I've come to believe that if a child is struggling with memorizing spelling words, she might also have difficulty with reading – and vice versa. At least this seemed to be the case with my Title 1 students (K-7th grade children who were doing poorly in reading, but who did not qualify for special education). A quick, informal review of their writing often revealed a lack of understanding of the relationship between letters in the word and how the word sounded. I noted that many of my students omitted letters, reversed them, or inserted extra consonants, such as “l”, “r”, “n,” and final “e” in words. It was apparent to me that these children didn't have a basic understanding of the relationship between sound and symbol, of the construction of words, or of spelling patterns that carry over from word to word. All of this is essential to reading.
Why teach sound spelling patterns?
Because our sessions were limited to 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week, I decided to systematically teach
It looked like I was teaching spelling because we had lists of words we studied each week, but what we studied resulted in dramatically raising the students’ reading scores by spring, because as the students learned the basics of word construction, and the ways to spell the sounds they heard, they were better equipped to decipher larger, unknown words.
The figure on the left shows the process of sound spelling pattern acquisition and how a child uses it to advance in reading.
From small words to large words
Here is another example of how the words may become more lengthy or complicated, but even a young child who understands sounds and their spellings in small words can apply that knowledge to large, unknown words:
So where does sight word acquisition fit?
For right brained learners, visual learners, etc., I strongly believe learning sight words is critical because these children frequently need to understand words and their purpose before they can begin the process of analyzing the structure of words as in our discussion above. Alphabet Tales and Teaching Cards make learning the basic sounds simple by using images and stories. SnapWords® make the acquisition of the most frequently used words simple, while the teaching of sound spelling patterns closes the circle on helping your right-brained learners achieve success in reading.
The Illustrated Book of Sounds and Their Spelling Patterns
This book teaches all the sound spellings in multiple levels of difficulty, making it easy for a teacher or parent to provide differentiated instruction depending on the age or skill of the learner. The lessons are done for you, apart from photocopying the student sheet, and the study will take only a few minutes a day. Because the lessons are cartoon based, children will enjoy the process of learning to read well! This example shows level 1 out of 4 for the sound ER.
A related product to The Illustrated Book of Sounds and Their Spelling Patterns is the set of Sound Spelling Cards. Each card addresses one sound and all the ways you can spell that sound. Once the child is familiar with the sentence for each sound, it will be easy for them to remember the various ways to spell each sound.