How to Spark It

Thu, 23 Sep, 2021

Stages of Spelling Development in Kids

spelling development in kids

During their growing years, kids go through various stages of life - from not knowing how things work to developing a sense of the world.

The same applies to their academics. Kids run through different spelling development stages in their school life. Several researchers have described these stages derived from the research of Charles Read and Edmund Henderson in 1971.

Since we are talking about these stages, you might wonder what they are and when you can start noticing them in your child?

Let’s find out.

5 Important Stages of Spelling Development

  1. Precommunicative Stage

  2. Semi Phonetic Stage

  3. Phonetic Stage

  4. Transitional Stage

  5. Correct Stage

When a child reaches the correct stage, they know different words, how are they spelt and create a sense of wrongly spelt words.

1. Precommunicative Stage

At this stage, children develop an understanding that letters are the building blocks of words. But they have no sense of which letters stand for what sounds and how they get used in a word.

A child at this stage can write letters like A, B, E, M, and T. Still, they might not know how to arrange them properly, the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters or the left-to-right direction of the English language orthography.

At the precommunicative stage, your child may develop an interest in reading and writing, no matter how unsuccessful they might get in that. They fill their drawing books with random unclear scribbles.

When you’ll see it: You can see this stage in your child’s early preschool years.

Example: You know your child is in their precommunicative stage when they throw random letters on paper without arranging them properly.

2. Semi Phonetic Stage

As the name suggests, the semi-phonetic stage in a child’s life is an introduction to phonetics. This is when they match letters with sounds. They gain the understanding that each letter corresponds to a particular sound.

At this stage, your child is going to apply rudimentary logic to develop spelling skills. According to this logic, your child will use single letters to represent a word. For example, they will use the letter U for the word You.

Your child may face difficulty spelling irregular words, where the sound of words does not match their spelling but do not worry. They will master it soon.

When you’ll see it: You can see this stage in your child in their late preschool years.

Example: If they see the letter ‘d’, they might try to pronounce it as ‘duh’ for the /d/ sound.

3. Phonetic Stage

This is the stage where your child learns to co-relate letters with their corresponding sounds properly. Here is when they have a better understanding of English phonics rules.

They will learn the CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words quickly. Their foundation grows, and they have a better understanding of words and the way it sounds.

They will pronounce words with over one syllable and will identify English orthographic patterns.

They will also identify letters that make similar sounds like -ing, -ly, -er, etc.

When you’ll see it: Many kids reach their phonetic stage at the end of kindergarten or first grade.

Example: You see them spell ‘rat’, ‘cat’, ‘mat’, ‘hat’ correctly, but they might have difficulty spelling the word ‘beautiful’.

4. Transitional Stage

At this stage, children recognise familiar patterns and structures in words and sentences and use them in their writing.

They move from their dependency on phonetics to other visual patterns to help them pronounce and learn words.

Through the progress of this stage, kids will unintentionally be introduced to synonyms.

You will see your child have significant progress in co-relating sounds to letters without having to do so through phonetics, but with visual cues.

When you’ll see it: Kids are more likely to move from phonetics to the transitional stage in their first grade and stay there until third grade.

Example: Here, they will learn common and unusual word patterns. The ‘e’ sound is spelt in different ways - ‘ee’ in ‘need’ and ‘ea’ in ‘meat’.

5. Correct Stage

When a child reaches the correct stage, they know different words, how are they spelt and create a sense of wrongly spelt words.

At this stage, they will understand the basic rules and patterns of the sound system.

They also develop an understanding of prefixes, suffixes, spelling and give attention to vocabulary.

When you’ll see it: Kids enter this stage in the late third grade or at the start of the fourth grade.

Examples: Kids start understanding the meaning linked with each word they learn. They might learn the meaning of the words like ‘impression’, ‘adorn’, ‘junior’, ‘senior’, etc.

Activities for Spelling Development Stages

  1. Precommunicative Stage Spellers

  2. Semi Phonetic Stage Spellers

  3. Phonetic Stage Spellers

  4. Transitional Stage Spellers

  5. Correct Stage Spellers

1. Precommunicative Stage Spellers

You must encourage kids to play games that enhance their letter learning and letter sounds at this spelling development stage.

Buying alphabetically shaped refrigerator magnets is a great idea. Create pits of letters where you hide the letter magnets and let your kids find the letter corresponding to the sound you make.

2. Semi Phonetic Stage Spellers

This stage can also utilise the activity mentioned above.

Alphabet puzzles will also help them focus on the letter-sound co-relation. Sing along with your child the alphabet song. This allows them to memorise the order of alphabets and in a fun way.

3. Phonetic Stage Spellers

The rhyming game will also strengthen their phonetic knowledge.

Tell your child to say a word and also focus on the rhyming sound for it. Then tell your child three words and let them recognise which words do not rhyme.

4. Transitional Stage Spellers

Since the transitional stage is all about recognising words through visual patterns and cues, sight words activity might be the best choice for this stage.

You can conduct a fake spelling bee contest at your house can help to encourage this stage in your child.

5. Correct Stage Spellers

Since this is the last stage of developing spelling skills, you can introduce difficulties into the activities.

Classic board games like Scrabble allows your kids to spell words and practise their vocabulary.

It also proves to be a great way to teach spellings to them.

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