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Tips for Parents: Invented Spelling | PDF

Español/Spanish: Consejos para padres - La ortografía inventada

How We Learn to Write

Most people think of learning to write as making letter forms and practicing phonics. Actually, children learn to write the same way they learn to speak—by trial and error.  Children learn to write before they begin to read. Their first writing usually consists of pictures. Pictures are their way of telling about something that has happened.

You may also see your child writing long, somewhat “snaky” lines across a page. Even though the scribbles have no literal meaning to you, if asked, your child may tell you a story based on this “writing.”

In the next stage of writing, letters and numbers are grouped together representing words. There may be no relationship between the letters used and the sounds of the words, but that’s okay.

Invented Spelling

When children understand that there is a connection between the sounds that make up words and the letters used to write the words, they begin using what we call “invented spelling.”

“Invented spelling” is the way children explore the language and express themselves creatively. They are learning to write the way they learned to speak.

Many parents worry that unless they reinforce proper spelling right from the beginning, their children will never learn to spell correctly.

Children will move toward conventional spelling as they make repeated, and more sophisticated, attempts at writing. As students realize there is only one correct way to spell most words, they begin to use conventional spelling.

If you want your children to become confident, competent writers, focus on the positive. Demonstrate your support and enthusiasm so they keep on writing.

Encourage Writing

Make writing convenient. Provide a place for your child to write, such as a desk or a smooth table. Be sure there is plenty of light. Stock up on lined and unlined paper, and keep it handy at the desk. Also, provide a variety of writing materials such as pencils, pens, colored markers, and crayons. Make sure the area is clean and organized so that your child views writing as a pleasant and important activity.

Show interest. Let your son or daughter know that you care about what they write. Select ideas or sentences that you particularly like. Ask your children how they came up with the idea or thought. By demonstrating your own support and enthusiasm, you will help foster your child’s confidence in writing.

Avoid criticism. Instead, focus on the positive. This well help your children think of writing as something they do to please themselves, not others. Although you may be tempted to correct your child’s writing, try not to. Minor errors should be ignored. The most important point is that your child is writing.

Write-on: Tips for Parents

  • Encourage note writing. Have your child help write the grocery list, leave notes for other family members, or have them persuade you they deserve a special privilege—in writing. But keep it fun!
  • Send a message in your child’s lunch box. A short “I love you” gives children a hug away from home and, at the same time, gives your child the message that writing is important.
  • Encourage your kids to write letters. Be an example and write letters to family and friends. When they respond, have your child write back. Or, if possible, have your children write to a pen pal.
  • Encourage your child to keep a daily journal. Kids not only get good writing practice when they keep journals, they can also vent feelings, record goals, and write poems.

For more information:

Reading Rockets Website
Reading Rockets Video

Estimule a su hijo a escribir

Literacy Center online activities for kids

Cómo ayudar a su hijo a ser un buen lector

Cómo ayudar a su hijo durante la edad preescolar

You may also find these Tips for Parents helpful:

Tips for Parents: Learning to Write

Tips for Parents: Thinking Skills

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