One of the things that Kidlet struggles with is handwriting (which I know I’ve been mentioning for years!). The fact is that he has some motor skill issues (not uncommon with aspergers), and its not entirely in his control (although he absolutely will not hold the pencil correctly; I’ve tried so many different pencil grips, and the Flip the Pencil Trick, and grip tools, and the Y shaped pencils from penagain – nothing helps).
The trouble really comes in that it is hard work for him to get the letters even remotely legible, and he knows that it still isn’t very neat, and he gets so frustrated that he can’t make the letters look like he knows they should, even though he is already taking much longer to write than his classmates (when he tries. Frequently he just gives up trying to make it look good, and has a chicken scratch only a mother can read =(). Writing time can become melt-down time, pretty quickly. (They just started learning cursive too, a nightmare, but that’s another issue ;))
So, it is with some annoyance that twice a week I have to make my kid sit down and do 2 pages of spelling homework. His school uses Scott Foresman Reading Street, and on Monday they take a pre-test of 12 normal words and 3 priority (sight/dolce) words. There is a second list of 15 words (“challenge words”); so if a child gets one of the pre-test words correct, they don’t study that word, instead they study the first word in the challenge word list, and so on. With few exceptions, Kidlet rarely misses any words on the pre-test, so his post-test on Friday will consist of almost all challenge words.
A sheet like this comes home each week with the words circled that Kidlet needs to study. (The errors in capitalization are mine. waterproof and evaporation aren’t capitalized on the actual weekly sheet, but my app “auto-corrected” them for me, oops).
BUT, the homework is photocopied from a SF spelling practice book, so the 4 pages a week of spelling homework are on the first 12 words of the 30 (sometimes it includes the first 3 challenge words, but not always). The 12 words my kid almost never needs to study. Can you guess how well it goes over that he has to do the dreaded writing to “study” words that he doesn’t need to study?
So we come up with different solutions for practicing the words that he “needs” to study (tbh, he generally only gets 4-5 words that he actually doesn’t know how to spell, even when its all “challenge words” ;)). I’ll have him use a set of alphabet stamps to spell his words, or type them on the computer using different fun fonts. Sometimes I will pull out the gel bag (ziploc bag with cheap hair gel, food coloring and glitter) and have him draw the letters in that. I will have him use the words in sentences, the sillier the better (typed up ont he computer of course). Some days I let him give me the spelling test, and he has to correct it. We’ll use magnet letters or scrabble tiles, or do oral spelling bees. We’ll twist pipe cleaners into letter shapes to spell the words. I try to be creative and come up with different things each week.
On days where I know that I am volunteering first thing in the morning, and I will be the one pulling and correcting the homework (the teacher only keeps track of IF they did it, now how they scored on it), I don’t even make him suffer through those worksheets. (don’t judge!) However, even on days where Lil L is headed to child care, I sometimes have trouble getting the kids out of the house early enough to drop her off first. I have to take Kidlet in, then take Lil L to KinderCare, and then come back to Kidlet’s school to volunteer. So I present the homework most days, even if I *think* that I’ll be the one checking it in.