I’ve documented our reading journey plenty over the years. Two children who found reading became magically easy at 8ish and who are now, by and large avid readers. One who learned to read all on her own at 6 and yet has never, even at nearly 13, become someone who reads for pleasure. One who was phonetically aware incredibly early, the only one of them to be so, with significant skill at sounding out and was teetering on the brink of independent reading at 8.5 when she went into school. She could ‘read’, but becoming a reader wasn’t happening. It then continued not to happen, then crawled along and in the last 2 months, it has finally clicked properly – she’s stopped being a functional reader of words (which to me is not reading, just using words) and become a book reader.
They all, bar Josie, had much the same resources, care and time and input. And as a package – reading, writing, spelling – they came out like this:-
Fran: reading at 8, a reader at 10, writing at 8, a writer at 13, good speller at 10, grammar ninja at 15.
Maddy: reading at 8, a reader at 13, writing at 7, a writer at 13, decent speller at 15, grammar ninja tbc.
Amelie: reading at 6, a reader tbc, writing at 6, a writer at 8, good speller at 8, grammar ninja tbc.
Josie: reading at 8, a reader at 10, writing at 9, a writer tbc, good speller tbc, grammar ninja tbc.
Yes, Fran got the most input, over input really but Maddy got the same and a more experienced mum too. Both Fran and Maddy have pretty awful handwriting, despite my fairly heavy handed approach with workbooks and writing schemes. Fran has never really learned to structure writing, even after nearly 4 years in school. Her brain is not organised that way but her spelling is pretty much spot on. Maddy is the most phenomenal writer of Fan Fiction (she intimidates me) but struggles on paper. She can get an A on 3/4 of an exam paper but has to go slowly, so never gets to the last 3 questions. Her spelling is coming but for years she would ask repeatedly how to spell words it was easy for her to read.
Amelie had the least input of all of the first 3; her education was laid back and hands off. Her spelling is perfect, her essay structure mature, her handwriting neat and flowing and she walked into school just before SATS, having never done a paper, and breezed them. Amelie constantly tells me that certain fonts are easier or she is unfairly treated because she is a slow reader but it is hard to separate that from the girl with an insanely high IQ, for whom everything is easy – but too much bother.
And then there is Josie, my perfect sounder outer. Josie would had all the tools when she went to school but none of the spaces to fit them in. Josie who had had her process interrupted by terrible grief and trauma at a pivotal point which took my eye off the ball (perhaps) and certainly gave her a different pattern. Josie who I think of as always having been reserved and ‘odd’ but who, when I look back at photos, used to smile until that terrible 11 days. Josie who collapsed in on herself and retreated until after Bene came. Josie who was – always – a little Maddy-ish. But not quite.
Spelling hasn’t come together for Josie, though reading has, finally, become something she enjoys. She’s still slow and stilted but the discovery of Holy Webb and some gymnastics books has been the making of her (thank goodness it wasn’t Rainbow Fairies, anyway!)But her spelling? No. They’ve worked really hard on her and supported her lots and within the confines of a busy life with 16 hours of gymnastics a week, she works on spelling at home.
The picture above is Josie’s books at the end of year 4; half way through year 5, her spelling has not really improved, though her presentation certainly has. She’s creative with what she writes, sets out her work neatly, has nice enough, joined up, writing now (probably second nicest in the house) and clearly tries hard. But the logic isn’t there. She doesn’t understand the blends and she learns rules and misapplies them, the title being a case in point.
I know how to sound out ‘break’ so I’ll try ‘brak’ – buh, rr, aye, cuh.
I know the sound in ocean comes from a rule like spelled as ‘tion’ so o-tion.
I know some fff sounds are ph and I am clever enough to know they must be asking me to spell knife because it is a tricky word – so nuh, ei, ph for ff, e on the end because most words do.
If it weren’t for Maddy, I’d be fairly sure I broke her and that Josie is the product of my failed teaching, or that terrible 18 months. If it weren’t for her having just had 2 years in school, I’d feel worse. But a small, good school and a young and highly able and engaged teacher haven’t fixed it.
This week they tested her and the following results appeared.
She has the academic and non-verbal attainment of a 12+ child. She has a reading age of 10.5, so slightly above her actual age. She has the spelling ability of just about an 8 year old, meaning she varies between being on the 99th and 23rd centile.
It’s a pretty huge mismatch. And hard to know what to do. Intervene, hope it rights itself like Maddy did, watch and wait, keep her in school for extra testing, a possible dyslexia diagnosis and specialist help, or take her out on the basis that the others had less issues than this out of school? I have no idea.
Josie loves her Fridays; she does her maths, her Bonds books, writes stories, verbal and non verbal reasoning. She is relaxed and happy and crafts and plays and reads. She has been edging towards coming back to home ed at Easter but now it is coming up she is simultaneously excited and not sure. The rest results produced instant relief for her as she is aware enough to know she is finding spelling harder than others and was angry about it. The gymnast in her means she compares herself constantly to others. So they’ve helped her to feel less of a failure, which is good, though I suppose that might backfire. But her teacher says she is less engaged than she was and more frustrated and switched off than a term ago and socially school is clearly not the places for her. They’ve really tried and can’t make her feel comfortable or part of it. She hates free time and unstructured work, hates big group work, is rigid and closed up and a bit of (my words) an ‘odd fish’.
It’s not something I see at home or gym and all in all, it is becoming a package that worries me.
Do you have a good resder but poor speller, or an ‘odd’ dyslexic? I’m floundering and I’d like some input.