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Any year 1 teachers around? Any advice?

(6 Posts)
Laura0806 Thu 04-May-17 20:29:30

My year 1 son ( 6 next month) has become very reluctant to go into school ( under statement-think crying and clinging to me-having to be pulled off). This morning I managed to get out of him that he hates phonic as they have to do writing. I told his teacher who was helping get him into school ( she's lovely) and she said that she noticed he is struggling to write. She said that he doesn't seem to remember anything they learn from one lesson to the next so the word 'nice' -he will appear to have got it and then the next day a totally random spelling of the word. He seems to me not to try when he writes but just to write any old thing- Spelt people as 'polesg' tonight-but he is obviously quite distressed so maybe he just can't as oppose to isn't trying. Strangely (or is it strange?) his reading is lovely-fluently reads orange/ turquoise books and phonic knowledge is excellent but he can't seem to link it to writing-can't seem to break the words down to spell them or be able to clap them out. Is this unusal/ common-how shall I help? Any thoughts would be great as the mornings are killing me!

ktkaye Thu 04-May-17 21:39:25

Super common, don't worry! Sounds like he has learnt to read more through word recognition than phonetically? Some children do. (It's how I was taught! Didn't have a clue about phonics until my teacher training). Knowing each grapheme and its sound is one thing but applying this if your natural preference is to simply recognise the shape of a word is another! This will be long, sorry, but hopefully you can glean something useful.::.

If he was one of my students the first thing I'd try and find out is the root of his worries about writing - which will not necessarily be the same as the actual academic problem he is having, which will have a different fix, if that makes sense?! Perhaps the first thing to address from what you say seems to be his frustration and a resulting lack of confidence. So first and foremost taking the pressure off writing for a nominal period might let things cool and then you can reapproach it. Not sure how practical this would be for your son's teacher but is definitely something you could do at home. I've often recommended parents step back from homework for a week in these situations to prevent it becoming A Big Issue for everyone.

See if he can explain exactly what bothers him. Is it because his work gets messy? Because he can't remember the letter he needs next? Does his hand hurt? (That's a legitimate one!) There are lots of reasons children get fed up with writing and it will take some skill to winkle it out of him I expect - hence why we get a lot of 'it's boring' rather than a straight answer! Is it 'simply' the idea of making mistakes? If he is a confident reader and otherwise able in other subjects is it the fact that he is anticipating 'getting it wrong' that causes him to feel upset and frustrated - this tends to becomes a self fulfilling prophecy unfortunately and kids quickly decide they are 'not good' at something because they find it hard. Some children hate to physically see things written which they know are wrong - this is a big problem in early writing and I see it every year. They know how a word should look but for whatever reason can't quite get it down or misjudge how much space they need to write and get muddled when they realise it's about to fall off the page. In your son's case he might know exactly how the word should 'look' but as he is being taught to break it down this could conflict with his way of doing things. 'Nice' is a hard one, does he recognise it on a page when reading? If so it could be the fact he's then trying to use phonics to spell it which is making him come unstuck. His spelling of people is not entirely dissimilar to how the word looks on the page. If his phonics understanding was clear I'd expect him to spell it peepul (or similar) but instead he seems to have gone for the shape of the word (with the descender of the g meant to be the second p).

What's important to remember and hopefully would help to reassure your DS is that writing is a complex set of skills. First you have to listen to and remember the word you want to write, then break it up, then put it back together in order, remembering the correct letter formation, any tricky phonics rule breakers and then judge the spacing - often all quite quickly as the lesson moves on. Miss any of those steps or forget what the first/second/third one was and you can quickly come unstuck. Often all the necessary skills are there (as with your DS by the sounds of it) but putting them all together takes practise and the confidence to keep trying. I know plenty of adults who struggle with the old try try again so it's a big ask for a six year old.
What could you do at home?

Take a break

Get a whiteboard and pen so mistakes can easily be rubbed off (eventually you might want to move to crossing out, mistakes are good to see, but one step at a time)

Check the basics of pencil grip and control - lefties need to tilt the paper differently.

Build his confidence with the physical side of writing so he gets lots of easy wins - i.e. Spell out the word for him so he has a page of 'correct' writing in his own hand. Then get him to break it down and spell it and you write it (if this becomes a problem then you have more of an answer about where he perhaps needs extra support) Model writing mistakes yourself and see how many he can spot.

Ask his teacher about whether or not he could be sight reading rather than using phonics to decode? If so that's fine, but he'll need extra support to use both this and phonics to help him decode/write unfamiliar words.

I've gone on too long.

Some or none of this may help. Hopefully some! Good luck!

mrz Thu 04-May-17 21:46:26

Does the school actively teach phonics for spelling or assume that a child who can read a word will be able to spell it? Spelling is a more difficult skill as the child hasn't got the visual clue and needs to remember the way to spell the sounds in the word.

bangingmyheadoffabrickwall Thu 04-May-17 22:26:34

What above both say!

My Y1s always find spelling more difficult than reading. They need visual and memory skills to remember spelling patterns and making sure they use the correct digraph etc for the word they are spelling.

My children were learning about the alternative spelling for /ur/. We played 'Best Bet' in which they had four variations of the word to choose from. I don't expect them to know how to spell every word we come across. But in the word /people/, I would be asking a child to tell me where the /g/ sound is heard in the word and asking why he chose to write that letter.

TBH, spelling is not learnt on the spot. It takes several attempts to see the word in different contexts, read the word and spell the word in lots of their writing for them to eventually remember how to spell a word.

'nice' is a difficult one anyways. You have the '/c/ grapheme being said as a /s/ sound and then the /ie/ sound being spelt as a split digraph!

I find that the more a child uses a word, the quicker they are able to spell it. /The/, /I/ and /Then/ are some of our common words in our writing so therefore come first with they are writing.

I have found it helps when words learnt in phonics are displayed in the classroom for all to see for a couple of weeks, spending 5/10 minutes a day re-caping some of it.

Laura0806 Thu 04-May-17 22:58:29

Thank you all -really appreciate you taking the time to reply. I think he does use phonics to decode as he breaks down the words he reads into the phonic sounds if he is stuck. He does complain his hand hurts when he writes and Mrz, I don't know if his school actively teaches phonics for spelling to be honest. I suspect they do as they write words in their phonics groups but his teacher says he just can't retain them. Hes very shy and lacks confidence in everything so I don't know if thats an issue or there is some other underlying problem or he's just young but then the other children are managing

MissCardew Thu 18-May-17 22:26:13

I know this post is a little old but I wanted to reply to say we are in the exact same situation.
My year 1 ds (6 tomorrow) is a great reader - on turquoise - but just hates writing. He really struggles with it and now just says 'it's boring' and won't do it. He gets upset and tells me that he is rubbish at writing and that he's 'too slow' and never finishes his work.
As a previous poster says, it's almost like he's so scared of getting it wrong and has so little confidence in his work that it becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy!
I don't have any advice but wanted to let you know that you're not alone with this struggle! smile

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