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How to Teach Any Child to Spell

How to Teach Any Child to Spell

by Gayle Graham
Publisher: Common Sense Press
Saddle-stitched, 39 pages
Price: $9.00

Every child requires a slightly unique method of spelling instruction. Gayle Graham realized this when her daughter Amy still had immense difficulty spelling after years of implementing various approaches and philosophies. An educator with an advanced degree in learning disabilities whose graduate thesis was on teaching spelling, Graham modified teaching styles she'd learned elsewhere to help her daughter spell correctly.

How to Teach Any Child to Spell begins with a brief account of the author's struggle to find a method of spelling instruction that worked, followed by a number of myths that can hamper both teaching and learning. Most of these myths revolve around the idea that good spellers are those who can recognize words visually, distinguishing properly spelled from misspelled ones. While there are phonetic rules that guide word construction, children fare better when taught the basic phonograms and how to identify them, Graham argues.

She goes on to suggest each student's spelling instruction be tailored to their specific needs. Kids' spelling notebooks should be filled, not with prearranged word lists, but with those words and word types each individual child has difficulty spelling. Nor should they be forced to complete multiple workbooks, instead improving their spelling skills through lots of reading and plenty of creative writing.

Writing is the expression of ideas in print. To be understood it must be clear. Proper spelling is one element of clarity, and to ensure our kids can communicate effectively we must first teach them to spell within the rules. Graham encourages parents to teach spelling largely through analysis of a student's creative writing, making sure that the point of each essay is not obscured by poor spelling, and working on problem words specifically when it is. To be used in conjunction with the student book Tricks of the Trade, How to Teach Any Child to Spell is an excellent resource for parents whose kids struggle with spelling (and if they don't, Graham encourages parents at the outset not to waste their time with this little volume).

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