It’s a few weeks into school, and you’ve got your groove back. Carpool is humming, schedules have been ironed out, and after school activities are well under way. You cruise down the boulevard with your Starbucks latte (non-fat, natch!), Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake blaring out the windows (no more Kidsrock 20!), and your ear buds in so that you can touch base with your BFF. Let’s face it….life is good!
Well, that is until reality hits at 3:00pm and you have to pick up your little cuties, pop in the age appropriate music, cart everyone to activities A-Z, get a somewhat healthy dinner on the table AND, conquer homework for one or more little monsters….I mean, cuties. Honey- this requires an entirely new plan!
Let’s face it, homework and studying for tests can be difficult, especially in the younger grades where they have yet to develop independence, study/time management skills and parents are expected to walk children through directions, guided reading and the dreaded spelling list!
So, here are a few tips to make that spelling list a bit more manageable!
- Tape the list to the back of the seat. This way your child can quiz himself on the way to school. It also begins to teach independence and works for other activities that require memorization (phone numbers, the spelling of one’s name, etc.).
- Utilize bath time. Buy some of those funky bath markers and have your child spell out the words on the wall while she’s in the tub.
- Get jiggy with it. Most spelling words in grades 1-3 are context or phonics based. This means they either go along with a topic the child is studying in class (i.e. jobs- police, fire fighter, paramedic, etc.) or how words are linked by their sound/symbol relationship (i.e. c-v-c words (consonant-vowel-consonant): hat, cat, mat, etc.). Make up a rhyme or a rap that includes the words, their meanings and their spellings. This allows the child to learn the words in context and commit them to memory in a fun and creative way.
- Keep it on context. Take index cards and have your child write out each spelling word. Attach the index card to the object (i.e. mat – put it on the doormat). This will give your child a chance to learn the word within the context it’s being used. This helps with retention and with comprehension of more difficult words (i.e. drawer, fireplace, etc.).
- Break things up. Although 10-15 “easy” words may not seem like a big deal to us, the task of learning all of them within a week may seem daunting to your child. Break up the list so that you cover a few words M-W and then use TH to review all of the words together. Although it may seem boring, having your child write out the words by memory (even just one time) can her identify problem words and commit them to memory. Additionally, let your child fix her own mistakes. If she spells a word incorrectly, indicate that one or more of the words are spelled incorrectly, but don’t say which one(s). If she cannot find the mistake, circle it. However, do not correct the spelling. Allow her to develop an ability to catch and correct her own mistakes.
- Bring it home. As your child’s primary educator, look for ways you can incorporate the spelling words into your everyday vocabulary. Have your child listen for when you use the word, and when you do, have them shout out how to spell it and its meaning. Using larger, more complex words in the correct context will better help your child commit their spelling to memory.
None of this is jaw dropping, nor is it rocket science. However, I’m a parent too, and I know how overwhelming it can all be. Sometimes, it’s nice to have a little extra somethin’, somethin’ in your arsenal of parenting tools. I hope these help and would love to hear your comments or what else you do to prepare for those elementary grade spelling tests. Happy studying!