Invented Spelling

Apr 16, 2017 | Literacy

Have you ever heard of Invented Spelling? You may have seen it in your child’s writing, like I did, when my dyslexic boy was in Year 1, 2, 3 ….

I used to cringe, when I looked at Keanu’s very brief essay, spelling ‘finx’ (instead of ‘thinks’) among many other creative spelling ideas – but now a new study has confirmed that invented spelling has a lot of merit. Dr. J. Richard Gentry penned the essay ‘Raising Readers, Writers, and Spellers’ for “Psychology Today”.

His ‘invented spelling thesis’ is based on a study they did over years, following the level of literacy levels in students. To their surprise they found that those students whose literacy peaked early through memorization of sight words ended up with a lower level of literacy later in life than the children who learned over time by misspelling and not memorizing passively.

So instead of correcting your child, he suggests that it would be wiser to encourage them to keep on writing, reading it back to you. After that you can write their text correctly and ask them to read it again, yet never to point out the difference in spelling or any of their mistakes. Tricky words may look like Keanu’s ‘finx’, then evolve to ‘tinx’ – ‘thinx’ – ‘thinks’…all organically and when the child is ready. By then the word is truly integrated and actively known.


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