Great Reader Poor Speller
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My 4th-grade son just came home with his Terra Nova scores for reading.
He scored in the 98th percentile nationally. The test says that he is
above the 9th grade level for reading. He is a good reader but his
spelling is horrible. He gets letters backwards, numbers backwards,
transposes letters, writes "ch" instead of "tr" (example: chruk for the
work truck). He even spells simple words incorrectly (example: gurl for
girl). He hates to write, but he can talk about books and themes and can
rationalize his opinions. Any clues about what might be happening with
his poor spelling? Thank you.
It has been established that good reading correlates with good spelling
as it appears that there are both meaningless without the other.
However, this has not been the case for some. This is called the
unexpected spelling problem that indicates that a child is able to
recognise and read a word very well on one hand, and on the other, is
unable to recall the correct sequence of letters when trying to write
the every same word.
Research indicates that these good readers & poor spellers are in fact
making phonetic spelling errors; which is a late stage of the spelling
process (beyond the bounds of sound to letter rules). Their
indecisiveness leads to spelling errors.
It has also been noted that advanced readers are actually skimming and
not noticing the details. These are fast readers and due to that they
may not be partial cues in reading which becomes habitual leading them
to miss details in especially fast reading. Therefore, partial; cues in
reading leads to inefficient generating of correct letter to letter
sequence of words.
You son may be using minimal cues in reading that enables him to read at
a much higher grade level, however, it has affected it spelling. Minimal
cues used in recognising words leads to highly efficient reading but
only limited information is available for the spelling process which
eventually makes the individual a poor speller.
You may have to help him a lot in his spelling. The following are good
links to start with:
Hope that helps. Good luck!