10 Year Old Boy- Terrible Speller... Homework/study Fights Help

Updated on December 03, 2009
J.K. asks from Mansfield, OH
15 answers

My son is 10 years old... super smart kid but is a terrible speller. He has always had trouble with spelling but this year it is getting worse. We constantly fight about this. He knows he has to work hard to get good grades and sometimes he can get 100% on spelling tests but the next week... big fat F comes home. We tried grounding him for anything lower than a C (he goes to my dads every saturday and spends the day with him.... last year my dad said he couldn't come if he gets lower than a B and he stuck with that.) but this doesn't work this year because we do not get the tests back on friday anymore... sometimes we don't get them back for a few weeks just depends on when teacher has time to grade. We tried rewarding for good grades... my husband always took him to rent a video game or movie on fridays after the test came home... but again we don't get it until whenever, also they stopped renting x-box games (which is the game system my son has so that stopped working too) so we decided that instead we would put money into a jar for the purchase of a wii which my son wants really bad (he usually gets whatever he wants either by christmas, birthday or saving christmas/birthday money and buying it himself) but with the wii I said no. This time he has to earn it. Since it will be a family thing not just my sons he has to earn half the money to buy it. Which with the way we pay for grades he could have had it by the end of last school year... yet this doesn't seem to be enough to motivate him. I'm tired of fighting about this and really tired of caring about his grades more than he does.
Help. Anyway to help him become a better speller? Anyway to motavate him to want to work harder to get good grades? Anything???????? Just wanted to add something after the responses I have got... He has been tested and is not dyslexic or has ADHD/ADD anything like that. He is a great reader and can pick out a word that is misspelled because his reading is so good but can't/won't see his own mistakes in spelling or know how to correct them.

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answers from Cleveland on

Hi, J.,
Just because he is not dyslexic and does not have ADD, does not mean that he does not have a learning disability. I recently watched F.A.T. City - a video produced by Rick Lavoie. It was a true eye opener, regarding LD children. I highly recommend you see if your library has it, or if you can find it online. His website sells it, but I think it's like $50. or so. www.ricklavoie.com

Blessings to you and your son,



answers from Canton on

You might look into a book by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon called Spelling Power. She has a system laid out for learning to spell words. This would give you a framework for helping your child.



answers from Hartford on

I hate to stereotype, but it is not uncommon for some men to be poor spellers - I happen to be married to one. I have read that women (once again, sorry for the stereotype), tend to have an easier time with language - including grammar and spelling. My father is another good example - a brilliant electrical engineer, but his grades in English were atrocious.

Since this may be the case for your son, I would say, save yourself the headache and focus on areas of learning where he demonstrates strength and place less emphasis on the areas where he may be naturally disinclined.



answers from Indianapolis on

There are workbooks you can buy to help with math, reading, spelling or whatever. I'd get one of those and part of the evening routine is in the workbook. HOWEVER, if he gets good enough at the workbook pages (set your own guidelines and standards) then he doesn't have to do them any more.

Make up your own spelling tests. He may make the excuse that he can always use spell check, etc. If he has to WRITE a paper or does not have access to spell check......then what?

How well does he understand PHONICS? I know from teaching that understanding phonics is a HUGE help with spelling. Laziness sounds like part of the problem. Personally, as a teacher, mentor and coach.....laziness is NOT acceptable.

If you have to hire a tudor, do it. Sometimes kids don't want their parents helping them. Regardless, let HIM make the choice, but NOT doing it is NOT an option.


answers from Bloomington on

Hi My name is C. and I am an adult with ADHD and I am super dyslexic! I am 30 years old and A Nurse (College was horrid) I cant spell to save my life. some words are really easy make make perfect sense to me because i can picture their physical structure in my mind and other words are just an enigma. I have several words that i routinely misspell so badly that spell check cant even identify them. Words like: restraunt, theair, people, swish are on my list of nemies (sp?) lol. It might help if you can really identify if he is just experiencing a lack of interest or if this is a lack of comprehension masked by indifference. I struggled all thru my education. I fought tooth and claw to get to the top of my field and I hold sufficient rank that no one dare correct my spelling :D and I Cant live with out spell check and even cheat by using the spell check app on my phone.
At any rate try to get to the root of the problem is it just goofing around or is the goofing a defense best of luck!!

(yes i ran this thru the spell check on Yahoo mail and deciced not to correct the words that i was using as an example)



answers from Lafayette on

It's hard to be really terrible at something, and harder when your parents nag you all the time about it. Maybe you could get yourself out of the picture and hire a tutor for him? Spelling is something pretty much any bright teenager could help him out with, and teenagers' time is generally pretty cheap. See if you can find somebody likeable that your son will respect and be nice to, and then have them come by 20 minutes a couple of times a week.

Or you could do study dates with him. If you get him to associate trips to Dairy Queen with learning a few spelling words, you might get an attitude improvement on the whole thing. :)



answers from Fort Wayne on

Everyone has a different learning curve. He may be purposely choosing not to apply himself. If he has the ability and isn't applying himself, then find another approach to get him motivated... at least somewhat.

Try taking him to the Sylvan Learning Center or a similar tutoring center. They can offer incentive and encouragement outside of family... sometimes that works better. I didn't apply myself as a young person that much until someone challenged me. I'm very competitive by nature. Figure out what motivates him outside of video games and incorporate those interests into his reading and writing activities.

Another option may be to speak to the teacher, a behavior counselor or a parenting class to find other options of getting kids interested in learning.

I know these aren't exactly answers, but perhaps it will give you somewhere to look. Good luck. God bless.



answers from Indianapolis on

It could just be that spelling is his achilles heel. I know several people who are VERY book smart but commen-sense-stupid, or even vice-versa.

There are musicians who can sight-read but can't "play by ear" easily, and those who can "play by ear" can memorize easily but can't sight read very well.

Get a DVD called "the letter factory" - it might help somewhat in at least getting familiar with the sounds each letter makes....it might be a little "elementary", but it's a cute video. Also, get him on the computer to Starfall.com - that'll help with spelling somewhat too.

FOr what it's worth, and good luck!


answers from Detroit on

Make spelling time fun for him if you havent thought of that already. When he brings his spelling words home have all of the alphabets on individual pieces of paper twice. At homework time have a contest of which of you can spell each individual word faster or even play a matching game.If this doesnt work talk to him about what would he like to do (other than quit) about his spelling. Alsohe may be seeing the letters backwards meaning there could be more wrong than him just not caring! Communicate with your smart 10 year old and find out whats going on. I pray everything works out!



answers from Indianapolis on

Their is a computer website, spellingcity.com, that you enter the spelling words into, and it comes up with games that the child plays on-line that helps them learn the words. My son is 7, and loves it. There are many games. My son loves playing games on the computer.
Could he be bored? If the words are too easy he may not care. When he writes stuff, does he spell the words correctly? Your letter had a key in it. As long as it is your problem, and not his, why should he worry? You have to make it his problem, and not yours. Put the consequence in place, and then don't worry about it. I know you want him to succeed, but he is the one who has to want it.
Good luck.



answers from Cincinnati on

This sounds like my husband. While he is really smart in many areas, his spelling is atrocious. He had been tested for dyslexia and all of that. It was only the spelling that he had problems with. I had never heard of this, but they diagnosed him as having a learning disability, with regard to spelling. It may be one of those things, that no matter what you do, he is going to always struggle with spelling. I would suggest that if you feel he is really, and truly, trying on his spelling tests, that you ease up on the punishments or do away with them altogether. Make the punishments more about trying and working hard than about the final outcome and grades. Another suggestion would be to talk to the teacher. Let her know what is going on and see if she has any ideas that might help.



answers from Fort Wayne on

Some people are just bad spellers. I have a Master's Degree in Education ans spell on a 3rd grade level. There are studies going on right now as to why some people can't spell but no conclusions yet. As long as he is working on it and trying his best, let it go.


answers from Cleveland on

I am 33, have a masters degree and was always near top of my class and I can't spell to save my life. I get nervous when my 5 year old asks how to spell something. The point is he needs to try, but some people just don't have it. Reward the effort, not the grade.



answers from Columbus on

i have to agree with the folks that have already responded, some people are just really bad at spelling and in fact in my case i think it may actually be genetic. My mother can't spell at all, my father is really good at spelling, and i am somewhere inbetween. Like your son i am a great student, smart and successful, but everything i do has to be run through the spellcheck on the computer before i send it out because i just cannot spell, and no amount of punishment or rewards as a child would have changed that. I would say that as long as he is showing some amount of trying and doing well in the other subjects i would just let it go.

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