Monday I have been teaching Henry daily now for almost three weeks. He is more than bright, highly motivated and dyslexic, and he exudes that air of confidence that seems to come from opulent living and private school education. His teachers and mum have taught him to read like a dream, but spelling has eluded him.
We use the successful SRA Spelling Mastery materials. It is a late afternoon session and my cranky central heating system kicks in. "Do you know?" says Henry rather sternly, "that I have six radiators in my bedroom."
Tuesday We have been dealing with the morphograph "ful". Henry departs to the loo and returns incredulous. "Do you know?" he tells me, "you're the only person I know who has washing in their bathroom."
Wednesday We are spelling out loud. "Spell hopeful. Spell restful. Spell helpful," I tell him. He complies accurately. I slip in a CD-Rom to give him an onscreen word search for these and other "ful" spellings. "Do you know?" says Henry, "you're the only person I know who has a computer in their kitchen."
Thursday "What words am I spelling?" I ask. "H-o-p-e-f-u-lI r-e-s-t-f-u-lI h-e-l-p-f-u-l." Henry is correct on all three counts. He gets water from the kitchen tap and looks out at our garden. "Do you know?" he tells me, adjusting his glasses, "that you're the only person I know who has such a tiny garden."
Friday We travel through Spelling Mastery at a fast pace. "Write hopefulI what word?" I say to him. "Write restfulI what word? Write helpfulI what word?" Henry repeats, writes, then puts his pen on our well-worn table. "Do you know?" he tells me, "you're the only person I know who has been able to help me with my spelling."
Caroline Carnelley teaches dyslexic children at home. She lives in Buckinghamshire