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Country_Hctib
Country_Hctib asks:
Q:

My son is very smart but struggling with spelling.  I feel like I'm failing him.  Any ideas?

My son is 6 years old and he is very intellegent. He can tell you how the solar system works, how your body functions properly, how to handle horses. But we have so much trouble w/ his spelling...He is currently failing first grade mainly because of his reading and writing. It makes me feel liek I'm failing him because I don't know how to help him. I work w/ him everyday I sit down w/ him and have him write his words 10 times each then I give him a little test to see what he's learned but he's just not getting it.. I've baught games to help him, movies etc. His teachers and princiapal think I should put him on medicine but we've been down that road, the medicine helped his conduct but not so much his grades, besides it made him a zombie and I'm not putting my son through that. I'll never give up but I need some help, some advice to help me help him learn. He's great in Science, Social Studies and I know how to help him in math(using toys for addition and subtraction and foods for fractions) but I don't know what to do w/ spelling. So if there are any moms or dads that have gone through this and can help me PLEASE do.
In Topics: Helping my child with school work and home work
> 60 days ago

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graham
graham writes:
Hello Lynne,

I'm not exactly an authority on the matter, however, I went through the same thing myself. I was the son of a teacher, and in the first and second grade my teachers and parents tried everything to get me to learn how to spell and read well. I was also into science at that age, particularly anything to do with space (I went on to get a degree in physics). But in the first and second grade I could not spell correctly if my life depended on it. In the end they decided that spelling just wasn't my thing, and stopped forcing me to do extra work in that area. I'm sorry to say that I am still a poor speller, (god bless spell checkers!) but I am okay with that. My parents bought me various pocket sized spell checkers and dictionaries which helped a lot. It wasn't that I was stupid or slow at all, just that spelling didn't (and doesn't) make sense to me- the rules are far to inconsistent. I'm not suggesting that spelling is not important, or that your son will never learn it, just that if he doesn't then it's not the end of the world.

As for reading, that picked up greatly once I found books that actually interested me (the first book that I really read by myself was called 'the enormous egg' about a boy who hatches a dinosaur) . The books for people learning were just too boring to keep my concentration (a bit like reading Dean Koontz).

Sorry I can't be more helpful.

-graham

> 60 days ago

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tascher
tascher writes:
My child is having the same problem . I have dyslexia and i think she does to. have you looked into that? they have never told me to put her on anything but i know add and adhd go hand and hand with dyslexia. i spend so much time helping her and i just get frustrated and can't do it any more it is not her fault and i don't want to get mad at her. also remember kids go at their own pace and they will get it . it may not be at this moment but it will come every child learns to read and spell when they are ready i think schools want so many people to be doing and acting and learning at the same time that they forget we are all different . it will come tell the school you want your child to get extra help maybe they have a teacher that works with a small group of children . they are responible to help your child. find out what the schools responsiblitys are and ask for testing . my child got pulled out three times a week to work with a small group and she was understanding things at a fast pace. set up a meeting and get working. i had to fight with them but all and all it worked for my child
> 60 days ago

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grandma_susan
grandma_susan writes:
Hi, my granddaughter is also in the 1st grade.... I have her write all the words she doesn't know 10 times. She fought this at first, but found out how well it works. I will ask her to spell the words at different times before the test on Friday to see if she needs more help. So far she has gotten all the words right. Hope this is helpful.
> 60 days ago

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mmartin
mmartin writes:
when i was younger i was really bad with spelling and reading i could read but not make since of a whole story i had a very hard time in school i hated not being able to spell and spending countless hours cryn/studying  so much i cheated on every spelling test. i can take apart just about anything and put it back together... i am also left handed your son may also be a late bloomer such as myself. he may just need more time but the school system is based on age and grade not speed of ones ability to learn that is the biggest flaw imo. cause if you get held back it devastating for a kid and they get made fun of.. it tends to make them anti-social

u can try using magnet letters something he can touch and see try letters with random colors or all the same, writing in sand and giving him time
> 60 days ago

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monicawehler
monicawehler writes:
My 4th grader still struggles with spelling.  It's a constant uphill climb for him.  I've found that simply writing the words doesn't work for him.  First, I break the list down into focus words for each day (I usually do the harder ones first so he has more time to work on them) and then make worksheets for him, with activities like putting the words into sentences or picking the one that is spelled right.  You can handwrite sheets or find spelling sheet generators online.  There are free and $ sites to do that.  spellingcity.com is free and it has a variety of spelling activities.  You can add your own list.  My kids' teachers put their lists on the site so the whole class has it available to them.  My kids usually do their self-testing on the site.   I'm sure that @ 6, his spelling words are pretty short, but I try breaking down my son's words into syllables to help his brain organize the words.  I like to group words together when they follow a similar rule (like "silent e" or "ue" or things like that)  Another thing I do is give him an exaggerated phonetic pronunciation of the word to help him work through some trickier words.  I think what's most important is to give him a variety of ways to learn the words so you can figure out how he learns best.  He may need to spell them out loud, or act out the letters or do a chant/cheer of them, do word puzzles or just read them over and over.  Spelling winds up being a lot more work for me than for them, but when they do well its worth it.  You could ask the teacher to give you the list earlier so he has a few more days to work on it.  My final secret weapon is the bribe.  My kids get $1 each week they get all their spelling words right.  My oldest, when he was in 2nd grade (when they start spelling in our school dist.), went from +5/9 to +9/9 with that simple motivation.  :)
> 60 days ago

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dommer
dommer writes:
My daughter experienced the same thing.  We requested that she be tested by the school psychologist; just to rule out any learning disability.  She tested great.  We were encouraged to hold her back, and so she did repeat 1st grade.  I do not believe that this really did her any good.  We just kept encouraging the reading, and finally around 8-9 years old she started reading and hasn't stopped!  However this still did not help her spelling.  Now she is in 8th grade, she never puts books down, and she is president of the national junior honor society.  She was tested in English last week and she tested at a 12th grade level...except for spelling.  Her spelling is at a 3rd grade level.  Still we have no answers and neither does the school.  It is very frustrating I know, but don't give up!
> 60 days ago

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JamielaIsmail
JamielaIsmail , Teacher writes:
Spelling in English is challenging in that there are many rules and exceptions to the rule - which and witch / neighbor, pray, prey, pale and pail they all have the "ay" sound. However, when you start with spelling, you teach them rhyming - cat, bat, fat / hen, pen, ten / hug, rug, tug.  Then when you get to the sight words and if you look correctly, the Dolch list has 100 words that are commonly used when reading.  These however, can only be mastered by repetition and more repetition.  A good way for him to learn to know these words is to give him a list of 5 - 10 words to look up in magazines so that he becomes familiar with the different fonts in which they are written.  Remember that single sounds first - a, b, c, and then double sounds br, fl, ou, ow.  I found teaching letter sounds rather than names are better for learning words and spelling them.  Saying bee (B) ay (A) tee (T) spells bat yes but it is way better when you say b (b) - a (as in ant) - t ( as in tent) really sounds like bat.  
Hope you found this useful.
> 60 days ago

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LDSolutions
LDSolutions , Child Professional writes:
Teaching spelling in school is usually done by having a student copy the words over and over again, which of course does not work at all.  By copying the words, their spelling never leaves the student's Blackboard Memory, so the brain does its job well and dutifully helps the student forget the spelling.  The goal, then, is to place the spelling of the word in the student's short-term memory, so it's "picture" can be retrieved.  

Here is a simple technique that you can do at home to help your child succeed in spelling:

1.  Have your child write the spelling word on a piece of paper, then trace the letters with his or her index finger while saying the spelling word out loud.  Have the child say the word normally while tracing it, not say or sound out individual letters or vowels.

2.  Take the paper away and wait a minimum of 30 seconds (e.g. sing the "Jeopardy!" theme or some other song).

3.  Give your child a blank paper, saying, "Now, write the word you traced."  

4.  If your child spells the word incorrectly - which is likely to occur at the beginning of this technique - go back and repeat steps 1-3.

Once your child has established a pathway to the short-term memory of a word's spelling, it's THERE!  The brain has no way of knowing if that pathway was established 31 seconds ago, one week ago, or one month ago.  And since the pathway is there, your child WILL remember the spelling of the word.

If you would like to read more information on Successful Spelling Techniques - click on the link below.

Good Luck to you!

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maudy44
maudy44 writes:
Spelling is a tough one.  Build a bank of games you can play with your child to practice their spelling at home:
have a BANG box (all words students are working on go in the box on slips of paper, take turns pulling words out.  If you can read it, put it down, and spell it without looking, you get to keep it. If you don't, you put it back.  There are also BANG cards in the box.  If you pull a bang card, you have to put back all the cards you collected).  Play until someone reaches 10 or a designated amount of time.  In my classroom, I created a free account at www.spellingcity.com.  You can create lists of spelling words, it will allow you to make worksheets, or use the words in your list to play practice games online.  Great site.  Kids love it.
> 60 days ago

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faymitchell
faymitchell writes:
i have the same problem with my son (age 11) in spelling and the same with me and my mom and sister struggle with spelling to. my teacher always asked me why is it that you can read so well but you can't spell, i never thought and wondered why i struggle until my son started grade 2. he has bad spelling to but i've notice when he spell he doesn't put in the letters that he can hear you know "THE SILENT" letters and i also notice that when i grew up you were taught to sound out the letters to get your word, WELL that don't work to much either cause half/most letters don't even sound like it's self ( like the letter c) c sounds like the letter k or s so it gets a little confussing to him. i feel sad all the time cause i don't think hes going to grade 5 hes already been held back a grade in grade 2, He does do very well in school but he stuggles on get everything writen down fast enough i think its do to his spelling cause he has to stop to look at the word a bunch of times, so thank god the teacher aid helps him a lot but he can't keep depending on them. i wish i know more about how to help my son he can't keep getting held back each grade.
> 60 days ago

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gelene1
gelene1 writes:
I'm so sorry that you are having such difficulty. I sure did see a lot of great ideas posted. Not sure if any are quite working yet. I have another way you might want to try... I'm a teacher and my daughter who is now going in 8th grade was a terrible speller. Very sweet bright girl, but I'm serious... she basically failed all her spelling tests from grade 1-5th. She has slowly improved but it has taken some time. Her difficulty caused me to look into other ways/strategies to help her remember how to spell certain words .. b/c the typical write it 10x each in different colors or as some teachers have kids do.. write it in a sentence or its definition... wasn't working & nor does it for a lot of kids. So I developed different strategies to help w/ spelling the top 100 most misspelled words. I presented it at some teacher conferences & got good feedback. I just started posting videos on youtube to help teachers/parents out. If you want you to view them go to... http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCahqRDl60FErxCl9Fw1Yo1A
I also posted my presentation powerpoint online. see link below as well if you are interested.
 Maybe it will help? I wish you all the best!

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TeacherandParent
TeacherandP... writes:
Spelling does not come naturally or easily to many children. A child in 1st grade should not be penalized for not knowing how to spell! Spelling can take years to learn and spelling has very little to do with intelligence. Your son may have a touch of dyslexia and you could request that the school have him tested for that.
There are voice dictation programs - you can get one as a free app - and your son could speak his writing and it would type it out for him. My own son could not 'get' spelling and I scribed his assignments for him while he was young to keep his confidence and enthusiasm up in the face of his difficulties with spelling.
> 60 days ago

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hunttmama
hunttmama writes:
Hi!  I wanted to offer (if on the late side) a little bit of positive reinforcement.  Your son sounds a lot like my son.  Though a prolific reader, he WAS an awful speller.  I experienced the exact same feelings of frustration and, lets be honest...fear.  

This may not work for everyone, but it really did work for us.  I started using "word walls" (www.spellingcity.com has a very nice, organized list of skill-appropriate words for word walls) and "word work".  Another website that has been super helpful is teacherspayteachers.com.  There are loads of "word work" activities (both free and for sale at very low prices.... $1-5) that you can print and copy and have your son work on.

A good example is "pyramid writing".  Give your son the opportunity to select 5 words from his word wall (4+ letters) and write them in a pyramid form:

a
al
alw
alwa
alway
always

The keys for us, as parents, are to give them confidence, encouragement and to be patient.  Your son will be surprised and feel like you trust him when you give him the opportunity to choose the word work activity he wants to do and to select the words he wants to work on.  Allow him to play the games on the spellingcity.com website using his list.  When he feels confident about his words, he can take the quiz and then you start building a catalogue in a folder of "Words [David] Has Mastered!".

If he has a particular interest (my son loves Greek mythology) use that to help him build his own "special" word wall.

Finally, give your son the tools he needs, show him how to use them and trust that he is smart and capable of learning.  Some things require more steps for some kids.  That's O.K.  :D

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GynettGittens
GynettGittens writes:
I have a ten year old son who STRUGGLES with pronunciation and as a result, spelling. He aces his spelling tests because he has a great memory but just struggles with spelling. He is left handed and has excellent spatial skills. He also writes beautiful poetry that amazes  me, however, he cannot spell well.  I have tried everything. I was educated in the British system and was not taught all the stuff he was taught (long a, short a etc)  Now  that I am older I realize that I do not  know how I learned to read and spell but I was reading and spelling very well since I was 5. Words and the sounds just came to me. Not the case with my 10 year old.  He has problems with words like "unique" "exaggeration" "persuade" "opinion" "technique". In my opinion, his brain  approaches the English language like it is a second language. Would his being  left handed have something to do with his seemingly inability to pronounce, spell etc?I really don't know what next to do!!
> 60 days ago

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GynettGittens
GynettGittens writes:
I have a ten year old son who STRUGGLES with pronunciation and as a result, spelling. He aces his spelling tests because he has a great memory but just struggles with spelling. He is left handed and has excellent spatial skills. He also writes beautiful poetry that amazes  me, however, he cannot spell well.  I have tried everything. I was educated in the British system and was not taught all the stuff he was taught (long a, short a etc)  Now  that I am older I realize that I do not  know how I learned to read and spell but I was reading and spelling very well since I was 5. Words and the sounds just came to me. Not the case with my 10 year old.  He has problems with words like "unique" "exaggeration" "persuade" "opinion" "technique". In my opinion, his brain  approaches the English language like it is a second language. Would his being  left handed have something to do with his seemingly inability to pronounce, spell etc?I really don't know what next to do!!
> 60 days ago

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JamielaIsmail
JamielaIsmail , Teacher writes:
I think that its best to start with the sounds of the alphabet rather than the letter names - for example - a - apple / ant / astronaut
c- cat / candy
e - egg / elephant
i - ink / igloo
u - umbrella etc
because one is able to spell words phonetically as in c - a - t and not CAT !
then rhyme these words - cat/ fat/ bat......hen / pen and using the pictures to help him along.  to first learn the sound - i spy with my little eye something beginning with 'b' - bat ball bed boy.... this is important in recognising the sounds so that reading can take place.
what i also do is draw a cat, write the word cat on the picture, then cut it up like a 3  piece puzzle and ask the child to put it together. I only use 3 letter words such as pen, hen, den, dog, mug, cup etc especially those you can draw which help[ helps with putting the words together in a fun way!
hope this helps
> 60 days ago

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nobli001
nobli001 writes:
My son who is now entering 6th grade is in the gifted program and doing well in school.  Had I not intervened, he would have failed 2nd grade.  After a psych/ed evaluation and 100 of hours (literally), I knew what the problem was but there was NOT one resource that could tell me what I needed to know, "HOW TO HELP HIM".  My son has ADHD/right brain/sensory processing disorder, which in our case are all the same thing.  I have tried every suggestion out there, none of which worked well for him.  It was apparent very early on that he knew things about spellING that I never realized.  Anyway, I've spent the last almost 4 years deciphering the American/ English language in order to make sense of it.  I found that if I could give him a rational explanation, it was EFFORTLESS for him to remember. Ex. Beneath was a troublesome for him, until I told him it means neat which was something he already knew.  Linking it to what he already knew gave it the velcro he needed to make it stick in his long term memory.  Teaching him vocabulary/Spelling was finally a breeze.  Another ex. Beau (French) means fine or handsome which when you add suffix -type becomes beauty, which can be used to spell plateau. I have worked dilently to explain every thing there is to know in multiple ways.

The sad thing is, our school systems are failing some of our smartest children.  The same thing that happened to my son, happened to a girl in my daughter's class the very next year, only she WAS held back and her I was higher than my sons.  The worse thing we can do for these kids is hold them back.  We must find a way to help them.  I hope to publish my work someday, but I don't know when or even if that will happen.  Hope this helps.  The most imporant thing to remember, don't ever give up.
> 60 days ago

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phycology
phycology writes:
Your son is like me when I was growing up made to feel like an outcast because he doesn't get it. But not to worry there are many ways for people learn. Everyone you have ever seen in your life is a genius in there own way some may be better at math/theory others English/practical etc. try taking him right back to basics like tracing out the letters over and over. repeating words to him and making learning as interesting as possible so its fun for him like rhymes puzzles with words, showing him a picture and get him to say the word then write it and another important step is (placebo) telling him positive out comes for he's work and rewarding him for it there for making him feel a lot more confident with the work.

MEDICATION is a no, no believe me its not natural we weren't born with it and will destroy the brains way of thinking and push further sociological problems later on in life e.g depression, (PTSD) Post turmeric stress disorder etc.  instead give him multivitamins and fish oil for healthy brain & body development he will be a lot healthy and able to function must make shore he's in bed early 8.30pm this is the biggest part of learning
hope this information helps you out
sincerely Todd
54 days ago

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MomVsBoys
MomVsBoys writes:
My youngest son (9) has always struggled in school, particularly with reading and spelling, his handwriting is atrocious.  This year we've seen his reading improve dramatically, however, recent assessment at school shows his writing/spelling skills are at a grade 1 level.  We believe, as does his teacher, that he has dysgraphia.  It, like dyslexia, is associated with add and adhd (my son was diagnosed 2 years ago), it affects writing and spelling, even holding a pencil can be almost painful.  He cannot keep his letters the same size, even on lined paper,  copying directly off the board at school he skips letters.  If he copied the word "letters" he would write something like "letrs". Yet he's reading now at a 3rd grade level. There is a lot of info out there, the first thing, if this sounds like your son, is get a diagnosis.  If -IF- your son also has add/adhd meds may help, but they won't cure a learning disability, we just started our son on a low dose, in our case it simply helps him remain settled and calmer so he can then concentrate on his work. There are also tools that can help, a tilted writing surface (think old school desks), larger pencils or pencil grips, paper with raised lines you can feel if you go outside the lines, standing desks, teach him cursive.  It is easier for most children with dysgraphia than printing, in Europe most children learn cursive BEFORE printing.

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