Deborah Abela: Is Technology Ruining Your Child’s Spelling?

by |May 2, 2018

Deborah Abela

Is Technology Ruining Your Child’s Spelling?
Never Fear, Fantabulous Kids’ Books are Here!

My year 4 teacher, Miss Gray, made everything fun, including spelling. Every Friday afternoon, she would pit the girls against the boys in a race to the blackboard to spell. She knew each team would be desperate to beat the other. She knew we’d become better spellers.

That was a long time ago, before texting, spellcheck and autocorrect. They’re hard to escape, but are they making us lazy or better spellers? And what about kids whose vocabularies are still developing? How can we create great spellers when their devices are doing the guesswork for them?

Many studies are asking the same question with many differing opinions. A study from Tasmania argues that texting slang (textisms) may benefit children’s spelling*, whereas others have found that programs like autocorrect on your iPhone give way to poor spelling**.

Tonya Perry, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the University of Alabama School of Education, says texting is just another genre of writing. It is up to the parents and teachers to remind youngsters when and when not to use it. ***

So what can adults do to help kids improve their spelling? For me the answer is twofold: reading for pleasure and play.

Deborah AbelaMy character, India Wimple, is a brilliant speller. It comes naturally to her. She’s also a huge bookworm. It’s not that way for all kids, of course. English can be tricky. With its rules and exceptions to the rules, it is understandable why we have commonly misspelled words like accommodate, achieve, embarrassed and even misspelled.

Teaching spelling works, but reading for pleasure means kids are not only absorbing new words in context rather than isolation, the words are more likely to stay with them because they’re having fun. They’re also developing a love of reading, which means they’ll read more and be exposed to even more new words as they graduate to more difficult books.

Games are also a great way to learn. Here are a few fun spelling games your family can play at home.

1. Read Every Day: Let your child choose books that excite them.   

2. Hold Your Own Miss Gray Spelling Race

3. Family Spelling Legend: Challenge your kids to find words you can’t spell – they’ll love catching you out, but to win, they have to be able to spell the words themselves and use them in a sentence.

4. Hold Your Own Spelling Bee: Adults versus kids, boys versus girls.

5. Fun Flash Cards: Challenge each other to make the most ridiculous sentences out of new words.

6. Memory: Make a double set of word cards, lay them down and take turns to flip them over to find a pair.

7. Word of the Day Kitchen Blackboard: Write a new word every day.

8. Family Hang Man: That old favourite.

9. Spelling Wall: When a new word is read, add it to a word wall. Make silly sentences from those words.

10. Take a look at fun ways to spell from the ABC.

So is technology ruining your child’s spelling? It depends on which study you read, but if, like Miss Gray, we can make spelling fun and steer kids toward fantabulous books, we’ll be doing our bit to make sure they can not only spell, they may even become spelling champions.




The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mysteryby Deborah Abela

The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery

by Deborah Abela

Just when India Wimple’s life is returning to normal after winning the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee, she’s invited to London for an international spelling showdown. But how can she go without her family? The Yungabilla community might have a solution!

In London, India is reunited with her friends Rajish and Summer. They meet new spellers, and are invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen. But there is skulduggery afoot, with a series of mysterious mishaps. There is even talk of cancelling the competition altogether. India and her friends are determined to find out who the culprit is and get the spelling bee back on track. There are words to be spelled, nerves to be overcome, and a champion to be found!

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