The Importance of Invented Spelling

Let’s talk about the importance of invented spelling! Did you know that invented spelling (when a child makes her best guess, without adult help, at a word based on their understanding of letters and sounds) is a completely normal developmental stage as preschoolers and young elementary schoolers learn to write? Invented spelling also has wonderful benefits for developing writers— and a connection was recently found with learning to read, too!

Some benefits of invented spelling:

*increased engagement in and enjoyment of writing

*increased self-confidence as a writer

*results in greater creative expression and therefore practice of the whole writing process

*gives students extra practice in phonics (invented spelling is usually very phonetic)

*better long-term writing skills (children allowed to use invented spelling when they’re learning to write will write more; the more you write, the better you’ll become)

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But there’s also a connection to reading! In 2017, Canadian researchers Ouellette and Sénéchal completed a landmark study mapping the connection between beginning reading and writing. Because using invented spelling requires a child to think more deeply about the components and phonetic parts of a word than memorizing spelling does, it allows for better learning and deeper understanding of language. Children then build “dictionaries” of these words (and eventually their correct spelling, as invented spelling is a developmental stage, not an end), which allows for greater fluency and automaticity in both reading and writing!

Through their research, they concluded that invented spelling was “a unique predictor of growth in early reading skills, over and above children’s alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness.” Pretty cool, huh?

So, the next time your developing reader and writer makes his best guess at writing through invented spelling, hold back the urge to correct. It’s normal, it’s developmental, and it’s good!

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