Thursday, February 10, 2011

How do I help my Kindee pass the spelling test?

Ms. Dorothy,
My son is in Kindergarten and has started taking spelling tests.  I'm dumbfounded.  Is that normal now? And either way, do you have any suggestions for helping him memorize the spelling lists so he can pass the tests, it's kind of a big deal in his class.
- A Mom

Spelling lists and spelling tests are becoming much more acceptable practice in kindergarten.  

The fact that memorizing the spelling of words in lists for a test has very little transfer to writing in context at this young age doesn't seem to matter.  

Lists generated from the actual writing of Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students can be helpful for learning to spell because they are words the child is approximating and needs help to straighten out.  

Lists generated or dictated by computer, curriculum, or published books of lists, are much less likely to support and transfer to a student's writing. And taking tests on these lists of words, regardless of how they are derived, will not support or increase accurate spelling in daily writing. Careful and explicit individual instruction on them in context will.

The trick to scoring well on a spelling test, is to drill the letter-by-letter spelling of the words orally and in writing, approximating the administration of the test as closely as possible, and giving a final practice as close to test time as possible.

The tricks to learning to spell words are to; find them in books, practice using them in written sentences - including writing with magnetic or other movable letters, discuss how the word is spelled and why it is or isn't spelled as it sounds, picture it before trying to write it, and look at it after writing to see if it looks like it does in books.

The one biggest support to learning to spell is reading. The more your child reads, the more words he recognizes in books, the more likely he will be able to spot his own errors and correct them.

To pass the test, make sure you drill him on the way to school on spelling test day.

1 comment:

  1. Love your website! Just some suggestions (I teach 2nd grade)- write in shaving cream to practice spelling, sort the words according to features (the -ock family versus the -ick family) if applicable, use a gameboard and move around the board only if your child spells the word correctly or have them give YOU a test and check it. Hope this helps!