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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Articles for Teachers

Improve Spelling
By:Stuart Ackerman

When you meet someone, you get a 'first impression' by their face, attire, and mannerisms. All of these cues enable you to develop a 'pre-judgment' of the person before getting to know them.

Spelling skills have a similar effect!

Regardless if you are a student, job applicant, salesperson, or professional writer, your abilities (or lack thereof) to spell give a powerful first impression. People automatically make pre-judgments about you and your 'intelligence'. That's right, your intelligence.

We are instantly assessed by our peers based on our ability to spell. Spelling has become a 'marker' for the level of education one has. Poor spellers are often seen as having less education and perhaps even less knowledge than their better spelling peers.

Fortunately, spelling is a skill that can improve, especially for children. The average five year old has a vocabulary of about 2500-5000 words whereas the average college student has up to 200,000 words! If a child is a poor speller, he or she has the opportunity to revisit misspelled words on a regular basis in the classroom and at home.

There are many ways that parents can help their children grow up to become more proficient spellers. Try to incorporate some of the following suggestions:

• Teach your child how to use a dictionary to check words. This skill helps children learn how to spell in two ways. First, by finding the word in the dictionary, students learn how to spell the word correctly. Secondly, the skill of using a dictionary (i.e. looking at the first letter, then the second...) is a powerful tool for learning how to spell.

• Your child can create an alphabetical list of misspelled words. Again, using the 'dictionary' skills of scanning letters is of great benefit. Furthermore, your child will have the opportunity to actually write the word correctly on paper.

• Teach your child 'word families' and common 'word rules'. Fewer tools are as effective as teaching spelling as word families (e.g. words ending in 'ake', 'ing') and word rules (e.g. 'I before e, except after c).

• Focus on proper use of homonyms (e.g. their, they're, their). Students often use the wrong homonym!

• Show your child how to use spell checking features in a word processor.

• Introduce your child to different genres (e.g. fiction, science, history...) of text. The exposure to a wide variety of genre-specific words will give your child a more rounded and diverse vocabulary.

Have your child incorporate some spelling strategies at home on a regular basis and don't' forget to give your child the confidence and praise.

Consistency is the key!

Stuart Ackerman is founder of Tutorgiant.com

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