Sharing - Why Some Kids Can’t Spell And Why Spelling Tests Won’t Help

~ Posted on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 12:03 AM ~

I came across this article which I must definitely share with you guys as I'm very interested to know your thoughts on this. For your convenience, I have copied the excerpts from the article here:

Spelling remains the most relentlessly tested of all the literacy skills, but it is the least taught. Sending a list of words home on Monday to be tested on Friday is not teaching. Nor is getting children to write their spelling words out 10 times, even if they have to do it in rainbow colours.

Looking, covering, writing and checking does not teach spelling. Looking for little words inside other words, and doing word searches are just time fillers. And writing your “spelling” words in spirals or backwards is just plain stupid. And yet, this is a good summary of most of the current spelling programs in schools today. So, what should spelling teaching look like?

Finding meaning

Children should know the meanings of the words they spell, and as logical as that sounds - ask a child in your life what this week’s spelling words mean, and you might be surprised by their answers. If spelling words are simply strings of letters to be learnt by heart with no meaning attached and no investigation of how those words are constructed, then we are simply assigning our children a task equivalent to learning ten random seven-digit PINs each week. That is not only very very hard, it’s pointless.

More than sounds

 English is an alphabetic language; we use letters to write words. But it is not a phonetic language: there is no simple match between sounds and letters. We have 26 letters, but we have around 44 sounds (it’s not easy to be precise as different accents produce different sounds) and several hundred ways to write those sounds. So, while sounds - or phonics - are important in learning to spell, they are insufficient. When the only tool we give young children for spelling is to “sound it out”, we are making a phonological promise to them that English simply cannot keep.

 How words make their meanings

Sounds are important in learning to spell, but just as important are the morphemes in words. Morphemes are the meaningful parts of words. For example, “jumped” has two morphemes - “jump” and “ed”. “Jump” is easily recognised as meaningful, but “ed” is also meaningful because it tells us that the jump happened in the past.

Young spellers who are relying on the phonological promise given to them in their early years of schooling typically spell “jumped” as “jumt”. When attempting to spell a word, the first question we should teach children to ask is not “what sounds can I hear?” but “what does this word mean?”. This gives important information, which helps enormously with the spelling of the word.

In the example of “jumt” it brings us back to the base word “jump”; where the sound of “p” can now be heard, and the past marker “ed” , rather than the sound “t” which we hear when we say the word. Consider the author of the emergency text message at the beginning of this article as they pondered which of the many plausible letters they could use for the sound they could hear in “res - uh - dent”.

If they had asked themselves first, “What does this word mean?” the answer would have been people who “reside”, and then they would have heard the answer to their phonological dilemma.

Where words come from

English has a fascinating and constantly evolving history. Our words, and their spellings, come from many languages. Often we have kept the spellings from the original languages, while applying our own pronunciation.

As a result, only about 12% of words in English are spelt the way they sound. But that doesn’t mean that spelling is inexplicable, and therefore only learned by rote - it means that teaching spelling becomes a fascinating exploration of the remarkable history of the language - etymology. Some may think that etymology is the sole province of older and experienced learners, but it’s not.

Young children are incredibly responsive to stories about words, and these understandings about words are key to building their spelling skills, but also building their vocabulary. Yet poor spellers and young spellers are rarely given these additional tools to understand how words work and too often poor spellers are relegated to simply doing more phonics work.

Teaching - not testing

The only people who benefit from spelling tests are those who do well on them - and the benefit is to their self-esteem rather than their spelling ability. They were already good spellers. The people who don’t benefit from spelling tests are those who are poor at spelling. They struggled with spelling before the test, and they still struggle after the test. Testing is not teaching. Parents and teachers should consider these questions as they reflect on the ways in which spelling is approached in their school.

Are all children learning to love words from their very first years at school? Are they being fascinated by stories about where words come from and what those stories tell us about the spelling of those words?

Are they being excited by breaking the code, figuring how words are making their meanings and thrilled to find that what they’ve learned about one word helps them solve another word?

Put simply - is spelling your child’s favourite subject?

If the answer is no, then something needs to be done about the teaching.


What do you think?


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Book Review - New Old-Fashioned Parenting

~ Posted on Monday, November 9, 2015 at 5:44 AM ~

I have been cutting down on doing product reviews ever since our 3rd kiddo came along in end of Sept 2013. I do still accept review pitches but only when time permits and if it is something that I can see it being useful and beneficial to our family. Also, as busy as I am with 3 kiddos, home cooking, taking care of hubby's administration site of the business and swamped up with managing my FB page and blog, I just can't say no to reviewing good books! Reading is my passion and coupled with books that are of parenting, children, family or religion or educational genre, all the more I gotta say yes!

The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #1: Why Am I Blue?

New Old-Fashioned Parenting

Title: New Old-Fashioned Parenting: A Guide to Help You Find the Balance Between Traditional and Modern Parenting
Author: Liat Hughes Joshi
Publisher: Vie (February 12, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1849536721
Paperback: 255 pages

Description from the product page:

"There's been a revolution in the family; it's now all about the kids. We've moved on from children being 'seen and not heard', but we're now plagued with the worry of ending up with 'that child' - the one who's running amok and is ill-prepared for life. This book combines contemporary and traditional childrearing methods, bringing fresh thinking to some of the essential parenting issues of our time:

* Managing screen use
* Encouraging independence
* Finding the balance between school and play
* Compromising between parenting that's pushy and not involved enough
* Establishing the 'best of both worlds' approach that works in the modern world for modern families.

In this manifesto of new old-fashioned parenting there's no pandering, no spoiling, and definitely no dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets at dinner time."
I'm a full-time mummyFirstly, I love the title. I came from a simple family, no spanking, no harsh discipline and I love it. I've always tried my best to emulate my parent's parenting style and I trully believed that theirs is the old-fashioned parenting that works (Look at me! Success story hahaha!) and hopefully will be able to make use of the good ones and apply them onto our parenting style in this modern world.

Some of the tips highlighted in this book that I agree with and love:

- Rewarding your kiddos. I believed it is a good motivational tool but should not be overused that it loses its power. Not all chores to be done around the house by kiddos need to be rewarded, I let them know they should contribute and help out as a teamwork.

New Old-Fashioned Parenting

- Letting off steam. Yes, I shout especially when things get too overwhelming for me to handle. Yes, of course I regret that the moment it happened. We are all human. But like the book said, don't do it too often and watch out as kiddos will easily observed and replicate what and how you behave and react around them. I always make sure I apologised to our kiddos for screaming, explaining to them that mummy is sorry for shouting and scolding etc that mummy need some time off to cool down and calm down as well.

New Old-Fashioned Parenting

- Training up little helpers. I've read somewhere before that young children do not process negative instructions well. So I make my instruction as simple and straightforward as possible. But unlike the book, I try not to use the word 'please' so often. My personal reason for this is because I don't want to be seen asking for help too often by saying please too many times. As the parent who are most often at home with them all the time, I would want to exert my authority and for our kiddos to remember what mummy said means business.

In addition, I also remember reading somewhere that young children cannot multitasks that well, so we as parent have to keep our instructions short and sweet. Don't go telling your young child 'Go clean up your toys then pack your books into the shelf and tidy up the room'. This sample already represents 3 tasks for them to do, of course for us adults we will understand but for kiddos, we need to give them instruction one by one.

New Old-Fashioned Parenting

Another page worth to take note of:

New Old-Fashioned Parenting

About the book structure, I like the 'Common barriers to the NOFP way' section where it highlights the usual doubts and worries on any parents' minds and gives you a better perspective on how to tackle these doubts and concerns.

We practised some of the tips listed in chapter 8 - "Less is More" such as toy rotation, though I wanted to share some other tips we practised which were not listed in the chapter such as:
- Our motto when deciding whether to purchase anything - Do we want it or do we need it?

- Buying preloved items (I've bought some awesome educational stuff and toys for our kiddos this way)

- Keep gifts by relatives and friends given during Christmas or birthdays and space them out for following year/occasions

I skipped chapter 11 which touches on children of preteen age (our kiddos are all below 7 still), chapter 12 as I personally feel with the crime rates in our country now, it is really hard to let go and let our kiddos venture out on their own and chapter 13 on divorce and not being a family unit.

 

In summary, I would totally recommend this book for any parents wanting to work on their parenting approaches, to take the best from both traditional old-fashioned approach and the modern new style of parenting nowadays.

I'm a full-time mummy

The book is available at all major bookstores. For international fans, you can find it at Amazon .

I'm a full-time mummy

I received no monetary compensation for this review, I was provided with a copy of the book in order to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Please do your own research when purchasing products, as your opinions may differ from mine. And if you'd like to read my previous book reviews, you can do so by reading this post of mine called "My Book Reviews"

 

** Note: I have disabled the commenting feature on my blog engine thanks to all the spammers who happily spam my blog every day. If you wish to ask me any questions, you can find me at my Facebook page (I'm there almost everyday) or just drop me an email if you wish to maintain some anonymity.

Book Review - JJ's Science Adventure: Magnets

~ Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 9:03 AM ~

I have been cutting down on doing product reviews ever since our 3rd kiddo came along in end of Sept 2013. I do still accept review pitches but only when time permits and if it is something that I can see it being useful and beneficial to our family. Also, as busy as I am with 3 kiddos, home cooking, taking care of hubby's administration site of the business and swamped up with managing my FB page and blog, I just can't say no to reviewing good books! Reading is my passion and coupled with books that are of parenting, children, family or religion or educational genre, all the more I gotta say yes!

The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #1: Why Am I Blue?

JJ's Science Adventure: Magnets

Title: JJ's Science Adventure: Magnets
Author: Aurelia Tan & Jonathon Koh    Illustrated by Nicholas Liem
Publisher: Harvest Edutainment Pte Ltd (2013)
ISBN: 9810776322
Paperback: 84 pages

Description from the product page:

"JJ's Science Adventure is a series of educational comic books designed to help readers master key learning objectives stated in the Singapore Ministry of Education's Primary School Science syllabus. After receiving their birthday presents from their grandfather, Joyce and Jonathon find themselves in possession of two bags which transform into a talking robot (Robo) and a teleportation portal. With a set of keys from Robo, the kids open the portal into sub-dimensional world created by the 'World Maker', an incredible invention by their grandfather to help them learn science.

In this adventure, the twins journey into the World of Magnets where they discover the physical properties of magnets and solve challenging puzzle traps laid by their grandfather. Will they survive the constant sabotage by a Minion sent by Mr Sinister and win the prize, a piece of puzzle key which unlocks yet another secret?"
I'm a full-time mummyWhen I first received the email pitch to review this book, I was quite hesitant as I've never let our kiddos try out comic books like this before. I also thought that the words are a bit tough on our 6.5 year old boy but since we've previously touched on the topic of magnetism before in the family, I thought of just giving this a go and worse comes to worse if our kiddos are not ready, I can just keep the book and try again some time later when I feel they are ready.

The book arrived shortly after and I gave a quick check through the book. The illustrations is gorgeous, love it! The fonts are easy on the eyes as well.

I waited for the right time to show this book to our kiddos. I let our oldest flipped through the book and checked out the book before I suggested reading the book to them in the afternoon during their playtime.

I started out slowly by introducing the characters in the book and once in a while, I would subtly ask our oldest kiddo to read some shorter sentences in the pages. We also paused every now and then throughout the book especially in the pages where it explains on how magnets work. I can see our boy getting interested and curious at the same time. In fact, we paused quite a long time in the pages where it explained how to magnetise objects and how an object loses its magnet force.

JJ's Science Adventure: Magnets

I can totally see our 6.5 year old boy loving the illustrations in this book. We were laughing at the antics of the main characters and the jokes in the storyline as well.

JJ's Science Adventure: Magnets


Size of the book is just nice, not too short and not too long story for the kiddos to digest through. Once, a few weeks after we have gone through the book, I heard our boy mentioned to me saying 'Did you remember the book on the magnet when it says one part is north and one part is south?' as he shows me his Lego creations that looked like a magnet stick.

That was when I told myself 'He remembers what we read in the book. Not bad, not bad!' And that was just after reading one time. Definitely will go through the book again and again with kiddos for sure!

I would totally recommend this book for any parents wanting to educate their kiddos on the topic of magnetism while yet having fun at the same time.

I'm a full-time mummy

The book is available at Harvest Edustore or Amazon. You can also find it a retail stores in Singapore such as Elm Tree at Funan, Star Vista, Downtown East and Paragon, MPH at Parkway, Raffles City and Robinson, Junior Page at ARC

There is another volume entitled 'Heat and Light' as well in case you are interested!

I'm a full-time mummy

I received no monetary compensation for this review, I was provided with a copy of the book in order to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Please do your own research when purchasing products, as your opinions may differ from mine. And if you'd like to read my previous book reviews, you can do so by reading this post of mine called "My Book Reviews"

 

** Note: I have disabled the commenting feature on my blog engine thanks to all the spammers who happily spam my blog every day. If you wish to ask me any questions, you can find me at my Facebook page (I'm there almost everyday) or just drop me an email if you wish to maintain some anonymity.