As a child I always dreaded spelling tests, and especially spelling bees. Spelling was, in fact, my only "C" on an otherwise straight A record.
However, I also realize it is important. I do love to read, which would be much more difficult if we had no spelling standards, for sure.
In all of those mixed emotions I have over this important subject, I also have two elementary-aged children who have dyslexia. For them, spelling is as much of a challenge as it ever was for me. So much so, in fact, that coupled with dysgraphia (which sometimes makes the act of writing itself uncomfortable) my academically gifted, though dyslexic, son has been known to say "I wish reading was never invented."
Whoa! Never invented??? Yikes!
So, when a child who wishes reading was never invented writes (and reads) for fun, you tend to take notice. And the spelling suddenly doesn't matter as much. Yes, it's still important, but beyond spelling a word correctly I want my children to first love the written word, and to not be so afraid of making a mistake that they decide to never try.
My kids shared the following series of notes with me. They wrote them completely of their own free will. No one asked them to. They just wrote - free from judgement, free from academic perfections, free from it all! They were freely writing their hearts' desires in notes slipped to each other under the door! And that's something purely magical!
I am missing a pencil, please. Write on this paper, and I will take it, please.
I am sorry that I can't see it.
I will give a book!
After several gifts went back and forth, they planned dinner for our family.
Will you eat catfish? Write a letter.
I will eat catfish.
And they did, in fact, come downstairs and ask if I could cook catfish, with big ole smiles on both of their faces. This is HUGE! In all this researching/tutoring/practicing time, the end goal is to get our children who have dyslexia to a point where they can communicate via the written word. And for the first time, without being coached, they did it. HUGE!
So, to the title of this blog - am I happy my kids spell some words wrong? Not necessarily, but I am happy that they are freely writing away to their heart's desire because wanting to do something is the first step to real learning. Those spelling mistakes mean they aren't afraid to try, and trying is the first step toward learning.
I love their notes! I love that they aren't afraid to write, but I also know the world is not so forgiving as children who have dyslexia get older. So, we continue to learn and work on spelling (both are making gains due to Orton-Gillingham-based reading programs). Recently, I've also been following this series of blogs by Dyslexia Training Institute
which gives advice on helping children who are stuck on certain misspellings.
But that's for another day. Tonight we are celebrating with catfish!
PS: If you would like to share your story with us, we'd love to chat with you on our Learning Ally Parent Chat
which is found on Facebook. Don't forget you have a world of support here at Learning Ally
. We have parent support specialists waiting to help you navigate the road. Just call 800.635.1403
to schedule a free 30 minute phone consultation.
Jules Johnson is the mom of two children who have dyslexia, as well as the Social Media Community Leader at Learning Ally. She's also one of the co-founders of Decoding Dyslexia-TN.