Homework Help: Tile Trekking


It’s a word that strikes fear and trepidation in the hearts of students and parents alike. Now that the school year has begun, families face the inevitable:spelling lists, required reading, flashcards and book reports.

For students who struggle with reading, writing, and math concepts, homework is an extra burden. Many of these students experience mental fatigue; by the end of the day, they have little energy left for extra work. Similarly, students who have difficulty maintaining attention often end up in tears during homework time. Medication, if prescribed, is often wearing off at this part of the day. It’s common for tantrums and tears to prevail during homework time.While the value of homework is hotly debated, it is likely here to stay, at least for the short-term.

When our child in elementary school, homework time was often an exercise in patience and perseverence…for her and for me. She was exhausted by the end of the day, and often felt unsuccessful because the work took longer for her to complete than her peers. In order to salvage her self-esteem and help with the learning process, we created several strategies. One of these was “tile trekking.”

When we purchased our home, our kitchen was covered with cold, hard white ceramic tile (highly impractical with two kids and a black dog…)However, I was quite grateful for this tile when it came to practicing spelling.

Here is how it works:

  • The child stands at one end of a tiled room
  • The parent reads the spelling word
  • The child spells the word orally, taking one step forward for each letter
  • If the child spells the word incorrectly, the parent should cue the child with a letter or sound…but the child doesn’t need to “move back” for incorrectly spelled words; not very motivating!
  • Continue with the spelling list, spelling all the way across the room! (and back!)

This strategy keeps kids moving, which helps them maintain attention. It is also a multi-sensory experience: kids are hearing the word, moving their feet and hearing the letters as well. To add an extra piece, have the child check the word visually (on an index card or a piece of paper) after spelling it aloud. No tile at your house? No problem! Use post-it notes instead. Does your child need a little more action? Nix the tile trek and try this on a trampoline instead…one jump for each letter!

We spent many afternoons practicing words this way…it ended up as a favorite strategy for both of our kids!

Yours for spelling S-U-C-C-E-S-S…
PS Please note: It is important to offer practice that is fun and engaging. However, kids should also have an opportunity practice for a test in the way they will be tested. So, if a student is going to take a written spelling test, be sure to offer some practice hearing the words and writing them down.

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