For the past three or so years, my daughter has brought home a list of spelling words to learn every week (quiz on Fridays). English is a very difficult language to learn, due to all the ‘exceptions’ and silent letters, so there are many times when you can’t sound out the word, but must simply memorize the spelling (I didn’t realize how tricky English was until I had to help my daughter learn it). Kids don’t tend to have much tolerance for repetition, but the reality is that this is what helps our brains store information in long-term memory so that we are able to retrieve it when needed. So, how can we help our children learn techniques for studying spelling words more effectively?
It has been proven that memory is enhanced by the use of multiple senses, so have your child read the words, spell them out loud and write them out five times each (however, have them check the spelling of the word after they write it once, so they are not practicing the wrong spelling). When my daughter comes home with the spelling words written in her planner, I have her copy them into a binder that I keep by the kitchen table, so that I can quiz her whenever I get a minute. She tends to get rather irritated when I quiz her on the easier words so, once she proves to me that she can spell these words, I only quiz her on the more difficult ones.
Memory enhancement techniques can also come in handy. Sometimes, we sing the letters in a rhythm or to a familiar tune, or use some other cue to help her remember (e.g. to remember the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’, notice that the word ‘there’ contains the word ‘here’ which suggests location versus possession). For ongoing spelling practice that’s also fun, try playing spelling games such as Scrabble or Bananagrams with your child.
This article provides some great tips to help your children study their spelling words.
Sometimes it seems as though good spelling and grammar are becoming obsolete (what with spell check and the various acronyms that have become a standard part of our vocabulary), but I think they are still valuable skills to have and will be valued in the workplace for many years to come. In addition, any strategies that help our kids remember information, can be invaluable in virtually every facet of life.