Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Frustrating Phonetic Spelling

It's hard to explain how frustrating I find phonetic spelling.  Their school uses it to help the children learn to read and spell.  I get the concept of why it should work.  What I really, really dislike is that they don't follow-up with, "Well, it sounds like it should be spelled like that, but here's how it is correctly spelled."

This comes up all the time when we're doing their homework.  Often their homework involves writing sentences.  They keep saying, "Mom, Teacher says we should write our own sentences.  You don't need to help us spell words."

Sorry.  No can do.  If I am going to help them with their homework, I want to teach them how to do things correctly.  This means sentences start with a capital letter and end with some punctuation.  This means that sentences use proper grammar (at the kindergarten level of course) and correct spelling.

They like knowing how to spell words.  They get frustrated, though, when they misspell something and I explain how to spell it correctly.  As the brunette twin likes to say, "Mom, that doesn't make any sense.  Why is the F sound spelled with a PH?"  I always reply, "I know.  It's crazy, isn't it?" 

I don't know why we want to teach them to spell by ear when American English doesn't really work like that.  Let's face it, American English is a mess.  There are rules and exceptions to every rule.  Most words aren't spelled the way they sound.  There are multiple ways to spell and different uses for the same-sounding word (think about too, two and too). 

If we're going to teach them to spell, let's do it correctly from the beginning.  These are easy words.  If we don't get the foundation right, then how will they get the more complicated words correct? 

Plus, the girls are advanced enough that they understand the concept.  Now when we say too, they understand it is spelled and used differently than to or two. 

Maybe it's just the English teacher in me, but I'm fighting this one all the way.  I don't see the point in teaching them to do it incorrectly and then having to teach them the correct spellings later.  Let's just do it right the first time and save us all some frustrations.


eatmisery said...

I agree with you, but that's the English teacher in me, too. Hopefully, our own kids will inherit our knack for the English language and learning it won't be so confusing.

The other day, my 3yo daughter's teacher told me that Liv knew the difference between "good" and "well" and knew how to use both accordingly. I guess it helps having a Mom who's an English teacher, right?

I find myself constantly correcting what they say, in hopes that it'll just become second nature without them even realizing it. Heh.


I totally know what you mean! I just recently found out that this is a practice and I don't like it. I guess the theory is to encourage them to sound out words and not be discouraged for spelling words incorrectly, but then at what point do they learn to spell the right way???

Nicki said...

I agree! I think when kids are writing, maybe they should be allowed to spell things phonetically, but mistakes they make can be used to help them learn the correct spellings. What good is to get them used to spelling things wrong?