Does anyone have any advice for helping children to learn their spellings?
DS1 is in year 3, and he brings home 10 spelling words each week. The class have a test each Monday.
He never gets more than 5/10 no matter what we do. I have spent a long time over the last week getting him to write them out, making them into spider drawings, having treasure hunts, putting them in to word searches etc to try to help him learn them. We have only done about 30 minutes at any one time so that he does not get bored or disillusioned.
He still only got 4 on his test today. He does not seem to be able to remember them.
I see spellings as a good opportunity to make sure that he does well in something, and so boost his confidence and expectations of himself.
Any tips please?
Do you do a little every day or in one session. How about making the words into little puzzles for example leaving out some of the letters so he can fill in the gaps. That way it might not be so overwhelming.
Do you drive a lot with him? How about about testing him in the car and him using one of those magic drawing boards or even an etch-a-sketch if he is good at using it.
No idea if these are good suggestions or not. I've no training.
It is useful if he can be helped to UNDERSTAND how spelling works.
The Oxford Phonics Spelling Dictionary should help -
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.
Your spending an awful lot of time on those spellings for him not to learn them.
I'd assume the task is far too hard and back off. I'd spend that time doing something with him which is at the right level for him.
And I'd talk to his teacher.
Has he got dyslexia? With that amount of effort he should be able to remember 10 spellings for one week.......
How many of those words can be decoded and "sounded" out by using phonics?
How many does he need to "pass" the test?
What mistakes does he make?
Is there a certain sound/collection of letters being repeated throughout?
We had one kids that constantly spelled things like handle(and all the others in the list) as handel. He knew the words,he knew the letters,he just kept mixing them up.
My ds always segment/ break down words into syllables when learning new words.
We use the Squeebles spelling app. It made learning spellings a bit more fun and my daughter started getting better results.
what's his preferred way of learning? all your games sound great but all very visual. try singing the letters/sounds as well?
we do them just a couple at a time, 2 minutes in the bath, car etc, then add one more while repeating the others, then only one more when the others are known... really small chunks
i agree it helps to understand how key spelling patterns work
How hard are the words?
DD in Yr2 was getting generate/legacy/regret/ginger before Christmas which she struggled with.
But this week it's been poodle/trifle/bible which seem (to me) much easier.
Some kids find this linking strategy helpful. Personally I wouldn't overly worry. There sin't much evidence that spelling tests improve a child's ability to spell those words long term.
We do spellings in stages -start with me writing them down with some blank letters to fill in, then just the first letter, find the spelling from a pile of banana gram letters, eventually just doing them.on a sheet of paper.
I think half an hour is way too long, we only do 5 mins a day.
How much does he read? I think reading is much more helpful in the long term with regards to spelling.
The words children are expected to learn for weekly tests are not often very relevant to anything going on in their lives and so difficult to remember. Put those words in a story and they then have meaning and context.
Thank you for all of your suggestions. I will have a look at Squeebles and Spellodrome. I think that you are right that half an hour is probably too long.
The idea of trying singing the words is great.
I will try to back off. I think as what I am doing is not helping him. I do not know why he can not learn the spellings. We work on them over several days but he is still writing "irashnel" for irrational, "alegal" for illegal and missing letters out of words.
He does have some SN, but nobody has ever mentioned dyslexia.He is at mainstream school.
Thank you very much for your help everyone.
It looks like he might be spelling phonetically, a lot of words in English aren't really phonetic. I know phonetics is fashionable (phashionable) at the moment but I think that a visual method is more reliable. I play games with DS where we spell words backwards to help him practice visualising words. It seems to be working pretty well.
*"*^*It looks like he might be spelling phonetically, a lot of words in English aren't really phonetic*^*"* English spelling is complex - we don't have a one sound one symbol correspondence but it is phonetic.
*"*^*but he is still writing "irashnel" for irrational, "alegal" for illegal and missing letters out of words.*^*"* I'd agree he is attempting to use phonics to spell but "irashnel" makes me wonder if he's been taught the alternative ways to represent the /sh/ sound ... I'd also suggest he isn't encouraged to say the word clearly and precisely and to break the words into their syllables. In the case of "alegal" someone is pronouncing the word that way for him to write al rather than ill. I suggest if you try saying ill- e- gal he would have more success.
Mrz - as you say, it's not one to one, how do you know that cat isn't spelt kat?
What I'm trying to say is that kat looks wrong but it sounds right. If we're spelling phonetically then it is right.
The way mrz says(ill-e-gal) , like breaking the words into syllables as he writes while saying it, is the way how my ds always learned his spelling. It works.
He had this strategy from the start, and his spelling is great.
Does he know about the origins of the words, and what they mean? Irrational and illegal being the antonyms of rational and legal. Would that interest him and help him to focus on them?
Can he spell rational and legal? Can he spell ration?
I’m assuming this is part of a set of words with the same type of prefix, and therefore he ought to expect them all to start with an ‘I’, at least.
Yes, Ginmummy1 I spent ages showing him that all the words start the same so he can get the first three letters right. He still got the first letter of a couple of them wrong.
We went through all of the meanings, and we put them in to sentences. I try to pronounce the words correctly and emphasise the letters. He does not seem able to retain any information or learning about the spellings which is why I think he resorts to writing "irashnel".
We read together every day, and although his reading is not amazing, his teacher says that it is age appropriate.
We are working on a new set of spellings for this week now. I am trying to be more relaxed about it all.
I wonder ifhis teacher is not too worried because she just assumes that he has not spent enough time on them, since a child who had not learnt their spellings would just write them phonetically.
Thank you very much for all of your ideas and suggestions. I will have a go at as many of them as I can.
Maybe have a chat to his teacher then, explaining all of the strategies you have been trying, and impressing on her quite how long it takes. Perhaps if she realises that it is taking him (and you) several hours of effort every week to achieve 4/10 she might give him easier spellings or recap some concepts or get him some help or stop doing weekly spellings (which, according to some comments on MN, do not really improve spelling ability).
Perhaps have a chat with his teacher if you suspect the spellings are not matched to his ability and especially if it is affecting his self esteem. Maybe you could concentrate on just 5 with him and aim to get 5/5 right? X
You should talk to the teacher. Make it clear how much work he is putting in. With that amount of effort it is clear that he either needs easier spellings or less of them, as baby kangaroo has suggested perhaps just the first 5.
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