Why can't dd spell? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-15-2004, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My dd is 10 years old and in fifth grade. She is very bright--reads above grade level, is in an advanced-level science class, is gifted in the arts and a talented cello player...but her spelling is atrocious. It's like she has her own set of phonics rules. She'll spell "because" "beacause". There are many commonly used words that she massacres. I feel it's holding her back in school. She's currently in an English class for kids who read well but need help with writing. I don't think there's anything wrong with her writing--just her spelling.

I'm wondering if the fact that she was in a Spanish Immersion class from grades 1-3 has anything to do with it. I don't speak Spanish, so I don't know if her strange spelling quirks are things commonly seen in Spanish, but dh's aunt, who is Canadian, says her kids who went through French immersion schools can't spell at all.

How can I help her improve her spelling? Her current English teacher has been giving her easy spelling words--apparently hoping that if she starts at the beginning, dd will lose her bad habits. The problem is, dd will often get her spelling tests 100% correct, but then go on to mispell words she has learned in her papers.
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Old 02-15-2004, 12:07 PM
 
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I am sure it is her particular brain development.

We make a mistake when we expect all kids to do XYZ at a certain age. I have found this to be true as I have been unschooling for 18 yrs.

I suggest trust and patience. My 3 had unique spelling styles but at a certain point, wanted to really learn the "correct" spelling. They wanted to be socially accepted and avoid embarrassment. Now they spell better (and write more eloquently BTW) than many of their public schooled peers.

I dislike misspelled word myself. Unfortunately, several adult posters on this board are atrocious spellers! They might spell a long word correctly, but continually write "to" when they mean "too" or vice versa. Pet peeve. :
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Old 02-15-2004, 10:46 PM
 
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I learned in grad school that English spelling is mostly a matter of memorization. This is because so much of English pronunciation doesn't follow phonetic rules (i.e. though, through, tough, cough, dough, etc.). The easiest and most painless way to help a child learn to spell is to have them read, read and read some more. Reading the same words over and over again (in literature particularly, not necessarily in drills) will help imprint them to memory.

I really want to emphasize that your child shouldn't worry about spelling while she is writing. It is very important for ideas to flow out onto the paper in a smooth manner. Stress can kill both memory and creativity! Spelling and grammar should be edited after the writing, homework, worksheet, etc. is through!

If you think your dd is already stressing out about spelling while she writes, here is a fun activity you might want to do with her. Have her dictate stories to you while you type them up (and spell check them for her too!). That way tripping over the spelling does not stifle her creative juices. Afterwards, she can read her own story with all the spelling correct, and illustrate it too. Children often find this very rewarding, and it is another chance to see words spelled correctly and help that memory!

Interestingly, teachers often have terrible spelling skills because they have seen words spelled wrong so many times they can no longer differentiate correct from incorrect spellings.

DaryLLL, using to and too incorrectly is a huge pet peeve of mine too. :LOL Same with there, their, and they're!

Judy mom to Dash (9), Corbin (7) and Will (3) :
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Old 02-16-2004, 12:22 AM
 
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Daylily, my son is the same way, though only in 3rd grade. He gets A's on his spelling tests with rote memorization, but spells terribly when writing. He can even spell the word out loud to me that he just spelled wrong on paper. I have thought maybe it is a visual processing problem or something because it just doesn't make sense. I have been meaning to ask his teacher about it or a special educator. I'll let you know if I find anything out, and you do the same!

 
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Old 02-16-2004, 06:05 AM
 
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I actually heard somewhere that poor spelling is often a trait of the very, very gifted. Like they're so busy learning really interesting stuff that they don't take the time to bother learning to spell, KWIM?

Just my $0.02.

~Kiyomi~ Unschooling mom to one very chatty, very amazing 7 year old bundle of boy
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Old 02-16-2004, 01:09 PM
 
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Others said great things and I agree with them. But I wanted to comment on the English/Spanish confusion thing. Some kids do experience confusion in writing English words after they've been taught in Spanish. However, the particular example you gave would not be an example of Spanish phonetics. In that case, she would be spelling because as bicause (or some variation). Sometimes you'll see cuestion for question. I'm interested in the idea that she's in a class for good readers/poor writers. Does she have trouble articulating her thoughts in written work or is it simply the spelling? They are different, obviously. I bet she'll work it out. The others gave you great advice.
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Old 02-16-2004, 01:33 PM
 
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Here's some very compelling evidence that tradition spelling workbooks and such are a waste of time. See what you think:

http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/s...g-krashen.html

Read the whole site if you get a chance.

I am a great speller, my 10dd can't spell at all. Actually, she can't spell in two languages, since she is bi-lingual is well. She is an avid reader. She hasn't been in school for English since K, since then she has been in Hebrew. We're homeschooling now, and I'm not going to worry about it. She can if she wants.

Good luck.
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Old 02-16-2004, 05:16 PM
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I'm reading a book right now called "The Violent E and other Tricky Sounds", by Maragaret Hughes and Dennis Searle. The authors did a longitudinal study, where they followed a group of kids from kindergarten through 6th grade, and they looked at how well each child was spelling at the end and what strategies and techniques and beliefs these children had about spelling. The children who believed that spelling was pretty random, that the only way to do it was to memorize all the words, and that it was the teacher's job to edit their written work for spelling were pretty poor spellers at the end. The best spellers were kids who read a lot and looked at the patterns of words as they read, who saw spelling as a puzzle that could be figured out, who would try different spellings of words and be able to see which "looked right", and who used various strategies, including looking at the meanings and root words. For example, a not-so-great peller could spell "beautiful" correctly, but was spelling "beauty" as "butty", and even with prodding from the interviewer she didn't make the connection. Although spelling isn't completely systematic in English, there are definitely patterns...

It was an interesting book. There were various subgroups of spellers, like kids who were strong readers but their spelling stalled at some point, or kids who started out behind but caught up in grade 5 and 6. The "sound it out" strategy was how most kidsstarted, and it is a good start, but eventually the kids needed to learn the visual patterns.

The authors didn't find any correlation between spelling skills and the school's spelling programs, the "memorize these words" thing. They did find that lots of reading and writing helped, but an overemphasis on correct spelling and "final drafts" didn't, because the kids tended to stick to words they knew or leave it to the teacher to edit spelling, knowing that the rough draft didn't really count because they would be rewriting it over and over.

Anyway, it was an interesting book.

Dar

 
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Old 02-16-2004, 06:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by DashsMama

DaryLLL, using to and too incorrectly is a huge pet peeve of mine too. :LOL Same with there, their, and they're!
hehe, and I noticed you spelt my name correctly on the first try, which hardly ever happens on MDC!
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Old 02-18-2004, 08:46 PM
 
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I just wanted to say that I think some people just cannot spell, no matter how hard they try. My husband is about halfway (give or take a few years) into his PhD in chemistry (mass spec) and he couldn't spell if his life depended on it. His mother jokes that if he had been in school before word processors, he'd have never made it into college. And it's so true. He carries a bad speller's dictionary around with him. He is COMPLETELY dependent on the spelling check on his word processor. I had a good friend in college who graduated with honors in English (technical writing) and she was just as bad as my dh. Some people just can't spell, and it's no indication of lack of intelligence or any other ability.

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Old 02-18-2004, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been late replying to this thread, but thank you all for the thoughtful responses. You've given me some things to think about.

I don't think she has much trouble getting her thoughts onto paper. She's been keeping a journal for years and is actually a prolific writer. She is a tad careless and sloppy sometimes.
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Old 02-20-2004, 08:07 PM
 
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Can't spell at all. Also cannot learn a foreign language

Otherwise I am smart (gettin' the Ph.D any year now , a big reader all my life, good at meorization as well as more abstract and concept learning.

I think our brains just work weird, and it is probably a good thing you got her in the immersion school (as I'm convinced that lack of foriegn language ability and lack of spelling ability are related - at least you rewired her brain on language when it was still forming).
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Old 02-21-2004, 05:17 PM
 
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Hey, I just wanted to give you my personal experience....

up until college, I was an EXCELLENT speller. Always in the spelling bee. Never ever had a problem with it. I have a couple of old grade cards that comment on the fact that my spelling is superb. My spelling was instinctual. I just "knew" if a word was spelled right or not.

Then, I started studying German, and lived in Germany for a while. Once I returned to the English speaking world, I can't spell for crap. I spell better in German than in English, actually. My spelling is horrible. I actually had a problem spelling "danger" once. I kept thinking, no this can't be right, then it would be dan-ger (with the g a hard g, and the a a short a). Ugh.

My dh is trilingual, with English as his first language, and his other languages being German and Spanish. He also cannot spell in English worth crap. His spelling in German and Spanish is really good, though, but probably because those languages don't have the strange exceptions that English has.

So it could be her Spanish that is messing her up. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing, to be bilingual. Just that you probably have a better sense of grammar, but a poorer instinctual sense of spelling.

Lori
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Old 02-23-2004, 12:01 AM
 
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I wouldn’t doubt that some of it is the Spanish Immersion. There are things you can do to help.

Try a sequential spelling program http://www.avko.org/. You might want to get a phonics book (Phonics Pathway/ABC and all their tricks) to help back up some “rules” and refresh your memory to rules that you have eternalize to the point you don’t know why any more. You can do this in 15-20 minutes a night. Help her break down words see patterns and learn some rules and the exceptions to the rules.

Another thing that might greatly help her is Greek and Latin root words. Something like English from the roots up or/and Rummy roots (card game). This brakes down words to smaller parts.

Spelling is not easy!!
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Old 02-23-2004, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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LOL, Marsupial! I was just about to order "Rummy Roots."
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