Kids, Teens and Spelling

I recently spoke to a group of teachers and was asked what piece of advice I would give to educators working with kids and teens today moving forward. I was going to say adaption of technology.  But the truth is, kids are doing that on their own.  I was going to say love what you do, but that is not advice someone can really take.

So, I thought back to fundamentals.  The biggest fundamental I think we are leaving behind, but still need is spelling.  Students argue with me that they will never need spelling–that they will always have spell check and text correct. I argue this is not true, especially in their younger lives.

Here are a few reasons you can use to help kids focus, and improve their spelling:

-In-class writing in High School, College and Grad School

I have had college professors tell me; “I have kids who come in and write the most beautiful essays, but they are so poorly spelled, I have to give them C’s and D’s. When the kid’s see this, they are devastated and have trouble catching up so late in life. Many of my colleagues now purposefully assign in class writing assignments to get them to focus on spelling.”

-Notes to Bosses

I gave a seminar a while back on managing Gen Y’s and millennials and the boss brought in a note one of his interns had left him on a photocopy. The few sentences were riddled with errors-easy errors! He was horrified and lost a lot of respect for the intern there. He told me, “How could I hire someone who cannot spell definitely?”

-The SAT

I think it is helpful to explain to kids that the SAT has a writing section that is handwritten–no spell check. They need to have basic spelling to get by and they often do not realize how many words they are unsure about until the auto-correct is turned off.

-Spell check isn’t always correct

(Have you seen some of my posts? I am sure there are spelling errors in this article). Spell check, which we rely so heavily upon, is not always correct. This is a hard myth to bust with teens.

How Do We Help The Next Generation Spell?

  1. Turn off auto-correct
  2. Encourage the use of handwritten notes to each other in your home, like grocery lists and a white board calendar. Then actually correct mistakes.
  3. If you are a teacher, do more hand written essays and fill-ins on tests.
  4. Do writing practice and free form writing together at home.
  5. Ask your teen to dictate a note while you drive.
  6. Tell them the reasons above so they have incentive to think about improving their spelling!

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  • http://thespellingblog.blogspot.com Johanna Stirling

    You’re right! Spell checkers are wonderful things IF you can spell reasonably well. If you do have auto-correct on, it can sometimes miscorrect your words otherwise. If you just go for the red wavy lines, you have to be careful to choose the right alternative. In fact I’ve written aa blog post and activity here to help raise awareness of this: http://thespellingblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/spell-checkers-how-useful-are-they.html

    And there are homophones to consider too!

    Thank you
    Johanna

  • Naomi Olofsson

    Don’t let them use sms language. MAKE them spell properly when they send or leave you a message and tell them that you won’t accept anything less! I go nuts when I see people spelling like this: i told u that i wanted to go 2 the store 4 a coke. It just grates upon my nerves like you wouldn’t believe! Kids today are losing their ability to write, spell and use grammar properly and if nothing is done soon, then the only thing that will happen is that it will get worse and deteriorate more! Case in point? Look at the lowly comma. Journalists and more have relegated it to the back of the list of necessary punctuation and its use has become more and more rare!

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  • stu

    Big mistake. Focus on the content and not the need to spell every word right. You’ll force your child to miss the bigger picture if you do.

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