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could someone advise level of this piece of writing pls?

(37 Posts)
firstchoice Sun 23-Feb-14 20:53:54


My child has recently written this:

'On staturdy I went to my swiming lesons it was borng. wen I got back from the lesans I plad minecraft. I bilt a rode mad out of blak and wite wool. You can get wite wool by kiling a sheep, shering a sheep and by crafthing it from 9 bits of sthing. you can get blak wool by: crafting it from bone meel you can croft bone meel from one bone. you can get bones from a scelingtan.) and cactos grn.'

can you please tell me how that would 'grade' in the English school system? (English is childs first language but not currently schooled in England but within UK)

another example is:

'well mysereas boy (stil unknon) robd bob 2 times 1st he rodb a £10000000 the 2nd time he rodb a hen that lay goldom egs. the 3rd time he did nto scsed in steling the hare because the hare shawtid marster marster sumwon is tring to sterling me! why that it we think bob said that th'

firstchoice Sun 23-Feb-14 21:35:40

can anyone advise please?
<bit worried, sorry>

Huitre Sun 23-Feb-14 22:39:48

Why are you worried and how old is your child? If that's a piece of work from a Reception child, it's wonderful. If it's a piece of work from a Y1 child it's great but he or she could work on spelling regular words like robbed. If it's from a Y2 child, it's probably somewhere around average (judging by my DD's Y2 class) but the spelling could use some work as well as the sentence structure. I think asking for levels isn't productive. If you could say some more about why you are asking, that might get you some better answers.

BobPatSamandIgglePiggle Sun 23-Feb-14 22:42:37

Stop fretting about the level - did your child enjoy writing it? If so then great.

firstchoice Sun 23-Feb-14 22:49:24

Child is 9.6 years old.
HATES writing.
Cries, throws pencil (at home, not at school), etc.
Always has stomach ache on spelling test days
Have been told by school that the spelling / writing is 'age 7.7' and 'no extra input needed'.

Huitre Sun 23-Feb-14 23:03:11

I would push for some extra input in your shoes, I think. I would also bin learning the spellings (and tell the school that you are working on other stuff and tell your kid it doesn't matter at the moment) and concentrate on making writing enjoyable and desirable, however that might work for you. I'm not a teacher but I think I'd be a bit worried in your shoes, unless I thought this was a good effort for my child's level of competence. Why do they think no extra input is needed? Is your child of a lower ability generally or does he have particular issues that make spelling harder? How did he do at the end of KS1? Is he the same with numeracy or is it a problem only to do with writing? How is his reading getting on?

firstchoice Sun 23-Feb-14 23:23:03

spelling test is non-negotiable, apparently.
child is superbright but really struggles at school with writing and spelling. reading has just become slightly less of a struggle.
no results for end KS1 as in diff system. school reluctant to show work or give 'results' for anything anyway. tends to get around 3/10 for spelling tests and never ever finishes a piece of work at school. sitting 1 year behind in age groups at school

firstchoice Mon 24-Feb-14 11:53:37

is anyone around this morning please?

Huitre Mon 24-Feb-14 13:35:48

Hello. Is your child dyslexic or do you think he might be? That would make sense with them telling you that this represents an age of 7.7 and therefore no input is needed because I think in lots of schools a child needs to be three years behind before they will start doing assessments and extra support. I have a friend whose son has only started to get support in Y3 despite quite obviously being functionally illiterate because he had to be three years behind before they would put things in motion.

I wonder if, in your shoes, it may be worth getting him assessed by someone outside the school system and then taking the results to the school if they show a clear discrepancy between what he is capable of and what he is achieving. I don't know how much this costs but there must be people on here who do.

As for the spellings, I know someone else with a dyslexic child who has told (not asked) the school that her child will no longer be doing any spelling tests as it's just too stressful for him.

firstchoice Mon 24-Feb-14 14:50:52

Hi. Have had private IQ test done and private Ed Psy assess.
child is dyslexic, has v high IQ and is possibly on spectrum in terms of anxiety. School accept none of this.
What concerns me is what is happening to his self esteem sitting in a class with kids 2 years younger and coming bottom of spelling tests. School allowed him to 'help in office' last test day but he is badly bullied and this simply marks him out.

LoopyDoopyDoo Mon 24-Feb-14 14:55:23

Get him out of the French system, frankly.

I haven't time now but there are loads of great ideas on the web for encouraging a love of writing, but I'd like to know how he is writing on a computer?

LoopyDoopyDoo Mon 24-Feb-14 14:56:27

I mean, is his writing better on a computer?

Davidhasselhoffstoecheese Mon 24-Feb-14 15:35:16

If the the school is unwilling to accept ed psychs report that DS is bright With anxiety/dyslexia and therefore unwilling to support him with his learning and he is not reaching his potential as a result, write to the governors and the LEA, highlighting your concerns

firstchoice Mon 24-Feb-14 16:33:43

hi. Scotland. no govorners. only LEA. they don't accept. they are rubbish frankly. can go to tribunal but no powers to enforce decision.

before I disrupt him by relocating just wanted to know if it would be different in England.

If they are stopping grading and you have to be 3 years behind then maybe not????

I think those two examples give a clear indication that, with a high IQ and at nearly 10, then something isn't right. He is VERY frustrated at school. Yes, his writing is much better on a computer but he hardly gets any ICT time at school.

I am looking to relocate near Morpeth, via a middle school (state) system.

mrz Mon 24-Feb-14 21:36:51

I think you need to visit the schools and ask about individual policy

Spaghettinetti Wed 26-Feb-14 17:53:36

If you've transcribed your DS's work precisely, the grammar and sentence structure is actually quite good and the text flows quite coherently. The main issue seems to be the spelling. Has your child ever been taught phonics? How do the teachers give spellings? Are they random words each week or do they follow specific patterns e.g., words with the 'shon' sound- tion, sion, cian etc? Does your child attempt to learn them? Do you help? Do you practise, look, cover, write, check?

Spaghettinetti Wed 26-Feb-14 17:56:31

By the way, if I had your son in my class, he would have an IEP and I'd be doing whatever I could to help him
Improve his spelling as well as testing to see if he might be slightly dyslexic...

januarysnowdrop Wed 26-Feb-14 20:39:45

Like Spaghettinetti, I think this writing is better than it looks! Different types of punctuation, some nice connectives (when, because), and it's quite interesting and enjoyable to read. I spend my working life doing one-to-one literacy tuition with children in exactly your son's position, and I agree (again with Spaghettinetti) that it's the spelling that needs sorting first, as it really gets in the way of him getting his written message across to the reader.

Can you help him with it? Try lots of different strategies: make little flash cards with words to learn and get them out at regular intervals, stick words up around the house, on breakfast cereal packets etc, get him to stare at a word hard, then cover it up and he writes it down, do this repeatedly until he's always getting it right. Bribery? Pick a list of 10 common words he's always getting wrong, help him to learn them (there are some good Ipad apps for spelling if you've got an ipad) and offer one chocolate button for each one he's mastered by the end of the week. Tell him to 'take a photo of the word in your head' - sometimes this sort of whole word recognition works better if phonics aren't doing it for him, but looking at spelling patterns can help as well.

firstchoice Wed 26-Feb-14 22:28:06

Yes, I have transcribed it carefully.
Yes, it is quite coherent, I agree. He writes, at home in bed, the way he speaks, as a stream of consciousness, but is more stilted at school.
Yes, supposedly taught phonics. He had a good teacher last term who said he had 'real problems with vowels' but that teacher is now gone and the school is unwilling to help in any way. Spellings are 10 words given once a week. You are supposed to get 0/10 in the pre-test on a Monday and 10/10 on a Friday. Spellings 'practised in the week' (he usually seems to have sepnt ages drawing the grid for a wordsearch and put 2 or 3 words in it, spelled wrongly sad. Spellings are then sent home to learn on Thursday. Basics don't seem to be explained such as there always being a 'u' after a 'q' for example. He says he cannot see the difference between the 'a' and 'o' vowels on the smartboard but school are doing nothing about it. Child tries hard to learn using look cover write method and I try to show him how to break the words down into syllables but he still gets an average of 3/10 and is embarrassed and despondent about it.

- thanks, some good ideas there. he is reluctant to practice at home and a lot of his distress and frustration seems to come out. I bribe with minecraft time rather than choc buttons now he is nearly 10 though. I will certainly try all your ideas, thank you, and esp the 'picture in your head' idea too in case phonics aren't working for him. He has been taught them in theory but his school is so poor that I don't know if it is the teaching he has had or him, iyswim?

I did speak to another school today who groups its (very small) body of students by phonics ability, not age, to help address any gaps in the older ones. Don't know what you think of this as an idea?

I wish I could post a pic of his writing too - 3 words to a line, words running down over 3 lines, transposed letters, hopelessly confused 'joins' between letters, often no gaps between words, rarely full stops / capital letters and certainly no paragraphs. Much of the written work is very repetitive too - about his toy cats or minecraft, usually.

firstchoice Wed 26-Feb-14 22:34:49

just found a recent spelling test list:

rhyme (rym)
loch (lok)
exhausted (exsorhstib)
vehicle (velcl)
ghastly (garstle)
ghost (ghost)
honest (honist)
hour (hour)
honour (onur)


januarysnowdrop Thu 27-Feb-14 10:57:31

Well, judging by those spellings, he does have a basic knowledge of phonics, as they're all pretty much 'phonetically plausible', as we say in the trade. Grouping for phonics by ability is fine as an idea, but it depends on the child - if you're stuck with a gang of 7 year olds when you're nearly 10 it can be pretty dispiriting. Poor lad - sounds as though he's finding everything about the whole business of writing difficult. It does need addressing, though, as it's only going to get harder as he gets older. It's a real shame the school isn't offering anything, as a bit of one-to-one support would really help.

Anyway, see if you can find a good computer game for learning spellings (one where you can put the spellings in yourself) and link minecraft time to how well he gets on with them.

The other big thing here is finding reasons for him to write - he's not going to be motivated to practice something he finds difficult unless you can sell it to him in some way! There are some nice pieces of software out there for making interactive books (with photos, audio etc - Book Creator on ipads if you've got access to one). He could take pictures of the toy cats and string them together into a story (typed, so it wouldn't help with the handwriting, but at least getting him to practice composing coherent text). Ask him to write a set of instructions for someone who doesn't know how to use minecraft? Does he have any grandparents/godparents/older cousins who might write back if you got him to do some letter writing? It's tricky, because obviously all of these are rather contrived (and he will realise it) but he'd be better off practising with something that motivates him a bit.

Does he like Lego? Quite good for fine motor control which sounds like it may be a problem if he's only writing 3 words per line. Or jigsaws - anything that involves using a pincer grip. Also arm strength generally - how active is he? Can he swing from monkey bars? Some children find the whole physical aspect of writing completely exhausting!

firstchoice Thu 27-Feb-14 13:16:12

January - THANKS! there are some great ideas here!

Yes, I see that he must have some phonics knowledge as there is some 'sense' in his attempts. He is still mega frustrated though.
School just say 'it'll come in time'. Pfff.

He HATES lego - it 'falls apart'. No his fine motor isn't great. He uses specially shaped cutlery as he cant cope with normal. Arm strength, much less than my dd at same age. He tires very quickly for eg swimming, gym etc but can ride a bike and balance really well.
We were given a Pindoras Box learning resource by school to try as 'they hadn't time' but it was incomplete and they have not bothered to supply a complete one despite our asking. Of course, we could try at home but he gets really upset about it.

mrz Thu 27-Feb-14 17:58:55

I have a long list of ideas to improve fine motor skills and strengthen the shoulder girdle which is essential for writing (otherwise it takes a huge amount of effort) hopefully some will appeal to him.

Fine Motor Skills
Things to remember:

Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm and shoulder muscles.
Fine Motor Activities
Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super strength builder.
Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow (mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt "monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run when sprayed.)
Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the "Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes, small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space between the palms.
Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios, macaroni, etc.
Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or to make artistic designs on paper.
Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto construction paper to form pictures or designs.
Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to the edge of the table.
Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.

Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal, cotton) on outlines
Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the outlines

Self-Care Skills
Fastening Snaps
Using a screwdriver
Locking and unlocking a door
Winding a clock
Opening and closing jars
Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
Washing plastic dishes
Sweeping the floor
Scissor Activities
When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine subscription cards.
Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
Cutting straws or shredded paper.
Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
A fringe from a piece of paper
Cut off corners of a piece of paper
Cut along curved lines
Cut lines with a variety of angles
Cut figures with curves and angles

Sensory Activities
The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of his/her hands.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop". Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt, sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory awareness in the hands.

Midline Crossing
Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following activities will facilitate midline crossing:
Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent switching hands at midline.
Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.

Activities To Develop Handwriting Skills
There are significant prerequisites for printing skills that begin in infancy and continue to emerge through the preschool years. The following activities support and promote fine motor and visual motor development:
Body Stability
The joints of the body need to be stable before the hands can be free to focus on specific skilled fine motor tasks.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking, and wall push-ups.
Toys: Orbiter, silly putty, and monkey bars on the playground.

Fine Motor Skills
When a certain amount of body stability has developed, the hands and fingers begin to work on movements of dexterity and isolation as well as different kinds of grasps. Children will develop fine motor skills best when they work on a VERTICAL or near vertical surface as much as possible. In particular, the wrist must be in extension. (Bent back in the direction of the hand)
Attach a large piece of drawing paper to the wall. Have the child use a large marker and try the following exercises to develop visual motor skills:Make an outline of a one at a time. Have the child trace over your line from left to right, or from top to bottom. Trace each figure at least 10 times . Then have the child draw the figure next to your model several times.
Play connect the dots. Again make sure the child's strokes connect dots fromleft to right, and from top to bottom.
Trace around stencils - the non-dominant hand should hold the stencil flat and stable against the paper, while the dominant hand pushes the pencil firmly against the edge of the stencil. The stencil must be held firmly.
Attach a large piece of felt to the wall, or use a felt board. The child can use felt shapes to make pictures. Magnetic boards can be used the same way.
Have the child work on a chalkboard, using chalk instead of a marker. Do the same kinds of tracing and modeling activities as suggested above.
Paint at an easel. Some of the modeling activities as suggested above can be done at the easel.
Magna Doodle- turn it upside down so that the erasing lever is on the . Experiment making vertical, horizontal, and parallel lines.

Ocular Motor Control
This refers to the ability of the eyes to work together to follow and hold an object in the line of vision as needed.
Use a flashlight against the ceiling. Have the child lie on his/her back or tummy and visually follow the moving light from left to right, to bottom, and diagonally.
Find hidden pictures in books. (There are special books for this.)
Maze activities.

Eye-hand Coordination
This involves accuracy in placement, direction, and spatial awareness.
Throw bean bags/kooshi balls into a hula hoop placed flat on the floor. Gradually increase the distance.
Play throw and catch with a ball . Start with a large ball and work toward a smaller ball. (Kooshi balls are easier to catch than a tennis ball.)
Practice hitting bowling pins with a ball. (You can purchase these games or make your own with pop bottles and a small ball.)
Play "Hit the Balloon" with a medium-sized balloon. is a great site for inspiration

firstchoice Fri 28-Feb-14 08:52:10

mrz - wow! THANK YOU.
that is SO much more than the OT suggested.

He is covered in cold sores and sobbing right now.
school is going to be a prob - again - today, spelling test day...

going to ask if they will cease them for the time being.

jaffacakesallround Fri 28-Feb-14 13:53:38

Might be stating the obvious but if you can afford it, arranging tutoring with an SpLD teacher for an hour a week after school will help.

Sadly even in England very few dyslexic children receive the amount of support in school that they need to close the gap.

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