Invented spelling helps kids

By Marge Eberts and Peggy Gisler

King Features Syndicate

Q: What do you think about "invented spelling"? I feel that it will affect children’s spelling later on and that it is better to correct them instantly so that everyone can read what they have written. — Need to Know

A: Relax!

Invented spelling will not affect correct spelling. Rather, invented spelling encourages children to get their ideas down on paper when they don’t know the standard spelling of word. This is one of its major benefits.


Without invented spelling, young children would not be able to write more than very simple sentences like "The cat is fat."

With invented spelling, children are able to write more complex sentences like "Ve feh iz rette." (The fish is ready.)

Besides benefiting writing, invented spelling even has a positive impact on reading.

Plus, teachers can look at children’s invented spelling and assess how much they know about the individual sounds that make up words.

It then lets teachers adjust instruction to what students need to learn.

Invented spelling helps children learn strategies that they will use as they get more formal spelling instruction.

It encourages them to take an active role in their knowledge of spelling rather than only learning about spelling from direct teacher instruction.

Invented spelling begins to disappear as children start reading and turns into correct spelling as children’s knowledge of letter/sound relations increases.


Q: Once again, it has happened. My bright fifth-grader is extremely anxious because report-card time is coming. His fear of report cards just gets worse each year .He says: "I got C grades on few quizzes. I might not make the honor roll." What can I do to help him relax, as he really is a good student? — Report-Card Worrier

A: First of all, you need to make sure that you are not putting so much emphasis on grades and report cards that he is afraid of disappointing you.

Even if you don’t voice your expectations, he might believe that you expect him to get all "A "grades and be on the honor roll every time.

There is another possibility. Your son might be a perfectionist who can’t face the possibility of getting less than excellent grades.

Try to convey a very low-key attitude toward report cards and grades.

Don’t ask: "How did you do on a quiz or test?" or "Was your homework done correctly?" Instead ask: "What did you enjoy doing in school today?"

To further de-emphasize his fear of report cards, look at his work every day and stress what he has learned rather then comment on the grade. And avoid giving awards for getting good grades.

Your son needs to start regarding lower grade as a sign that he has not mastered some content rather than a disaster that means a lower report-card grade.


Encourage him to focus on learning what he doesn’t know.

Try also to help him become more realistic about grades and understand that they reflect all the work that he does in a grading period rather than just a few poor scores.

Send questions to Dear Teacher, in care of the Post-Bulletin, Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395; or e-mail:

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