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4 yr old reader can't spell


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Help! I'm starting to *officially* homeschool in the fall. When my daughter was 1.5, she started talking. When she was 2 she wanted to read so I spent half a year going through Teach Your Child to Reading 100 Lessons. When she was three, I taught her to write. She's been reading every since I taught her so she's at a 2nd grade level right now. She reads every night by herself for an hour or two. She can't spell anything beyond the CVC pattern, so I'm going to be working on that, but I don't have readers because I don't know what to buy. I just got the Foundations B from Logic of English for spelling and handwriting work and don't know what to do to encourage reading/grammar but the readers are WAY to easy. Any thoughts??? (Also, is she smart or is she gifted?)

 

 

Edited by Hannah Benson
I wanted to explain I began teaching her early because SHE wanted to.
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I would keep her progressing in her phonics. Work on her handwriting first. When she's fluent in handwriting and able to write letters neatly and fluently, then begin a spelling program with her.

I used and highly recommend Spelling By Sound and Structure 2-6.

We just use the TG and have the kids write on the board and on papers. It's a wonderfully designed program. I start it with my 5-6yos who read on a 3rd+ grade level and can write easily.

SbSS is gentle, thorough and very intelligently put together.

NOTE: The workbooks are Christian--there are references to God throughout, but I edited out all the religious references for my family because that faith doesn't align with our family values.

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I don't know what you mean by readers. Special books to practice reading? I wouldn't think you'd need them, just get whatever books she wants to read.

 

Spelling lags behind reading. Is she wanting to work on spelling? If not, I'd be inclined to wait until she's older. For us it worked better to wait until more like age 7 to teach spelling, before that it just didn't really stick.

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4 minutes ago, mathmarm said:

I would keep her progressing in her phonics. Work on her handwriting first. When she's fluent in handwriting and able to write letters neatly and fluently, then begin a spelling program with her.

I used and highly recommend Spelling By Sound and Structure 2-6.

We just use the TG and have the kids write on the board and on papers. It's a wonderfully designed program. I start it with my 5-6yos who read on a 3rd+ grade level and can write easily.

SbSS is gentle, thorough and very intelligently put together.

NOTE: The workbooks are Christian--there are references to God throughout, but I edited out all the religious references for my family because that faith doesn't align with our family values.

TG?

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Just now, Hannah Benson said:

TG?

Teachers Guide.

We don't use the student workbooks for Spelling by Sound and Structure, we teach it directly from the Teachers Guide. The kids write the words in a notebook, and they also write them on the board.

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Spelling is weird.

There are some kids who just get it. They don’t need spelling lessons, they are just going to understand how to spell words. (I suspect many of them are pattern recognizers.)

There are other kids who need to be taught the rules of spelling and would benefit from a program. (Spelling by Sound and Structure is my favorite). 
 

Does your daughter write little stories? How’s her spelling on, say, a thank you note to Grandma? Does she want to write much yet? If she’s spelling decently on her own right now, you might have the first kind of kid and then just wait till she’s a bit older and see how her spelling progresses as she writes longer and more complex stuff.  If her spelling on her own is a mess, or she’s not yet writing a lot, I would wait till she’s 6-7, and look at it again and start a spelling program then if you think it’s necessary. You don’t need it at this age. 

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I agree with the others.  I would wait on spelling. 

She sounds gifted.  Does dyslexia run in your family?  It could be nothing, but there are many symptoms to Stealth dyslexia and this is one of them.  It's too early to detect.  And again I would wait for spelling. 

I started All About Spelling level 1 when my kids were in first grade.  If she is already spelling CVC words she would fly through level 1.  But I don't think all of level 1 is just CVC words. 

I have a 6 1/2 year old who was reading the Land of Stories series (thick chapter books with no pics) and I still made her finish her phonics program.  I agree with a previous poster who recommended in finishing a phonics program. 

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One of the main characteristics of giftedness is asynchronous development.  A child that reads 5 years ahead is quite likely to write and spell at chronological age which in this case means not at all.  If when she is 7 she is not yet at 7 year old level at spelling then worry then.

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I have a kid who was an early reader.  He also took to math like a duck and languages pretty easily. 

He didn't take the time to learn spelling rules beyond the basics until right before grade 5.  I thought, since he was reading, in K we would do AAS.  That didn't work.  We went through the motions of a 1970s speller at the beginning of first.  Nah.  I got him started on Dictation Day By Day and he did a few years of that happily and easily, but if I didn't add explicit teaching, he would have learned no rules.  So, right before 5th we started at the beginning again with an OG program and he flew through, memorizing rules like they were nothing.

So, what does that mean?  It meant only that my 5yo was still a 5yo, no matter what it looked like on paper.  We took a lot of time for handwriting development (and still do), a lot of time for core exercises, and I scribed for him as much as needed while helping him move into a more independent model.  Handwriting development at age 5 and 6 looked like a lot of playdoh, violin, building, weaving, using a Spirograph, tweezers, painting..he did spelling with tiles or cards.

Asynchronous development is very common.  You just meet your kid where they are at each stage and move forward from there.

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I also have early readers, if not quite that early -- both of mine were reading between 3 and 4. I've never rushed spelling with them, though -- frankly, they didn't have the fine motor skills to even write well at that age, so working on spelling seems unnecessary. 

About the only thing I do with DD5 when she writes is tell her to sound the words she wrote, so she can check herself. I've found that an invaluable skill with DD8 and expect it to be useful for DD5. Otherwise, though, we don't worry much about it. 

By the way, DD8 didn't wind up needing any spelling instruction at all. Some kids just pick it up visually if they read a lot. And some kids... don't. 😛 You really just have to wait and see. 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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How are you having her do spelling? If you are doing it written right now then you may try giving her a movable alphabet to start with, then she doesn't have to mix two skills together. My son about 4.5 is much more willing to work when it's just one skill involved, then when he is mastered the skill individually then I combine the skills for an activity.

Spelling Books | Don Potter.net Wide Interest Website | Don Potter has some free spelling and reading curriculum. So, you can try out those sequences without a huge outlay of money. I've found some of the box reading/spelling curriculum to be difficult to do with my 4.5 year old. A lot of the explicit phonics curriculum will be geared toward 1st - 2nd graders and they require a higher attention span and ability to work than my 4.5 year old can muster. Plus in some cases my 4.5 year old doesn't need as much drill as those curriculums provide (my guess would be sometimes they are geared for remedial cases as well as the norm).

Montessori style of teaching does tend to teach spelling and reading at 3-6 year old range, so you can look that method up for ideas on what activities would benefit your daughter. The issue with Montessori is that Montessori herself was teaching students Italian which is a very phonetic language, whereas English is not (it's a combination of meaning plus phonics). That's something to keep in mind because at some point you'll find yourself trying to explain why something is suppose to be spelled a certain way instead of another way.

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21 hours ago, Hannah Benson said:

Help! I'm starting to *officially* homeschool in the fall. When my daughter was 1.5, she started talking. When she was 2 she wanted to read so I spent half a year going through Teach Your Child to Reading 100 Lessons. When she was three, I taught her to write. She's been reading every since I taught her so she's at a 2nd grade level right now. She reads every night by herself for an hour or two. She can't spell anything beyond the CVC pattern, so I'm going to be working on that, but I don't have readers because I don't know what to buy. I just got the Foundations B from Logic of English for spelling and handwriting work and don't know what to do to encourage reading/grammar but the readers are WAY to easy. Any thoughts??? (Also, is she smart or is she gifted?)

Gently, I would never expect a 4yo child to be able to spell, regardless of how well she reads. IMHO, she's also much to young for LOE, or any other similar method. She is still 4yo child, which means her fine motor skills are still developing, and her hand-to-eye coordination. She would be better off doing things that will strengthen her hands and hand-to-eye coordination, rather than working on the handwriting required by LOE or anything similar, which I'm sure will be more than the penmanship you taught her.

Similarly, I would not recommend doing any grammar yet. There are only 12 parts of speech and some thingummies like gerunds; how long do you think it will take for her to learn those?

Readers? No. If your library is open, go there and let her check out real books. Not sure what you mean when you say that you don't know what to do to "encourage reading," as she is already reading at least an hour a day.

And finally, you have already been teaching her. There's nothing official about the fall. When she is compulsory school age, and you keep her home instead of sending her to school, *then* you will be officially homeschooling. Right now you're doing a great job of parenting.

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She sounds pretty typical for an early reader to me. I agree with most of what the others here have said. The only think I have to add is that precocious reading alone does not define giftedness. Many gifted children read early but not all early readers are gifted. Some early readers even out with their peers by third grade while gifted children will continue to be accelerated. My gifted daughter was reading at about a 2nd grade level in kindergarten but by second grade she was reading at a high school level, with comprehension at that level. Your daughter sounds like a smart little girl in a good home environment but I would need more information to say if she is gifted or not.

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I have an extremely early reader (as in was reading signs, etc before walking, with no instruction), and I have a lot of early writing samples that show that spelling came later (one of my favorites is a drawing of a cobra with "I am venmis"). At age 4, I seriously would NOT worry about it. 

 

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6 hours ago, sweet2ndchance said:

She sounds pretty typical for an early reader to me. I agree with most of what the others here have said. The only think I have to add is that precocious reading alone does not define giftedness. Many gifted children read early but not all early readers are gifted. Some early readers even out with their peers by third grade while gifted children will continue to be accelerated. My gifted daughter was reading at about a 2nd grade level in kindergarten but by second grade she was reading at a high school level, with comprehension at that level. Your daughter sounds like a smart little girl in a good home environment but I would need more information to say if she is gifted or not.

Yes.  I have two kids who test at the top of the gifted scale and neither of the really read early.  They learned easily when they started school at 5 but their reading before that was mostly memorisation.

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On 7/13/2021 at 11:31 PM, desertflower said:

I agree with the others.  I would wait on spelling. 

She sounds gifted.  Does dyslexia run in your family?  It could be nothing, but there are many symptoms to Stealth dyslexia and this is one of them.  It's too early to detect.  And again I would wait for spelling. 

Agreed. 

On 7/14/2021 at 3:18 AM, kiwik said:

One of the main characteristics of giftedness is asynchronous development.  A child that reads 5 years ahead is quite likely to write and spell at chronological age which in this case means not at all.  If when she is 7 she is not yet at 7 year old level at spelling then worry then.

Agreeing with this too.

19 hours ago, sweet2ndchance said:

Some early readers even out with their peers by third grade while gifted children will continue to be accelerated. 

Many 2e kids are not accelerated or are not evenly accelerated (and will almost assuredly be even more asynchronous than gifted kids without other exceptionalities). It really depends on their blend of issues. (OP, 2e=twice-exceptional and means more than one exceptionality, and the first exceptionality is usually giftedness, though technically kids with intellectual disabilities can have multiple exceptionalities as well.) They still display high levels of cognition, deeper thinking, etc. even if it doesn't translate into stellar academics. 

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With such a little one, I would buy (or make) letter tiles. Then, use a restricted set of letters (like S, A, T, P, I, N, C, M) and have her build words with the restricted set - cat, sat, mat, pin, tin, etc. You could even just use 3 letters (A, T, C) and have her spell CAT. Do it together as a team while she’s learning. 

At that age, handwriting could be very difficult so tiles (or just letters written on card stock or paper) may be more appealing. 

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Some advanced kids even out by third because the school does not permit them to keep advancing so they give up and either dumb themselves down, become the class clown or develop behavioural problems. Some level out because they never were advanced just hothoused.

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Over the years I've learned a few things that I don't know that I would have understood when I had young kids.  In case they are helpful, in no particular order...

-Kids can be wildly asynchronous in ways that don't make sense...my very advanced reader couldn't write decent paragraphs until late elementary, for instance, and struggled to hand-write anything in the early years although they had good grammar and spelling when they did.  They struggled to sequence ideas until they were older, for whatever reason.  As a high schooler they write well-organized essays.

-For many subjects, you can't easily pick the 'most on grade level' book if your kid is advanced because there will be things that are too easy and things that are too advanced and very little that is appropriate.  We dropped a particular vocab program when I found that, in order to get to words that were new, the exercises required the student to know grammar at a level that was wildly advanced for their age, for instance.

-When picking what to do with advanced kids, look to see what will actually be helpful to them, not just what is standard for kids at the level that they are working at.  If your 5 year old can read at a 4th grade level, there is no reason to teach nouns and verbs or use of quotation marks just because that's standard for a 4th grader.  If it comes up in something that they are doing, it's fine to address it, but there isn't much benefit for a kid to learn that early and then not use it for 5 years.  We focused on exposure to subjects, solidifying math while moving at their pace, and doing things that enriched vocabulary, which I figured would always be useful.  You might choose different things, obviously.  

-You can take the time that you don't have to spend learning to read and use it for something interesting.  Just let the language arts stuff wait (unless they want to do it early) and explore other things - exposure to history, science, music, art, fine and gross motor skills (through art and sports, or through other play), field trips, etc.

-Watch for whether you're asking young kids to use 2 new difficult skills at once.  If they are just learning to write, writing letters and remembering how to spell 'cat' at the same time might be a struggle,  We used magnetic letters, foam bathtub letters, oral spelling, or even letter flash cards to spell words so that kiddos didn't have to write and spell at the same time.  Some kids like chalk on a chalkboard because it is easy to erase and play around as they learn without feeling like they are making mistakes that are permanent - we did it for math with one kid, although for spelling, magnetic letters might serve the same purpose.  

Good luck as you figure this out.  My kids are in middle/high school and I don't have a lot of regrets but I do wish that I had been more mellow with my older kid in the early years because most things that caused us frustration would have resolved, angst-free, on their own, given some time.  

Edited by Clemsondana
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