Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spelling, part 1

Spelling, part 1
If your child is anything like mine spelling time is a real struggle. My child is smart enough and able to do the spelling that I ask her to do, the problem arises when I ask her to practice or review. Somewhere along the way my fifth grader decided that if she was asked to do any subject, any assignment more than once the teacher obviously thought she was stupid. I say “Somewhere along the way” but I can pin it down to spelling lessons in the first half of first grade. I know this is where the problem started because my then first grader came home and announced that she was stupid. For a moment I didn’t even know what to say to her. I quickly pulled myself together and reassured her that she was far from stupid, offering as proof that I had paperwork that indicated that she was plenty smart. She insisted that she must be the stupidest kid on the planet. Why did she think that you ask? Well, it seems that spelling words had been presented on Monday, revisited on Tuesday, practiced on Wednesday, studied on Thursday and reviewed one more time on Friday morning in preparation for the dreaded spelling test on Friday afternoon. I tried to explain that repetition was a valid way of cementing knowledge but she would have none of that. She even asked if she could just take the test on Monday, cold, and then only review the words that she didn’t know how to spell.

As you can imagine, my suggestion to the teacher was met with horror. That was not how spelling words were taught and learned and there would be no deviation from the tried and true method. And I can understand the refusal to offer learning alternatives. What if every one of the twenty five students in the class had to be taught the same fifteen words in a different way? My child then figured out that certain work, particularly on spelling words, was not for credit. She refused to do the work if it was not for credit. Even though she was maintaining an ‘A’ average, she was labeled difficult and oppositional. And I can see that actually. Eventually this, and nine hundred seventy five other reasons, led us to become homeschoolers.

And so, the dilemma, how was I supposed to teach her spelling, vocabulary or arithmetic without repetitions? I’m still working on that but I do have a few things that we have tried and that work, sometimes. You have heard of the television show “Are you smarter than a Fifth Grader?” Some days, at my house, I’m not sure that I am. The trick is to stay ahead of her. Stay tuned, next time I will discuss some things that we use in our quest for the correctly spelled word!

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