Help your child develop good spelling skills with these expert strategies.
Learning to spell is a developmental process, so the answer to how to help a child learn to spell depends on the child’s developmental level for spelling.
Young children begin to spell using a strategy we call “invented spelling.” That is, they attempt to spell words the way they sound. This strategy is known to enhance early reading skills and speed up the acquisition of conventional spelling down the road—so don’t jump to correct these early writing attempts. At early spelling stages, an over-emphasis on spelling accuracy can inhibit a child’s motivation to write. While we do not want to send the message that correct spelling doesn’t matter or ignore studies showing that long-term spelling difficulties can contribute a child’s lack of academic confidence, it’s best to take a balanced approach.
The first step is to help your child build what some educators call a spelling conscience. Take a sample of your child’s writing and have her point out any words she thinks she may have spelled incorrectly. Misspelled words are likely to fall into two categories:
To help your child learn to spell those more difficult words, you can try a couple strategies:
Remember that spelling takes practice. The rules of spelling take years to learn, so know when to acknowledge that your child is working at her developmental level.