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#1 of 9 Old 09-27-2013, 05:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's been a while since I posted here, but here I go... DD is 6, and we're homeschooling, with a charter for the first time this year. She's not doing PG types of things, but she's the kind of kid who adults look at funny as soon as she starts talking, the big words coming out of the cute little voice and body smile.gif. Strong reader, strong at math...

She was given a scantron performance test through her charter recently, and though I was given little "interpretation," the score charts I've found online definitely indicate she was advanced. (At one point during the test the partner teacher suddenly got concerned, thinking the computer had malfunctioned bc it had DD in "the big kids area.". DD protested, "no, no, I can do it!"). Anyway, there was like a 600 point difference between her phonics and phonological awareness scores and her reading comprehension scores. That totally fits - she sort of gets phonics, but absolutely doesn't hear them. She has also always been a little behind other kids in motor skills, coordination, etc., and with academic stuff that most affects handwriting - shaky, lots of reversals... It's getting there, but I still scribe for her 90-95% of the time outside of specific handwriting practice so it doesn't slow her down. Lately I've realized another big limitation on her writing is spelling. She's not willing to try to invent it, and knows very few words (though probably a grade appropriate amount). Still, learning new spelling words has been like pulling teeth. Had more success this week when I ditched phonics and trying to hear the sounds and just went with visualizing the word.

So... A good test would perhaps identify if this phonics weakness is a larger problem, right? Is this the kind of thing where testing might be worth it, so I'm not surprised by larger issues in a few years, or do I just keep helping her find work arounds (like the visualization thing)?

Thanks for any advice.

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#2 of 9 Old 09-28-2013, 08:39 AM
 
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I am not sure if you are asking about should you do cognitive testing or should you test academic/achievement testing? They are different.

 

From your post, you are concerned about phonics base. To fine tune what she does/does not need to improve upon would be an achievement type test. It will tell you what phonics she has mastered, her written language skills, and other academics in relation to her age peers in academics. It might give you a stepping stone in picking a program or working with the charter on finding one that works for her strengths and weaknesses.

 

At 6.5, I would give an honest go at writing beyond handwriting. Yes, if she is a perfectionist it may be frustrating, but you want to make sure that you do work on  improving in all areas. Scribing is OK for long ideas, but shorter answers should be written. At 6.5, in most areas she would be in 1st grade and written work would be expected outside of handwriting. Spelling would also be a formal subject. AT 6- reversals are normal, as is the shakiness if she has not done a lot of writing and/or if she does not do a lot of fine motor work activities.  You may want to chat with the charter schools Occupational Therapist and see if she has any suggestions on pencil grips, slant boards, paper, etc to help with writing. If she continues to struggle with writing after you do some interventions and/or spend a few weeks with a program aimed at improvement then maybe consult her/him and see if she could benefit from some OT to help her writing. It is hard to judge over the Internet the level of writing and if her difficulty is due to motor planning and/or due to personality traits and the wide variance of 'standard development' in writing and spelling between ages 5 & 7.

 

If she is visual, a program like Words Their Way would work well since it is pattern based and very much involves seeing patterns/clues/puzzling how words are alike and different to form spelling patterns. It is great for my very mathematical daughter! A program I have not used, but heard good things about for 'hearing' phonetic sounds is Earobics. Orten-Gillingham is also a great hands-on way to learn phonics. Handwriting without Tears would be good for handwriting, though not spelling.

 

Sometimes kids learn to read as they go with no formal breakdown of phonics- this is fabulous and a very organic way to pick up language, but it causes some gaps when they go to explain what the isolated sounds/phonetic rules are. 

 

Your DD may always be visual, but some phonics foundation will help later in spelling multi-syllabic words, syllabication, word games, word play, and even when learning another language.  I am a visual learner and remember struggling with phonics even though I was a good reader! 

 

Of course, if you are unschooling or learn-as-you-go I would not worry too much depending on your philosophy-- but the charter is likely going to start requesting formal testing that does involve spelling and writing for assessment purposes of their own (accountability to the sponsoring charter program).

 

Hope this helps!

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#3 of 9 Old 09-28-2013, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the response! Yes, I was asking more about cognitive testing b/c what she just did was achievement testing, the scantron performance test. So we have worked quite a bit on phonics, through the 4th Explode the Code book, even though she's reading much higher. I thought it would help with spelling, but it just hasn't. The part of the scantron test she was so weak on comparatively was "phonological awareness," where it's all oral, thru headphones. PHonics was not quite as comparatively weak, but it wasn't strong. It's just a new thought to me that her reluctance to write might be less about the physical act at this point and more about her struggle to spell, and maybe just to process auditory information. (Like, for a bright kid with the obvious desire to have a good sense of humor, she just does not get jokes or how to tell them. Even the simple knock-knock ones...) She has been reasonably willing this year to write things she can copy, like book titles or charcter names. I definitely see her as a visual-spatial learner - her across-the-board high math scores were highest in measurement and geometry even though we spend little time on those areas. I guess I'm just starting to feel tired of trying to guess whether I'm doing it right, adjusting for her quirks appropriately or not, versus asking someone to give me some firm data and input from a place of experience.

Anyway, thanks for the specific material recommendations, esp. for spelling programs and Earobics. I'll definitely check them out!

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#4 of 9 Old 09-28-2013, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just thought to add, she did have to give the charter a writing sample this last week. The writing prompt asked her her favorite season, and since she couldn't spell winter, this was her little essay, written legibly, with the word "favorite" copied from the writing prompt:

"My favorite is fall. It is fun. I likce to plal in it."

Also, our homeschooling style has just been pretty relaxed and eclectic so far. I want to challenge her appropriately where she's at, and as long as I see progress, I've tried to be mellow about letting her develop on her own time table. Just having a little internal freakout the last couple weeks that I may be missing something that this one area is so much weaker for her. I do see some writing progress. I don't see much spelling progress.

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#5 of 9 Old 09-28-2013, 02:10 PM
 
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My DS is 7 and his handwriting is awful, he frequently will alter what he wants to write to make sentences shorter (so he has to write less.)  We are big fans of Words Their Way, which gives the kids the basic rules for spelling and the words are always right as long as you follow the rules.  As you learn more rules, your spelling changes so for example, if you are trying to spell weight, it is acceptable to spell it wat, then when you learn about the magical (or bossy) E, you would spell it wate.

 

We use handwriting without tears, and things are getting better.  I think part of the problem is that DS's brain works faster than his hand.  We alternate between him writing and him typing, but I will not scribe for him, since he needs to write it out.  We have also started doing some fact webs when he is writing non-fiction.  The center is the topic, then each circle in the web is a fact about the topic, so for example if your topic was the duck billed platypus, your web circle might be:  monotreme, sensors in bill, egg laying mammal, carnivore, etc.  Then when he goes to write his story, he has a reference of what he wanted to write, so he can take breaks and not forget where he was going with the story.  We also do timelines with the fictional stories for the same reason.  That way, we write a little every day, but we may be working on the same story for a week or a month.  We then edit the stories and make a final draft with pictures.


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#6 of 9 Old 09-28-2013, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anj_rn that's such a helpful description. DD is learning to type and loves it, and I was just looking at the kidspiration app for mapping things... OK, I looked at the Words Their Way site, and didn't quite get what I would need to use it at home. Could someone explain?

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#7 of 9 Old 09-29-2013, 06:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justthinkn View Post

Anj_rn that's such a helpful description. DD is learning to type and loves it, and I was just looking at the kidspiration app for mapping things... OK, I looked at the Words Their Way site, and didn't quite get what I would need to use it at home. Could someone explain?

 

I would say you probably have to get the textbook (I know our teacher supply store has the teaching workbook).  Then the lessons are based on how far along your child is.  The lessons are designed to only take 15 minutes a day.  So first you learn 3 letters with consistent sounds (like B, N, L) and the child gets pictures of 15 things that start with one of those letters.  The first activity is to identify what each letter is, the sound it makes, and what each picture is.  the 2nd activity is to sort the pics into groups by the first letter, at the end of the week there is a spelling test, as long as the 1st letter is right, the child gets the answer right, you go through all the consonants this was and then the H brothers (ch, sh, th, wh), then you trade the pics for actual words and do short vowel sounds and then long vowel sounds (once again as long as the first letter and vowel are correct, the word is correct).  You later add in consonant and vowel blends.  Basically you start with all one syllable words and work your way up.  The word is always right as long as you use the rules you have learned so far.

 

That being said, I do not know how you would do it without the curriculum book.


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#8 of 9 Old 09-29-2013, 08:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by justthinkn View Post

Just thought to add, she did have to give the charter a writing sample this last week. The writing prompt asked her her favorite season, and since she couldn't spell winter, this was her little essay, written legibly, with the word "favorite" copied from the writing prompt:

"My favorite is fall. It is fun. I likce to plal in it."

Also, our homeschooling style has just been pretty relaxed and eclectic so far. I want to challenge her appropriately where she's at, and as long as I see progress, I've tried to be mellow about letting her develop on her own time table. Just having a little internal freakout the last couple weeks that I may be missing something that this one area is so much weaker for her. I do see some writing progress. I don't see much spelling progress.

 

Having worked with lower Elem. kids for years, that seems fairly standard for 1st grade. Although of her letter choices for play seem rather odd (the l on the end of play), the c & K combination is not unusual, nor is the length of sentence.

 

 

That said- I have two DDs that read extensively and above grade level. Both are strong spellers--- but one is strong writer and the other is not. She finds writing too 'slow' and laborious- it is frustrating for her. Her writing is at grade level and her other skills are high for grade. Her twin is a very very strong writer, but is on grade level for math.  At this point, it is how they are wired to learn, process, and output that information. They have been exposed the same curriculum since PreK (same class). 

 

I will also add that personally, my reading/comprehension skills have always far outweighed my writing/spelling skills!! 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anj_rn View Post
 

 

I would say you probably have to get the textbook (I know our teacher supply store has the teaching workbook).  Then the lessons are based on how far along your child is.  The lessons are designed to only take 15 minutes a day.  So first you learn 3 letters with consistent sounds (like B, N, L) and the child gets pictures of 15 things that start with one of those letters.  The first activity is to identify what each letter is, the sound it makes, and what each picture is.  the 2nd activity is to sort the pics into groups by the first letter, at the end of the week there is a spelling test, as long as the 1st letter is right, the child gets the answer right, you go through all the consonants this was and then the H brothers (ch, sh, th, wh), then you trade the pics for actual words and do short vowel sounds and then long vowel sounds (once again as long as the first letter and vowel are correct, the word is correct).  You later add in consonant and vowel blends.  Basically you start with all one syllable words and work your way up.  The word is always right as long as you use the rules you have learned so far.

 

That being said, I do not know how you would do it without the curriculum book.

 

Yes, you would need the curriculum book. Amazon carried it before- you might be able to get it there. It is a worthy curriculum with some additional information if you want it, or you can keep it simpler. It will different than you think of spelling the way they used to teach it, but it is really really a solid way to learn the rules and improve the spelling in application.

 

 

 

 

As a side note as well, I would do some research on what academic testing your daughters did. Some are MUCH better at pinpointing areas of strength/weakness than others. Some have a cap on how high they test and/or are heavily vocabulary based ( low on comprehension/higher level thinking). I dislike the STAR & MAP testing and find them to not align terribly well with more indepth assessment such as Woodcock Johnson III, KeyMath, IRI,etc. If you really want a breakdown of specific skills- find an assessor to do one of those so you can focus on specific phonic areas.

 

 

As far as cognitive testing. I would wait until your daughter is 7-8, unless you need to test for entrance to schooling or something similar. IQ testing is considered more accurate between 7-10 due to the tests available and the ceilings. I also would do an individual test and not a group test.  But that is just my opinion- you could consult your charter school and /or local GT educational psychologist for more information.

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#9 of 9 Old 09-30-2013, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you both again - very helpful!

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