House with an r

Sarah meant to write house, but instead wrote horse.  A few sentences later, she wrote wene when she meant to write when.  She knows these words.  She knows how to spell them, and she knows when she’s spelled something other than what she meant.  It happens to her often.  Here is the kind of thing she has trained herself to say to herself when it happens: “Really, brain?  Horse?” Or she might say “Oh, house with an R.  That’s an interesting spelling.” She laughs, and she moves on.

It’s one of the ways she manages the fact that her hand doesn’t always get the message her brain is trying to send.  She’s figured out how to have a sense of humor about it, which not only keeps it from upsetting her while she’s writing but probably keeps it from happening as often.  If she were worried about it, I’m quite sure it would happen more.

You can’t make a kid have a sense of humor about something, but you can suggest it, or better yet, model it whenever you have the chance.  In a text-saturated culture like ours it can be tough to resist taking a heavy, serious tone when it comes to struggles with spelling and the like.  But we’re likely to get much better results if we can lighten things up, even a little, even sometimes.

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2 Responses

  1. I’m a good speller. That said, I wouldn’t mind Sarah’s errors, unless we were going to publish her somewhere. She’s communicating, and that’s what I think is important. Somehow, in our society, we spend a terrific amount of time teaching spelling, even though there are some people who aren’t going to ever be good spellers because their brains don’t work like that. So, let’s be sure that we give children good ideas, as Meredith has done above, and let’s be sure, also, that we let them know, truly know. that we value hearing their voices much more than we value their having spelling that’s perfect. If I were in charge I’d ask teachers to spend their time teaching children how to support each other, instead of teaching so very much spelling.

  2. So well said! And very true from my experience as well. Thank you as always for noticing all you do and commenting on it in such an enlightening way!

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