Invented Spelling

Invented Spelling: What is it?

Have you ever noticed that your child makes up or invents the spelling of a word?  Maybe she spells princess like PRNSAS or he spells motorcycle like MOTRSIKL.  This is called invented spelling.  And it is directly related to the level of understanding that your child has about how words work.  Don’t worry, your child is perfectly normal and actually doing what good spellers do!  Believe it or not, we as adults sometimes invent our own spellings…like when we try to spell broccoli on our grocery list.  🙂

Here are a few reasons this reading mama likes  invented spelling:

1) It allows children to write down the all the creative thoughts in their head.  Being overly concerned about spelling can prevent kids from being creative in their writing because they are forced to stick to writing only words they already know how to spell.

2) It helps the child to write independently.  I don’t have to sit right beside her and spell every word on the page for her—an added bonus for a busy mama of three!

3) It makes it easier, in general, for a young writer to re-read their own work.

4) It gives me a window in which to see what my child does or does not understand about how words (and sounds) work.

Some “Controversy” over Invented Spelling

I’ve heard many-a reading mama say to me, “My child won’t learn how to spell words correctly if I let her invent her own spellings.”  I can only agree with this statement if you continually allow your child to invent spellings to words she already knows.  For example, if you have studied the –an family (can, pan, ran, etc.), and she spells FEN for fan in a story, it is important that you hold her accountable to what she already knows.  On the other hand, if she has not studied the silent e on the end of words and spells PLAT for plate, she needs to be given praise for writing down all the sounds she heard in the word.  If it really bugs you :), you could then have her add the silent e on the end.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. FJ
    Mar 11, 2011 @ 11:48:47

    I would also add that when children use invented spelling they are exercising what they are learning about letters and sounds. They have to stretch out the word, listen for, and isolate the individual sounds (phonemic awareness), and then find a letter to represent each sound they are able to detect. They are actively thinking – something they will not do if you just tell them how to spell the word. The invented spelling may not be complete and there may be some mismatches, but you didn’t expect your child to start talking in complete sentences did you? Just as you celebrated “mama” or “dada” you should celebrate I LV U.

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Mom! How do you spell…? « This Reading Mama
  3. Trackback: Playing with Phonemes-Part 3 « This Reading Mama

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