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Teaching Your First-Grader His Spelling Words

Aug 17, 2007
First-graders will have an enjoyable time learning to spell simple words. These words should be selected based on a first-grader's mental abilities. First-graders have a short attention span and limited memory capability so it is important to keep the words short so they can easily memorize them.

For their initial attempts at spelling, I have selected the following words: cat, bat, sat, bad, bag, had, fan, fat, dad, has, hat, jam, dog, log, bog, bad, sad, can, tan, pan, tan, tap. Parents are encouraged to help their first-graders memorize these words by quizzing them everyday.

One way to help children memorize is by writing these words on flash cards. Use these flash cards to improve children's memory by making the activity into a game to show the children the flash card first, then hide it and ask the child to spell out the word orally or write it down.

First-grade teachers can read simple storybooks to the children then make a list of vocabulary words from the stories which they can then ask the children to memorize. After memorizing the words, the teachers can ask the children to stand up and spell out the words orally. Or they can ask the children to write down the memorized vocabulary lists.

Another technique which teachers can use is to have the children draw pictures about the words given. Sometimes, the children can be encouraged to create a complete story about their vocabulary words. The child can tell the class about his story and show his pictures to the class. This way, the child is better able to retain the words in his memory.

As the child improves in his retention of simple words, longer types of words can be selected to challenge the child. Examples of longer words are: some, long, book, have, chair, table, cloth, waffle, orange, cutter, cookie, dine, wine, kettle, knife, coffee, list, disk, disc, tape, and mask. The same methods used before can be employed to help the child learn these longer words since using new methods may confuse the child who is already trying to learn new and longer types of words.

After the child has gotten used to the length of these words, he may be challenged with even longer and more complicated words like: stranger, mother, father, daughter, brother, sister, computer, scissors, television, keyboard, faucet, electric, alcohol, voyage, lightning, thunder, education, distance, and telephone.

As he progresses through each level of difficulty, make the child feel good about his accomplishment by rewarding him with stickers or stamps on his work that tell him what a good job he is doing. You may have a chart on the wall that measures how he is progressing through the levels and which can be seen by everyone. This way, not only is he learning but his self-esteem improves as well.

Always remember that patience is the key to help a child learn spelling. Always be patient and do not take everything in a rush. Take everything slowly and your child will surely learn.
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