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Any ideas on how to help DD to improve her spelling please?

(18 Posts)
WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 31-Jan-14 20:56:35

DD is in y9 and top sets in all subjects.


She cannot spell. This isnt laziness it is a mental block.

Are there any good guides on how to improve her spelling please? She is keen to solve the problem as she is worried she will lose marks for it.

bizzey Sat 01-Feb-14 13:54:01

No advice because I am in the same situation with ds in yr8 (top sets as well)

If he genuinely does not know how to spell a word he will look it up ie a new word he has not used before,but a lot of the mistakes are "common "words where it is a letter missing or 2 letters wrong way round.

The teacher corrects and he has to re-write it ...though I am wondering if it would be better to re write 10 + times rather than once !......or let him look up the correct spelling him self to hopefully retain it ???

OR think that every child is going to be strong or weak in different areas of their education ...and this is his weak spot .What he actually writes is fab and with out having to check lots of words ,his flow is really good .

His teachers have not said anything yet about a concern .....just "watch
your spellings" in red and a really good mark ??

I was wondering if those little electronic spell checkers might be easier/quicker for him than dictionary/going on (my!) laptop for google thing ?

Funny thing is I was thinking about this the other day ....why don't they do a quick spelling test any more ....not practiced words ...just random words ??? Might have to start doing this at home ??

cardibach Sat 01-Feb-14 14:10:10

Spelling tests do not have evidence behind them, bizzey - children don't seem to transfer the knowledge from the test situation to their own writing. I also wonder what a random test with no learning before will do except confirm that your child can't spell?
THe best strategy for learning words is look, say, cover, write, check (do what it says with each word) as it gives the child a chance to look and listen actively for patterns or clues ion the word.
The best strategy long term is lots and lots of reading (doesn't matter whether it is fiction or factual, books or magazines/papers) as spelling is largely a visual skill and repeated exposure to words will make their spellings sink in eventually. There is not a magic bullet, I'm afraid.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 01-Feb-14 16:10:02

Thank you both. DD is a very wide reader. Her worry is that she will be moved down a set in English because of poor spelling.

Possibly connected but DH is straight down the line dyslexic. DS is also mildly dyslexic (both confirmed not guesses). Older DD is also very poor at spelling.

Ferguson Sat 01-Feb-14 19:03:32

Was reading by phonics in place when she learnt to read? If you have reliable books that EXPLAIN all the phonics theory, provided words are correctly pronounced (and they aren't always, of course) then that should be a basis for spelling.

Look in MN book reviews, educational books and courses section, and I reviewed a good spelling dictionary. Admittedly, there aren't foolproof rules for everything, but there are many that can be useful.

There are plenty of phonics threads in Primary Ed, and have a look at any advice from 'mrz', and that might help a bit.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 01-Feb-14 20:15:38

Thank you Ferguson, DD didnt join the UK system until year 2 so missed on learning phonics from the start. She was put in a remedial class then but this didnt address the problem.

I will take a look at the section you recommend.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 01-Feb-14 20:28:37

What do you think to the Sound Phonics Phase 5 & 6 books please? The mistakes she makes are often on simple words - spelling falling as fooling for example.

CecilyP Sun 02-Feb-14 14:38:14

I was wondering if those little electronic spell checkers might be easier/quicker for him than dictionary/going on (my!) laptop for google thing?

I would definitely recommend them. Way quicker than looking up in a dictionary so won't disrupt the flow when trying to write. Plus you don't need to almost know the correct spelling as you would with a dictionary. They also seem to recognise a greater variety of wrong spellings than the spell check in Word. Might be good for OP's DD if she is worried about being moved down a set but the content of what she writes is good.

Shootingatpigeons Sun 02-Feb-14 14:55:47

My younger DD is diagnosed dyslexic so she had intensive intervention to give her the phonic tools. So her spelling is now at least phonically sound and readable if not always accurate. She says she still uses those tools, breaking down the syllables, sounding out etc. every day, and she just got 97% in AS English Literature.

It might be worth getting an assessment. I really didn't think my older DD was dyslexic, always straight As in everything, learnt to read quickly etc. then in Year 9 her English teacher felt there was more there that was being inhibited, and a weakness in grammar and spelling. It turns out she has significant working memory and processing problems but they were disguised by a photographic memory

HSMMaCM Sun 02-Feb-14 19:34:51

DD is the same. She was just told to read everything she can find, to cement spellings in her brain.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sun 02-Feb-14 19:54:22

TBH if dyslexia is involved then the advice to just read lots does not help.

DD is very widely read - the problem is more to do with common words not 'difficult' words.

Shootingatpigeons Sun 02-Feb-14 19:56:36

HSSM if you are dyslexic you may well not learn from reading and rereading words. I have done all the reading that two masters degrees and all that went before them, and a passion for literature infers. I went to a very formal grammar school as well. I still cannot spell. I have constantly to rehearse in my head all the rules of spelling that I know in order to determine how to spell a word. If OP s DD (or indeed your DD) may be dyslexic then they really need to get an assessment to determine what learning style suits her.

HaveAcuppa Mon 03-Feb-14 13:39:58

Reading this thread with interest. So if a child is dyslexic with main issues being very poor working memory and auditory processing/memory what is the best method to teach spellings. My DD 13 hates reading and is still having intense program at school re teaching spelling rules but she cannot retain it. She keep going back to basics and has to start again to learn them. It's a bit like times tables, knows them one month and then has forgotten them. The only method I consider to work is visually seeing the words and practising lots over several weeks but school only do them for one and then move on. I am trying to put a case forward to school but need some evidence as to what is the best method.

HSMMaCM Mon 03-Feb-14 18:48:51

My dd was tested for dyslexia and they decided that wasn't the problem, so she just had to battle on. I am thinking of getting a second opinion, because 3 years down the line nothing has improved.

Shootingatpigeons Mon 03-Feb-14 19:38:24

Haveacuppa That is exactly the problem, you may have seen a word visually a million times, have memorised a spelling, but sometimes even moments later won't be able to retrieve it. I am a historian but Emperor is one of the words I just cannot remember (thank goodness for spellcheck there wink OK unless even it cannot work out what you are trying to spell ) Words like seize, queue which don't work phonically I just can never get first time. For some dyslexics memorising visually is next to useless and you will always have to use techniques like phonics, breaking words down to syllables etc. to arrive at a spelling that can be read at least. I am afraid the learning scheme my DD found beneficial is not available anymore but the dyslexia charities (the ones that aren't covers for marketing campaigns for a particular scam approach) can make recommendations. Times Tables present exactly the same challenges and my DDs have supplemented the strategies I have developed for coping. One of my DDs is doing Science at university with some advanced Maths but still does some weird thing with her fingers when she needs to do arithmetic grin

HaveAcuppa Wed 05-Feb-14 21:43:17

Thanks for the info Shootingatpigeons. I am struggling as to what to do with my dd's support at school with spelling. She is now in yr 8 and since November she has been pulled out of an hours english lesson to work on spellings. Although her spelling is poor when she is writing she does know quite a lot but has huge gaps. I have seen this book for the first time today and they have gone back to basics teaching spelling rules and not much covered yet. Learnt rules of short & long vowels, ending with ing, ed, er. Again like the times tables she forgets rules. I was told by ed psych that the way to learn was by sight and practice lots and needed to get correct at least 4 times and then re visit after a month to check in long term memory. School have never done this.

I am concerned that she is missing a whole hour of English lesson to do this and dd says she is bored with it. I don't know how to approach school about this and give my views as I am a parent from hell! Fought for a statement and she does already have 3hrs of 1to 1 on other intervention.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 05-Feb-14 22:12:48

Havacuppa There are all sorts of techniques for helping memory. We have tried all sorts, saying spellings or whatever in their own voice into a Dictaphone and playing it back, leaving parts of the word or knowledge around the room so the physical movement in space helps put it into the long term memory. My DDs find it useful to highlight bits of words and information in different colours. There really are lots of different techniques to help different learning styles but it really is very individual and the school should be trying different ones instead of sticking with one that isn't working. It does sound as if they are trying to give her the tools, and I am afraid it is always a long learning curve before it finally sticks.

The problem is that ignorance of SpLds is quite common in schools and the teaching profession. I have found you have to become a bit of an expert yourself, we have been very well supported by a charity and just continually, hopefully patiently and tactfully explain the DDs exact issues, what works for them and to be explicit about the support they require and not scream when a teacher comes out with rubbish eg "she is cured" shock

Azure Wed 05-Feb-14 22:25:50

My son was diagnosed a few years ago with a specific learning difficulty in phonetic processing, i.e. can't spell for toffee. We thought he might have dyslexia but he didn't tick any of the other boxes. Still haven't found the best way to deal with it. He's great at some subjects, eg history, but would lose so many marks if spelling were taken into account.

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