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Phonetic Spelling

As your child begins to learn his alphabet and the sounds associated with each letter, he may use what is called, “phonetic spelling” in his writing. Because young writers don’t know all of the phonetic rules, they will use the letters they do know to represent every sound they hear in a word.  For example, a child might spell the word, “read” like “rd”. 

The use of phonetic spelling is typical for young writers.  As parents, we might see phonetic spelling and stress out a bit that our kids are not spelling simple words correctly. Don’t stress too much!  Children need to master the system of phonetic sounds in the English language to make a successful transition from phonetic spelling to conventional spelling. It takes several years for young readers to learn the phonetic rules.  They will transition into conventional spelling patterns as they learn more about the phonetic rules of the English language.

Sometimes we, as parents, have a tendency to want to correct our child’s spelling.  We might view this as a teaching moment or an appropriate time to teach a skill in context.  However, try hard to resist the urge to correct your child’s spelling when he or she is journaling or completing a writing assignment.  As educators, we want to do everything we can to encourage young writers.  We need to be careful not to stifle their creativity. 

Our young writers are doing something pretty amazing.  They aren’t just slopping some letters down on a piece of paper.  Their writing has meaning.  They are converting what they hear in speech, to what we see in print.  Journaling sessions are an opportunity for our kids to practice and apply the phonics skills they are learning. 

To help your child grow in his writing skills, encourage him to stretch out and sound out the words.  Encourage him to write down the letters for every sound he hears. We want to encourage our kids to use the most accurate spelling possible.  We don’t want them to just scribble some letters down on a piece of paper.  The letters need to have meaning. If a child has been taught a certain phonics rule or spelling pattern, he should be expected to use it correctly in his writing. Once she has learned and mastered a high-frequency word, it should be spelled correctly in her writing as well.  We want to be sure not to develop a habit of laziness in our students as far as their writing is concerned.   

There are times when we are going to be unable to decipher or read our child’s writing – especially in the beginning stages.  That’s okay.  This is an important stage in our children’s writing development. 

We have a great opportunity to help our kids develop a love for writing.  The use of phonetic spelling is typical and is something we should encourage in our children.  As your child masters the phonetic rules and system sounds, their spelling and written communication will improve.

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