A kindergartener wrote: “I told my mummy I want exzacly two pees in my soop.”
A job application read: ‘Martial status’
A group email at work said: “Condradulations on your promotion!”
Yes! Bad spelling can be humorous, but it can also be embarrassing. Poor spelling allows room for misunderstandings and embarrassing situations. It can put your child at a huge disadvantage as she tries to progress forward in her education. Good spelling is extremely important for her to do well in school and in her career.
Spelling in English is especially difficult as it contains words from several languages. This means that there are rules to be mastered that are native to several languages. For instance, vowel clusters do not sound the same in different words like ‘blood’, ‘food’ and ‘good’. Even the forming of plurals has a variety of rules. Keep reading to learn some easy but guaranteed ways to help your child master spelling.
How to help your child master spelling
Ages 3 to 5 years
- Use magnetic letters to spell out simple words. Use three-letter words like cat, bat, fat and pot. Make sure the words are simple enough for him to read. Start with simple words.
- Don’t look at the alphabet song and simple nursery rhymes with disdain! Have sing-alongs on your car-rides that revolve around a few versions of the Alphabet Song and rhymes that incorporate spelling, like “And Bingo was his name, oh!” and “I’m H-A-P-P-Y”. Substitute some words with their spelling in sentences. For example: “Who wants some J-U-I-C-E?”
- Fill her reading time with picture books, simple stories and children’s first dictionaries. Get into the habit of reading a bedtime story with her until she memorises most of it. Ask her to then point to the words as you read them and later point to the words as she says them from memory. This develops familiarity with words.
- Teach her to spell her own name. Allow her to use paper mache, beads, vegetable printing, cardboard or play dough to create word art to spell her name. Make sure you display it for everyone to appreciate.
- Ask her to copy or trace each word onto a book for her to keep. The shapes of letters and their placements become clearer in this way.
Ages 6 to 9 years
- Give him dictations and reward him for every attempt, whether correct or not. Repetition and reinforcement will help him learn to tackle the inconsistencies of English spelling.
- Engage her services to jot down shopping lists, to-do reminders and weekly menus. Let her know that her writing is important to the family and to you. Use these opportunities to help her polish up her spelling.
- Make spelling time a time of play with board games like Scrabble, Boggle, Hangman and Didax Chunks. Download simple crosswords onto your phone for him to try.
- A long weekend could be the best time to introduce her to word collages. Use the end-products to jazz up her room. Remind her to show them off the next time her friends come over.
- Demonstrate the use of a dictionary and place a student’s dictionary well within his reach, in his study area. Urge him to clear his doubts while studying independently with the help of the dictionary.
Ages 10 to 12 years
- Letter-manipulation can help your spelling maestro. Write the root word on a chart and put it up in his study area. His task will be to create as many words as possible using prefixes, suffixes and changes in tense. Games of Kangaroo Letters are effective tools as well. He can mix and match the letters in the word to spell out as many words as possible. For example, ‘H-I-P-P-O-P-O-T-A-M-U-S’ contains ‘hip’, ‘pot’, ‘am’, ‘us’ and so on.
- This is the age of computers and your child needs to know how to use the spellcheck facility that computers provide. Guide her to correct spellings carefully, even while using spellcheck. Committing these to memory will go a long way in helping her master spelling.
- Your child’s birthday is a great time to gift him a book of crosswords that will challenge his ability to spell. Get one for yourself and compare scores to encourage him as he fortifies his spelling muscles.
- Family time could ideally include a ‘Wheel of Fortune Spelling’ game and ‘Spelling Bees’. This would be a great time for him to display his spelling skills.
- Homophones and homonyms can be quite daunting unless she gets accustomed to them. Use charts, party flags, runners, ribbon décor and magnetic boards to familiarise her with words that sound the same but spell differently and words that spell the same but have different meanings.
A word of caution: If you find that your child is constantly hitting a wall regarding spelling, you may need to take him to a specialist. You may have already heard of conditions like dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia. Don’t be discouraged. There are solutions to all of these.
'Practice makes perfect' and 'Patience is a virtue'. Keeping these in mind, it would be wise to be as patient as possible with your child as she finds her way around learning and using correct spelling. Encourage her gently and fill your instructions with appreciation. Maintain a routine to ensure that she exercises her spelling muscles regularly!
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