In earlier years your child learned about the relationship between sounds and letters. When your child reaches the age of 8 there can be a shift in the emphasis placed on spelling as many students will move into Primary School when they are 8 years old.
This time period for spelling milestones is about your child building their confidence and growing their vocabulary to support their spelling attempts.
A 7-8 year old is spelling words they read and use frequently
By this age children are spelling many high frequency words (words we see written commonly) correctly. They are also spelling correctly a list of personal word including names of their suburb, family members, friends and pet’s names.
A 7-8 year old is breaking words into syllables
As your child’s sound letter relationship skills develop they become able to break a word into syllables. Simple activities such as clapping the syllables they can hear in words reinforces the concept that two or three letter combinations create single sounds.
A 7-8 year old will begin to spell unknown words
As your child becomes more confident they may begin to spell unknown words by linking the new words to known words. An example is knowing the endings of words, for example words that end in ‘ing’. Encourage your child to look for patterns in words.
A 7-8 year old will begin to use rhyme to spell words
It is during this age that children reach the spelling milestone of forming and grouping words into word families. Children will begin by rhyming ending sounds and then progress to vowel combinations such as ai, ay, oy and er.
7-8 year olds will find and correct simple spelling errors
Children at this level, with support, will begin to edit their own writing. This means they can look for patterns in their own writing and see if the letters they have written match the sounds they can hear. Children will be relying on visual strategies to edit their own writing and may be taught at school visual memory strategies such as LOOK-SAY-COVER-WRITE-CHECK.
7-8 year olds will use sources around them for spelling
Kindergarten students learned to use environmental print to copy from when spelling. At age 7-8, children begin to use word charts and junior dictionaries to correct errors.
7-8 year olds consolidate how words are formed
An important milestone at this age is consolidating the knowledge that words are formed from smaller words. An example is that a child can see that the word together is made from the words her, the, to and get. Be relaxed and patient when your child is learning this skill and resist the desire to spell words for them. The searching of words within words is an important skill for later spelling strategies.
Many parents learned spelling at school by rote learning which is drilling and memorising spelling words. Current research no longer supports this method. Children need to be exposed to language experiences to improve their spelling. It is important to remember that before we can spell, we write and before we write we read and talk.
This article was written by Michelle Barrington for Kidspot, New Zealand’s leading education resource for parents. Michelle is a teacher and mother who blogs at Gee, You’re Brave.