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Sure, it has a great beat. But can he spell ‘orange’

Submitted by on Friday, 18 September 2009 2 Comments

“Red and yellow and pink and green,

Purple and orange and blue …”

I hate you.

All of you, especially pink. The rest I didn’t despise until two weeks ago, when a note from Big Guy’s teacher gave me sweaty palms and heart palpitations.

“Here are this week’s spelling words. The test will be Friday.”

To make it worse, the note came home on a Tuesday, which gave us one less day to weep, wail and stress.

It’s one of those things that makes the transition to kindergarten from first grade harder, I think, than the move from preschool to kindergarten.

In kindergarten, spelling doesn’t matter. Just get them to write. Have them learn to recognize the “sight” words, but don’t fret if they can’t spell them. Reading is the important thing.

Oh, that is so not the case now, and we had a list of nine words to prove it. Nine? Couldn’t we ease in? And couldn’t we start with some easy-cheesy sight words instead of words Big Guy could read but hadn’t had flashed in his face every week for a year?

To make it even worse, forcing a child to rely on me as a guide through this subject is grossly unfair. I owe my career as a occasionally quasi-successful professional writer to technology. Were it not for spell check, I would have washed out at a weekly.

So I looked at the list and I hyperventilated. I tried to figure out how to help him study and wanted to head to the bathroom. I tried to remember how I studied spelling words … hmmm. I never did. Maybe that explains my lingering problem.

Finally, I found a tip sheet in a packet his teacher had sent home at the start of theĀ  year. Note to self: Read that stuff next year. Write down the words; repeat the words aloud; trying writing the words without looking, it suggested. Lather, rinse, repeat. And repeat and repeat and repeat.

We tried all of that, and by Thursday he had mastered a whopping three words. The rest remained stubbornly stuck somewhere between his eyes and his brain.

Luckily, the teacher was out sick Friday and the substitute forgot to give the test. So we had another week.

It gave me time to find inspiration in my step-dad’s long-ago hostility to the alphabet song. If the eyes aren’t willing, we’d involve the ears.

“So you’re having trouble with orange?” I asked Big Guy. “Orange is no big deal. Look, orange is going to dance for you.”

I proceeded to perform the most ridiculous-looking boogie in dance history, accenting the letters he’d been leaving out as I gyrated – “o-r-A – n-G-e! o-r-A – n-G-e!” Soon, three of us were conga-lining through the kitchen to the beat – “o-r-A – n-G-e! o-r-A – n-G-e!”

And you know what? It worked. One word at a time, one bizarre dance after another, Big Guy learned his spelling words. Boots knows most of them, too. Or, at least, he knows how to boogie them.

I’m only hoping Big Guy doesn’t have to get up and dance during the test.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Tomer Guez said:

    > “Here are this week’s spelling words. The test will be Friday.”

    :) By the way, a good spell check program is Spell Check Anywhere. SpellCheckAnywhere.Com. It adds spell checking to all programs, including blogs.

  • Denise B said:

    Try playing Er-u-di-tion with Big Guy. It’s a fun way to expose him to sight words while playing a fun game!