English is a complicated language, and many children struggle with spelling. A lot of adults also have problems in this area, including some of the world’s greatest writers!
Kids who find spelling difficult should be encouraged by this news, but it’s not an excuse to neglect their spelling. The ability to spell is the hallmark of a good education and something employers look closely at. There’s no point having a top education if you can’t get by without spellcheck!
Fortunately, there are many ways to improve spelling skills.
Start a Spelling Log
Traditional spelling lists are limited because kids don’t find the same words difficult. A typical spelling list will contain many words students already know how to spell, wasting time and energy that could be devoted to new words.
The best way to counteract this is for kids to create their own spelling logs made up of words they’re not confident with. As they master these words, they can be eliminated and new words added.
People learn best when material is meaningful to them, and spelling is no different. To ensure the words in their log have context, students should source them from a novel they’re reading, or from an area of study in another subject. By connecting spelling words to other learning, they have a much better chance of remembering them.
Games and Activities
Individual spelling logs provide much scope for related activities and games. For example, kids can compete in spelling bees using their logs, or put their words into sentences and share them. As a result, the whole group will be exposed to a wider variety of words, helping to develop their spelling and vocabulary.
Kids can also make flashcards of their words, draw pictures to go with them and play games like Pictionary. Research has found that learning is enhanced when several senses are involved, so children should be encouraged to say words out loud too.
Simple games like Scrabble and Hangman are excellent for developing kids’ spelling skills, and there are many activities and resources available online. The goal is to help kids think of language as interesting and fun, which in turn will make them more attentive to new words.
All reading helps when it comes to spelling, from roads signs and cereal boxes to comic books and advertisements. The more words children are exposed to, the better they will be at spelling. This is because the brain learns how to spell words visually, not through knowledge of abstract rules. The prime way people can tell if a word is spelt incorrectly is because it doesn’t ‘look right,’ meaning that a word is remembered as an image.
The secret to becoming good at spelling is to expose the brain to words over and over until the image is embedded in memory. Encouraging kids to read for fun is one of the best ways to ensure they see as many words as possible.
Spelling is a valuable life-skill that all kids need.