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Does your child bring home spellings to learn ? (primary schooll)

(92 Posts)
Ladyemem Tue 30-Apr-13 14:39:35

wondered what other schools do.

Our school dont and i think they should be.

NotWilliamBoyd Fri 03-May-13 14:23:04

Plus if a young child is working hard at the creative process of producing a piece of writing, how sad that that that creative process is 'constantly'interrupted by her need to ask how to spell a word.

Elibean Fri 03-May-13 15:03:51

Y2 starts bringing home spellings, I think.

When dd1 (now Y4) was in Y2, they didn't. She started in Y3.

She has always known her spellings beautifully for every test, understands the words, can put them in context, and continues to spell fairly badly in spite of all that grin

Elibean Fri 03-May-13 15:05:13

Should add - she's actually started to spell much better recently (half way through Y4).

Personally, I think it's down to the fact that she's started reading a lot more - spellings to learn, and tests, never made any difference at all. Reading does.

pointythings Fri 03-May-13 18:29:48

DD2 gets about 25 spellings a week. We do not so much as look at them, for all the reasons given by the antis above. She is a very good speller in her independent writing and that will do me nicely. I think reading widely is a far better way of learning to spell, alongside proper correction of independent written work (which DD2 does get).

BabyGiraffes Fri 03-May-13 21:25:04

12 per week, year 1. Totally pointless in my opinion. I would prefer dd to learn spelling in context within sentences.

cakebake Fri 03-May-13 22:18:07

My DD in year 2 gets 12 a week, which she and DD2 (y1) go through when she brings them home on a friday, she's supposed to learn them and be tested on a friday, but from what she is telling me they are not being tested on them anyway, we check through and practice at home when we need to

cakebake Fri 03-May-13 22:21:41

I would add though that they do letters and sounds daily and go through a lot of spellings and abbreviations etc then, I agree with the comments above that spelling tends to get better with a lot of reading, as well as discussion and understanding about what they have read

LightAFire Fri 03-May-13 23:11:10

My DD's school used to but have now stopped.

As a teacher though I'd say they really don't actually seem to help much. The majority of children can learn spellings purely for a test, and then never apply those words in their own work. Other strategies (like: reading, phonics, common spelling patterns, using them in sentences, simple investigations) seem to be more effective than single word tests. (Someone once told me they don't transfer it from short term memory.) If you think about it, as an adult it's your ability to apply spelling which will matter more too.

Regarding correcting words in work, which another poster mentioned earlier, I think it needs to be a balance. You want the creativity, but also you want them ultimately to be able to spell! With that in mind, nowadays teachers tend to focus on the use of phonics in Reception and Yr 1, allowing children to write far more expressive stories and develop their ideas and structuring skills. Stopping to correct every word would be slow and arduous! In Y2 and 3 they move more towards looking at correct spellings (in a variety of ways) and editing their own work etc.

However, of course there are now people arguing that memorising by rote is helpful, and that phonetic spelling is causing problems (see furore over the Year 1 phonics test in particular), so it may all change again in a couple of years!

maizieD Sat 04-May-13 01:04:43

However, of course there are now people arguing that memorising by rote is helpful, and that phonetic spelling is causing problems

I'm intrigued as to where you are getting the idea from that 'phonetic spelling is causing a problem'. Having worked for a number of years with Y7 pupils who are poor readers and spellers I'd say that one of the few cheering indicators of moves towards decent, phonics based spelling instruction in KS 1 & 2 is that children are now attempting to spell phonetically instead of writing a random string of letters which they dimly remember to be in the target word, but can't quite remember what order they were in.... 'Phonetic' spelling is an improvement and is to be applauded, not deprecated.

Attempting to learn the unique letter sequences of 250,000 words'by rote' is precisely the sort of 'rote learning' which should be condemned; learning some 180 letter/sound correspondences (and 'times tables') by rote is useful and productive.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Sat 04-May-13 09:00:42

I actually wonder if simply learning by rote could have a neg impact.

Wonder if it leads to kids not bothering to attempt to use rules,strings,phonics etc but an overuse of memory which obviously considering the vast number of words in the Eng Lang will result in mistakes.

Surely rote learning should be left for exceptional words.

LightAFire Sat 04-May-13 16:30:36

I'm intrigued as to where you are getting the idea from that 'phonetic spelling is causing a problem'

Googled it, read the discussions on the Dept of Education site, looked at articles on literacy, Masters degree in education with the IOE. Also from teaching for more than ten years myself - in KS2 each year progressively the children's spelling has got worse even though the emphasis on phonics has increased. And also I've spoken to a great many parents who are very concerned by how poor their children's spelling is (both professionally and personally). The children tend to spell phonetically but not correctly, which concerns them - although I do totally take your point re weaker spellers at least having a "stab" via phonics.

Generally, education methods and theories are frequently investigated, challenged, and also deprecated. I actually consider this a good thing since it means people are constantly thinking and questioning to find what is best for learners. Pretty much any education theory that you can mention has its supporters and its opponents - I just thought it was a good idea to acknowledge that, although if you re-read my posting you will see that I was actually explaining why phonics is considered more effective than pure memory.

I went on a very good phonics course, and I do believe that phonics absolutely has its benefits, as I explained in my first post. But some people definitely do seem to feel that there is currently a swing too far the other way, in that there is at times not enough emphasis on any correct spelling at all. And although around 70% of English words are phonetic, the vast majority of the most common ones are not, so inevitably there does need to be some memorising. My personal opinion is that you need a balance of both - as I said.

LightAFire Sat 04-May-13 16:33:27

And yes, Blueskies, agreed.

LightAFire Sat 04-May-13 16:40:11

MAizied this article might interest you - especially the bits lower down re writing:

I still think phonics has some major advantages though, and taught my own DD to read using Ruth Miskin's scheme as I loved it!

I wonder though if it's the difference between primary and secondary you and I are experiencing - perhaps by secondary the positive results are more noticeable? Or perhaps it is more helpful as a support for weaker spellers? It's an interesting question!

Portofino Sat 04-May-13 16:40:38

My dd (9) and year 3 in a Belgian school gets 10 a DAY. And she has to remember them too - as in teacher does not actually read out the words.

maizieD Sat 04-May-13 17:08:18

Sorry, LightaFire, the article you linked me to does nothing for me at all. it is just a load of unevidenced assertions put forward by people who are desparately trying to maintain their reputations in view of the fact systematic, structured phonics instruction goes against all the beliefs about teaching reading that they have made their reputations on over the past few decades.

Perhaps you might find this interesting:

First of all the spurious 'debate' (in which at least one participant didn't know that their article was to be used as part of a 'debate'):

Then Debbie H's response to David Reedy's contribution:

Googled it, read the discussions on the Dept of Education site, looked at articles on literacy, Masters degree in education with the IOE.

What you need to be looking at is the research, not opinion pieces.

You might also find this interesting; longitudinal data on spelling compiled by the developers of one particular programme:

As you will see, this phonics teaching doesn't seem to be adversely affecting these children's spelling.

maizieD Sat 04-May-13 17:11:16

OMG! 'desperately'. And this in a thread on spelling blush

mrz Sat 04-May-13 17:16:13

LightAFire I have never read such a load old rubbish as the Jennifer Jackson article I hope you you don't consider that evidence for your assertions.

RodEverson Sat 04-May-13 17:56:04

There seem to be two conflicting interpretations of "phonetic spelling" here. One is that a child spells phonetically, without regard to whether the result is actually correct, e.g., cote for coat, or wen for when, etc., and writes without corrections that would hinder creativity.

The other is that, when spelling any word, the child should use the phonetic content of the word as a guide to spelling it. That is, since "coat" is composed of the sounds /k/+/oe/+/t/, you are best served picking spellings that represent those sounds, and in that order.

Perhaps it would be clearer if people who hold the latter position, like me, would instead advocate "corrected phonetic spelling." Practicing a mistake, like "cote," or "wen," over an over has no chance of improving one's spelling, but practicing a corrected phonetic spelling most certainly does.

And I'd wager that most of those kids who learn their spelling words one week and forget them thereafter are not practicing a corrected phonetic spelling, but are attempting rote learning instead, a virtually impossible task when it comes to spelling English words. There are just too many to memorize by rote. Their phonetic content has to serve as a guide, and wrong attempts must be corrected before too many further attempts are made.

To my mind, one of the best reading methods ever devised is The Spalding Method, and in it a child's first formal encounter with words is learning their correct spelling, with consistent correction of errors thereafter. They then progress to reading those words and using them in their writing. After introduction to the code, the rest of the program consists of a progressive spelling course integrated with the reading of fine literature and composition writing. According to researchers, Spalding-educated children read and write at levels well above their peers taught by other methods.

I do agree, by the way, with those who claim that spelling is best learned in conjunction with reading, although I would add writing as well.

mrz Sat 04-May-13 19:04:40

I think part of the problem is that many teachers don't teach decoding for reading and encoding for spelling as reversible skills and many still teach whole words.

ReadytoOrderSir Sun 05-May-13 10:30:11

My class (yr4) get a mixture of spellings. Part of their list will be related to a particular spelling 'rule' or grapheme (eg /ea/ words) and some will be related to our currect work. Last week they had decimal, tenth and hundredth, while this week they've got measure, thermometer and Celcius!

iloverainbows Sun 05-May-13 11:50:17

My DS, year 2, does not bring any spellings home and it does worry me how he is going to learn to spell. He started his education in the UK and learnt phonics for 1 term, he picked it up really well and I have continued to encourage him to use this knowledge in his reading ever since.

However we are no longer in the UK and they do not do formal phonics at his school. The teacher has told me that if she notices a child is weak on a sound she will cover it with them. This is in a class of 28 children with no TA or additional support so essentially there is no teaching of sounds. I would appreciate some advice from teachers especially as to how I can help him with spelling because I don't understand how he will learn to spell if he doesn't have formal phonic sessions or spellings home to learn. Can a child really learn to spell from reading alone?

mrz Sun 05-May-13 12:19:09

LightAFire Sun 05-May-13 16:43:04

maizied amd mrz no, that article was just an example of the existing debate of which maizied appeared to be unaware.

What you need to be looking at is the research, not opinion pieces.

Maizied Yes, funnily enough with my educational background I am well aware of how to research - are you trying to have an intelligent discussion here, or to play a rather patronising game of one-upmanship?

I will say it again, since you seem to have misunderstood me: I did not personally dispute the use of phonics. And I fail to see why you are trying so hard to convince me it is effective. I already know that. I believe you! Since I am a primary teacher, obviously I have taught phonics myself and had numerous staff meetings, INSET etc on the subject, plus an intensive and excellent external course, and - again - I taught my own DD to read phonetically. My personal view of phonics is that it has some major advantages, particularly in the teaching of common letter strings and sounds, but - due to the awkward nature of the English language - to be most effective it must inevitably be taught in conjunction with some memorising. I think it is particularly beneficial to children with SN relating to spelling as it provides alternative strategies and allows them to communicate ideas in written form, which is wonderful.

However there is some debate over it (which I dared to briefly acknowledge in one sentence and thus evoked your wrath, apparently) and to pretend that it doesn't even exist is both naive and closed-minded. I suspect I am wasting my time here as you seem to be determined to misinterpret whatever I say, but still it seems a shame that you are not willing to even consider the other side of the debate. Surely education should be about weighing up all the evidence in an open-minded manner and deciding on a rationale accordingly? Selectively ignoring some evidence in favour of that which supports your argument only serves to weaken your case. (And Mr Gove’s proposed curriculum would have been so much better if he had done this himself.)

I would like to point out too that in the personal example you gave, you did not say that your Y7s can spell perfectly thanks to phonics. You said - essentially - that they make a better stab at the words. My concern here would be that sadly in the world of employment a lot of people will still not care whether it is closer to right than before if it is still wrong, and are employees (especially graduates) of the future likely to be told by their bosses “well done that’s nearly right” regarding spellings? I very much hope that as people become more aware of dyslexia and similar that employers will indeed become more supportive, but what if they don't? (Maybe we could just throw out all the undeniably illogical spellings in our language and go completely phonetic - it would be nice!!!)

I still 100% believe that phonics gives children more chance of being able to spell words than pure memorising. I’m very glad that you are finding phonics successful too. But as I said before, pretty much any theory in education will eventually be contested, especially over time – e.g. here is a brief history of the child centred vs teacher centred debate (NOT a research piece...):

So in ten-twenty years, when we’re all back to rote learning or whatever new system they've found, and then when phonics is back again ten-twenty years later, perhaps you will eventually see what I mean. I was not criticising phonics personally, I merely commented - after two paragraphs explaining why pure memorising is not as effective - that criticism existed. I really don't understand quite why that seems to have riled you so much, since it's true.

Anyway I feel as though all we are achieving here is to hijack this thread and turn it into a pointless circular argument over phonics, which wasn’t my intention (as I like phonics!), so I shall bow out now.

And to all the mums reading this, I do hope I haven't inadvertently worried/angered you either: phonics is a good system of learning how to spell the vast majority of words. Many primary schools now do talks on how they teach phonics and if you get the chance to go along, do - it will reassure you I think. Please don't worry that you are not being given lists of spellings to memorise (if that's what your school are doing). But yes, your children will need to memorise some non-phonetic common words like: the, said, there, their, were, etc. In the majority of cases they will pick this up from reading (I particularly recommend Ruth Miskins' synthetic phonics series as she highlights non-phonetic/"tricky" words) but in some cases they won't. In which case, their teachers will do some extra work with them, which may involve some memorising activities. Good luck one and all!

mrz Sun 05-May-13 17:12:19

I wouldn't call it an example of debate LightAFire more an example of very shoddy journalism of the worst kind no wonder Jennifer Jackson used a pseudonym

mrz Sun 05-May-13 17:13:25

your children will need to memorise some non-phonetic common words like: the, said, there, their, were,

you do know all those words are phonetic don't you hmm

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