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Writing/spelling year 4

(10 Posts)
Roastchicken Sun 28-Jun-15 16:33:54

I'd really appreciate advice on how to help DD improve her writing/spelling/punctuation. To me her writing shows good expression and atmosphere, but gets really let down by basic spelling/grammar. Unfortunately her school (state primary) don't seem to correct her work so any improvement is slow. She wrote a story this morning, the first two paragraphs are copied below. I'd really appreciate both some perspective on the standard, and also advice on how to improve the punctuation and spelling. Ideally we would like DD to apply for a selective school, but she would need to improve over the next year to have a chance.

Suddenly a bird grabbed it. "NOOO!" I screamed all was lost there was no hope left.

Whaite I should tell my story from the beginning

Well It all started like this:

One morning as I combed my short jet black hair watching my twin sister read. Looking in the wadrobe I decide to wear my silk turquoise dress. Then my sister just asked me "what does this mean?" "retsprah a tori noaT." "It probably backwards" I replied "because the capital letter is at the back not the frount"

mrz Sun 28-Jun-15 18:26:58

I would start by asking her to read it aloud to see if she recognises there are errors and I would correct spelling errors praise effort and ask if she knows a different way to spell /w/ for example

Roastchicken Sun 28-Jun-15 20:15:23

Mrz - thanks! She recognises some but not all of the errors when reading aloud. I do praise her - she is ambitious in what she trying to write, and the structure is good which are all strengths. She reads loads, so I'm surprised that her spellings and grammar are lagging.

Mashabell Mon 29-Jun-15 06:18:52

It takes between 10 to 15 years to learn to spell most English words correctly. Most children's reading is far ahead of their spelling. The first involves mainly recognition, the latter reproduction and is much harder. There is also much more to learn, because at least 4,219 quite common words contain one or more unpredictably used letters (e.g. blue, shoe, flew...) which just have to memorised.

She is doing pretty well, and if she keeps writing a lot, her spelling will eventually be ok. So relax and keep being encouraging.

Many brilliant writers were lousy spellers, e.g. Steinbeck, Darwin.

Ferguson Mon 29-Jun-15 19:18:01

Yes, she may well read a lot, but if she reads quickly to enjoy the story, she may not consider the spelling or punctuation.

I sometimes suggest DICTATING text to a tape recorder, or phone that records, then listening to it, making amendments if required, and finally writing it or typing on a computer. However, I advise this mostly for children who are reluctant writers, which is not the case here really. Nevertheless, she might like to give it a try, as being a different approach.

Books by Lynne Truss, and David Crystal, deal with spelling and grammar; Yr 4, she could probably cope with the adult books ("Eats, Shoots and Leaves" is the classic one), or both authors do children's books as well I think.

Stories by Anne Fine could be worth reading, and I particularly like "Diary of a Killer Cat" which is written as if the cat was telling the story, and the human characters are less prominent than the cat. Try to study WHY certain words, expressions, punctuation or plot details are used, from the cat's point of view.

Finally, what I often suggest is this book:

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’ and my name.

maizieD Mon 29-Jun-15 19:48:20

Sorry, Ferguson, I totally disagree with your advice in relation to spelling!

The best way to learn and secure spellings is to write them by hand; preferably saying each if the sounds in the word as it is spelled. The reason for this is that secure spelling is as much a product of kinaesthetic memory as it is of remembering the way each sound is spelled. Repeatedly hand writing spellings correctly helps enormously with automatically spelling words correctly. The problem with using a keyboard is that, unless the user is a skilled touch typist, there won't be any kinaesthetic memory generated by 'hunt & peck' type keyboarding. Also, each letter is absolutely separate and so it is much less easy to quickly relate diagraphs, trigraphs etc. to the sounds they are spelling.

I think that marsha is exagerating somewhat over the length of time it takes to learn to spell, but, on the other hand, most people encounter unfamiliar words during the course of their lives and may well need to learn to spell them. So some learning of spelling is far more than 10 - 12 years in the doing grin But the greater part of learning should happen in primary school..

mrz Mon 29-Jun-15 19:52:14

Spelling is often left to chance ... Yes schools send home spelling lists for a test but they don't actually teach spelling.
Children need to be taught to look closely at how the sounds are represented in different words, how to break words into syllables so the word can be built up syllable by syllable. They need to be taught to look at the parts they find difficult and relate them to other words with the same sound / spelling they can spell. They need to be taught to think about word origins and this often offers clues as to the spelling (the /k/ sound is often spelt ch in words of Greek origin etc)...
Personally I would avoid dictation although I might encourage a child to record their story aurally before writing.

mrz Mon 29-Jun-15 21:34:07 we use "spelling voices" to help us hear the sounds.

mrz Tue 30-Jun-15 06:24:35

I also agree with MaizieD that handwriting the correct spelling helps as the child builds up a motor memory while physically writing which research shows doesn't happen when using a keyboard.
I always ask my class to say the sounds while writing the word when learning spellings

Mashabell Tue 30-Jun-15 11:45:09

I can envisage a time when modern technology will obviate the need for learning to spell the thousands of English words with stupid one or more irregular letters (e.g. feast, pheasant) obsolete. Many smart phones already transcribe spoken words pretty well.

Learning to read will remain important and learning to communicate, but writing and typing are likely to become obsolete before long, and the stupidities of English spelling will matter less.

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