is not helpful. So if you feel it is doing your children no harm (I do not prevent my daughter learning the spellings that her school sets each week, I just don't worry if she doesn't have time, as i know she has a good knowledge of phonics and spelling rules because we talk about those all the time when reading to and with each other), then carry on.

Ruprekt Sun 10-Mar-13 21:18:58

Well i think it is a great qu and has opened up discussion.

Interesting to know what others are doing.

And breastfeeding was so long ago I wont be heading there again!

TodaysAGoodDay Sun 10-Mar-13 21:31:13

I don't believe learning spellings at home is of any benefit to children as young as 7. My DS is 6 and brings home lots of spellings which sometimes take us over an hour a week to master. Last week it was: rich, much, catch, witch, future, adventure. In a class of 17, only one child got them all correct. It was not my son. Yes, he knows how to spell certain words, for example 'some' but when he writes he then uses 'sum'. So no, I don't think it helps. I will celebrate the day they stop sending these spellings home.

MTSgroupie Mon 11-Mar-13 01:32:42

Teacher - Some teachers think that homework is a waste of time in their professional opinion. Soime teachers disagree. In their professional opinion they think that homework reinforces what was covered in class and speeds up the learning process.

If you professionals can't agree among yourselves then you can't really blame me.for going hmm when you ask me to trust your professional judgement.

StuffezLaBouche Mon 11-Mar-13 06:05:11

Good morning MTS,
Your post at 21:03 makes you sound like a snotty, unpleasant person and your post at 01:32 makes you sound really, really stupid.
Have a good day!

seeker Mon 11-Mar-13 06:28:38

Parents seem to like homework. At a primary level, there is no evidence that homework, apart from reading practice, has any effect at all on children's learning. But because parents and the government (because they want parents' votes) like it, schools set it. Learning spellings, in particular, teaches children how to spell 10 words for the duration of a test. Nothing more. I can hardly think of a more pointless exercise!

MTSgroupie Mon 11-Mar-13 07:14:33

Stuffez - I'll try not to be too destroyed over your opinion of me.

MTSgroupie Mon 11-Mar-13 07:41:54

'Parents seem to like homework' ???

Some parents like it. Some dislike it. I haven't seen anything that would allow me to quantify which is the majority opinion. Obviously you are privy to knowledge that I don't have.

As for homework being handed out against teachers professional opinion only because of parents grin.

Yup. Schools and governments have repeatedly demonstrated that they do what parents want [sarcasm emoticon]

JakeBullet Mon 11-Mar-13 07:45:10

I hate homework, my autistic son gets in a right tiz doing it and I'd be so happy if it didn't exist. Am dreading secondary level.

ponyandpotatopie Mon 11-Mar-13 08:40:09

seeker is spot on about homework in primary school

FriendlyLadybird Mon 11-Mar-13 09:01:25

Er ... just reading?

And, um, more reading?

MTSgroupie Mon 11-Mar-13 09:46:49

Jake - At secondary the amount of homework varies from school to school. As you have probably figured out, a lot of teachers in the non selective sector aren't into homework. So, depending, your DC won't necessarily have loads of homework to deal with.

MTSgroupie Mon 11-Mar-13 09:51:38

Friendly - I can read the Mary Poppins supercali.... word when I see it. But it doesn't mean that I can spell it.

Similarly with day to day words, my kids can read fluently but its a different matter when they have to write what they read.

seeker Mon 11-Mar-13 10:01:35

I have a child in a selective secondary school. The line from the school has always been that the children work at full tilt during the day, so homework is kept to a minimum, particularly in the early years.

lainiekazan Mon 11-Mar-13 10:09:03

Practise makes perfect.

So if you read a lot, you see a lot, you take in a lot.

And so you learn to spell.

Just the same as if you play a lot of football, you get better at football, or XBox, or sewing, or cooking, or or or or or...

noramum Mon 11-Mar-13 12:00:53

Seeker: I like homework because it gives me a chance to see what a) my child does, b) if my child is understanding what they do in school and c) gives my child the chance to deepen what she learned in school. Or it can be a chance to get into a subject they will start in the next term.

Homework is not about teaching topics the school had not the time to do.

I only see DD's work 3 times a year, at two parent evenings and one open evening where DD can show me around. That is just not enough for me. I am interested in knowing about DD's learning so I like that she brings little things home.

We normally spend 1/2 to 1 hour at home per week and last weekend she said "homework is not boring".

FriendlyLadybird Mon 11-Mar-13 12:01:39

MTSgroupie Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I think that's right. I worked backwards from what I know about reading. And if I have an inkling that it's wrong, I check it in the dictionary. Not that that particular word is in any dictionary that I own, but it's a good principle.

CecilyP Mon 11-Mar-13 12:47:52

^Practise makes perfect.

So if you read a lot, you see a lot, you take in a lot.

And so you learn to spell.^

Sorry, but that isn't really true, many people who read a lot are very poor spellers. I am sure that with very young children, as they read more their spelling will improve because, before that, they will be trying to write words that they have never even seen written down. But beyond a certain level, reading a lot does not improve spelling. It is only by focusing on spelling that spelling can be improved, and I agree with others that it is more important to teach phonics, spelling patterns and the grammatical knowledge that underpins good spelling, rather than send home lists of random words. BTW, it should be 'practice' in the context used above.

lainiekazan Mon 11-Mar-13 12:54:06

Whoops - I thought about that whilst I was at the shops. blush

But piffle, anyway. If our spelling began and ended with the words we learnt from lists at primary school then we'd have a very small repertoire indeed.

CecilyP Mon 11-Mar-13 13:03:37

Yes, I would agree with that, so the answer to OP's post might be 'the same way they learn to spell all the other words that have never been featured on their spelling lists.'

teacherwith2kids Mon 11-Mar-13 18:57:43

MTS, it isn't just my professional opinion - as seeker has pointed out, research in the area indicates that there is very little, if any, positive correlation between primary homework and academic progress.

Have work to do - a spelling lesson to plan, funnily enough - so I will leave you to do the googling.

As it happens, I believe that homework does have benefits - the communication with parents thing noramum mentions is an important one, and as secondary approaches, the idea that 'learning'/ school work does not just happen in school, along with the discipline of the child finding time and space to do it - but accelerating academic progress is not one of them. Reading, however, is the honorable exception - being read to, reading to someone, solo reading is the kind fo homework that is never wasted.

teacherwith2kids Mon 11-Mar-13 19:01:00

Sutton Trust, as one example:
Sutton Trust Research

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