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High Frequency Word "Scores" and age - should i be worried?

(23 Posts)
firstchoice Mon 21-Apr-14 11:17:19

At school's suggestion I have tested my 9.7 yr old on the first 100 High Frequency Words
(then the next 200 too).

He scored:

78/100 for the 1st lot (beginning: the, that, not, look...)
then 58/100 for the next lot (beginning: water, bear, find....)
then 48/100 for the last lot (beginning: let's, fun, any, better...)

some mistakes were phonetic, eg, 'becos' but lots were not phonetic, and there were a lot of missing vowels and letter transpositions too.

School are just now very reluctantly 'going over some phonics' with him.
But he says: 'the "rules" don't make sense, mum'.

Is the above worrying, and how best to help him, please?
if he doesn't 'get' phonics, does he just need 'more' of it, or does he need another system.
There is dyslexia right through the male side of the family.
In our county SLD is not recognised prior to Secondary school and no help is offered so we have another 3 years of this.
thank you.

TheGruffalo2 Mon 21-Apr-14 17:02:29

Are these "scores" for reading, spelling or both?

X3512 Mon 21-Apr-14 17:12:04


ramonaquimby Mon 21-Apr-14 17:24:59

Yes, I would be concerned.
There are lots of resouces that you can access online (family is pretty good, look along the left hand margin for various game and activities to support 'sight words' )

But why at the school's suggestion? I would have thought the school should be doing this themselves, not telling you to!

In the first instance, make a double set of index cards up and you can play lots of repetitive type games like find the pairs and snap. But the school should really be supporting your son. Can you speak to the SENCo?

mrz Mon 21-Apr-14 17:34:56

Can he read the words he can't spell?

How was he taught to read the HFW - as wholes by sight?

firstchoice Mon 21-Apr-14 18:00:38

yes, spelling.
sorry not to be clear.

firstchoice Mon 21-Apr-14 18:10:04

school is in Scotland.
HT is not answerable to parents here, only to LEA.
LEA policy is 'no acknowledgment of SLD / traits until High School' (and then it aint great, I understand.

We would have to move county to get help via school.
Last year they sent home a 'Pindora's Box' to use over summer hols for fine motor skills practice (shoelaces and cutlery a big prob).
It was half missing and they have never bothered to replace/do in class.
Hard to describe but incredibly 'not bovvered' attitude.

As parents, we ARE bothered enough to move if needed but, as we have no yardstick to measure against (under Curriculum for Excellence children have 2/3 years to achieve very woolly targets) so we don't know if it is 'worth it' iyswim???

mrz Mon 21-Apr-14 18:28:54

Spelling is more difficult than reading so often lags behind.
It's much easier to read an unfamilar word using phonics than it is to spell a word you haven't seen before. Securing accurate spelling takes longer and needs additional teaching. If he has been taught to recognise the HFW as wholes and not to pay attention to the sounds amd the spelling of those sounds within the word the task of spelling the word is made harder.

firstchoice Mon 21-Apr-14 18:34:19

he is supposed to have been taught via phonics but the school itself is Scottish equiv of special measures and the teaching is patchy to say the least. School have suggested hearing test as he 'doesn't seem to "get" vowels'. sorry, not meant to be dripfeeding, so hope it isn't.

mrz Mon 21-Apr-14 18:46:41

I would always recommend ruling out hearing and sight problems as a first step.

With the HFW I would teach them by sound groups eg - he, she, me, we, be because they all have the spelling <e> for the sound /ee/ so, no, go spelling <o> representing /oa/ sound etc

after that I would look closely at the words he finds difficult and get him to identify which bits he finds hard - so with water it's probably the sound /or/ spelt <a> that will be a problem for most children by identifying it and focusing on just the bit he finds difficult it should help. Writing it will also help him to remember make sure he says the sounds as he writes them not the letter names.

MumTryingHerBest Mon 21-Apr-14 19:13:49

I'm a parent not an educational professional.

If I had even the smallest concern with regards to my DCs educational abilities I would do exactly what you have done. I would post on a number of forums (many of which are frequented by teachers across the country who will be able to give you an opinion based on their experience, mrz for example).

The first thing I would do would be to make an appointment to speak to DCs teacher about any concerns I had with DC. I would ask them to suggest ways that I could help at home (the school may not have the funding/resources to help).

Secondly I would speak to my Dr to rule out hearing or other health related problems.

I would hit google for dyslexia / dyspraxia and other conditions that could affect/delay reading/writing. If I felt my DC could have any issues in this respect I would speak to a Dr about it and continue to push to have it ruled out as an issue.

I would look for local support groups that may be able to give me more information and ways to help support my DC at home.

I would look for resources online that give ideas on how to supplement what DCs are learning at school.

The main thing to remember is that children do not learn in the same way or to the same time frame. I remember stressing to no end when my son was still not walking at the age of 18 months (mind you I stressed about everything when he was a baby, being my first DC).

If it is playing on your mind, act on it and get the reassurance you need.

firstchoice Mon 21-Apr-14 19:29:13

Hi, Mumtrying,
Yes, have spoken to CT, HT, SEO - all say: 'don't worry / doesn't matter'.
No liaison between school and home.
Will get ears and eyes looked at.
Have googled dyslexia and Dad and Grandad have, so aware of 'traits'. He has most of them.
Considerable fine motor skills issues too.
No local support groups (very rural).

I will look online, as that is at least something I can do.

I do realise children do not learn in same way, at same pace.
I have a dd, 6, who is a totally different kettle of fish.
Thank you for your helpful reply. It is hard not to worry.x

mrz Mon 21-Apr-14 19:41:47

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.

Timeforabiscuit Mon 21-Apr-14 19:46:35

Blardy heck mrsz - wish I clocked that list before Easter it's amazing!

MumTryingHerBest Mon 21-Apr-14 19:51:09

As you have a DD I would assume you have limited time to devote to supporting your DS. Are you able to see a private consultant to get a diagnosis on paper which you can present to your school/LEA. Once it is endorsed by a medical professional it will be harder for them to refuse to acknowledge it.

I am not familiar with the various systems in Scotland but the more people you approach for help, the more information you will be able to gather in order to determine the best way forward.

Hopefully someone with more knowledge of you specific situation will be along to offer advice.

I do know people who have had to fight to get the learning support they need for their DC. Keep at it until you get the answers/support you need.

firstchoice Mon 21-Apr-14 20:11:28

mrsZ - that is a BRILLIANT LIST - thank you!

My trouble is he isn't over compliant at the best of times but after school he struggles to even sit still (and that's with a sit'n'move). There is a huge difference during term time.
BUT having said that, loads of these look really good fun!
I will have to keep dd, 6, out of the way as she is much more 'able' than him and he gets upset.
I will try some of these at weekends though, thank you. thanks

firstchoice Mon 21-Apr-14 20:12:29

Mum - already have dx of asd traits from high up nhs Consultant.
School have ignored, as have local nhs sad

mrz Mon 21-Apr-14 20:28:38

I use a Busy Finger Box in the classroom but you could easily find most things at home

1. Pegs –
You need pegs of different sizes, clothes pegs, small bulldog clips, stationery clips etc. Get the children to use one hand only at a time. I usually get them to peg about 10 pegs of different sizes onto the sides of a gift bag. They might put them on with their left hand and take them off with their right.
They can also try squeezing the pegs between the first finger and thumb (on each hand) then the middle finger and thumb and so on.

2. Elastic bands –
Elastic gymnastics! – Start by putting 2 elastic bands (the same size) around the thumb, first and middle fingers, ask the child to open and close the fingers. Then add another 2 elastic bands and so on. The more you have on, the harder it is to move your fingers. These exercises help to develop the muscles which make the web space when writing.

3. Beads –
Get beads of different sizes and thread. Ask the children to thread some beads onto their string. The smaller the hole obviously the harder it is to thread. Develops hand/eye coordination.

4. Ball bearings and tweezers –
Put the ball bearings in one little box and ask the child to try and pick one ball bearing up at a time with the tweezers and place in a second small box. If this is too tricky try using Hama beads and tweezers.

5. Floam / Playdough –
These products are great for squeezing and rolling which provides necessary sensory feedback and helps to develop hand strength. Ask the children to squeeze the dough and roll it with the palm of their hand.

6. Doodle board –
The Doodleboard is just a way of children practising handwriting patterns or letters without having to commit them to paper. Provide some patterns and shapes to copy.

7. Gummed Shapes –
Give the children a sheet of plain paper and ask them to make patterns or pictures with the gummed shapes. Just picking up on shape at a time, licking it and then sticking it down all help to develop hand/eye coordination and the pincer grip.

8. Hama Beads –
Hama beads are good for pincer grip and hand/eye coordination. The children have patterned sheets to copy and peg boards to put them on.

9. Lacing cards –
Also good for hand/eye coordination. Just give each child one card to lace.

10. Bean bags –
Give a child 4-5 bean bags and place a container about 3 feet infront of them. Ask the child to try and get as many beanbags in the container as possible. (Hand/eye coordination)

11. Chalk and blackboard –
If you can, try and wedge the blackboard between two tables and provide the child with a piece of chalk in each hand. Ask them to draw the same pattern with both hands at the same time on both sides of the board. This helps develop bilateral movement.
Allow the children to draw patterns, shapes and letter shapes on the blackboard. The chalk gives sensory feedback and sound simultaneously.

12. Stencils –
Children can use the stencils to make a picture. Helps develop pencil control and special awareness among other things.

13. Feathers –
Ask the children to try and balance a feather on different parts of their body. This helps to develop balance and coordination.

14. Handhugger pens –
Hand hugger pens are the triangular shaped pens. These help the children to establish a better pencil grip.

15. Tissue paper strips –
Place the child’s palm (at the wrist) on the end of a strip of tissue paper. Ask them to only use their middle finger to get the paper to scrunch up under their hand.
Repeat, but this time place the side of the child’s hand on one end of the tissue strip and ask them to only use their thumb to scrunch up the paper and bring it under their hand.
These activities really help to develop the hand arch, web space and muscle tone of the hand.

16. Stickers –
Children love stickers. Just peeling them off provides an opportunity to develop fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.

17. Peg boards –
These can be peg boards where the child has to place pegs in the holes, maybe copying patterns.
They can be the boards with plastic pegs already on where they have to stretch elastic bands between them to make patterns.

firstchoice Mon 21-Apr-14 20:34:38

Wow, mrz. Are you an OT or SEN teacher?
that's another amazing list.

mrz Mon 21-Apr-14 20:38:01


firstchoice Mon 21-Apr-14 21:10:28

Wish you were at OUR school.....
(you aren't in Northumberland by chance, are you?)

mrz Mon 21-Apr-14 21:14:28

No next county south wink

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 22-Apr-14 12:46:36

Brilliant list Mrz - wish we had a SENCO like you too, well we haven't one at all at the moment but then I prefer us not having one than the last one. We are currently negotiating poor proprioception problems (and upper body hypermobility) as well as a rare language disorder so all fun and games here. Oddly DD has very good fine motor skills and pretty reasonable gross motor skills.

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