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Learning Resolutions: Pre-Test Spelling

Most elementary school students bring home spelling lists of one sort or another. The students who need to the greatest help with spelling will, when left to their own devices, put off studying for spelling until the last minute when it’s least likely to have a lasting impact on their memory. The students who are diligent about studying tend to be the ones who feel the most confident about orthography.

I believe that one of the things that keeps students from studying until the last minute is that the lengths of spelling lists are intimidating. Some weekly lists are as long as 20 words. Yet, most students recognize at least some of the words and letter patterns on the list. A way to jump-start your child’s studying early in the process is to pre-test him on the list when he brings it home. Reduce anxiety about perfection by giving him an erasable whiteboard for writing one word at a time. Check off or cross out any words on the spelling list that he is able to spell correctly the first time. He will probably be relieved to find out the actual list he needs to study is much shorter than it looks.


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