DS7 and spelling - can anyone advise?

(9 Posts)
Jillyhilly Sat 21-Sep-19 10:55:38

DS, August born so just turned 7 in year 3. After a VERY slow and reluctant start his reading is coming along gradually - reasonably fluent at about level 9/10. He also likes being read to.

Doesn’t love school but much less reluctant to go in this year - last year was a battle every morning but now be toddles off reasonably happily, has some mates, occasionally seems interested in what he’s learning and tells me about it, generally doing ok.

The problem is the homework, specifically the spelling words we’re giving for homework and the exercises that go along with them. His writing is slow and his
spelling isn’t good, he hates the Friday tests and does badly at them but resists every attempt to learn the words. Every Saturday morning is an explosion of crying, shouting, and general resistance. We all dread it.

This week he has to learn un- and dis- prefixes, along with other instructions such as “put the words into a wordsearch” (why? What does this mean?), “explain how the root word changes” with the prefix “and explain why” (I don’t even think I could do this!). The words are all quite difficult, not words he is reading at his level, and he gives up before he starts. Then he fails the spelling test and says he hates spelling.

We are really on a downer with it and I’m not sure what to do. I hate the homework myself and honestly think it Is too difficult for him.

Could anyone advise how to deal with this? On the one hand I’m of the opinion that if we keep on with the reading he will pick the spelling up as we go along. But that doesn’t help with the bloody homework! Should I talk to the teacher? Maybe there is another group he can go into - his friend seems to be learning much easier words and I think it would build his confidence to start getting some rest words right!

Thank you for reading and for any advice or suggestions.

OP’s posts: |
Runningintothesunset Sun 22-Sep-19 06:42:29

We have the app SqueeblesSP that DS seems to like. You record the week’s spellings into it and then they get tested and win points which can be used in the app. Nothing fancy but we found it took some of the pressure off it being parent vs child on them initially and he likes to do it quietly by himself until he gets a bit more confident with them

TheBitterBoy Sun 22-Sep-19 06:58:14

We had exactly the same issues with DS at this age, I feel for you. It sounds like the spellings are above his reading level, are the whole class doing the same list and are they set for English? Might be worth having a chat with his teacher, as the tests are clearly counterproductive for him.
As far as learning the words, we also had some success with squeebles. I used to write up the words on our chalkboard in the family room so they were just 'there' and familiar for the week. The most successful for actually encouraging him to try and learn them was a game DH came up with called buttshot, where DS was allowed to shoot his dad in the bum with his nerf gun, one bullet for every word he got right when we were practising.
However I'm not convinced spelling tests are that useful. Those kids that can spell just get on with it and those that struggle really suffer, and even when DS managed to learn the words for a test and get them right on the day, if he used the words in a piece of writing a day later he'd generally still spell them wrong. Despite a lot of work, DS still struggles with spelling in secondary school, although it is a lot better, and I think that is mainly due to reading more.

Jillyhilly Sun 22-Sep-19 15:34:04

Thank you @Runningintothesunset and @TheBitterBoy! I will try squeebles, maybe that will help. I’m also going to talk to his teacher - the class is not all learning the same words and I think it would make more sense for him to do less difficult words for now while his reading and hopefully his confidence improves.

I’m going to steal the fabulous buttshot idea that’s exactly the sort of thing that would motivate DS!

OP’s posts: |
Blueshadow Sun 22-Sep-19 17:10:33

Spelling tests are a waste of time and mainly done because parents expect them. There are schemes which can produce levelled spelling, so the child gets spellings that are actually useful to learn, and this, coupled with some creative ways of learning the spellings, can be far more useful.
As a person who reads hugely, but struggled with spelling until the age of about 16, I am really not convinced about the read more/spell better connection. It wasn’t until I truly focused on the parts of the words that were causing problems and understood some etymology, that my spelling improved.
Have a word with the teacher. Pin the words for the week on his bedroom wall or in the bathroom so he can look at them while he is cleaning his teeth.

Jillyhilly Sun 22-Sep-19 19:18:57

As a person who reads hugely, but struggled with spelling until the age of about 16, I am really not convinced about the read more/spell better connection. It wasn’t until I truly focused on the parts of the words that were causing problems and understood some etymology, that my spelling improved.

Thanks @Blueshadow this is interesting. I certainly don’t feel that these spelling tests are helping DS in the least. Just the opposite in fact. Even more crazy is the bit of the homework that asks the child to explain how the root word in each case changes with the suffix or prefix - and then, even more confusingly, why it changes. I have an English degree and I don’t think even I could adequately describe this - and not would I want to. “Explain how the root word changes when —ed is added”. But “dishonested” and “uncertained” aren’t actually bloody words!! Honestly, what is the point of this at the age of 7???

OP’s posts: |
BlueChampagne Mon 23-Sep-19 13:28:38

DS2 is in Y5 and not keen on writing. Activities related to practising spelling that he likes are:

Put the words into sentences (they don't have to be sensible, just make sense)
Draw a rainbow and write the words in the rainbow
Draw a spider and write the words as spider legs
Write the words in bubble writing
Write the words in water/sand/chalk outside
He has also invented a race game where every time he spells something correctly he can move his counter on one. We play together and he thinks up some seriously fiendish words for me to spell.

Buttshot sounds hilarious and just the thing that would motivate DS2.


Jillyhilly Tue 24-Sep-19 22:53:05

Thanks @BlueChampagne some very creative ideas there. Really helpful in coming up with fun ways to help
DS spell.

Agree that buttshot is a fantastic idea - I explained it to DS tonight and his face absolutely lit up, so we’ll give that a go this weekend!

OP’s posts: |
nanny3 Tue 15-Oct-19 19:52:33

my 7 year old is the same i told school that homework wasnt going to be done

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