Topic | Spelling help for delayed child

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  • Morgan Conner

    My oldest daughter is 10 and spells phonetically. Currently we are doing a word study approach but it hasn’t made much of an impact on her. Her reading skills are grade level & she loves reading and drawing (and is actually quite good at it which is so strange considering all her fine motor issues). She has fine motor delays and receives occupational therapy. We switched to cursive this year and her handwriting has improved but she fatigues quickly so lessons are very short. She just finished vision therapy-she had issues with tracking, eye teaming, & far copy. Those skills have improved but still delayed. She also struggles with visual discrimination skills. When she copies sentences she frequently leaves out a word or misspells a word-but even after checking her work she can’t see the mistake. She was also diagnosed with ADHD and maths disability. Sidenote: She has had a lifetime of serious medical issues and most of her delays/issues are directly related to her bigger medical diagnosis.

    I am reading Sonya’s book “Hearing and Reading, Telling and Writing” (which I love by the way) but I really can’t figure out how to apply it to my daughter’s special circumstances. Do I just continue with cursive instruction until she has the formation mastered (even if it takes another year) and ignore spelling for now (basically just following the path set forth my Miss Mason at a MUCH slower rate)? Do I then move to copywork in cursive, then transcription? And when she has mastered that move on to dictation?

    Or should I veer from Miss Mason’s path and try techniques aimed at remediation?

    Sidenote: I have always loved Charlotte Mason and have been influenced by her but never fully implemented her approach. My plan is to go ‘all in’ with Charlotte Mason next year. I have 4 more younger children but only 2 are school age.

    Karen Smith

    I think you have the right idea. Yes, keep working on cursive until she has mastered it, even if it takes another year or longer. After she has the letter formation down pretty well, move on to letting her do copywork. Copywork selections should be kept short at first, gradually lengthening as she gains strength and proficiency. As she is doing copywork, occasionally choose a word from her selection to have her look closely at and notice how that word is spelled. You can then have her spell it for you, either orally or written. If she hesitates or is unsure, let her see the word.

    Formal spelling with prepared dictation would be frustrating for her and you right now. When her writing has improved to the point that she writes several words at a time from her copywork selection without having to check the model frequently (transcription), you know she is ready to begin spelling.



    I agree with ^^ (and you). Just focus on the cursive for now, then move to short copywork, then gradually do longer pieces, then eventually focus on spelling/dictation. I agree it would probably just be frustrating/discouraging for all involved right now. The benefit of the copywork once she gets there is that, she’ll be working on spelling/grammar indirectly while doing that.  I have a son with similar issues, and we’re focusing on copywork and building up his output. He’s gotten so he can do 2-3 sentences now (going on 9).

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