Errors with Spelling Don't Reflect Abilities

Let's say your child's teacher focuses on the spelling errors or the grammar flaws or any other skill that your child finds challenging, and it makes you a little frustrated and leaves your child feeling hopeless (you know when they say...why even bother!  I don't care!).  

I have talked to parents about this, and I've read many blog posts in various groups where the mother is angry that this is the focus and even worse, their child is getting poor marks for their work.  

Since I have worked in the school setting for 20 years and worked with various teachers, parents, and children.  And the fact that I also have a learning difference, I have a few thoughts on this issue

First of all, teachers are there to help your child improve and see what needs to change -- such as spelling errors -- but they are also there to figure out how your child learns which means understanding what your child needs and accommodating their learning needs when required to help your child learn.  

Second, parents are in a position to empower their kids no matter what happens at school, as they say, "Resilience is made, not born."   We can offer them the support, insight and our 1:1 time that usually is not available at the school.  

Here are a few thoughts when there tends to be a focus on your child's weaknesses or errors at school. 

focus on what matters  

Talk to your child about the spelling corrections and what they mean.  What is the priority?  The message or the error. It's the message.  You might want to talk about how others may not fully understand what it's like to learn differently and that is why they respond a certain way when it comes to grades, but that is not a reflection of what they know or can achieve.  

Work those Strategies

When errors show up that do not reflect your child's level of understanding or ability, then it's time to look at the tools and strategies that can support them the best.  Use a device that eliminates the errors!  If your child can read 'flower' but can't recall how to spell it -- that's a sign that a strategy such as using an auto correct on an iPad or word prediction would offer the solution to step over these difficulties and show others what they can do. 

Make the changes at home (+ eventually with the school)

If you find that the suggestions you offer to the teacher or school staff are refused or resisted, don't stop there.  Use your energy to focus on your child and what they need to get their work done.  

Help your child see what works for them -- to help them with their reading or math or writing.  This support is stronger than having continued disagreements with teachers and school staff.  However, when you and your child see the progress, review this with the teacher and show them what your child can do.  



Look for solutions.  (rinse and repeat)

Yes, you might have to complete a lot of work at home initially but you will also make gains by focusing on your child and what they need -- and most of all, letting them see what they need.

You can offer your child what they need -- to help them be resilient. 

You can help your child move from I can't to I can through strategies and working together in your setting, home, where they feel safe. Focusing on the real priority - their abilities and strengths, like the excellent ideas they bring to the table or the approach they have that no one has even considered.  

You can also add in some the points here in the graphic!

Being optimistic. Being willing to adapt and be flexible so you can problem solve around barriers. Being aware of your emotions and having the support around you to help you be okay with who you are and of course, having a sense of humour is always wonderful as well!  

Show your child who they are and how they learn -- this will take them further than blame and frustration. 


Learn more about Resilience and Accommodations from the Shift Your Thinking LD Summit May 13th.  Live tickets and/or Video Packages are available. 

Susan Schenk