When I look back at my elementary school education, an aspect of it which sticks out in my mind is all the spelling instruction we used to have.  I have clear memories of taking my spelling lists home and memorizing how to spell the words and then trying to remember them the next day as my teachers read them aloud for us to spell.  It was not something I necessarily enjoyed doing, but I knew that it was necessary for me to learn how to spell as a means of advancing to the next level of my education.  That’s why I was very surprised when I read the following article regarding the de-emphasis of spelling in elementary schools today. 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/raising-readers-writers-and-spellers/201008/no-spelling-book-in-your-child-s-book-bag-spells-tr

Spelling is one of the essential building blocks that sets the foundation for successful writing.  Not only does it contribute to your child’s ability to be a good writer in the future, but it also affects the speed of their writing.  Your child’s ability to spell appropriately also has an indirect link to their ability to read correctly, quickly, and to comprehend the content of the material.   Finally, spelling and reading are very significant in building a child self-esteem and confidence in school.  If they grow up to be embarrassed by their ability to spell or to read, it is going to cause them to avoid such tasks and divert attention away from themselves by either becoming the class clown or by being socially withdrawn as a means of not getting noticed. 

Spelling is an issue which is going to follow your child for the rest of their life.  Being a Learning Disability Specialist at the Los Angeles Community College District, I am constantly meeting with college students who are able to understand the content of the courses they are enrolled in, but are held back by their lack of ability to write at age-level.  Many of these students choose to get tested to determine if their weakness in the area of writing would qualify them to be eligible for accommodations under the title of a learning disability.  Although these students may qualify for services to help them get through the writing aspect of their courses more effectively, these services do not solve the problem but instead put a Band-Aid on them.  If the foundation of spelling skills is lacking, it is very difficult to progress in the stages of writing.  When a college student is not confident in their ability to spell and use grammar correctly, they automatically lose their confidence in conveying their knowledge and understanding of the course material within the body of the essay. 

Therefore, it is essential that students are given a strong foundation in spelling at an early age.  If you feel that your child’s school is not addressing their writing skills, please discuss this with the administration.  You will not only be helping your child, but every other child in that school.  If the spelling instruction is appropriate but your child is having difficulty grasping the concept, it is wise to have him/her evaluated for a learning disability in spelling as soon as possible.  The sooner the weakness is identified, the sooner it can be addressed and remediated.  This is not something that your child needs to live with forever.  Once a learning disability is identified at a young age, various methods of instruction can be introduced to help them grasp the information in a why that is effective for them.  However, the longer that you let it go or wait it out, the more difficult it becomes for your child to catch up academically.  

For more information or if you have questions regarding learning disabilties, please feel free to call my office at 818-523-9394 or visit my webpage at http://www.lapsych.com/psycho-educational.asp

-Dr. Sheyda Melkonian

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