In the early grades, reading and spelling work together hand in hand. Children are learning phonics patterns, which allow them to break the secret code of reading – and these same patterns are also needed for their writing. This includes much more than the sounds of the letters of the alphabet. These phonics patterns encompass both consonant and vowel combinations: combinations of consonants like ”fr” for friend and double vowels like “oa” for boat.
From first through third grades, these patterns are learned gradually. They enable students to read by recognizing the phonics pattern: for example, that “silent e” at the end of a word makes the vowel before it “say its own name,” as in “bike.” As they absorb these patterns step by step, the students use them in their writing, correcting the spelling of words that have been taught when needed. It’s no wonder that reading, writing and spelling are such a challenge. Here are some ways you can help.
First of all, notice how far along your child is in the process of learning these patterns. Is he in the earliest stages of sounding out words by sound or wrestling with double vowels or words with silent letters? Has he memorized the first 100 words used most frequently that make up 50% of what we read?
However far along your child is in learning these phonics patterns, sight words, rules and their exceptions, your awareness of what your child is learning will help you support his process.
I’ve broken the puzzle or code of reading and spelling into the following pieces, although they overlap and are learned at the same time, like interlocking puzzle pieces. Even in reading or writing one sentence, your child will be using all of these together: phonics skills, words memorized by sight, and phonetic spelling patterns.
Engaging games and activities that will help your child practice word recognition and spelling are described in the last article. Click here to read more about spelling games and activities.