English is a funny language. Sometimes the way it's words are pronounced are not the way they're written. As kids, most of us probably struggled to differentiate between the pronunciations of ‘rough’, 'though’ or 'bough’ as they all share the same last four letters but sound very different.
Constant repetition and strict English teachers later, we now know the right spellings to several different words (with little help from autocorrect) but now as parents, want to make sure that our kids spell right. So we ask them to write and rewrite words, expose them to educational apps and coax them to brush their phonics skills to get those spellings right. However, a recent study says that “inventing spellings” is normal and might be a precursor to an avid reading child.
The study published this year in Developmental Psychology found that kids in preschool who tried to write words using just their knowledge of letter sounds—had stronger literacy skills in the first grade.
Dr. J. Richard Gentry, the author of Raising Confident Readers, How to Teach Your Child to Read and Write–From Baby to Age 7, explains what happens in kids’ brains when they write naturally:
“When inventing a spelling, the child is engaged in mental reflection and practice with words, not just memorizing. This strategy strengthens neuronal pathways so as the reader/writer becomes more sophisticated with invented spelling, she or he is developing a repertoire of more and more correctly spelled words at the same time. These words are stored in the word form area of the brain where the child can retrieve them automatically as sight words for reading and eventually as correctly spelled words for writing.”
So when your child to writes his/her own grocery list, stories and comprehensions, don't bother about the spelling. S/he's just getting used to the language and will eventually spell right, so hold on to those flashcards. Instead, read, role play, free play and encourage.