Sense of humour

5th January 2007 at 00:00
There is a woman in America who teaches squirrels to waterski. When asked how, she replies: "Just give them lots of love and affection, and tell them the same thing over and again."

It is the same with teaching children to spell - repetition, repetition, repetition, wrapped up in teaching methods that show how much you love them. A problem with objectives-based teaching is the suggestion that once the objective has been covered, you must move on to the next one.

Ofsted assessments suggest the same: each lesson must move pupils on. But a lot of primary teaching is about consolidation: telling pupils the same thing repeatedly.

And, of course, finding ways to sprinkle fairy dust over this consolidation so the children find the repetition fun. Perhaps turning the practice into a race. "How many times can you write 'because' on your whiteboard in one minute?" Or a team game, perhaps giving it an enticing name. Or how about getting them to recite certain spellings in a silly voice, devising a tune for raucous singing or wearing a special item of clothing such as the tootwoto hat for revision?

Spelling always benefits from multisensory teaching - and the best sense of all is the sense of humour

Sue Palmer is a literary consultant

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