Practice makes perfect, but only if your child is practicing correctly. Each time your child memorizes an incorrect spelling, their practice ergo their time is wasted. The bigger problem is that when educating young children, there’s no time to waste in the first place. They need to be taught so much in such a short period and spelling activities can help children bridge that gap.
Besides, being able to spell correctly is an important basic skill that prepares a child for reading and writing. Acquiring the knowledge of how to spell words helps in building the foundation that all children require not just throughout their education but life in general. Spellings are necessary because they help cement the connection between letters and sounds.
The interesting this is that language is all around us - there are words on the street signs, on the posters, on the TV, and even on t-shirts. The more that children hear and see a word, the more permanently it gets engraved in their memory. They are more likely to catch up on correct spelling patterns from frequent exposure, and this is exactly what spelling activities aim to achieve.
Students can, however, easily become discouraged when they get low grades for spelling in school. They may begin to indulge in self-blame, feel incompetent, and think badly about themselves and their mental abilities. This a particularly terrible thing to happen, given that spelling ability has nothing to do with intelligence - it’s all about practice. That’s why it is important to help every student to build their spelling skills by practicing spelling activities.
The Right Time To Begin Spelling Education For Children
Young, three-year-old children whose alphabet knowledge is fresh and complete, are capable of beginning spelling education. However, the best indicator of a child’s readiness is when they start ‘inventing’ spellings. For example, if you ask your child to write “flow” and they write something like “flo” – a very close variant of the correct spelling, your child is ready for more detailed learning.
Also, spellings come much more easily after kids know how to read common words and short sentences. When your child has finished their ‘sight words’ practice, is also a great time for beginning spelling lessons. If not, it is best to hold back on spellings until the child can read at a basic level.
Even though many schools wait until the second- or third-grade level to begin teaching spellings, logic suggests that if your child can read at a basic level, grade two or three is too long to wait. Here’s why:
1. Spellings should be taught before your child gets burdened with the rest of the subjects in school.
2. You do not want your child to be guessing how to spell words. This is a bad habit and every parent knows that bad habits are very hard to correct. Also, over time, patterns form in the brain which can make it even more difficult to break bad habits.
3. Acquiring skills and instilling confidence early in school time will keep your child far from ever thinking that they are a poor student and that education is a struggle. This newfound confidence can be the thing that makes your child fall in love with studies, and no parent would want their child to be devoid of this.
This is why it’s always preferred to start teaching spellings by the end of first grade, but even if your child is older than that, there’s no need to despair. Spelling activities are ideal and effective for older kids as well.
Fun And Engaging Spelling Activities For Your Child
Involving your child in activities where learning spellings is the main focus, is a great way to spend time with your child and help them do something productive – both at once. In more technical terms, such activities also help children to figure out which letters appear together more often, such as the ‘tt’ in letter, better, wetter, etc.
Some activities you can try with your kids are:
1. Creating a ‘spelling wall’ at home:
Every week hang a new blank paper on one of the walls in your kids’ room so as to create a ‘learning and spelling center’. Encourage your kids to write down every new word that they learn on that blank paper. Don’t remove the sheet of paper once it fills up, instead just add more sheets. Eventually, the whole wall will fill up with sheets of new words. The continuous exposure to spelled-out words will help your child memorize them faster. Use colorful pens to make the wall look pretty!
2. Making a crossword:
Crossword puzzles are a superb way to make spelling education appealing, as they involve a more energetic type of learning and problem-solving. Crossword activities are also effective in boosting both long-term and short-term memory. Timed crosswords are even better as they require quick thinking, which has a knock-on effect on learning. The best part is, there are many fun-themed crosswords available for free on the internet and are a boon for working parents who are always short of time.
3. Using rhymes and rhyming words:
Thanks to rhymes, you can help your kids better understand the words that they are trying to learn, that too in a singsongy, fun, and frolicky way. The addition of rhythms makes children more likely to start murmuring them. Kids can make connections faster, and once they know how to spell one word, the spellings of its rhyming counterparts are much easier to figure out. For example, the road from ‘fast’ to ‘last’ and ‘vast’ is pretty straightforward.
4. Making the world a spelling playground:
Words are far and wide.Go to the supermarket, find the child's favorite packed food, and ask them to spell it into a notebook and draw and color a simple image of it. Then, check to see if the child has gotten it correct. Turn this out into a game by giving them a small prize (probably their favorite food itself!) for every time they win.
5. Getting personal:
Make a list of the things that mean most to your child, like photographs of family members, friends, and familiar places.Ask them to spell out the names of the people and also identify and spell the objects appearing in the pictures.It’s easier for the kids to remember something that is relevant and important to them.Having their very own spelling list can give them a great deal of confidence too!
The Bottomline of Spelling Education
By now, it’s clear that spellings are the stepping stones to reading and writing seamlessly. In fact, some kids are able to grasp meanings better and more effortlessly through spelling than reading. Even if a child is struggling with spellings or simply finds them boring or too exhaustive, when they start with spelling activities, they are suddenly struck with inspiration and a new attraction towards learning, because it seems so much more fun.
Now that you’re ready with a bag full of activities to try with your child, get started today!