View Full Version : spelling help

Tracy in TN
03-30-2011, 02:41 PM
I have 13 yo twins. I feel like we need to concentrate on becoming more fluent with reading, learning math facts forward and backward, and definitely working on spelling which is poor-especially for my daughter. I'm just feeling like we need to simplify school to really get these basics cemented. Right now we are using sonlight at a lower core so the readers won't be too hard for them to read on their own. Their attitude is let's just get this whole school thing over with so i can draw, play outside, use the computer, t.v. etc, etc.

I'm thinking that they don't have a strong phonics background at this point and that i may need to teach it through the backdoor of spelling. We are using MegaWords level 1 but it doesn't seem to be helping my daughter much at all. Oh, and oddly enough, this daughter is the one that has always been drawn to word games like Boggle or Banana Grams or You've Been Sentenced, etc. Would something like using Phonics Pathways as a spelling text and Reading Pathways for fluency be a better choice?

My daughter also seems to have trouble remember her math facts and math concepts. For instance, she remember it for a few lessons and then the next time she forgets but doesn't really seem to know that she forgot. In fact she just got an F on a math test and said she was sure she had passed because it seemed so easy. We use saxon so these are things that she has been review everyday. Like i said it's not like she's even aware that she's not sure of the steps...it's like the steps or part of them just fell out of her head and so she just does the problem thinking that it was easy.

Any ideas?

I may post this on the special needs forum

Thank you so much!


Lindsey Carter
03-30-2011, 07:29 PM
Hmm. Your post makes me think about myself. :lol: I'm not a very good speller and I still don't know all of my math facts! However I am a great reader. ;)

What would be of greater concern to me is that they do not know when they make mistakes. I have learned ways to compensate, such as repeated addition (to make up for forgotten multiplication facts), calculators and spell checkers. I managed to get my college degree without any major difficulties. So you really don't have to have all of your math facts memorized, but you do need to know when you are getting them wrong and you do need a coping strategy if you can't get them memorized.

Maybe you should work on a few facts like all the 2x tables for a week. Then test them. Move on the next to the 3x tables for a week and test those. Then see if they remember the 2's (after not visiting them for the week you did the 3's). If after a week of daily study and only one week off, they forget all or most of the facts than maybe they just aren't going to get it and you should introduce techniques to compensate. :unsure:

Another possible issue could be motivation. Maybe it would help if you had a chart of all the math facts and they could check off the ones they remember initially, after one week and after two weeks. This way you could all see what progress is being made.

I think spelling is genetic or something. My Dad who has a high IQ and is brilliant man is not a very good speller. I'm not a very good one either. I do think that typing on a computer with a program that underlines misspelled words has helped me, but I still am prone to mistakes. I would work on it, but not worry too much about poor spelling.

Reading is another story. I think it is of great importance to be able to read well. I would probably start with a reading test. Print two copies of a one or two paragraph story that you think is just above your child's reading level. Have the child read it to you. Mark down every word that they mis-read or skip and how they mis-read it ( for instance if they say "cat for chat" you would write down cat or cross out the h in chat). Then ask a few comprehension questions to see if they are understanding what they are reading. This should help you come up with which are of reading the need to work on the most.

Phonics is great for decoding, sounding out words, and learning the general way that words work. For fluency usually more practice and sight words are important. I hope my rather long rambling is of some help to you! :lol:

Tracy in TN
03-30-2011, 10:17 PM

When I test them should I count it as a mistake if they quickly correct it? For instance they will say the wrong word and realize it doesn't sound right and then they will replace it with the correct word, other times they get a word that could still make sense in the sentence so they don't correct it. Or they leave out a word and lots of times they will leave the s off of plural words.

They learned to read with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons so it isn't exactly a strong phonics course. We did use some Explode the Code off and on but of course this was all years ago.

I was hoping to have her see a vision therapist. Still checking into that.

Thank you for your time. :)

Lindsey Carter
03-30-2011, 11:25 PM
I would mark the word, but note that they correct it and what they correct it with. It sounds like they are comprehending at least some of what they read if they are able to put in another word that makes sense based on the context clues. By the way self correcting is a good sign. We all self correct at times when we read aloud. ;) It's the number of mistakes, and the number of times that a child has to stop and figure out a word that can interrupt fluency and lead to difficulties in comprehension.

If you give me more specifics on their reading abilities I might be able to help you come up with the right types of activities to improve their reading skills.

What are the able to read now? Can they sound out an unknown word. Often older kids are embarrassed or impatient when they don't know a word and they will try to cover it up or ignore it. How do your kids feel about reading? Are they concerned about there reading ability? Do they like or dislike reading? Is a chore that they don't really care about? Can they read a simple sentence (The cat sat on the mat.) What about a simple picture books/easy readers. Can they read chapter books like Charlotte's Web or Little House on The Prairie?

I also think checking their vision is an excellent idea!

Tracy in TN
03-31-2011, 07:44 AM
They can read chapter books like Charlotte's web. I would say books like magic tree house would be on a easy level (reading fluently), and books like Charlotte's web might be more at the edge of comfort--meaning slightly less fluent. My daughter seems to be a little choppy when she reads. For instance, the words chatter and breeze might end up like this: The boy's teeth started to chat-chatter when the bree-breeze began to blow.

It's not the kind of choppiness you think of like when you first are teaching young ones to read. It's different. Very abrupt.

I'm hoping it's something that will get fixed with practice on easier level books. Don't really want to have to go through a phonics program with her but I will if needed. Her spelling is not good either. She is embarrassed by it because some of her friends in the 4th, 5th, 6th grade will comment on the fact that she spelled something wrong. She has come a LONG way since her second grade year though. Her teacher would give her spelling test and the word might be truck but she would spell it with no vowels and might put the letters m and b in there somewhere. Most of her words would have no vowels and would often have consonants that you couldn't even hear in the word. If her teacher wouldn't have written the correct answer beside the missed word, I would not have been able to decipher what the word was. couldn't even take a guess at it.

She also does not always misspell the same way each time. For instance, what might be hwat and then later wat. She often wants to switch the w-h around.

Well, I'm off to wake the kids and get started with our day.

thank you so much for your help:)

Lindsey Carter
03-31-2011, 02:50 PM
When an adult reads, they are going off of an instant recognition of a word. We do not sound out each word. In effect, all the words we read are sight words. The way we decode a word we do not know is either by using phonics, looking at the parts of the words that we know, or by the context. Often it is a combination of all of those strategies. When helping a child develop fluency you should look at which part he/she needs to work on. If she can decode an unfamiliar word when it is not in a sentence than the phonics &/or word part strategy is working well. If the guesses he/she makes when reading an unknown word in a sentence are logical, even if incorrect, then he or she is probably good at using context clues. If your child has all the parts that what they need is a better sight vocabulary. This is generally achieved by more time spent reading. One other area to consider. Sometime kids can read to themselves much better than they can aloud. You might try having your kids read and then answer questions about the reading to see how well they can understand what they are reading. Here are some activities that will help in developing confidence and fluency and a bigger sight vocabulary that you might try...

- Take a wordless picture book (like Pancakes For Breakfast or Tuesday) and have the child dictate a sentence to you for every page. Write down the sentences on a strip of paper or a post it note. Then stick or paper clip the sentences onto the page. Have the child read the story back to you. This is a great activity for building confidence.

- Play sight word games like, bingo, go fish, memory, etc.

- Make a personal dictionary. Have one page for each letter of the alphabet. Then when a child asks you how to spell a word or as you work on new words add them to the dictionary.

- Have a scavenger hunt or treasure hunt using written clues.

- Try memorizing poems, or lines to a scene in a play and acting them out

- Use a script and have them put on a puppet show

- Have your child read to a pet or a younger child

- Make a recording of the child reading (you can use a computer program like audacity or on a tape recorder). Let the child hear there own mistakes and then go back and rerecord them. This could be used to make a special gift for another child.

- Play making words. Take magnet letters or letter cards and have the child make a spelling or new word. Then have them change the letters in the word and make the next word.

- Try adding a word wall. This is a wall with spelling words &/or high frequency words. Each week add a few new words. At our house we add one word a school day. Have the child practice the words on the wall each day.

Spelling activities...

-clap, jump, stomp, the spelling of a word
-try spelling words using different voices or accents (baby voice, monster voice, southern accent, etc)
-jump rope while spelling a word
-write the word in shaving cream on a table or tray
-use magnet letters to spell the word
-unscramble a word using letter cards, magnet letters or by writing it down
-make up crossword puzzles based on the spelling list
-have the child write out the list several times, on paper, with chalk or sidewalk chalk
-have a spelling race where a child has to run to a white board, chalk board, poster board, etc and be the first to spell the word correctly
-let your child type some or all writing assignments on a program that will underline misspelled words (like Microsoft Word) and use the spell check program (this has really helped me) ;)
-give your child a spell checker
-make a personal dictionary (mentioned above)
-select spelling words that your child frequently misspells, high frequency words, &/or words with a common phonics rule (like silent e-words, oa words, etc).

Tracy in TN
04-03-2011, 09:37 AM
Thank you, Lindsey! What a ton of great info. I will definitely be trying some of these ideas. I know my daughter is anxious to learn to spell as well as her friends that are a grade or two behind. I'm hopeful that we will find the way she learns best and how to get her up to speed so to speak.
Thank you again. These boards and the ladies here always a wealth of info and encouragement.

06-06-2011, 06:26 AM
Look into Sequential Spelling. It really makes a lot of sense. No spelling lists to memorize, just lots of repetition and positive reinforcement. Plus my kids like it and believe me, my kids don't "just like" everything !!!

I think that it helps with spelling and reading and I think that somewhere in the book or the website I actually read the phrase that you mentioned about the "back door" of spelling.

The example on the front of the book is :

So in just a few days they may actually be able to spell the word installment and that is certainly a word that they would have asked me to spell because they would hear it and think that they coululdn't know it Also, I think that it will be reatained (I'm not that far in the program yet) much better that if it had been in a list of words for the week's test.