2006-02-09 / Direct Answers

Answers From the Teacher

My daughter’s teacher doesn’t al-ways mark misspelled words in my daughter’s homework assignments. I want my daughter to learn how to spell even though I suspect in the future she will probably rely on spell check like most people. Nonetheless, how can I help my daughter with spelling at home?

Just because every misspelled word isn’t circled in red doesn’t mean your daughter isn’t learning spelling in school. You should discuss the matter with the teacher at the next conference, or, if there are no parent teacher conferences in the near future, contact the teacher by phone to discuss her/his philosophy about teaching spelling.

I suspect that your daughter has some sort of spelling program where she’s required to study and learn certain words. The spelling list may come either from her reading assignments or spelling book.

Teachers don’t mark every misspell-ed word on every assignment because the educational focus may be on a different content area. Sometimes spelling mistakes can be overlooked for the greater good of getting a true grade on the content at hand. Sometimes assign-ments are graded on a rubric that in-cludes spelling and/or grammar in the final analysis, but each error is not marked.

You can help at home by keeping a list of words that you often see your daughter misspell. Have her write down the frequently misspelled words, spell-ed correctly of course, on an index card where she can refer to them as she completes her homework assignments. It makes sense to have your daughter put her effort into spelling commonly used words correctly in-stead of spending time practicing in-frequently used words that she can look up in the dictionary when she needs to.

My middle-school son is having a personality conflict with one of his teachers. It’s now come to the point that my son feels that he can’t do anything without getting in trouble. He dropped his pencil the other day and the teacher yelled at him. How is it possible to improve this situation?

Personality conflicts certainly happen in schools, just as they occur in life. This situation sounds like it may improve if the three of you were able to sit down and discuss the matter. Three-way conferences work well with middle school children who are just learning how to express themselves.

Since everyone has something to gain here, a meaningful discussion of expectations may help improve the relationship between your son and his teacher. Approach the teacher to request an opportunity to discuss the matter with you and your son.

Remember, relationships work both ways. Encourage your son to solve this problem the way a mature adult may solve it, through meaningful discussion. Since he isn’t an adult yet, support him by being present and by helping him say what’s on his mind. He must also be prepared to hear what the teacher has to say. When the discussion is over, perhaps both your son and his teacher can get a fresh start on the relationship.

Send questions to: Answers from the Teacher, P.O. Box 54, South Egremont, MA 01258. Questions may also be e-mailed to answersfromthe-teacher@adelphia.net.

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