A Guide to Developmental Spelling

It refers to the knowledge attained by a child about the fact that there is a procedure/method involved in spelling. Studies have found that children’s initial attempts at spelling are heavily influenced by their awareness of speech sounds and how they are related to each other. Typically, children organize sounds into categories, which is what developmental spelling tries to leverage. For young learners, spelling isn’t rote memorization of words. Instead, it’s a developmental process that evolves from understanding the sound patterns of words.

Developmental spelling is a phonics-based program that helps students to learn how words work in the English language. This program involves studying words to let children understand how spellings work to represent sound and meaning. Usually, children are grouped based on their appropriate stage of development and assessed depending on how well they study words’ structures by sorting and comparing them. Based on their effective use of words in reading and writing, the children’s progress in developmental spelling is evaluated.

Developmental spelling involves different spelling stages, such as:

·         Letter Name: This is where children learn about beginning sounds, blends (sl, bl, etc.), short vowel sounds, word families, and how to read.

·         Within Word: At this stage, children can spell most short-vowel sounds correctly. They also learn short-vowel patterns and letter sounds in addition to long-vowel patterns and sounds in one-syllable words.

·         Syllable Juncture: This stage is where children are taught about the conventions of joining syllables in words having two or more syllables. They learn how to spell multiple words having more than one syllable. Additionally, they start focusing on spelling patterns where syllables meet and meaning units like suffixes and prefixes.

·         Derivational Constancy: This is the last stage in developmental spelling where children learn that meaning, together with pattern and sound, is crucial to spell words correctly in the English language.

Depending on the child’s age, the developmental spelling model could involve different things. For instance, children in Kindergarten start their word study by sorting pictures based on their sounds. Once they have progressed a bit, they are slowly initiated into learning words with their pictures. Children in the first grade typically use word sorts and picture sorts for their word study, while those in second to fifth grades use word sorts to learn about patterns, sounds, and meaning. Thus, developmental spelling helps to expand a child’s language abilities.

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