The more children read, the more words they learn, and the more words they’ll be able to spell correctly. Even if a child does not actively try to learn the correct spelling of a word, the more times they see it while reading, the faster that spelling will be stored in their memory. If a child is not old enough to read for themselves, parents can start the learning process by reading aloud and having the child follow the words on the page.
Parents can encourage independent reading by helping children realize that reading is fun, and not just something they are required to do at school. If your child is interested in a particular activity or hobby – dance, skateboarding, music, computers – then you can help them find books on those subjects at the local public library. Instead of taking them to the toy store with their holiday money, lead them to a good bookstore instead. They’ll get into the habit of finding their entertainment in a book, and will start reading more on their own.
Keep children engaged in the learning process while they read by asking questions about the book. To help them work on their spelling, try asking these questions in e-mail messages that require them to write a response. If you make this a regular pattern, and show your interest without making the children feel like you’re testing and grading them, they’ll be happy to share what they’re learning.
While it’s possible to figure out the meaning of words just by reading them in context, there will be words that your child doesn’t know. Help them learn how to use a dictionary to look up words. When you’re traveling or walking around town together, point out interesting or unusual words, especially if they have uncommon spelling patterns. For example, if you’re at the zoo, you might visit the aardvark, the leopard, or the rhinoceros. When you’re back home, ask your child to draw a picture and write the name of the animal below it, and help them understand that there may be differences between the way a word is spelled and the way it’s pronounced.
Above all, stay involved in your child’s education – your support and encouragement will motivate them to learn!