3. Word Recognition and Retention Skills
Word recognition is the ability to recognize words as a whole – form and shape of the word, letters present in the word, formation and placement of letters, manipulation of letters and the meaning of the word. Sometimes children have difficulty recognizing them and so will greatly affect their skills in spelling. Sight reading activities are helpful however, sight reading activities are not just about presenting the whole word as whole in any way, on the table, floor, or on the wall. These are just merely presentation. Sight reading is more than that. Here, we have to guide our child to take notice of every variable present in the word. So to do that, highlighting each letter, and explaining to the child that this letter comes before this letter will be helpful as well. Tracing the letters with his own finger is also helpful. When he traces each letter, it creates a stronger mental map in his memory, making it easier to recall certain words later on.
Sight reading is not about teaching our kids to memorize the words. It is more than that. It is more about teaching our kids ‘how’ to retain words in their memory because it is part of their life and learn to pull the words out in times that they need to use it i.e. spelling, reading. If we do not teach our kids this skills, what will happen is they will be good in decoding words in prints but they will struggle writing them in print. I had another case that is related to this that I would share.
A parent came to us, and so we assessed him and I designed his program. His mother complained that he can read really good, which I proved during the assessment, but his skills in spelling is poor. What happened was, he always, always, interchanges the letters in a word. No matter how simple the word is. He is not dyslexic though that was what the mother suspected in the beginning. To make it short, in his program, we focused on sight reading and a bit of phonics. I did not focus on phonics because I can see there are so many issues going on. There are attention issues, there are some auditory issues but visual is really good. And I used that strength to target the problem. Sight reading is more about enhancing visual memory. And I was glad that it worked for him.
4. Using words in Context
Now that the child has learnt and mastered his skills in spelling, the next question will be, does he know how to use it in context? For a child to be able to learn to spell and then put this words he learnt in context is another challenge. So as parents and teachers, we have to make sure that while doing spelling activities, we not only just learn how to spell. We must also learn the meaning of each word. For a child to learn the meaning of a word quickly, an image attached to it will be very very helpful. When they see an image of the word, they will quickly remember what the word is, then, it will be easy for them to use it in context. Another thing is we can use the words in our daily conversation with our children. That is to keep their memory fresh all the time. Children learn best when they are actually using words in their daily life repeatedly. We can be more creative by encouraging our children to write short stories about certain categories where they have the opportunity to use all the spelling words they learnt.