Sunday, September 2, 2012

Spelling Tips

By far, the question I get most at the beginning of first grade is how you can help your child do well on spelling tests. Spelling tests are new for many children and some struggle with them at first. If your child is not doing well on spelling tests, it is not necessarily a cause for concern at this point. It takes a few weeks for some children to do well on their spelling tests. Here are some things you can do to help your child be successful on spelling tests and with spelling in general.

  • Make sure your child practices reading the word as much as they practice spelling the word. When your child is used to what the word looks like they will more easily be able to tell if it is wrong when they write it down.
  • Make flash cards that have the spelling words on them. Have your child read the words to you. Mix the words up so that they are not memorizing the order.
  • Give your child mock spelling tests. Have them practice writing the words down on paper as you read the word to the student. Again, mix up the words so they don't just memorize the order.
  • While driving in the car to and from school, or running errands, name off the words and have your child spell them for you, or have your child read the word off the list or flashcards and spell it for you. Even if they spell it while looking at the card it will help your child remember the spelling.
  • When reading a book or when you see a spelling word written somewhere ask them to point it out or show it to them and ask them to read to you. We want the student to be able to recognize the word in actual writing, not just for spelling tests.
  • Write the word on the paper with a few misspellings of the word. See if your child can identify which word is spelled correctly.
  • Ask your child to use the word in a sentence. If they cannot use it correctly help them come up with one.
  • Have your child practice writing the words in a variety of ways. Let them use marker, pen, watercolors, crayons or even glue to write the words. Also have them practice forming the letters of the word with play doh, yarn, string, pipe cleaners, etc. Writing the words in more fun and unusual ways can help them remember them and make them more willing to practice. I have yarn and pipe cleaners I am more than willing to send home if you are interested in trying this. Just send a note in your child's folder. 
  • Help your child practice saying the word slowly and stretching it out to spell it. They might especially need help hearing the vowel sounds.
  • Practice letter names and sounds with your child. When your child knows what letter makes each of the sounds they will be more successful at sounding out all words, including their spelling words. 
  • Review words from past weeks. We want to be sure the students don't forget the words just because the test is over!
The most important thing about spelling tests is for the children to remember the words and be able to read and write them even after the spelling test is over. Having them go over the word in a variety of ways and making sure your child practices reading the words as much as they practice spelling them will help with this.

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