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Spellings help please

(66 Posts)
onelasttrythenimout Fri 01-Apr-16 14:54:42

My Dc are struggling with their spellings it doesn't seem to matter what we try they just don't seem to be able to remember them let alone write them in their work. How did your Dc learn theirs? In all honesty I am at a complete loss now and don't know what else to do to help them. I have spoken to the school and they say the best way is to continue using look, cover, write and check but this clearly has not been helping even though I make sure they are doing it correctly.

Rshard Fri 01-Apr-16 14:56:48

What ages?

onelasttrythenimout Fri 01-Apr-16 15:44:55

Hello Rshard. Almost 6 and 10. I was never really taught spellings by my parents and I really can't remember how I learned them at school so I can't come up with any alternatives to help. It's soul destroying not only for them but now for me too when I watch how bloody hard they work on them and they don't stick.

Rshard Fri 01-Apr-16 17:49:26

I use different methods with my dd who's 10. We practice them while we're put and about, using magnetic letters as well as the method you describe above. I've found with my dd that with longer more complex words, she finds it easier if we break them down in to bits and then put them together again.

slkk Fri 01-Apr-16 18:02:49

Try creating wordsearches and you can create your own spelling lists in spelling

Rshard Fri 01-Apr-16 18:14:33

Word searches is another great idea. Dd has just reminded that we play scrabble and banagram games too.

Also, when she was smaller, we spelled things when we were out and about; shop names, street names.

Leeds2 Fri 01-Apr-16 18:28:19

How many a week are they getting right? If they consistently score 0 or 1 out of ten, I would probably concentrate on only trying to learn five and hopefully getting more right.

Also make sure they read to you daily, and you read to them, as that will hopefully reinforce at least some of the words.

onelasttrythenimout Fri 01-Apr-16 19:06:44

Thank you for the replies. We do those things when we are out and about too. I will try the games and wordsearches and I'll also have a look at the spelling city that has been mentioned. Leeds it is usually 2 or less from a list of 10. I am finding it increasingly harder to get them both to even want to try to learn them which isn't really helping. I will continue to read to them and get them to read to me. I can see trouble ahead if they both continue this way.

Ferguson Fri 01-Apr-16 19:36:57

It is important children start to UNDERSTAND how spelling works, so they can access some of 'rules' and 'exceptions' that can make it difficult. There is a book that is quite invaluable in supporting these skills:

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.

JerryFerry Fri 01-Apr-16 20:07:33

My son has this problem. He has been tested and he has poor visual sequential memory. He won't learn to spell in the way that is taught in schools so he sees a tutor who teaches him in a different way based on splitting words into seeing words and hearing words. The results seem miraculous because now he can spell all sorts of hard words. (He is 8)

The programme is a local invention however and I am not in UK. But it is likely that your local dyslexia organisation will be able to refer you to a similar programme.

To be clear, my son is not dyslexic so don't be thinking, oh but my boys aren't dyslexic so it won't help.

onelasttrythenimout Fri 01-Apr-16 20:29:06

That sounds interesting Jerry is there a name for it so I can take a look, I'm willing to try anything at the moment.

Catastrophica Sat 02-Apr-16 02:34:36

I also like the sound of that "seeing" or "hearing" words method. Does it have a name?

What has worked with my son (he is 9 and a half) is not testing him. If I test him he goes to pieces from the pressure. So he tests me and I get a lot of them wrong - and he has the list, which he checks as I spell the words out and he corrects me. He finds it a laugh and it reinforces the words.

The other thing we do which is a bit more boring but helps because he is a visual kid, is he writes the words out, first time he double checks he's done it right and then he writes the same word out twice more.

The next day he writes out each word only twice. The following day only once, and he keeps doing this list of words until the day of the test - by which time he is confident and can just do it.

JerryFerry Sat 02-Apr-16 03:46:23

It is called the Danks Davis method. It addresses every aspect of the teaching ie how the tutor speaks to the student, the attitude that has to be conveyed (welcoming, patient, kind etc) through to specific word lists and exactly how they are taught.

OP what you are describing about how your boys are switching off is exactly what happens to these kids using the school method. It just doesn't work for them and they become very defensive. I would really encourage you to take a break from that method and get expert advice from a dyslexia support organisation.

onelasttrythenimout Sat 02-Apr-16 13:41:29

catastro I like the idea of me being tested and I did do something similar to this just last week with my youngest who found it hilarious that I couldn't spell wink, my eldest does struggle with finishing a task in a set time and I do believe this puts the pressure on when he is expected to everything perfect e.g his spellings and just about everything else expected at such a young age now. Jerry thank you for getting back, I have just had a quick look at the Danks Davis method and it looks very interesting, in fact it may of given me a little bit of hope in helping my Dc smile.

Catastrophica Sat 02-Apr-16 14:10:11

I looked at the Danks Davis thing too - and it was reassuring - but so expensive if you want to buy her kit. NZ$ 3,000.

Will you update onelasttry?

onelasttrythenimout Sat 02-Apr-16 14:51:16

I didn't get as far as the price shock!

I will see if I can come up with something using the seeing and hearing. With my eldest It's the 'rules' of the spelling which I don't think he gets tbh. I asked him about the change the 'y' for an 'i' rule which he was apparently taught a few years back and he didn't have a clue what I was talking about. I wonder if I can get him to SEE the rule hmm

Catastrophica Sat 02-Apr-16 14:57:11

I can't remember the rules of spelling either. I don't remember anyone ever telling me them and I honestly don't get them to this day. I couldn't spell until I was 11 and then suddenly it all fell into place and wasn't a problem ever again. I have 18 months till my DS is 11 and I'm hoping something similar happens with him.

maizieD Sat 02-Apr-16 16:19:24

So strange there's been no mention of phonics yet on this thread. -And that mashabell hasn't swooped down to tell us what a mess English spelling is and give us a few lists...

Written words are constructed by analysing them into the smallest individual sounds they contain and writing a symbol for each of the sounds. This is commonly done in most written languages. In English we use the Roman alphabet for this so each sound is represented by letter or group of letters. So, logically, spelling should be taught by getting children to break words into their individual sounds and spell each one, in the order in which it comes in the word. Thus: 'spelling' contains the sounds /s/, /p/, /e/, /l/, /i/, /ng/ so to spell it we use the letters that represent each of those sounds - s, p, e, ll, i,ng. Pretty straightforward, really.

Where it becomes a bit more difficult is that in English, as it contains words from lots of different languages, often using the originating language's sounds spellings, there may be bits of a word which need some effort to recall which particular sound spelling goes in which word. The common confusion between the words 'there', 'their', and 'they're', illustrates this.

People think this is justification for treating spelling as though it were a visual recall skill, but as it is absolutely impossible to recall the 'look' and letter sequence of all the words in one's vocabulary(could be 30 - 60,000+ words) this belief is incorrect. so, Look, Say, Cover, Write & Check (LSCWC), the most commonly taught 'strategy' is useless because it it depends on an impossible feat of memory to be effective.

Good spelling is a mix of secure phonic knowledge, enough reading experience to know if a word 'looks' wrong once it has been written and kinaesthetic (muscle) memory of the unique 'feel' that every word has when it is handwritten.

I suggest that it is essential to ensure that the learner can break words into their component sounds (or syllables, once the words become longer) and that they understand the principle of writing a spelling for each sound. They can do this quite independently once they get the idea and it ensures that at the very least they can give a plausible spelling for a word. Of course, if the word is unfamiliar to them they will need to check their spelling with a dictionary or a knowledgeable person, but that's something we all have to do with unfamiliar words.

A good drill for learning spelling can be based on LSCWC but is different:

1) Read the word aloud, carefully note any sound spelllings which might be unusual or tricky
2)Cover the word
3) Count how many sounds the word has in it. If necessary, write a dash for each sound
4) Spell each sound in the order in which it comes in the word, preferably saying each sound as its spelling is written.
5) Check, by sounding out and blending exactly what has been written, that the word sounds correct
6) Uncover the original word and check that sound spellings are all correct.
7) Cover and rewrite the word several times from memory (saying each sound as before) to reinforce muscle memory.

I don't charge a penny for good advice on spelling...

Try looking for Spelfabet videos on youtube. (more free good advice)

BoobyApple Sat 02-Apr-16 17:46:10

Phonics doesn't always get taught, and doesn't work with everyone. My kid is in the US and the schools he has attended until now, haven't taught phonics at all.

mrz Sat 02-Apr-16 17:55:07

It works if it's taught well

irvine101 Sat 02-Apr-16 17:55:23

I don't know if it works with anybody, but seeing and hearing.... watch TV with subtitles. That's what my ds did, as I am foreign and had it on all the time. He wanted it on his cartoon as well, when he started to watch TV.
He never needed to practice to learn to spell.

onelasttrythenimout Sat 02-Apr-16 17:59:30

BoobyApple my dc were taught phonics. I really don't think my eldest would have a clue if I was to go through them with him now and youngest just finds them downright confusing.

mrz Sat 02-Apr-16 18:10:35

Then you've identified the cause of their problems

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 02-Apr-16 19:16:10

If the school are using LCWC, then I would assume the teaching of phonics was less than ideal and start there.

As Ferguson says they need to understand how the spelling system works and work up from there. Copying out strings of letters may well have undone a lot of the understanding they had in the beginning.

maizieD Sat 02-Apr-16 20:52:06

Phonics doesn't always get taught...

If the OP's children are at school in England then they should have been taught phonics

and doesn't work with everyone.

If I'd had a pound for every time I'd heard that over the past 10+ years I would now be extremely rich. Decades of research has shown that it is the most effective method for the greatest number of children.

But then, the US is clinging even more grimly to outdated and ineffective methods than the UK is...

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