Ever wonder why no matter we have tried different activities on spelling with our children, they still seem not to take in the words we have taught? When doing spelling activities with our child, we do not just look at the number of neither correct responses nor the wrong ones he got, but we have to look deeper into the root of the problem and observe the following areas and skills he must improve in to be able to strengthen his spelling skills.
1. Visual Tracking/Scanning / Visual Discrimination
Kids of early ages, are in the time of their lives where they are in the process of developing and improving their skills in visual tracking, scanning, and discrimination. Usually kids do well when presented with objects, colours, and images. However, for words, some kids look at it as cluttered set of symbols, meaningless. When their skills in this area are weak, spelling words will be a big challenge. So no matter how beautiful the presentation of the spelling activity is, they will have difficulty learning it. And both the child and the teacher will only become frustrated in the end.
Visual tracking/ scanning is the ability to scan from left to right, right to left, up and down and vice versa. Some children (particularly children with Global Developmental Delays, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, ADHD, etc.), have difficulty doing this. If that is the case, obviously they will encounter problems in spelling.
What we need to remember: When targeting spelling words, ensure that you have allotted a time (15-20mins) to incorporate visual scanning /tracking/ discrimination activities with your child. An example will be using random letters in the alphabet, you can arrange them horizontally on the floor or on the table and have the child points or taps the letter you ask to find. You may use pictures of animals, fruits, family members or friends that he likes, or objects or toys that he likes. You are the teacher; it is your call to choose your materials. In the beginning you arrange the objects an inch away from each other, then, later on you may make the space bigger/ wider between the objects.
Take note that activities must vary according to the child’s cognitive level.
Another thing that you can do is play hidden and search activities with your child using books (I Spy book.. by scholastic books and a lot more.) or online games during break time. There are a lot of big books out there and online search and find games. It is fun to do with our kids and at the same time targeting the skills he needs.