Nvntid Spelg Shud Be Fun!

by Katelyn Russell

Inventive spelling is one of my favorite things about teaching Early Childhood students. I love to see what is so clearly the children’s work. Who doesn’t love to see a Zoo mural with “bers”, “zebrus”, “mnkes” and “flumengos”?

CMDS JK Teacher Katelyn Russell

Inventive spelling, when students use their best judgment about spelling, is an integral part of the language and writing development process. At CMDS, children begin to learn their letter sounds as early as 2K and each year build on their sound knowledge.

Early Childhood classrooms offer opportunities for free writing, guided writing with the teachers and modeled writing during circle time. In PK, teachers introduce journal writing by guiding students to write one word that goes along with their unit theme. If a child is trying to write the word “boots” they may only hear “B-T,” which is appropriate and doable for a child that age. This is one of the first stages of writing!

By the time children arrive in JK, they might hear more sounds in words or be able to write multiple words. Our JK journals are in the format of finishing a sentence about our unit. For instance, during Ocean week, our journal was: “If I were a shark, I would…” “jup ovr a bot” (jump over a boat). How awesome is that? You can see the child’s sound-letter correspondence working and blending together.

Inventive spelling does not mean your child will grow up to be a poor speller. As students move on to SK, they learn explicit phonics rules and begin to self-correct their spelling patterns. Spelling mastery takes years, as there are over 44 phoneme sounds in the English language! Techers are certianly not prefect (pun intended).

So how can you work on writing and spelling at home?

Find time to write together. It could be creating the grocery list or reflecting on a trip to the zoo. A lot of times children will ask, “How do you spell ____?” Instead of telling them, sound it out together, writing only the sounds that they hear. When you get to the grocery, you and your child will remember that “apl” is apples!

Additionally, let writing be a multisensory experience. Research shows that iPads are reducing visual memory and allowing the language center of the brain to become lazy. Technology is doing the work instead of children’s little brains. Summer break is a great time to get messy and write with shaving cream, sand, chalk or even paint the concrete with water.

Children have a better understanding of phonics and spelling when they try it themselves rather than being told how to spell words. Inventive spelling is a huge confidence booster and allows children to take ownership of their work.

It’s easy for us to forget how we learned to write and spell but somewhere along the way our parents and teachers allowed us the freedom to try.

Christ Methodist Day School first opened its doors in 1958 to 75 kindergarten students. Since then, CMDS has stayed true to its Christian elementary school roots while continuing to thrive as one of the best private schools in Memphis. We encourage you to come see why we are the primary choice for so many Memphis families.


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