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Spellings year 1

(19 Posts)
Stripeyfeet Tue 20-Jan-15 23:59:53

My five year old brought his new spellings home today. The first one is the word 'gene'. Assuming they're not learning about genetic code in year one now, what is the point? He has enough trouble learning simple words he might actually use (he just mastered 'said' - it took about two weeks!). He can't even read the spellings and I'm pretty sure he's dyslexic. We went over last week's spellings for half an hour a day (along with trying to read for another half hour, poor little man) and he still couldn't read the bloody things, let alone spell them. They go in one ear and straight out the other. He works so hard on it but given his level of ability he doesn't have a chance. It feels like the school is missing out a huge step with him, like asking someone to write a chemical formula when they don't know the names of the elements. I've spoken to his teacher and she seems to think he'll catch up, but surely reading needs to come before spelling? Or at least the spellings should be basic ones that he could use? He's very quiet in class, it just feels like they don't even know he's there :-(

catkind Wed 21-Jan-15 00:50:15

What are the other spellings in the list? I'm wondering if they're doing split digraphs in phonics and needed short words which use an e_e spelling? Or could it be alternative spellings of the "ee" sound?
i.e. it isn't learn spellings for the sake of learning spellings, it's get more familiar with certain phonics correspondences which would help with reading too.

If that's what it is may of course still be pitched at completely the wrong level for your DS. Sounds like the reading books may be pitched wrong too if it takes half an hour to just "try to" read them. I would certainly not waste half an hour a day trying to memorise spelling lists, it's not an efficient way of learning anything anyway. How about instead doing 10 minutes of phonics work at whatever level your DS is actually working at?

Stripeyfeet Wed 21-Jan-15 01:19:23

Yes, they're all split digraphs e_e. Gene just made me laugh/cry. I've no idea what level of phonics work we should be looking at - the spellings cover a different sound every week and he's struggled from the start. I try to explore the sound (think of other words with the same sound, spot them in his reading books) rather than just help him memorise a spelling. To a point this does help with the reading but he just can't remember it the next time he sees it. So trying to read will involve sounding out the same word repeatedly throughout the book and still not recognising it. Or he'll remember one word and if he sees a word that starts with the same letter he'll try to use that one. If he gets lucky and it's the same word then he's right, but that's not really reading... I think?!

Mashabell Wed 21-Jan-15 06:45:06

We went over last week's spellings for half an hour a day (along with trying to read for another half hour, poor little man).
Poor little man indeed. Spending just 10 mins a day on each would probably produce better results.

It would be easier to suggest how to help u if u gave us all his weekly spellings instead of just one word.

Perhaps one of the words was 'genie' rather than 'gene'?

Feenie Wed 21-Jan-15 07:12:03

OP has already explained that they are all split diagrams e_e, Masha.

I would make sure he can read them first and understands that those letters make the /ee/ sound, then practise writing a few.

It isn't really an unsuitable word given that he would need to read anything with an e_e for the screening check. Once taught, it should work for any combination of letters, real or nonsense.

Feenie Wed 21-Jan-15 07:12:44


Autocorrect is not my friend.

Stripeyfeet Wed 21-Jan-15 11:23:30

That helps, thank you Feenie. I'll have a look at them with him from a phonics point of view rather than trying to remember the spelling. Think I've got stuck trying to help with the wrong way :-)

Mashabell Wed 21-Jan-15 12:43:30

Feenie: split diagrams e_e
Spellings of the /ee/ sound which occurs in 452 common English words are all completely random. Phonics is useless for learning to spell the likes of
eat, feet/feat, delete, leave, sleeve, believe ...

For reading, the e-e grapheme is often tricky too:
even, seven; level, lever; here, there, were ....

It really is not possible to give u any useful advice on how u can best help your son with spelling unless u show the words.

Feenie Wed 21-Jan-15 18:13:05

They were teaching the /ee/ sound spelled using the grapheme e_e.

Only even and lever are relevant from your list. Sorry if that's confusing for you.

Feenie Wed 21-Jan-15 18:14:40

Yet again, a parent asks for help and you post saying there's no help to be given. Brilliant advice, Masha. Why bother even hitting post?

Ferguson Wed 21-Jan-15 18:58:05

Try to boost his confidence a bit, giving him simple three letter words that he CAN have some hope of reading/spelling.

I will come back sometime with an activity that may help, but meanwhile I'm sure this book will help you both:

An inexpensive and easy to use book, that can encourage children with reading, spelling and writing, and really help them to understand Phonics, is reviewed in the MN Book Reviews section. Just search ‘Phonics’.

catkind Wed 21-Jan-15 19:44:10

It's normal to need to spell out words every time they see them in the early stages of phonics. The main thing is that he can spell them out. And if he is needing to spell them all out still, either he needs nice short books with one sentence per page, or just get him to read a couple of pages a day. Don't worry about him remembering words at all, particularly if that's encouraging him to guess. That'll come with time.

I'm not clear if you're worrying about the fact he still needs to decode, or if he's not remembering the pieces of code to decode with either? If the latter then perhaps you need to take a step back to easier code and forget charging through split digraphs etc, phonics test or no phonics test. If the former I really wouldn't find it much to worry about.

catkind Wed 21-Jan-15 19:46:57

Oh and ferguson recommends that book to anyone who so much as mentions phonics, I don't think it's really what your DS needs here.

Mashabell Thu 22-Jan-15 08:13:12

Feenie: a parent asks for help and you post saying there's no help to be given.

That is not what i do.
I merely try to make parents aware that for learning to spell some sounds phonics is of no help. For the /ee/ sound, for one, it's a matter of of learning how to spell it in each of the 452 with it. The only way to do so is with lots of practice.

U can devise little phrases like 'the police siege seized the weird people seated on the steeple', but it's basically a matter of brute memorisation. There are no rules for coping with such inconsistencies.

I try to make parents more aware of what learning to spell English really involves, instead of regularly blaming poor spelling on lack of phonics teaching, as u and other SP advocates regularly do.

As i said before, i try to bring discussions about how to teach children to read and write down from cloud cuckoo land to the realities of English spelling.

tobysmum77 Thu 22-Jan-15 08:46:21

I don't agree that reading always has to come before spelling as dd's writing has always led her reading, but obviously that isn't the case for your ds.

I dont know what to advise other than talking to the teacher or headteacher/Senco if you've already We get spellings sometimes that are really hard if ds is dyslexic it must be a nightmare.

Feenie Thu 22-Jan-15 10:28:46

It really is not possible to give u any useful advice on how u can best help your son with spelling unless u show the words.

It was possible. It was simple. I did so, and it helped the OP.

How did your usual moaning minnie defeatist style post help anybody, in this instance?

Stripeyfeet Mon 26-Jan-15 17:02:09

Hiya, thanks for your posts. I think I'm bothered that he doesn't remember the pieces of code to decode with - he's still either confusing or forgetting certain letters (b/d, m/n, w, u, h) and he only sees a digraph like ch or sh when I point it out to him.

Masha - I understand what you're saying about needing to learn the inconsistencies and this is where he really struggles. He doesn't seem to remember anything he's read before so we can spend ages (and I mean a couple of minutes here and there over a few weeks) learning one word and it'll be like he's seeing it for the first time every time.

I'm sure he'll get it eventually but my brother and my husband both have dyslexia. My parents are both teachers and struggled to get any help until my brother had completely given up and turned into a little horror at school. Seems like it would be better to get some help before he's decided he's stupid - which he isn't!

Mashabell Mon 26-Jan-15 18:37:18

Firstly, to reassure u, i want tell u that my son was dyslexic and i managed to get him reading and spelling reasonably well too in the end. Now in his 40s, he is a uni lecturer, having studied at Oxbridge.

He was very reluctant to start learning to read and needed a lot of help and his spelling was all over the place for a long time.

I concentrated heavily on regular patterns first, especially in high frequency words 'a man ran sat mat at rat spat'. - U can find lists of HF words online. Many of them have regular spellings.

The words with some irregular letter sounds (any many ask father) i tended to teach more or less as whole words on little cards, drawing his attention to the irregular letters in them.

I would not worry about the accuracy of his spelling too much at all at this stage.

mrz Mon 26-Jan-15 18:49:37

None of those words are split digraph e-e masha shock

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