A guest post by Amanda Lehrman from The Momma Files.
Amanda Lehrman has a background in education and is a mother to her son Jack. This is her final post in the September Education Series as a guest writer for Mama Tales.
With the various spelling strategies taught in school, many parents struggle with which one to use at home. Some of you tell your child to sound out the word, some say to look it up in the dictionary or refer to spell check on the computer. I believe that a combination of these strategies can be used, often depending on your individual child. The one universal piece of advice I have is to let each child explore his or her surroundings and come to a conclusion on his or her own.
Sound weird? Let me explain. When my students entered their classroom the first few days, everything was new. We wrote and drew a lot at the beginning of the year and there were so many questions of, “how do you spell this?” and “how do you spell that?” We hadn’t learned all of the sounding out strategies yet, they didn’t know how to use a dictionary or a word wall, much less spell check on a computer, and so what was I to do? Everyone got a bunch of index cards and tape and we started labeling. However they thought a word should be spelled, that’s how it went up on the index card. The only way it was corrected was when someone realized that a word was spelled differently. This happened when we were reading together, when they were reading alone, when someone saw a sign for the word “shelves” and realized that our class spelling was incorrect. We would cross out, never erase, the incorrect spelling and write the correct version underneath. Gradually, my students became aware of their surroundings and started to notice words and the patterns that they followed. They took an interest in how words were spelled and why certain combinations of letters created
certain sounds. It was the most successful way to have them take ownership of their own learning. One by one, week by week, all of the words in our classroom were labeled correctly and they remained posted around the room for the entire school year. They used these index cards as reference points and before they knew it, they did not need the index card; they had committed the correct spelling to memory. Mission accomplished.
If your child is older or you want to challenge them, you can add words such as television, refrigerator and staircase. Perhaps they will be on an educational website, see the spelling of mirror and realize that the spelling looks different from how it was spelled on the index card on your bathroom mirror. Maybe they will see a sign for apricots in the supermarket and realize the correct spelling of the word. It will happen in random locations, at random times but having your child understand the importance of spelling and realize the feeling of accomplishment will never be random. It will be priceless! Try it out and let me know how it goes!