D.J. asks from Northville, MI on June 17, 2008
Frustrated with Kindergarten Already!
During kindergarten roundup, my daughter's new teacher told us that they focus a large part of their time on writing stories. They don't care about spelling, the letters being written correctly, or even if they write any letters on the paper at all as long as they can tell the teacher the story they have "written."
The teacher went on to say that her ability to read (she is currently reading at a 3rd grade level and has been spelling small words since 2)is going to be a detriment to her story writing - that since she knows that words are supposed to be put in a specific order she is going to have a really hard time with these projects.
I was instructed to work with her by having her write stories and letting her figure out how to spell the words on her own. I am supposed to walk away, tell her to figure it out herself, and ignore her when she asks for help to spell the words.
This has lead to nothing but frustration on her end. I'm not even sure what to tell her because I don't fully agree with this method. She is so focused on the story being "right" that she can barely get her name on the paper and I can't get her past that line of thinking. Can anyone help me with this or give me any insight into how this method is supposed to work? I'm about to give her a dictionary and show her how to use it because this is not working for her.
1 mom found this helpful
So What Happened?™
Thank you everyone for all of your comments and suggestions. I'm going to try several things over the span of the summer and also give her some time to grow.
To answer some of your questions, she does understand phonics and can sound out words. She can tell me exactly what she wants to say but then seems to go blank when she gets in front of the paper even though she can write all of her letters.
The school system is highly competitive and has an excellent reputation. I don't have another option for a teacher. Personally, I would've have loved this type of program as a child, I just don't know how to get this across to my daughter. I don't think this program is a good fit for her learning style. I am not comfortable with not correcting spelling either.
So we shall see what happens....Thanks again!
L.M. answers from Detroit on June 18, 2008
You have many good answers here. I'll be brief, I'd either ask for a another teacher with a different style or try another school.
S.F. answers from Benton Harbor on June 17, 2008
Okay, I hope I can explain what the teacher has in mind better than she did. I taught kindergarten and preK before I "retired" to be a SAHM. I also encouraged the kids to write stories, and she was right that your daughter will be frustrated with this method, which you are clearly seeing.
The idea is that writing language is years behind spoken language skills in all kids, and the teacher is trying to encourage the creative mind, while not waiting for the writing to catch up. This is in response to schools that used to only do phonics, and standardized tests that showed writing scores seriously deficient. Because they score based on the thought process behind the story, and the spelling and grammer is secondary, until about the 4th grade. They found that kids were being held back creatively, because they didn't hve the skills to put their true thoughts on paper, they only used words that they knew how to spell.
This is longer than I meant to be, sorry. Here are some ways to work with her at home, to ease the transition. Identify a few key words that she should know all by herself: the, and, but, and whatever other words she tends to use a lot. then before she starts a story, have her brainstorm what she wants her story to be about. Then you can anticipate which harder words she may want to use in her story. For example, if she is writing about butterflies she might also want to know how to spell caterpiller, leaves, flowers, you get the idea. You can make a list of these words for her to look at and know how to spell. ( this would also be the best use of flash cards if you have them, so she could match pictures to words) Then all the other words, encourage her to just think what the word starts with. When the two of you go back through the story and she reads it to you, that is when she (oryou) can fill in the word.
Ignoring questions doesn't sound effective to me, but encouraging her to get her ideas on paper is the key. If she knows that you will help her spell the words at the end, she may be less worried about having everything perfect the first time.
I know it sounds like a crazy idea, but really it is how the writing process works. Even through college, getting your ideas on paper is most important, and then you go back through and fix the punctaution and do spell check. I think the teacher just may not have explained herself very well.
But on a side note, this teacher may not be prepared to teach someone so advanced. The idea of just ignoring your daughter may be a sign that your daughter could be frustrated in other areas too.
Good luck, and if you have other questions, feel free to contact.
2 moms found this helpful
A.W. answers from Kalamazoo on June 17, 2008
I would say that I completly take the middle ground on this issue. For the school to act like her abilities are a "problem" is absurd. Her early ability to read is and always will be an asset to her. If she is reading at a 3rd grade level, then I would think that it wouldn't be such a problem for her to write a story. If she has a problem spelling a word or two in her story, just tell her to spell it how she thinks and then you'll go over it with her when she is done. That's how I did it with my 5yr old who was in K this past year. The ability to put together a story with a beginning, middle and end from your imagination is different than your reading ability. It can take more independent thought. She is already so advanced for her age, there is nothing to worry about. The focus needs to shift for her from it being "right" to using her imagination to create fun stories. The dictionary would not work towards teaching her anything either. The sounding out and figuring out of the spelling is educational. I do disagree with the school - I think that they should be shown the correct spelling afterwards. My son's K class was like this at the beginning of the year (with no correction), but further along in the year they focused more on correct spelling etc. Don't worry or stress, she is farther along than most. Maybe start her out with making up stories just verbally, that way the writing correctly doesn't get in they way of her mind to think freely.
2 moms found this helpful
L.W. answers from Detroit on June 18, 2008
I just had my two oldest finish First and Second (Kindergarten was not long ago). Writing is a big deal in their curriculum these days. And it is truly different from reading (my daughter was really strong at spelling entering Kindergarten but not that strong in reading). At any rate, the creative part of the process is a huge focus in Kindergarten, First, Second...and I imagine Third too. the teachers really emphasize creating, imagination, beginning/middle/end, etc....more than they worry about the spelling. Spelling will eventually come, but it seems at the Kindergarten level they don't want the child to be sooo worried about the spelling because it will take the focus off of the important "process" of writing. And learning to spell by solely memorizing as opposed to sounding things out can be a huge detriment in the long run.
There is a GREAT dvd series by Leap Frog (about $10 at Target), and The Letter Factory is the introductory spelling dvd. It is 'catchy' and the kids remember it even when they are not watching. It was hugely responsible for both of my kids strong spelling. Combined with refrigerator magnets, it is a really fun way for kids to learn how to spell .
In all honesty, I'm glad they emphasize this creative area in school, because the rest of our kids' academic curriculum is pretty intense these days!
1 mom found this helpful
K.H. answers from Detroit on June 18, 2008
I understand that you may be frustrated; however, as I teacher I believe that your childs teacher is probably trying to have your child "start" to write stories. She may want your child to write words phonetically, meaning they won't be spelled right but if she sounds them out and writes what letters she "hears" then that is how she will read the words by herself. Does that make sense? For example if your daughter wanted to write the words cat and dog she may only hear the sounds "ct" for cat and "dg" for dog. Usually children at this age do not hear the vowel sounds in words. So your daughter will write stories using the letter sounds that she knows to make the words. I actually think this is a wonderful and amazing time for your daughter and I love reading children's writing at this age. I hope this helps...and makes sense!
1 mom found this helpful
K.D. answers from Grand Rapids on June 18, 2008
I still helped my son - who is nowhere near development
of your daughter - we just would discuss the difference between kindergarten spelling (where it is whatever he hears as he says it and therefore how he thinks it should be spelled) and dictionary spelling. We never discussed right or wrong spelling. You can try that for your daughter and explain that they really are both right because what she hears is the phonetics and that is just the starting point to writing and spelling. She will get the rest as she moves along in practicing her skills and building on what she already knows to incorporate with what she is learning.
M.C. answers from Grand Rapids on June 18, 2008
Hmm... I would be frustrated with that, too. I don't have any kids in school yet, but my guess would be that they are focusing more on the creativity of the child rather than having to constantly correct them with spelling and things like that. I do understand why they would do that - it would be hard for someone so young to always hear that they are wrong, you know?
As for your daughter, I would try to see if she can get past wanting to do it "right" but saying, "just tell me a story - it's ok if you don't know how to spell all the words, we'll worry about that later. Try sounding them out." Maybe start small and have her just make a card for someone, and then work up to stories.
S.R. answers from Detroit on June 18, 2008
I know there is a real weakness in writing in the upper elem and older, so this is probably in response to that. Its unfortunate that the teacher was so negative. Being able to read should never be a detriment. If I were you, I'd stop doing the "work" the teacher gave you, and just start telling stories together. And start a journal where she writes about her day with pictures, too. And give no correction. Just let go of the need to get somewhere with it this summer and she'll probably do fine. Her frustration is the worst element in this equation. If she has "trouble" with the approach in K then deal with it then. If there is another K teacher I'd request that one since it sounds like you are already at odds with this one and your daughter will feel that. If not, let the teacher know right away you think this approach will not be best for your daughter, and ask her how she deals with differences in ability in the classroom. Differentiated teaching is so important now that the gifted programs are giving way to remedial programs. Nothing but your child's feelings about school matter much in K. I just thought of a game I play with my kids. I start a story with a sentence, then each kid adds to it with a sentence. It gets very silly and is great fun. We write it but speaking them would be just as good. Takes the focus off "work".
B.M. answers from Detroit on June 19, 2008
How wonderful that you are blessed with such a wonderfully gifted young lady! And what an awesome responsibility you have in helping her to use and grow this wonderful gift!!
What I believe the teacher is trying to do is to get the students to create stories without them having to worry about how to write it down exactly/correctly as they would see it in a book. Developmentally, this age can create wonderful and complex stories and music. However, if they are then asked to write it down "right" a lot of their original thoughts are lost because they don't have the advanced skills in place to transfer their wonderful creations into a concrete form. (For instance, I was an elementary music teacher. Kindergarten students are able to create wonderful songs with varying tempos, pitches, lyrics and with movement. But if I ask them to write it down in "musical notes".. because they don't have this skill mastered, it takes away from their learning and creativity. 4 and 5 year olds want to please adults and do things "right", so they sacrifice a high level of creativity when forced to make it concrete. Does this make sense??)
I think where the teacher might be coming from is that she is trying to develop and encourage the higher ordered thinking and then eventually they will get around to getting it down on paper the right way. Her concern may be that your daughter may be to focused on doing things right that she misses out on the higher thinking and creativity. At this young age they really and truly need to get a foundation that they enjoy school and learning, and that they are not afraid to try new things and make mistakes.
My son also was an advanced reader/writer when he started school. He also was very focused on doing things "right" and if I could go back in time.. I would have encouraged other things for him than doing things the right way. A lot of times I knew he could do it right, so I would help him do it right. It wasn't until 3 grade I realized what a disservice I had done with him with all that focus on "right" so young. If he couldn't do things right the first time he fell apart.
If I could go back in time, I would have encouraged him to try and do new and different things.. and not point out things that needed to be corrected when he did. Instead I would just love whatever he showed me. Instead of giving him the correct spelling of words, I would let him sound them out and be happy and gushing about his wonderful effort. I wish I could take back all the focus on doing things right, and focus on loving all the effort he put into all his projects. (I'd let the teacher do more of the correcting, and I would be the biggest cheerleader!)
I hope this was of some help!