extremely phonetic spelling in 8yo - something to wonder about, or not a problem?

(16 Posts)
magnificatAnimaMea Wed 04-May-16 02:16:45

Friend's 8 yo son is an extreme phonetic speller where almost no word is consistently or correctly spelled, and reading a sentence usually requires several attempts before the jumble of letters can be translated into sounds that make words. Often words are broken up and syllables attached to the adjacent word - though not consistently.

He is otherwise doing absolutely fine at school, no associated difficulties, no signs of dyslexia or processing disorders or anything that I know of. He reads, and is read to at home, but doesn't appear to translate what appears in books into what he writes. He's at a private prep that should have sufficient provision for 1:1 work if it were thought necessary.

Would this be something you'd wonder about a bit? Or is it normal? I don't know.

Hitherto I've assumed that it's probably fairly normal and if the parents don't push spelling, the son will learn eventually and is unlikely to develop a complex about it. But if actually the parents don't realise that intervention might be needed, the school isn't doing anything, and no-one is showing him that consistent and (mostly) correct spelling is a distinct aid to communication, then at what point is the poor child actually going to learn to write anything that others can read? The boy's mother has been a non-reader and "creative" speller all her life; and his father is also a non-reader and is pretty switched off from his son's education. That's not being snobby about people who don't read books, or can't spell, but it is probably relevant background, whether or not there is any causal link in any direction there.

If it's something that people would actively be concerned about, I might think about asking if the school is doing anything. The child's parents are unlikely to welcome me sticking my nose in, so I have no intention of doing anything other than asking gently once and letting it go afterwards. Even that might be too much.

magnificatAnimaMea Wed 04-May-16 02:27:11

Also - worth pointing out that I have no experience of what happens if you teach children to read using phonics. I think that's the method that was used on this boy, who learned to read in reception. It might be that this is what phonics produces...? I don't know, I learnt to read very early and it never occurred to me to spell a word differently from how i'd seen it written - which probably shows a total lack of imagination on my part...

LucyBabs Wed 04-May-16 02:36:11

Can you give an example?
My dd does phonetics. I didn't at school (I'm 34)
We've done "tricky words" they don't spell how they sound iykwim? since dd was 4.
English is a hard language between silent letters and non existent letters it's a wonder any of us can spell or read!

magnificatAnimaMea Wed 04-May-16 02:50:31

It's a long way from not getting the nuances of English spelling right - more like
"hapy buf day and me ne hapy ritens I hop u have a wun dif ful day" (which is more or less what he wrote in a birthday card to one of us recently)

magnificatAnimaMea Wed 04-May-16 02:53:00

That example was fairly cogent, but when it's creative writing and the ladybird is eating the beetle and spiderman and a transformer and three snakes come into the story it's hard enough to work out what on earth is going on, without nearly everything being broken up into phonetically-spelled syllables and then inconsistently elided, not necessarily with the correct word.

LucyBabs Wed 04-May-16 02:56:29

My dd would have used spelling like that last year when she was 6. Basically spelling the sounds you hear. So phonics smile
I would imagine the boy isn't learning the correct spellings for words and so is using phonics to spell.

magnificatAnimaMea Wed 04-May-16 03:07:32

Teachers are even bigger saints than I thought, then, if they decipher this every day... good to know it's normal.

Wondering if anyone will ever actively teach him the correct version - he's young and there's plenty of time yet, but then i know plenty of 8yo children who can spell reasonably consistently and correctly (and not just the ones whose parents push them into spelling bees). Will keep an eye on it. He certainly seems able to learn and communicate well - hopefully it will all turn out OK with the spelling!

mrz Wed 04-May-16 06:44:10

I would be worried that he's not being taught phonics well .
Phonics isn't just about reading it's also about how words are spelt and learning the different ways sounds can be represented. He needs to be taught how to use his "spelling voice" to say the words precisely (either aloud or in his head) and to listen to the sounds. Your example shows he's not doing this. Then he needs to be taught which representation of the sound to use in each word.
English is complex that's why it needs to be taught systematically and thoroughly.

mrz Wed 04-May-16 06:49:54

He needs to be taught the correct spelling from the start. The more times he sees a word written incorrectly the more likely he is to misspell.
My main concern in what you've said is the fact that he's spelling the same word different ways.

JennyOnAPlate Wed 04-May-16 07:11:01

My dd is 8 (year 3 at school) and doesn't write phonetically. I think her teacher would have raised it as a concern if she did.

My 6yo in year 1 probably writes half phonetically and half correct spelling.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 04-May-16 09:20:01

It is a long way behind what would be expected at that age. At first glance it does look like badly or incompletely taught phonics though. My worry would be that even with the resources to provide 1:1 the school may not know how to fix it.

At this stage, I don't think that this is going to fix itself though.

irvineoneohone Wed 04-May-16 09:32:14

If he is 8, he is either yr3 or yr4. I just wondered how can the teachers miss this ?
Maybe he may already be having some kind of help at school that you don't know about?

loopygoose Wed 04-May-16 11:40:23

My daughter IS dyslexic but this is a common problem which isn't just experienced by dyslexic students. Often they are very visual learners and don't learn to de-code, only memorise words. There are a few avenues to look at.
1) How is his eye-tracking? Is it smooth from side to side or is there a jump when his eyes are trying to track your finger? If so, it will be difficult for him to follow a line of writing and that would then jumble the words. there are exercises to fix this.
2) Is he simply learning what the words look like and then trying to guess? The best programme I have found to 'fix' this problem is Easyread. You do it at home for 15 minutes daily and it teaches the child to de-code. It's excellent.
3) Spelling is tricky. The usual method of teaching via lists is a complete waste of time, IMHO, unless you have a talented speller (like me or my eldest daughter) The best programme I have found for teaching spelling is spelling tutor.co.uk. This is a focussed programme which is individualised and works on spelling words in a sentence, which is the only way in which I believe they should be practised. I've withdrawn my youngest from her spelling classes at school and am using this programme at home, which is working brilliantly.

lantien Wed 04-May-16 12:12:38

Easyread - Per month£132 shock.

I used dancing bears - £16 per book 10 minutes a day.

I might think about asking if the school is doing anything. The child's parents are unlikely to welcome me sticking my nose in, so I have no intention of doing anything other than asking gently once and letting it go afterwards. Even that might be too much.

^^ This is the big problem.

There are several good spelling programs out there - one I used did lots of writing sentences from dictation but the OP doesn't sound like she is in a position to do them with the child.

I'd be amazed if the school and the child's teacher weren't aware of the poor spelling already - they teacher at least should be seeing the child written work very regularly.

Whether the school has an effective spelling intervention program or feel this child would benefit from it is an entirely different matter IME.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 04-May-16 13:20:27

I think that's going to be the problem. Apples and pears would probably go a long way towards sorting this issue, but the OP isn't really in a position to actually suggest anything.

magnificatAnimaMea Wed 04-May-16 21:08:10

Thanks for all the suggestions.

I'd be amazed if class teachers haven't picked up on this as well.

I suspect me asking anything at all is going to result in me being blacklisted as an interfering bitch - parents react very strongly to anything interpretable as criticism. However, if the point is got across, that is probably worth it...

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