Most early elementary school students have weekly spelling tests. As parents, it falls to us to help our kiddos prepare. Whether our kids are good spellers or struggling spellers, the studying process can be tedious. According to the article, “How Words Cast Their Spell”, written in the 2008-2009 edition of American Educator, “The correlation between spelling and reading comprehension is high because both depend on a common denominator: proficiency with language….The more deeply and thoroughly a student knows a word, the more likely he or she is to recognize it, spell it, define it, and use it appropriately in speech and writing.” So, spelling is a vital part of the education process. But don’t despair dear parent! With some creativity and an open mind, you and your child can have successful spelling study sessions!
Make it Special
One great way to study for a spelling test is to write the words several times. However, like any repetitious activity, the process can become boring. Put a little thought into what might motivate your child. For instance, maybe the two of you could go to the store and buy special markers, pencils, crayons, or even paints. These can be designated for spelling words only! When it is time to write the words five times each, ask your child to get out her special markers. This will make the process a lot more fun for your little learner. Remember, the markers (or crayons, pencils) are only special if you save them for their intended purpose. Resist the urge to let your little one use them for everyday use.
Offer an Incentive
Who doesn’t like receiving a small reward every now and then? As adults we enjoy that little perk for a job well done, and our kiddos do as well! How about offering a small treat for every word spelled correctly? One M&M for every word spelled correctly can really motivate your child. Not crazy about offering sugar as a reward? That’s fine! Try finding a cool sheet of stickers. Whenever your little guy spells a word properly, let him choose one to put on his shirt or paper. As you can see, the point is not to offer something extravagant (after all, spelling tests come around weekly!) but to provide a small incentive to persevere. So think about what your kid would enjoy and try incorporating it into the study process.
Think Outside of the Box
Studying for a spelling test doesn’t always have to mean putting pencil to paper or spelling words out loud. Sometimes when my eight year old is studying for a spelling test he uses the letter magnets on our refrigerator to spell out the words. This change of pace makes the studying session more fun and he is creating motor memory as well. This same idea can be used with alphabet blocks, letters cut from magazines, Scrabble tiles, etc.
You and your kiddo could also get a little messy! Try spreading a thin layer of icing on a cookie sheet and having your child write out the words with her finger in the icing. Her reward for spelling the word correctly? Licking her fingers of course! You could also use finger paint, shaving cream, or sand to spell out each word (but please…no licking!). This is a great way to help kinesthetic learners.
Have a kid who LOVES technology? Download and add some fun free fonts to a word processing program on your computer or laptop and let her type the words. This helps both spelling and keyboarding skills. So think outside the box and make your study sessions fun!
As you can see, spelling tests don’t have to be a source of frustration and anxiety. It’s important for us as parents to remember that all children learn differently. What works with one child might not work with another. With a little thought, you can come up with ways to make the studying process new and exciting for your child! While you’re at it, why not log into Red Apple Reading and play some spelling games with your kiddo. After all, the more exposure she has to the written word, the more likely she will be a successful speller.