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How is spelling taught in your/your dc's schools? (sorry, long)

(7 Posts)
Takver Mon 26-Oct-09 14:19:26

This may sound like a daft question, but just trying to get a handle on how it works in different schools. My yr 3 dd has just started writing in English at school - up til end yr 2 all teaching is in Welsh.

She finds writing/spelling really hard, not helped by the fact that she can't bear to write a wrongly spelled word no matter how often her teacher/we tell her that it really doesn't matter, and that what is important is to get something on paper. Last year her teacher started using a phonics based system called POPAT with her, which definitely helped her start to get an idea of how to break down how a word would be spelt.

Now they've started doing English as well, but as far as I can make out from dd's descriptions, they're not doing phonics based work - they have a box of common words in the middle of the table to help them and that seems to be it.

DD can cope with very basic CVC or CCVC type words, but beyond that she just gets stuck, particularly with vowel blends. Even if she writes different variants down & looks at them, she can't pick out the right one - so for example she wanted to write 'coal' - at my suggestion she tried 'coel', 'coal', 'coul' etc - but it didn't help her at all (she went for 'coul' in the end). She reads a lot (in English at home), and it somehow feels like they've 'missed' the phonics stage at school because they've learnt to read in Welsh, IYSWIM, so they only know the Welsh phonics . . .

So basically, I'm wondering what to do to support her, and what questions I should be asking when I see her teacher (regular parents meeting) after half term.

marialuisa Mon 26-Oct-09 15:16:01

Could you not teach her the English phonics? I grew up speaking Welsh with family but attending English medium schools and when it came to reading and writing I just had to learn the different phonic "rules", just as I did later on when learning Spanish etc.

So from your "coal" example she would know that "ou" doesn't make an "oh" sound.

Takver Mon 26-Oct-09 15:20:53

I guess so - I suppose I was hoping that they would learn to spell in English at school, as they're expected to write in both languages. I suppose what I'm failing to understand is how one learns to spell separate from learning to read.
And also, how you are meant to know whether to write 'coal' or 'cole' for example, unless you can recognise which one is right, since both make the appropriate sound and are valid words. I think maybe what I'm worrying is that a lot of the children will just pick up the English spelling, whereas I'm pretty certain that dd just won't, unless she has some solid ground rules to hang on to.

marialuisa Mon 26-Oct-09 15:59:08

I don't think you can entirely separate spelling and reading. Does your DD read English at all?

Takver Mon 26-Oct-09 16:07:39

Yes, I think that is kind of why I'm a bit baffled. She reads English no problems at all (probably more fluently than Welsh, I would say, as her vocabulary is larger), in fact she's a very keen reader - she doesn't seem to have any problems with decoding unknown words when reading. Her current favourites are the Horrible Science books, which specialise in weird words!
I've been looking around on the internet, and have found some phonics games - maybe that's the way to go, try to make it fun rather than more 'work' out of school.

Takver Mon 26-Oct-09 19:27:17

Just thinking, MariaLuisa - did you learn to read & write separately in each language at school, or did you just pick up one on the basis of the other?

marialuisa Tue 27-Oct-09 10:12:39

I didn't learn Welsh at school at all so it kind of emerged (and has now pretty much submerged). I definitely read before writing in both languages.

I wonder if your DD's perfectionism is the real cause for concern, as she is clearly reading well in English? I am sure there are plenty of Y3 English first langage kids who would struggle with the Horrible Science books! Perfectionism can be a real problem, I work in a University and we have huge demand for our "Overcoming perfectionism" courses. Hope you get some help from School with it all. Have they come across this before?

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