By Rachel Wells
Chances are if you have a school aged child, you are familiar with spelling tests. Have you ever wondered why spelling words are such a regular part of education or enrichment classes? Spelling not only improves both reading and writing skills, but there is a strong connection between spelling words and reading comprehension as well.
A deep understanding of how letters and sounds are put together to create words, helps to create proficiency with our language. When a student understands a words meaning, sounds, and patterns, they are more likely to recognize it when reading, and be able to spell it when writing.
So if your child receives a 100% on a spelling test, does that mean they have mastered the words? Not necessarily. Children need to be exposed to concepts multiple times and in meaningful ways for them to stick in long term memory. Many children need to read, write, and interact with words through hands on activities to really develop a deep and more complete understanding.
If children need tools to help them remember how to spell words not just for a test, but to carry that knowledge into their reading, writing, and long term memory, what can we do to help? We can spend time focusing on the sounds in words rather than just the letter names, examine sound patterns in words, and try some interactive hands on approaches as well.
Use letter magnets, alphabet blocks, or even rocks to build and spell words. You can give your child a magazine and see if they can find and highlight their spelling words throughout the text. Another student favorite is to assign each number on a dice with a specific color of scented markers.
Have your child roll the dice, and write the spelling word on a piece of paper with the assigned color. Keep rolling and see how many colors you can write on top of each other to create a word rainbow.