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Dyslexia and school spelling tests

15 replies

Aniles · 19/09/2003 16:43

My daughter is 8 years old, in year 4, and was diagnosed as being dyslexic towards the end of the last academic year.

She can't read anything more complex than c-a-t and has problems with blending. She does not have a secure knowledge of the main sounds and can only remember a few words by sight such as 'said' and 'the', but still gets them wrong sometimes.

For the past 3 weeks her new teacher has given her 10 spellings to learn, and every week my daughter has failed to get any more than just a few correct. This is no surprise to me since the words have not been words that she can read or even attempt to blend. She does practice them 2 or 3 times a week but as soon as she has finished practising, she's forgotten. Her teacher, however, does not believe that she has practised.

Now, it seems quite obvious to me that if a child cannot read a word because they don't have a secure knowledge of the sounds that make up the word, then they won't be able to spell the word. Am I wrong? Should my daughter be given words that she can't read and has no chance of being able to 'sound out'?

I'd really like your opinions on this since I'm feeling increasingly frustrated at my daughter coming home in tears and crying about how 'stupid' she is when she's actually very bright(she only has a problem with reading and writing).

The teacher had a quick word with me after school today because my daughter was upset about getting only one spelling correct. I told her the advice regarding spelling tests that had been given and she said that she is trying to get my daughter to learn more sight words. It seems, though, that the only thing these spelling tests are achieving for my daughter is to make her even more anxious about reading and writing, certainly not increasing her self-esteem.

I'm sorry this has been so long and rambling. I'd appreciate any advice.

OP posts:
Jimjams · 19/09/2003 16:53

Have you spoken to the school senco? This doesn't sound right. I'd schedule a meeting with the teacher and senco. what are they doing about her dyslexia? There is a lot they can do to help now.

misdee · 19/09/2003 17:17

argh!!!!! i remember my little brothewr going thro the same thing. i cant remember much of what happened, but i know my mum pulled him out of that school and sent him to another better suited to his needs. very drastic i know!

hope u sort something out.

Jimjams · 19/09/2003 17:22

our neighbour did the same misdee (her son is now going to ds1's school ) I tend to get the impression that some schools "get" dyslexia and some don't. talk to the Senco

BTW who diagnosed her?

misdee · 19/09/2003 17:25

the school my brother went to, is the same school mieow sends her ds to, so we know its (meant to be) equipped for SN kids. i want to send my kids there but am out of the catchment area. in fact i'm in the wrong town. lol.

Jimjams · 19/09/2003 17:37

misdee- I'm out of the LEA! I applied on the off chance (and we got the second to last place).

mieow · 19/09/2003 17:53

Ask mum if she'll swop houses with you!!! LOL

myalias · 19/09/2003 17:59

Hi Aniles I am having a similar problem with my ds. He is 7 years old and is in year 3 he has ADD and fine motor problems (has difficulty gripping his pencil) and he has a statement of special needs. Although he hasn't been diagnosed as dyslexic he is showing strong signs that he well could be ie.letter and number reversals,unable to read key words on sight and not being able to blend words. Unfortunately at the moment where I live there is no formal testing until he is 8 years old. I have recently been to the opticians and she recommended Irlen filters there is some really useful information on this subject on the following website:
I have similar problems with him trying to learn spellings and forgetting them on the day of the test. He is seeing a special needs private tutor once a week to assist him with reading and writing which I have seen an improvement.
Did you get your daughter diagnosed at the Dyslexia Institute? I would be interested to know where you got the diagnosis.
Our school has a reading club for parents to assist their children at home. I am currently working through a reading scheme at the moment.
Make an appointment to see your school SENCO to see if your child can have any extra support in school. My son has 1:1 help for a couple of hours a day with a learning support assistant she also works with non statemented children. I totally understand what you are going through. My son has a reading age of a 5.3 year old at his last assessment.
You are right about your child being bright my son is also bright in other areas of learning.
Good luck with getting your school to help your daughter increase her self-esteem.

Aniles · 21/09/2003 11:31

Thanks for your replies, The lady that assessed my daughter is from the Learning and Autism Support Team (LAST) and I assume she is an educational psychologist or similar. The assessment was very thourough and lasted a whole morning.

She gave lots of advice about building up my daughter's self-esteem. She suggested not giving reading homework because it is such a challenge and she finds it so stressful. She clearly stated that my daughter should feel like she can have a break from reading and writing at home because otherwise she's stressing the whole time she's at home about going to school, and then she's stressing about having to carry on at home, so it seems like there isn't a time when she isn't under pressure.

It was also agreed that my daughter shouldn't be expected to copy from the board because she finds it difficult, and that someone should instead write things on paper or a small board that she can have in front of her.

She said that any spellings should be based on sounds and the focus should be on learning to blend.

All of this advice, and more, was ignored by her last teacher and when I tried to talk to the teacher about it I was just too upset and frustrated to be able to able to argue my case. I spoke to the senco and she was very suppportive, agreed with everything I said and she talked to the teacher about it. The advice was still ignored! And the same is happening with her new teacher. I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall and no amount of 'talking' is solving the problem.

My daughter does go to the senco for extra help for 2 one hour sessions a week in a group of about 8 children. These sessions are really helping my daughter and she enjoys them but it just isn't enough.

OP posts:
Aniles · 21/09/2003 11:39


what upset my daughter the most about only getting only one of her 10 spellings correct was the fact that the teacher told her (loudly, in front of the class)that if she "continues to get such bad marks then she'll have to.." (daughter can't remember what came next because by this time she was in tears). The teacher told her that she obviously doesn't practice her spellings and just doesn't try hard enough.

This is so wrong, my daughter tries very hard to learn her spellings. So in effect, to my daughter, the teacher is basically giving a message that no matter how hard she tries and how much effort she puts in, it won't be good enough, she'll still be reprimanded and humiliated. She's also calling my daughter a liar!

I'm so upset that I know that if I try to talk to the teacher about it I'll probably either start crying or shouting, which I really don't want to do because I actually work at the school as a GTP.

How on earth can I sort this out?

OP posts:
Jimjams · 21/09/2003 11:49

Right you need to sorot this out straight away otherwise this teacher (who needs to be locked up imo) is going to turn your duaghter off school for years. I'm afraid you need to join the "mother from hell" club (I'm a paid up member ) and make sure this teacher understands that this cannot continue.

The person that assessed your dd sounds as if she is an official LEA person (as oppsed to a private ed psych) which is good as school are more likely to pay attention.

I think you need to go into school have a meeting with the SENCO and explain that the teacher is doing nothing (and in fact making the situation worse) and ask her to sort it out. If the whole thing is emotional then write to the SENCO setting out your problems and requesting a meeting (when I am dealing with something I know will lead to me bursting into tears I always write instead of phone- that way all my points are there to be dealt with and I look reasonable etc. Perhaps write pointing out what the assessment lady said and showing how these requests are being ignored. Also say what the teacher said, and without making too big a deal just say something like you are worried that this sort of comment will damage your daughter confidence further and prevent her even trying to overcome her difficulties.

Irlen lenses are expensive (just bought some aggh) but can be marvellous for some dyslexics (and completely ineffective for others). A cheap test is to buy some different coloured acetate (from art shops) and lay it over the page- it may help. You can also try different coloured light bulbs.

Ghosty · 21/09/2003 12:05

Aniles ... I agree with JimJams wholeheartedly here. I am a SAHM now but used to be a primary school teacher and it both angers and saddens me when I hear stories of teachers who are like this ....
Year 4 children shouldn't be copying from the board anyway ... if they have to copy they should all be given a photocopied sheet to work from in front of them ... they should also be given work to copy with words blanked out so that they can fill in the blanks and children with SN should be given sheets to stick in their books with key words blanked out to fill in so that they writing they have to do is kept to a minimum.
It makes my blood boil to hear that some teachers still insist on humiliating a child in front of the whole class ... if she wants to put your daughter off school and learning forever she is doing a grand job of it.
Your poor little girl ... aaaaaggghhhh! (I am stamping my foot as I type your story has made me so cross!)
I think you should do what Jimjams said and sort it out ASAP ... join the 'mothers from hell club' ... put it in writing and request a meeting ....
Thinking of you ... let us know how you get on ...

ks · 21/09/2003 12:22

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ks · 21/09/2003 12:25

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Jimjams · 22/09/2003 09:01

I should also have suggested contacting IPSEA

Their advice line, on 0800 018 4016, normally operates Mon-Thu 10-4 & 7-9
and Fri 10-1. Although they are very busy at the moment and you may need to leave details and wait for someone to ring you back.

IPSEA are on the web here

cazzybabs · 22/09/2003 14:29

Out of interest (and not really related) but have you thought (and I suspect you do) of getting your daughter to write the letters in the air with her finger or trace them on sandpaper. Also using minomics (opps can't spell it) and writing the middle sound in colour. it doesn't solve the long term issue, but may hep your daughter learn a few key words. Also can you suggest to your dd teacher that she has a list of key words on her desk to copy from when she does her writing.

Good luck!!!

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