Spelling tests are a necessary evil in order for children to learn to spell and to read. But it can be one of the more tedious and monotonous of the homework assignments for children. It helps to know a child’s individual strengths or weaknesses and in time spelling tests can be a fun way to study and to learn.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice: this is the key to anything in life whether it be sports, academics, cooking, driving, etc. The more a person practices the easier it becomes and soon the act comes naturally.
2. Take Small Bites: trying to learn too much at once will only jumble it up or push some information out. For spelling tests that are long, break it up into a few words at a time. For example, if there are 15 words then practice 3 each day until the test. Or, learn one word well before adding the next word. Each day, add a new word to the repertoire.
3. Review, Review, Review: this goes along with practice. Review the words already known and review the ones still being learned.
4. Write, Speak and Spell: saying a word before it is spelled is essential to learning. A child cannot adequately learn a vocabulary or learn to read if they cannot recognize the word by sound. A child can memorize small words by remember the letters when seen on paper, but they need to know how it sounds when spoken. Writing also is a great way to remember things, hence taking notes in class. When practicing for a spelling test a child can hear the word spoken by the tester, spell it and then write it. All 3 of these things will keep the word in a child’s collective consciousness.
5. Daily Use: use the words in daily speech. Encourage a child to use the words daily; one word can be used each day or use a couple of them for longer lists. Parents can also use them in daily speech. Also, during practice, use the word in a sentence. Parents can do this when citing what the word is: “the word is lemonade.’ I drink lemonade during the summer.”
6. Chop into Small Pieces: sometimes the longer words can be broken into smaller words, which the child might already know. For example, together’ is actually made up of 3 words to-get-her’ and birdhouse is a compound word made up and bird and house.
7. Prepare to Study: a child should get their drink of water, use the restroom, have a snack or whatever distraction they ask for that interrupts their homework. A study area should be free of distractions such as television, computers and radios.
8. Define a Word: if a child knows the definition of a word it will also keep it in their collective consciousness and not seem so foreign.
9. Last Minute-itis: often, we are a society of procrastination. However, when it comes to a child’s education procrastination should not be in the vocabulary. Start working on the spelling tests as soon as the list is brought home. Make a copy of a list and tuck it inside a purse or wallet and study even when away from the house.
10. Repetition Works: repeating the word and spelling works wonders. Spelling a word once is not going to remain in anyone’s short-term memory. Spell it or write it a few times during practice if it is a word that a child struggles with.
11. Mnemonics: this is simply a trick that helps someone remember. Look at the word and think of what can be done to help remember the spelling. Some common examples are:
a. Principal: the principal is my PAL (the ending is PAL and not ple)
b. Weather: WE look AT HER for the weather
c. HERD and HEARD: you HEARD me with your EAR. The letter a’ means one’
and HERD means more than one, so it cannot have an a’ in it.
12. Practice tests: parents can conduct a test as if they are the teacher. Do not help a child until the test is over, then review it and see which words are wrong. Praise for the ones correct and re-quiz them on the misspelled words.
13. Sing A Song: spell the word to a common tune such as “Twinkle Star.” Songs are easier remembered then poems. By singing the spelling (each letter sung to a note in the song) it is easier, and more fun, to learn.