Published October 8, 2015

When a child is first learning to spell, they use “kid spelling” to write down every sound that they hear in a word. For example, my five year old was recently given a spelling test at school and this is what it looked like:

  1. jet
  2. sip (ship)
  3. bet
  4. got
  5. jrum (drum)
  6. bup   (bump)
  7. muh (much)
  8. wis   (wish)
  9. map
  10. hop
  11. plan
  12. cap

When I get to see a child’s authentic spelling, it tells me a lot about that child. So of course, when it’s my own child, I get very excited to see what they can do. If I were to analyze her test, or any other child’s test, I first start with what she knows.

What is known: beginning and ending consonants, short vowels, blends

What is unknown: nothing

What is the child using but confusing: affricates (jr=dr), preconsonantal nasals (m=mp), digraphs (sh, ch)

“Kid Spelling” should inform a teacher of what the child knows, what is completely unknown to the child, and what the child is using but confusing. The teacher then automatically knows that this child’s instructional level of learning is where he/she is “using but confusing” his/her sounds. Of course, because I’m the “spelling mom” I review my child’s work immediately with her and show her what sounds she “used but confused”.

For the next few weeks, while she is taking a bath, we review digraphs, preconsonantal nasals and affricates for her to write on the wall with soap suds. This is her very favorite place to learn how to spell. I like to usually teach my children in places that appear to be a more fun environment to learn; on a walk, in the car, in the bath, in the shower…anywhere that doesn’t “look” like I’m teaching them.

Now when my third and fifth grader come home with misspelled words, I look at it quite differently. If they misspell any word, I automatically write the correct spelling of that word above the misspelled word and review it with them.

WHY? I don’t truly believe in kid spelling. In order to know how to spell a word correctly, a child must understand the pattern within that word. After that child encounters that one word spelled the same each time, it will become imprinted in their brain. An imprint is a fancy way of saying memorize. Therefore, a child has imprinted the word into the brain to make it permanent.

BUT WHY? What if a child continues to spell the word, bear like, “bare” and this child writes this word over and over? The incorrect spelling is now imprinted in this child’s brain.

Think how hard it would be to unlearn something that is permanent in your brain.

So the next time your child uses “kid spelling,” simply write the correct spelling above the misspelled word and review it with them.

According to the Human-Memory.net, “Recall or retrieval of memory refers to the subsequent re-accessing of events or information from the past, which have been previously encoded and stored in the brain. In common parlance, it is known as remembering.”