Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Word on Phonetic Spelling

Many parents (and David, as well) are surprised to see student writing and examples of teacher writing that are spelled incorrectly. In homework, I often see children spelling words exactly how they're spelled instead of how they sound.  (Parents, I know this is you telling them the answer! ;) )

Yes, I know we expect children to know how to spell correctly when they get older. But in Kindergarten, it's not about correct spelling. It's about (a) telling a story (b) getting that story in writing (in pictures, pictures and labels, or pictures labels and sentences) and (c) writing a letter for each sound heard.

For example, "sun" or "dad" will look the same spelled correctly or phonetically. If I stretch out the word /s/-/u/-/n/, it will be spelled S-U-N. Same with dad. When I get to a word like "rainbow," I only hear the following sounds when I stretch it out: /r/-/a/-/n/-/b/-/ō/. Hence, when a child spells the word rainbow, it will look like "ranbo" on his paper.

Because we teach sight words and put them on the word wall, sight words should be spelled correctly. Students should also hear digraphs sh, ch, th, and wh because we go over those daily. We work regularly on "chewing words like gum" and stretching them out across our fingers so we get one letter per vocal sound. 

Below, you'll see an example of a phonetically spelled story one of my students did last year. This is excellent!!

If you ever see a request for phonetic spelling, please assist your child in stretching out the sounds he hears... but don't give away the spelling. Telling him how it's spelled doesn't assist in the letter-sound application we're really working on. 

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