I love challenges! This morning I woke up to one that got the wheels and cogs turning fast in my head. :)
Here’s the challenge: What can I do to help a intermediate reader improve in spelling?
If you were me, what would you say? I like to be unconventional and I believe that all education must be first and foremost for the children. That is the only explanation I will give you for the uniqueness of my solutions below… no long lectures today. It’s all about ideas and a fresh approach!
Here are the five ways I’ve come up with:
1. Stop writing lists. Writing is a workout for children, even if it isn’t for us. If you want your child to learn and really learn, let him concentrate on just one thing at a time—either on handwriting, or on spelling. Not both at once. Multitasking is okay for computers and adults, but not for children. Instead of writing the words, let them type them. (It will be one finger typing, and it will be time consuming at first, but it can be fun too…if you know how to make it fun!) Let them type on keyboards, phones, touchscreens… Let them spell with plastic letters, macaroni letters… Let them dictate the spelling while you write exactly what they say… Be creative! There are lots of ways you can have them practice without making them write!
2. Make the words visible. What I mean by that is simply, make sure that the child sees the words often. Put up words on the wall beside their bed, on their closet door… There are other ways to increase their exposure to words. Be creative! How about clothes with words printed on them? Children tend to remember those better than any other…particularly if they like those clothes. When I was little, I had a souvenier T-shirt with the word Malacca printed on it. Needless to say, it was a word I could spell early. :) Try it. You’ll be amazed at how much their spelling will improve.
3. Keep a spelling journal. Basically, a spelling journal is a (nice, pretty, attractive) notebook with all the troublesome spelling words. And again, get creative! Call it your “Secret Book of Important Words” that only you and your child can open (it’s a secret, you see). Make it a big ceremony whenever your child overcomes the word and can cross it off the book. Don’t shame your child when he doesn’t know how to spell a word and has to add it to the list… help him understand that it’s just another word you’re going to overcome together. (Come on, there are words that even you have trouble with up to this day, right?!) If there is a word that seems to be particularly troublesome, put it up beside his bed…maybe with a fun picture (this goes back to Tip 2).
4. Do weird things with the words. Seriously, Teacher Suzannah. I warned you, I’m unconventional. Children like fresh, weird, unconventional things. If it works, do it. What sorts of weird things? Your creativity is the limit! Use mirrors and see if they can recognize the words in the reflection. Have them spell a word to enter the kitchen, or to open the fridge. Bounce a ball as you spell the words. (Yeah, not your regular sit-at-the-table-copy-the-list spelling session. I know). And if you can have fun while you do it, you’ve got the idea. It will take creativity on your part. But after all, if their spelling improves because of it, it’s worth the effort, isn’t it?
5. Read more. This is one thing we get very conventional about. Reading becomes the customary bedtime story session. And while bedtime stories are fine, add some unconventionality to it. Dramatise. Memorise. Improvise. And yes, I’m serious. I actually memorised quite a few childhood stories because I read them so often. One of those I still remember to this day starts, “Mummy, Claire and James McFee went to a teddy bear’s picnic tea. There were lots of people there, and children had to bring a bear…” That’s the storybook you see on the right. It was one of my favourites… still is! ;)
These suggestions are not meant to stand alone. They are meant to be used together, as an approach. So please, don’t take just one idea and implement it zealously and forget about the rest, or you might be disappointed! Have fun, and all the best with improving your children’s spelling!
Thank you for reading! Any other spelling ideas to share?