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My son is in 2nd grade and can read OK but can’t spell very well. Should I have him assessed?

Yes. The processing abilities that are required to make a good speller are the some of the same processing abilities that make a good reader. Beginning readers who have trouble spelling often have trouble becoming efficient readers as well. In my experience, adults who consider themselves poor spellers are often phonetic spellers. Take a look at the spelling mistakes that your son is making. Do his mistakes seem to spell out the sounds of the word? (kuk for cook, hoo for who, nite for nigh, joos for juice etc) This would indicate that he is trying to spell phonetically. If your son is making this kind of mistake, he is on the right track. He is putting the sounds of the words in order, a task some readers find very difficult. This kind of child may need a bit of support to learn the actual spelling of the words. Or does it seem that his spelling mistakes don't follow the sounds of the word at all? (sgt for sight, chrp for truck, ement for equipment, cshus for curious etc) Your son may be making one or both of these types of mistakes.

Tags: spelling problems, spelling assessment, reading assessment

  1. Valjean
    Reply 10/28/11

    Which came first, the problem or the soluotin? Luckily it doesn’t matter.

  2. Anne-Evan Williams
    Reply 12/04/07

    Thank you for you questions.  They are kind of tricky to respond to without knowing your son and the kinds of reading strategies he employs and the kinds of instructional activities that he has encountered at school.  I’ll start first with your question about passing fifth grade with flying colors with a purported fourth grade reading ability.  Reading assessments that give a ‘reading level’ are not necessarily aligned with the standards and expectations for a particular school.  So, there’s some room for error in terms of ‘reading level’ especially in the upper grades when a child’s score on an assessment may be influenced by the genre of text he read for the assessment or the complexity of the way the text was written.  The readability level in these assessments is not as important as how that assessment qualifies your son’s reading strategies and abilities (i.e., Does he struggle with decoding or fluency? What does he understand about what he reads? Does he self-correct his errors or makes interesting comments about what he reads?).  Passing fifth grade with ‘flying colors’ and a purported fourth grade reading level is quite possible depending on the assessment used to determine his reading level.

    For your second question about comprehension:  I think one of the best ways you can help your son with comprehension at home is to simply have your son choose a good book or article(s) that you and he are interested in.  Read them independently or together – whatever works for you and your son and the text you choose.  Afterwards, have a genuine conversation about what you read.  What did you two find interesting or not interesting?  If there’s a place that your son interpreted the text differently than you, don’t brush it off simply as a mistake – ask him more about why he read it that way – explore his ways of understanding and you share your ways of understanding.  Place your son in a position to investigate his ideas as equally important as your ideas.  The idea here is to engage your son in authentic and safe discussion of a piece of text both of you (or others too!) experienced – like if you were talking to him or someone else about your opinions about a movie!  This will help your son engage in deep (and real) thinking about what he reads.

    I hope those tid-bits help!  Good luck to you and your son!

    Paolo Martin

    Reading Specialist
    Let’s Go Learn, Inc

  3. Kelly
    Reply 11/13/07

    My son has been up and down at grade reading level and below grade reading level.  He is now in 6th grade (jr high) and they are saying he is way below reading level at a 4th grade level. How did he pass 5th grade with flying colors?
    What can I do to help him with his reading comprehension?

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