Formal spelling lessons in Years 1 and 2 are not suitable for this age group, but simple teaching strategies for letters and sounds can be used within the current New Zealand Junior school programme with its unpressured developmental approach to language, and similarly as part of the Australian school curriculum.
The First Steps To Spelling
The following learning steps are covered in Reading & Spelling Made Simple Book 1, within Steps 1 and 2.
- Letter names must be known, plus (in time) their alphabetical order.
- Say and trace the A to Z letters while saying the sound of each letter.
- Games to link letters and sounds together.
- Mix and match alphabet cards; word boxes (choosing + sequencing regular three-letter words).
- Choosing between sounds; e.g. using the shopping list game.
- Consolidate short vowel sounds.
- Make sure that the children are saying words aloud while listening to the letter SOUNDS when writing. Discourage ‘spelling out letter names.’ This is a highly counter-productive measure. It becomes a difficult habit to break.
- Use rhymes and jingles to establish the sound pattern groups of English.
The first 100 sight words are particularly important for reading. Most Year One and Two children learn these words within the class reading programme, but some children need to use the ‘Look . . . Say . . . Trace . . . Cover . . . Write’ method, (originated by Grace Fernald and fully explained in Book 1). Enlist parental home help in mastering these essential 100 Sight Words.
Encouraging a love of reading is your primary aim. Parents need to be informed about the school’s developmental approach. If this is not done, many parents will be undoing the excellent work done in our New Zealand junior schools by giving the wrong kind of help. Model share-reading books to groups of your parents, and remind parents that learning to read and write correctly takes time and that pressure on ‘correct spelling’ inhibits progress.