The ability to spell is a critical component for children to have in order to be successful in school and beyond. The following ideas will help you teach your emergent reader to be a great speller:
Spelling is best-learned in context. Several contexts can be provided for effective spelling instruction, such as word groupings and subject context.
First, spelling can be taught using the word grouping, also known as the word study method. This method teaches kids to make discoveries that involve patterns in words. For example, when studying words that begin with a hard ‘c’ or hard ‘k’ sound, children will discover that words that begin with a hard ‘c’ sound are usually followed by ‘a’, ‘u’ or ‘o’ (cat, cut, cot) and letters that start with a hard ‘k’ sound are often followed by ‘e’ or ‘I’ (key, kit). Children are then able to use the generalizations that they discover to spell more effectively.
Subject context can also help with teaching spelling. Is your child interested in trains? Gather a list of spelling words from a lesson on trains that will delight your child. Does your child have a favorite story? Focus on spelling words that are drawn from the story. When children are familiar with the words and have seen them in action in a favorite story or subject, they will be able to absorb the correct spelling more effectively.
Focus on All Sounds:
The ability to break down letters into their smallest sound or phoneme is also critical for spelling success. As you read with your child, be sure to teach all sounds the letters make including short and long vowel sounds, all consonant sounds, blends (bl, cl, tr, gr…), digraphs (th, ch…) and diphthongs (ow, ay…). When children know these sounds, they will be able to break down words in order to spell.
Get Creative with Words During Play Time:
Aside from direct spelling instruction, the best way to help your child to become a strong speller is to encourage creativity and play with words during their free time. Have your child write a letter to Santa or to a far away relative during the holiday season. Create plays or short stories together and ‘publish’ them by adding a colorful cover. Use finger paints or iPad apps, such as “Elmo ABC’s” to encourage tracing, which is a fun way to reinforce letter sequence.
In general, spelling is best taught through a context of reading strategies and through experiences. The more integrated the spelling lesson is, the better. Have fun spelling, reading and playing with your child this holiday season!