An initial assessment showed that his reading is in the average range but his spelling ability is much lower, in fact only just inside the average range.
I hope the following recommendations from his report are helpful to other parents whose children have similar difficulties.
Callum would benefit from some extra help with spelling and I have already given his mother some ideas, books and material to use.
Spelling vocabulary should be developed from what is known and visual strategies such as Look/Say/Cover/Write/Check for irregular words should be taught so that Callum may become an independent speller. Learning spellings with common patterns is also useful, as a larger spelling vocabulary can be developed. These spellings should be reviewed frequently by reading them over and practising a few from each pattern.
Writing on a computer and using the Spell-check also helps develop spelling ability. Learning to touch type with a computer keyboarding program such as TYPEFASTER or the BBC Dance Mat is a skill which will be invaluable in the future as his learning load increases and the spellings become more complex. If word processing is encouraged this enhances presentation and subsequently self-esteem. Use of the spell-check can have a ‘natural’ improvement effect on spelling. One successful strategy used by specialist tutors is for the child to ‘write their own book’. They use known spellings but are free to experiment as they are on a computer and the composition can be changed. The pages can be built up from his spelling and sentence practice with some content being suggested to provide a challenging word in occasional sentences. Callum will feel immediate success if he can do this at home and his self esteem will be boosted.
For his self-esteem it would help if some of his typed written work could be displayed so that he can demonstrate his original ideas to his peers. This would heighten his self esteem and make learning fun. Using a computer is motivating and can be used in conjunction with a handwriting programme. Callum could also practise his spellings on the computer and change the font colour on the common pattern string. Plain fonts such as Arial and Courier are best for children who have difficulty with spelling.
Callum should be encouraged to ‘clap syllables’ of multi-syllabic words as this is a useful strategy for more complex vocabulary. With such strategies Callum will be able to demonstrate his very good verbal ability.
Some children benefit from supplements particularly the Omega 3 and Omega 6. A useful website is www.equazen.com
Callum is exhibiting behaviours typical of children with Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia) and multi-sensory teaching and appropriate support will ensure that he does not fall behind as he moves on through junior school and makes the transition to secondary school.
Further assessment is advised to establish Callum’s preferred learning style and his full range of abilities. I have every confidence that the school will monitor his progress and provide the support that he needs.
A list of useful websites and links to the keyboarding program suggested will be provided later.
For purposes of confidentiality the name of the pupil has been changed.