Spelling & Phonics Tutors

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April 2003

My 9 year old daughter spells phonetically. For instance, culture, she spells callcher. Her teacher tells me that her mispelling impedes her learning. I wonder if anyone has an advice for teaching her to correct her spelling, or know a tutor who can teach how to spell, please recommend one. Thanks.

Check out the book ''Reading Reflex''. It is intended to teach kids to read, but it is just as good at teaching spelling. It systematically teaches kids every way a certain sound in English can be represented in writing. So she'll learn that the long a sound can be written ay, a, ae, ei, eigh, ea, and so on. The book doesn't call phonetic spellings wrong, just ''not the accepted way''. If a child isn't sure how to spell something they have them try all the ways they can think of to spell the word, and then pick the one that looks best. They teach endings like -ture, -tion and so on at the end of the book. From the Read America website


you can order a chart that has all the english phonemes and their various spellings to put on the wall. There is also a small version of the chart in the book.

Read the introduction very carefully. You don't necessarily have to go through all the lessons if you don't want to. Pull out the appropriate lesson, when you see a problem, or, when she spells a word with the non-accepted spelling, show her the part of the chart with all the different ways to spell the sounds she is having trouble with. Have her write the word a bunch of ways (make sure the accepted one makes it into her list!) and see if she can see the one that looks best to her eye. Help her out if she doesn't get it. Each time you read a book together look for a differents sound, for instance ''er''. You'll read ''Her first nurse works early'' for example, and point out all five ways that ''er'' is written in that sentence. This will help her to be more aware of spellings as she reads. Lots and lots of reading will help, too. susan

As a teacher, I would suggest that while phonetic spelling is ''phine'' for some words, whole language teaches accurate spelling. That's because correct spelling requires visual memory. Enhancing your daughter's visual memory skills and then providing whole language spelling (in other words, seeing the whole word) will be helpful. You can enhance your daughter's visual memory skills by asking questions such as ''what color is your bedspread?'' etc. Then by putting out colors or items, having her look at them and then you take them away. Ask her to name what was there and in what order. Start with a smaller group and then get bigger. Then start doing the same with words and the spelling of them. Start with smaller words first and move on to larger and larger words, and then sentences. This will help. Linda