Sometimes children who struggle in spelling can excel in other areas of language including reading, speaking and listening. How to teach spelling is often overlooked, because many assume that spelling either comes naturally or not at all. In reality, spelling is a skill that is taught in the K-3 years. If a teacher learns how to teach spelling correctly, students can become good spellers.
The Reading Elephant phonics series offers clear guidance in how to teach spelling, since sound patterns are introduced one at a time.
Oftentimes, children who struggle in spelling also struggle with reading.
Spelling Problems Compound
The problem of chronic frequent spelling errors can compound, causing the student to fall further and further behind. Ultimately, spelling issues can create self-esteem problems.
Students who misspell common words often hide their writing. They avoid writing notes to friends and sharing their essays with peers. If they’re embarrassed, they’ll work hard to hide their spelling issues. They may even think of themselves as dumb because their peers can spell and they can’t.
Whether we like it or not, spelling is often associated with professionalism. Think about it: if this post were fraught with spelling errors would you even think about hiring me to teach your child? Probably not.
Spelling Problems Impede the Revision Process
And no, spellcheck is not a solution. Take a student who struggles with spelling and have them write an essay using spellcheck. You will quickly see that they won’t know which word to pick on the list of words spellcheck provides. Their essay will be a kind of language scramble.
Spelling errors is such an easy issue to improve. However, if the student is behind, it may take several years of targeted quick weekly training to improve.
How to Teach Spelling
To improve spelling there are only a handful of sound patterns a student needs to memorize. With these very common phonemes, students can spell large quantities of words accurately. Thus, they avoid the endless tedium of trying to memorize how to spell every single word in the English language (which is near impossible, unless you want to be on the 20-year track to becoming literate).
Students also need to memorize the 150 most common sight words (these are words that don’t follow phonetic patterns).
If the student is more advanced, yet struggles to spell long words, they then need to shift over to memorizing a select few sight syllables.
Memorizing a handful of sound patterns and sight words/syllables is A WHOLE LOT MORE EFFICIENT than trying to remember how to spell every single word in our extensive language.
For more info on how to teach spelling, check out: How To Teach Spelling.
Reading Elephant offers Printable Phonics Books that help students practice phonics sounds.