It is common practice among elementary school teachers to provide students with a list of words to study at home.
Our research focused on Grade 1 and Grade 2 students and their parents. Among other things, we wanted to find out what this task means to students, how study time takes place in the home, the strategies used by students, the importance placed by parents on this homework activity, and the ways in which they support their children.
Parents could be provided with activities and materials to help them effectively assume a supportive role in their children's education.
We found that a marked disinterest in spelling homework could already be seen among Grade 2 students, particularly among boys and students with difficulties. Girls and students without difficulties showed the most strategy, in that they applied a greater variety of study methods.
Most students studied their spelling words without taking their eyes off them, a method that did not prepare them for testing by dictation where the student must write the words without seeing them. It was usually mothers who helped their children with their spelling homework, while one quarter of parents offered no support beyond simply saying the words and correcting their spelling.
Useful procedures and strategies for attention and memorization could be incorporated more into classroom activities for students with difficulties, who could then apply these methods to their spelling homework. Moreover, parents could be provided with activities and materials to help them effectively assume a supportive role in their children's education.
Jean-Yves Lévesque, Université du Québec à Rimouski
Call for proposals
Deposit of the research report: March 2014