Thinking About Invented Spelling

Posted on: December 16th, 2014 by lschwartz No Comments

“The fastest way to teach a child to read is to teach them to write.”

-Mem Fox

This term, I led a three part series on reading called “Explicit Teaching, Joyful Reading.”  In the final session we talked about the reading/writing connection and the importance of using writing time as a way to further develop reading skills.  When we ask children to write a story, reflect on an event or share a memory, we give students a purpose for their writing.  Purposeful writing leads to written work being read over and over again.  But not only does the product inspire students to read more and develop important reading skills, the process of creating the written piece also benefits students reading, writing and problem solving skills.
At the reading session last week, we talked a lot about invented spelling.  Research tells us that students who are encouraged to use invented spelling use a greater variety of words in their writing (Gunderson & Shapiro 1987 and Stice & Bertrand 1990).  As well, young children who are encouraged to use invented spelling to communicate ideas, develop better word recognition and phonics skills sooner than those who do not use invented spelling (Stice & Bertrand 1990).
Research aside, here are some other great reasons to encourage students to use invented spelling in their daily writing:
  • Invented spelling encourages students to become familiar letters and sounds and make connections between letters and sounds.
  • Children who use invented spelling take ownership over their own work and become independent writers because they ask for less help spelling unknown words.
  • Children are able to write more interesting stories, use more powerful words and express their thoughts when using invented spelling.
  • Children are able to write more words than they know how to read and this supports their efforts to express all their thoughts and ideas, not just the simple ones that they can spell.
  • Invented spellings gives children plenty of practice time using phonics and  letter sound patterns, when they represent the sounds that they hear.
"Boot camp equipment"

“Boot camp equipment”

This is a picture my daughter made while she waited for me at my Boot Camp class.

In reading and writing, just like the other subjects in school, we want our students to be independent thinkers who have the tools to solve problems.  Invented spelling is one way to encourage these habits of mind.


Leave a Reply