When children are able to spell well, writing becomes more enjoyable and effortless. The problem is often that there are so many words that it can seem overwhelming and it is hard to know which words to teach and where to start.
There are a number of key strategies that children need to use when learning how to spell. One of them is memorising the spelling of high frequency words, which are words they are most likely to encounter in their reading and writing. The underlying theory is that if we teach children words that they are more likely to use in their own writing, they will be better equipped to write.
The best way to teach your child to spell commonly used words is to introduce a Spelling Journal.
What is a Spelling Journal?
A Spelling Journal is a list of words that children regularly use in their writing, which need to be learnt at a pace appropriate to their ability.
When do I start using a Spelling Journal with my child?
When teaching a child to write words, they must first be able to hear sounds in words and then write the letter/s that make each sound. It is very important that children are confidently doing this, so if you are unsure what I mean or your child hasn’t yet achieved this skill, click here. The next step to increase the amount of commonly used words your child can spell, which is the perfect time to start using a Spelling Journal with your child.
How do I start using a Spelling Journal with my child?
You will need:
- Spelling Journal (AVAILABLE VERY SOON)
- School Start Buddy
Time needed: 10 minutes
Ask your child to spell the first word from the Spelling Journal on the School Start Buddy blank whiteboard with the marker. If they spell it correctly, give the word a tick to show your child has learnt that word and then move on to the next word. When your child spells a word incorrectly, stop testing words and progress to Step Two.
Give your child only the magnetic letters that are in the word they spelt incorrectly (previous step) and ask them to make the word. Since your child only has the letters that are in the word, they will have more clues to spell the word correctly this time. For example, they might realise they missed a sound.
Mix up the magnetic letters in the word and make it again. Repeat this process until your child is confidently putting the letters in the correct order.
Place the magnetic letters back on the resource board and encourage your child to have another go at writing the word with the whiteboard marker.
Close your School Start Buddy and put it away. Next time you do the activity with your child, start from the first word that hasn’t got a tick next to it.
Why parents should use a Spelling Journal with their child/children
As a parent, you are in the best position to use a Spelling Journal with your child. It is an individualised learning tool that is difficult for teachers to use frequently in the classroom because they rarely get a chance to work one-on-one with students.
The four main advantages of a parent using a Spelling Journal with their child are:
√ Your child is able to learn at a pace appropriate to their ability; they might learn the words quickly or they may need extra practice.
√ You can add words to your child’s spelling journal that they are spelling incorrectly in their writing – which is highly individualised to your child.
√ The more words your child can spell, the easier it is to learn new words. This is because they are able to make connections between words they know how to spell when learning new words.
√ Your child’s writing will improve because they can spell words that they are actually using.