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Handwriting, spelling and NC

(40 Posts)
shouldwestayorshouldwego Thu 18-Jun-15 12:40:06

Just wondering what happens if a child's handwriting and spelling are poor but they are fairly able in other ways. Will they be able to access more advanced parts of the curriculum, or will they stay at that point until they improve? And what about if they are unable to improve?

Dd2 is in yr3. She has a number of issues which are becoming more significant and her teacher has said that she will not be able to progress if her spelling and handwriting doesn't improve. 'It is all about presentation'.

We are currently investigating a dx for sensory processing disorder and possible dyspraxia. Would that make a difference? Her handwriting is legible and she writes phonetically plausible but incorrect spellings - e.g. shoos instead of shoes. Her reading has been slow but is improving considerably over the past few months. She is frustrated at school, she says that the work is too easy and boring.

Both dh and I had messy handwriting - I still can't read his. My spelling only really improved as I began to word process more (we have 9 degrees between us both undergrad and postgrad). We are concerned about the impact on her if she isn't challenged in other ways. Dh had loads of remedial work at school, but his handwriting didn't improve, so we don't have great confidence.

kesstrel Thu 18-Jun-15 13:14:11

My dyspraxic daughter's spelling did improve significantly with age and more reading, although obviously not all dyspraxic children are alike. She is now 24 and spells reasonably well.

How well the school has implemented phonics tuition may make a difference as well, so you could look into spelling programs - I think Dancing Bears?

Also, I never answered my children's questions about 'how did you spell this', I asked them what they thought and then pointed out where they had gone wrong, why, and any tricks to help remember the spelling. I think that helped, though obviously can't be sure!

Another trick that may help is to get her to mentally associate an "alternative" pronunciation with the word that will remind her how to spell it. E.g. Sho-es (two syllables) for shoes.

Cedar03 Thu 18-Jun-15 13:42:16

My daughter is in Year 3 and most of their learning is done across all abilities - so they're often all doing the same kinds of work. They often work in pairs where less able children work with more able ones so that the learning is shared like that. How is your daughter's class set up? I can imagine if she is struggling with spellings, etc but that is all she is given to do she will become frustrated.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Thu 18-Jun-15 17:01:53

I don't think that they just do spellings but their tables are arranged by ability and so she either won't go up or might go down if her spellings and handwriting don't improve.

TeenAndTween Thu 18-Jun-15 20:54:16

Sounds a rubbish school to me (sorry).

Yes, she should be on a lower table for handwriting and spelling when they do those, but if she could dictate a really interesting story using a wide range of vocab then she shouldn't be held back for creative writing for example.
Or if she is good a science and maths that shouldn't stop her progressing to harder stuff just because the teachers find it hard to read.

mugglingalong Fri 19-Jun-15 21:30:32

Other classes in the school are arranged across ability. Also the teacher seemed to be implying that it was because of the NC and the change in emphasis on SPAG.

mrz Sat 20-Jun-15 08:10:52

It sounds like an attempt to come up with a reason that parents might fall for ... Any difficult decisions to justify just blame the new curriculum!

shouldwestayorshouldwego Sat 20-Jun-15 10:37:24

Thank you Mrz it does feel a bit like a threat and sounds as if should we move schools another school might have a different interpretation (not the main reason for considering a move). They are finally going to be doing some assessments so that might shed some light on the matter. We have been asking for years but as she was keeping up with her expected average levels there seemed like little incentive for them to do much. Now the goal posts have changed they seem to be more interested in her but our challenge is to move their perception from stubborn to having some genuine difficulties.

mrz Sat 20-Jun-15 12:55:42

There is nothing to stop her progressing with poor handwriting /spelling. It is a small part that can easily be addressed by the school with your support.

odyssey2001 Sat 20-Jun-15 19:40:35

As a teacher, I disagree that it is all about presentation. However, if their handwriting and spelling is so bad that it cannot be read, then they may get stuck at a low Year 1 level (by our standards) because it is not independent decodable. HOWEVER as a teacher, I would now be exploring other methods of communication. A child in my class with difficulties like this would have a laptop by now.

mrz Sat 20-Jun-15 19:44:21

As a SENCO and Y1 teacher I would strongly advise against use of laptops and work on improving handwriting ... Programmes like Write from the Start and Speed Up alongside a good motor programme

odyssey2001 Sat 20-Jun-15 20:04:42

I wouldn't dream of suggesting a laptop for a Year 1 child but she is Year 3. Also I didn't say that using a laptop will help her handwriting. Mrz, don't you think there are a number of different elements to consider? I completely agree that working on the fine motor is important. However, if it is holding a child back, surely circumventing that barrier is better for her confidence and overall literacy skills? Using a laptop will allow her to focus on her composition and effect as well as sentence structure without having to struggle with her handwriting. The fine motor can be tackled far more effectively in a discreet fashion without making her feel bad about her handwriting when she is writing with a purpose. The spelling also can be tackled discreetly again without her having to obsess about it when she is writing. As you can see OP, different schools do things very differently.

mrz Sat 20-Jun-15 20:09:13

I wouldn't suggest a laptop in Y3 or indeed in Y6 it's more important to address the problem as all the research clearly shows the link between the action of writing by hand and learning that isn't present when a keyboard is used

odyssey2001 Sat 20-Jun-15 20:31:48

Sorry to hijack this thread but Mrz would you mind elaborating on your last statement, as I don't really understand what you mean? Please feel free to PM me if you would rather.

mrz Sat 20-Jun-15 20:40:51

psychologists and neuroscientists say there is evidence to suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.

According to Stanislas Dehaene when we write a unique neural circuit is automatically activated. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.

“And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize,” he continued. “Learning is made easier.”

mrz Sat 20-Jun-15 20:49:06

A 2912 study led by Karin James investigated a group of children who were presented with a letter or a shape on an index card and asked to reproduce it in one of three ways: trace the image on a page with a dotted outline, draw it on a blank white sheet, or type it on a computer. They were then placed in a brain scanner and shown the image again.

The researchers found that the initial duplication process mattered a great deal. When children had drawn a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex.

By contrast, children who typed or traced the letter or shape showed no such effect. The activation was significantly weaker.

mrz Sat 20-Jun-15 20:56:15

Brain imaging also shows that when children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas.
It also links the act of handwriting with greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory

mrz Sat 20-Jun-15 20:56:45

2012 not 2912 obviously

letsghostdance Sat 20-Jun-15 21:22:20

But at the same time, it's crucial for children to see success in their work and if they struggle when writing, then allowing them to use a computer occasionally is great as a bit of a confidence boost. Clicker 6 is a programme which has done wonders for some of the children in my class. It is absolutely not a replacement for keeping them writing and working on their spelling, but it's wonderful to see them look at their own work and be pleased with what they've produced.

mrz Sat 20-Jun-15 21:28:02

The OP has stated that her daughters handwriting is legible and spelling phonetically plausible supporting her to improve in these areas would be my priority rather than introducing technology.

SunnyBaudelaire Sat 20-Jun-15 21:31:38

" her teacher has said that she will not be able to progress if her spelling and handwriting doesn't improve. 'It is all about presentation'. "

Really? I have never heard of that and would be taking it further. That sounds rubbish.

SunnyBaudelaire Sat 20-Jun-15 21:34:15

although that is interesting what you say maryz. when I was a student I really only remembered stuff that I had written down, by hand of course as I am ancient,

christinarossetti Sat 20-Jun-15 21:37:15

That's interesting about the link between writing and learning.

I still have problems believing that it's 2015 rather than 2014, and I'm convinced that it's to do with typing the date so often these days rather than writing it, so that the new year hasn't become properly embedded.

I'm hoping to crack it in the next six months or so by which time. Oh...

mrz Sat 20-Jun-15 21:39:30

If her handwriting is legible and spelling plausible as the OP says there is no reason why she can't progress ... I'm not a fan of ability in general but this seems an attempt to justify moving a child to a lower group.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Sun 21-Jun-15 06:34:18

It is reassuring to hear that it shouldn't hold her back too much. I am pleased that they are addressing handwriting and dd says that her handwriting is getting better, but I would be concerned if the handwriting held her back.

She says that her teacher can read what she has written. She has quite a broad vocabulary and she knows and uses more words than she can spell easily. We have sort of had a similar problem with ds and his speech. His speech isn't clear but he might be saying anything so it has always been hard to predict from the circumstances what he is trying to say. It is similar with dd and writing.

They are having spelling tests now - she could spell all of the first list, which her teacher was surprised about, but lists of words she finds easier to read than prose, that's when the letters tend to merge together so she might find it easier to spell an individual word rather than in a sentence.

She is around the middle of the class, it is just that she is having problems with one of the children and the school has been slow to act. We don't want her stretched beyond her ability but if the main problem is spelling and handwriting then it would seem harsh to mean that she can't then progress with other aspects of the curriculum. It is reassuring that this isn't the case in all schools so it can't be too set in stone. I think that she also finds it frustrating that they used to move for maths and she was on the top table but now they don't move at all and she finds the work somewhat easy. She does stretch herself at home though so she enjoys that.

It's interesting about the MRIs. I found it really hard to learn spellings, however for me seeing the red line when word processing really helped me to learn to spell. I find that I need to visualise words rather than write them. I often only know if a spelling is correct by writing it down and looking at it. If I read something someone else has written then the spelling mistakes stand out like a sore thumb. I find it easier to spot mistakes when typed - I guess because I am used to seeing it written correctly in books so it looks more incorrect if that makes sense.

I have found that my ability to compose on the computer has changed over time - I used to write longhand and then type it up whereas now I would prefer to work straight on a computer, although I might plan something using post it notes, but quickly move to the computer. It would be interesting to compare the experiences of those with lots of computer experience with those with very little. I wonder whether those with lots of experience would find the letter task more reinforcing than those with less experience.

Fortunately she seems to have lots of confidence so she doesn't seem too bothered at the moment, beyond complaining about the boredom.

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