If you want your child to be a good speller, then put the time into helping them. This is not something that you can fix with an app on a phone, or a DVD from the 99c store. This is your offspring–so it is your job to prepare him/her for the world, and even though computers have largely made knowing how to spell obsolete, the self-esteem it allows is not.
Being a 32yr old who forges a sick note and spells stomach as “Stomak” is not something you want to happen in your child’s future. Do not forget that when your child learns a skill directly from you, it is far more rewarding when they use it in the future. Do you want your child pumping gas because “gas” is the only word that he or she can spell? Alternatively, do you want him/her writing for the New Yorker and thanking you at his/her “Promotion to editor” banquet?
Teach your child the phonetic alphabet
They should do this in elementary school, but you need to make sure it is burned into their mind because it helps them to construct word. The phonetic alphabet is about pronouncing letters such as “e” as “Ehh”, because “Ehh” is how “e” sounds in words such as “egg” and “elephant.” Don’t worry about them knowing the adult alphabet; they will have learned that version by high school age (especially if Sesame Street has anything to do with it).
Teach your child about silent letters
The “T” in yacht and “B” in plumbing is going to trip your child up in the future. Do not expect them to understand them in their younger years, but at least expose them to the tricky side of spelling at some point.
Teach your child about what “e” does
It turns “shin” into “shine.” Many teachers call the “e” a magic “e” because it changes the way that other letters sound. For example, in shin/shine, it changes the way the “I” sounds. You could so worse than asking their teacher how he or she is teaching the children about such letters. If the teacher is calling the “e” an “altering e” and you are calling it a “magic e” then it may confuse your child.
Teach your child that a vowel should appear in almost all words
This is one of those big cheats in spelling that we adults take for granted. Knowing at least one vowel must appear in most words is a big help to kids.
Teach your child about how “Y” is sometimes a vowel
Here we bend the rules again, as you explain to your child that sometimes a letter “Y” becomes the vowel of the word, such as with “My”. Touch upon quirks such as the Y-vowel and silent letters upon rare occasions. Try to focus most of your effort on the fundamental and common spelling rules, because your child will tend to learn words such as “chrysanthemum”, “diarrhea” and “Yacht” as they get older anyways.
Teach your child with Flashcards
After you have had a few years of teaching your child how to spell, he or she should be getting good at it. Use flashcards with incomplete sentences and have them spell the missing word, such as, “Harry tried to u——–d what his teacher was explaining to him”.
Teach your child with treats and rewards
Positive reinforcement is the only tool you should ever use. NEVER punish a child for getting it wrong or you will cause a nest of inner neurosis and social problems that may have devastating results in older life.
Teach your child that spelling can be difficult
But, tell them that challenges are good, and that overcoming a challenge is a rewarding experience. Let them know that it is difficult so that they do not feel silly for finding spelling hard, but let them know that it gets easier as they get better. Let you child know that learning takes time, but that one day they will be able to spell “Thermometer” without any help.
Teach your child with spelling signs around the house
Put a sign on the credenza with the spelling, one on the table, sofa, door, encyclopedia, etc. It’s an old spelling-bee revision trick that parents have used for generations. Make them out of card and tack them onto things around the home. Your neighbors may think you are a little nutty when they come around for morning tea, but they will be laughing on the other side of their face when your child attends an Ivy League College, whilst their child appears on Jerry Springer.
Teach your child how to spell at the dinner table
Have them spell the things on their plate, and reward good spelling with praise. Broccoli, Cauliflower and potato are hard words to spell, so do it at the dinner table where you are going to be with your child anyway.
Meghan Ivarsson is a writer for educational portal, Scholar Advisor. It contains useful information on writing, essay checkers and essay editing.