By: Renee Cox, Learning Specialist
Has your child ever asked these questions?
- Why do I need to learn how to spell words correctly? Won’t spell check do that for me?
- Is there hope that I will learn to spell words correctly?
- If people can figure out what I am trying to say in my writing, why do I need to spell every word correctly?
We’ll answer these questions and then share some fun ways to practice spelling words.
First, spell checkers are a great tool to help improve the accuracy of our written work, but they are not a foolproof way to ensure that we have spelled everything correctly. A spell-checker might not catch common mistakes such as “their” in place of “they’re”, or “its” in place of “it’s”.
No program or plan can guarantee you will never make a spelling mistake, but the time and energy spent on learning the correct spelling of words can make a difference. For instance, associating a word with a picture in your mind could make the spelling “stick” so that after some time spent learning the word, you can spell it correctly in the future.
Finally, while it’s true that people might be able to figure out what you’re writing even if every word is not spelled correctly, it is still important to aim at spelling words correctly. We want our written communication to be easy to read and understand. If the reader is wading through misspelled words, some of the meaning may be lost.
If your child has been practicing spelling words the same way over and over, maybe it’s time to try some new methods!
1. Visualize the spelling word.
Write the word on an index card using black ink and in lower case letters. Ask your child to visualize the word (make a picture of it in their mind). Remove the word from their sight and have them fingerspell it in the air, saying the letters as they write them. Ask your child some questions about the word: What is the first letter? What is the third letter? What is the last letter? Ask them to visualize the word and spell the word backward, starting with the last letter and going to the first letter. Then ask them to write the word using black ink on another index card or a piece of paper, saying the letters as they write it.
2. Use the spelling words in a memory game.
Choose six or seven words that your child is learning to spell and write the words on index cards, making two cards for each word. Arrange the cards in any order you choose, with the words down so they cannot see them. Take turns choosing two cards at a time, looking for a matching pair. Each time you turn a card over, you will say the word or say and spell the word. Your child could even play this on their own, keeping track of the time to see how fast they can find all the pairs.
3. Look for smaller words within the spelling word.
Finding smaller words within a word might help you remember how to spell the word, especially if you can find a way to connect it.
We can see the word ear in hear, so you could remember that we hear with our ear.
We can see the word pie in piece, so you could think of a piece of pie.
4. Focus on difficult parts of the word.
We’ll use the words stationery and stationary for this example. We can remember which spelling to use by focusing on the difference in spelling between the two words. Stationery refers to paper for writing letters. Both the words paper and letter have /er/ in them, just like stationery. Stationary means not moving, or something that stays in one spot. You can think of the word stay which has an /a/ in it, just like stationary.
5. Write the words in fun ways.
You can write the words in stair-step fashion, like this:
Or you can write the words with tall letters, wide letters, curly letters, etc.
6. Use mnemonics to learn a word.
If your child creates the mnemonic themself, they are much more likely to remember it. And it’s fine if it’s silly, as long as it’s memorable.
Here’s an example for the word rhythm. Rhythm helps your two hips move.
These are just a few fun ways for your child to practice spelling. If you would like more information about ways that we could work with your child to help improve their ability to communicate or achieve academic success, please feel free to reach out.
Renee Cox is a learning specialist at Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center. ETLC has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offer a unique group, the Language Enrichment Academic Program (LEAP). At Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.
1210 Jordan Street, Suite 2A
North Liberty, IA 52317
2570 106th Street, Suite E
Urbandale, IA 50322