Whether you're a homeschooling parent or simply looking to provide your child with extra spelling practice, consider incorporating a spelling contract into your lesson plans.
What is a Spelling Contract?
If you're like many parents, the idea of a spelling contact may seem perplexing. However, spelling contracts can be valuable tools to help motivate children to practice their spelling words. A spelling contract gives your child a sense of independence by letting him or her make decisions about how to study.
Spelling contracts encourage children to commit to a certain amount of study time, but they feature a variety of activities that students can choose to complete. A child who loves to write can make up a story with his or her spelling words, while an artistic child can choose to make a spelling word collage with pictures cut from his or her favorite magazines. Offering choices in this manner helps reluctant students learn to take responsibility for their academic success.
Finding Spelling Contracts Online
There are many different educational Web sites offering spelling contracts that you can use to help your child practice his or her spelling words. For example:
- Kim's Corner offers a spelling and vocabulary contract that gives students a choice of activities they can do to practice their spelling words. Each activity is awarded a point value based on difficulty and students must acquire a certain number of points to fulfill the terms of the contract.
- Teacher Web provides a point-based spelling contract with activities divided into 25, 50, and 75 point categories. Students are asked to earn 100 points before each spelling test.
- Lake Fenton School has a spelling contract that can be used to help ensure students are practicing their spelling words. You can print the week's word list on the right hand side of the page to make the study process more convenient for your child.
- Brownsburg Elementary lets you download a copy of their spelling contract to use with your child.
- Teachers Pay Teachers has a spelling contract that you can download for use with students in grades 3-5.
Once you've chosen the appropriate spelling contract for your child, remember these essential study tips:
- Keep a positive attitude. While it's natural to feel frustrated when your child won't practice his or her spelling words, you must try to avoid being overly critical. Focus on successes instead of mistakes.
- Be flexible. Choose a time of day to practice spelling words when your child is feeling alert and focused. A child who is tired, hungry, or impatient is unlikely to retain any new information.
- Make connections. While spelling used to be taught as a manner of simple memorization, it is now considered more effective to help children learn to see the connections between words. Show your child how words are built using syllables and demonstrate how prefixes and suffixes can be used as clues to how a word is spelled.
- Share your own experiences. Since computers are so prevalent in today's society, many young children are convinced that learning to spell correctly is no longer a necessity. Feel free to show your child how you use spelling skills in your daily life.
- Encourage your child to read for pleasure. Regardless of what type of material he or she chooses, the exposure to new vocabulary words will help to strengthen spelling skills.
For more information about ways to teach spelling, check out the following resources:
- Special Connections has a simple guide to spelling instruction procedures.
- A Lost Art discusses the decline of spelling instruction in public schools and offers a list of rules that can be used to help master new spelling words.
- LD Online offers an article with tips on helping learning disabled students master new spelling words.
- Spelling it Right is a general resource for anyone interested in learning how to spell more effectively.