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Help Your Kid Navigate the 5 Stages of Spelling


A-B-C is as easy as 1-2-3...4-5! Learn how to help your child go through the stages of spelling development. Spelling

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1. Encourage Emergent Spelling

At this stage, children scribble and put letter-like forms together but don’t associate letters with sounds. Children write randomly, from left to right, right to left, and top to bottom. They use both upper- and lowercase letters but generally prefer uppercase letters. At the end of this stage, children learn the difference between drawing and writing, how to print letters, the correct direction of writing on a page, and some letter-sound matches.

2. Nurture Name-Alphabetic Spelling

At this stage, children understand that there’s a link between letters and sounds. Their spellings are quite abbreviated, mostly three-letter words that follow the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern (such as dog or cat). At the end of this stage, children know that each letter has a different sound, and they know all consonant sounds, short vowel sounds, and constant blends.

3. Help Her Learn Within-Word Pattern Spelling

At this stage, children start comparing long- and short-vowel combinations as they experiment with vowel patterns. They also learn about less common vowel sounds, such as ew (sew, few), aw (saw), and ow (cow). They’re also aware of homophones (words that sound the same but differ in meaning such as night and knight). At the end of this stage, children recognize long-vowel spelling patterns and complex consonant patterns, such as -tch (match) and dge (judge).

4. Cultivate Her Syllables and Affixes Spelling

At this stage, children learn how to spell words that have more than one syllable. They learn about homophones. They understand compound words and how to use common prefixes and suffixes to spell new words. At the end of this stage, children know to add inflectional endings (-s, -es, -ed, and -ing) to words and rules about consonant doubling, changing the final “y” to “i”, or dropping the final “e” before adding an inflectional suffix.

5. Develop His Derivational and Relations Spelling

At this stage, students explore the relationship between spelling and meaning and understand that words with similar spellings will have similar meanings (such as wise-wisdom, nation-national). At the end of this stage, children learn consonant alternations (such as magic-magician), vowel alternations (such as define-definition), and Greek and Latin prefixes, suffixes, and root words.