Do not teach spelling using the “writing gate” or the “auditory gate”, as these gates are generally blocked in bright, but struggling children. Rather, teach them how to use their “photographic memory” to easily store spelling words in their long term memory. They feel really smart when you they learn this way. It may seem like more work at first, but it is immensely successful and much more fun for you and for the child. It will become much easier as you go along through the year.
Using the “most commonly used words” list, and words from the words from their daily writing that they have misspelled, (not words from a regular Spelling Book), on Monday of each week, give the child a pre-test to find out which words aren’t known, to make your spelling list for the week. Since many of these bright youngsters have a “writing glitch”, give them the test orally. You can write the words for them if you want. This way you’ll really find out which words they don’t know, not which words they could write correctly. Remember, that with a writing glitch kids often inadvertently leave out a letter in a word when they write it. When you have identified between 10-15 words that the child doesn’t know, (these words can also be taken from the papers they write), make up cards for these words, working with your child. On the cards, write the letters that they spelled correctly in black magic marker. Write the letters they misspelled in color. You often have to put a picture on those tricky letters. For example, in the word “Saturday”, have the “u” be a swimming pool with a stick figure person diving into it. You can glue stars, marshmallows, m & m’s, etc. on letters that don’t want to stick in the memory. At first the cards will be quite elaborate as you are training your child to use his/her photographic memory. After several weeks, you will find that you need to put less and less on the words, and the child still remembers it.
Once the cards are made, have your child sit in a chair with his/her eyes in an upward position. Put the card up high in the air, and point out a few letters or pictures, and direct the child to take a quick “snapshot” with his eyes. Do this for “five looks”. Then take it down and ask questions about the colors and pictures of the letters. Then ask the child to spell the word forwards and backwards. BACKWARDS spelling is extremely important to this process. If the child can’t easily spell the word backwards, he isn’t seeing a picture of it, and the word will quickly fade in his memory, even if he passes the weekly test. If the child continues to get a letter wrong, then put more “jazz” on that letter…using either more pictures, or a silly story. If you are working with only one child, you can do this process for every word, every day. Then take the test on Friday. Remember, that if the child is struggling with the word, always direct her eyes upward to access the photographic memory. If she is still struggling, then offer some visual clues, like “What are the colors of the letters?” The colors often will pull up the letters on their screen. If you are teaching more than one child, after showing the cards individually on Monday, you can put the spelling cards up high on a wall that the child looks at regularly throughout the day. Each day, have her turn her back on the cards and tell you colors, pictures, and how to spell each word forwards and backwards. Remember, if a certain letter continues to be hard to recall in a word, you will need to put more “velcro” or “glue” on the word using weird, emotions, humor, color, etc. Then it will stick. Often the child can come up with these extra crazy visual cues.
***Be sure to have the child take a ‘picture’ of each word 5 days in a row***
You can put the words high on a wall. Each day, you have them look up at the word, and then look at a blank wall, and tell you the colors and pictures on the card. Then they spell the word forwards and backwards. Do this spelling process each day for 5 days, for each card. No writing is necessary except on your spelling test day.
As the year progresses, the child can write the spelling words in good sentences each week, also, as the writing process becomes easier by the daily writing eight exercise.
You can do this sight word spelling program along with any Phonics based spelling program, also.
This very effective Right Brain Spelling Strategy, along with Right Brain Strategies for teaching Math, Vocabulary, Phonics and Study Skills is clearly demonstrated in the “TEACHING THE RIGHT BRAIN CHILD” DVD that can be purchased from www.diannecraft.org.
Some mothers and teachers make the mistake of making the spelling words on small, index-size cards, and use light, pastel colors for the letters, or make every letter in a different color, giving the child no “pattern” to take a picture of.
This consistently leads to failure to store the words in the long term memory. The child will only remember the words long enough to pass the end of the week spelling test. This, of course, is not our goal. Remember, BIG, BOLD, PATTERNS, and funny if necessary for memory grips. Strong Visual Velcro is what we need.