Spelling Contests are becoming quite widespread in schools all over the country, with a large-scale nation-wide competition held every year by champs21 and The Daily Star. I find it to be quite a progressive initiative, as computers and word processors are taking over classes, assignments and homework, with their auto-correct and spell check features. True, it reduces a hell lot of hassle, but in the process, it is affecting the abilities of kids to spell even commonly used words properly. Read on to know how to get your child ready for a spelling bee contest!
Accurate spelling is important for a child to get through their schooling years, as spelling is required in order to pass assessments, write a formal correspondence or even communicate online. Learning correct spelling doesn’t just improve command over a language, but also helps a child to develop a strong connection between the letters of a word and its sounds.
Learning how to spell words is one of the most useful lifelong skills and it builds the basic foundation that all children will need throughout their education and life in general. These skills support children in achieving good results and progressing through various grades and being good at spelling may have an impact on the future careers of students. Bad spelling gives others a bad impression about a student. If the spelling is poor, the reader will notice this before anything else. Punctuation errors often go unnoticed, but everyone notices spelling errors. One of the best and quickest ways to develop the skill of Learning spell is to participate in Spelling contests.
Nobody really knows where the word ‘spelling bee’ originated, but spelling bee competitions are widespread all over the world and is fast gaining international recognition. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a part of the Olympics someday either! In a spelling bee, contestants are asked to spell a broad selection of words, to test their vocabulary, spelling knowledge and skill.
Why Are Spelling Contests Helpful?
- These contests provide a valuable educational experience for your child, and also allows them to engage in healthy competition.
- It is also important for your kid to build up and boosts their knowledge. Learning words can get your kids interested in tracing the origin of a word and its etymology. This information will greatly improve the knowledge base of your child, even at a very young age, and motivate them to develop a keen interest in learning new words.
- Spelling contests will really help your kid to improve his/her cognitive skills.
- Spelling contest often require a child to learn a string of words at a time, which is a good memory booster.
- A child’s confidence level is usually boosted after entering into such competitions. Children learn how to present themselves in front of an audience and accept correction when wrong when they participate in spelling contest.
As such, every parent should encourage their child to enter a spelling competition to reap the above benefits.
How to Train for a Spelling contest:
While there are plenty of benefits to competitive spelling, nobody can deny that it is hard work. Spelling contests can be challenging, even for adults. Daily study is necessary to become a true champion. Even the kid who is not interested in competition can become a good speller by practicing regularly and consistently.
Here are some tips to help your child train effectively for a spelling bee:
- Use an official word list: Every Spelling contest provides an official word list for each grade level, up to the 8th These lists provide a benchmark and a good idea about the standard of the judges’ expectations.
- Understand the meanings of words: Encourage your child to not just memorize words from the word list by rote. Teach them everything about each word and its meanings, including how they can be used in a sentence. Sometimes during the contests, participants are allowed to hear the word used in a sentence, so it’s a good idea to familiarize your child with the meaning and usage of words.
- Study etymology: Explain your child about the history of words, including Greek and Latin word roots. It may sound extreme, but details like this make the difference between a champion speller and an average one. Sometimes spelling contests allow a speller to ask for the language of origin, and familiarity with the linguistic ancestors of English can give you valuable clues to modern day spelling.
- Look for patterns in language: Make your child familiar with the rules of language. Familiarity with affixes, phonics and spelling rules can greatly help a speller. Even if he/she gets stuck on a word that he/she has never seen before, he/she will at least be able to make an informed guess, which could save her/him in a tight spot.
- Make study fun: Teach your child with joy. Make the study process fun. Invent games, use flashcards, play with them and reward them. The prep and study phase doesn’t have to be based on memorization of boring lists. If they enjoy the study process, they will be far more likely to continue with it. Scroll down to find some great activities to improve spelling.
- Use every available resource. Dictionaries are a common resource for spelling contest training, but there are plenty of online games and resources that you can use to enhance their study process as well. Websites like Spell Quiz, Kids Spell, Spell zone provide a motivating change to the traditional dictionary study, and offer the ability to really track the progress accurately. Some of them have been built specifically based on words used in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The vocabulary comes straight from the official Scripps lists, giving students a chance to practice using those words in practical ways.
- Play word games: Playing word games is a fun way to test your new spelling skills. It’s also a good way to learn new words. Classic board games like Scrabble and Scattergories are great for spelling practice. Apps like Spelling City and SpellTower are also fun ways to test your child.
- Take spelling test: This is obviously fundamental. Nothing beats an old-school testing method to gauge the child’s preparation level and weak points. You can teach your child to test their spelling using these four steps:
- Look at the word and pay attention to the spelling and what the word looks like
- Cover up the word or turn the flash card around.
- Visualize the word in his/her mind, and then spell the word aloud, in his/her mind, or on paper
- Check the flash card or list to ensure that the spelling is correct. You can show your child an example of how to do this and then let him/her practice on his/her own.
Activities to improve spelling:
- Flashcards: Make flashcards of words and practice saying the sounds associated with the letters.
- Use rhyming words: Read books with rhyming words in them and encourage your child to think of other words that might rhyme with the words.
- Whiteboard: Using a whiteboard makes writing words more enjoyable and enables a child to erase any mistakes.
- Use tricks: Use tricks to help teach specific spelling rules, like an acronym for words that use ‘ie’ and those that use ‘ei’, for example, the words ‘receive’ and ‘deceive’ have an ‘ei’, while the words ‘chief’ and ‘relief’ have an ‘ie’, although all the words have the same sound.
- Unscramble magnetic letters: Make a game out of unscrambling magnetic letters on a board. If there are more kids, you can make this into a competition.
- Play a game of Anagrams: Get creative by making anagrams of words in their spelling list or ask them to make creative anagrams from the words.
- Play Hangman of spellings: You can use words in the spelling list to play a game of hangman, getting the child more familiar with the words.
- Play 20 questions: Well not 20 questions, but 5 questions would be apt. You can think of a word and then get your child to guess the word by asking questions like ‘Does it start with an ‘e’?’ or ‘Does it have 2 ‘r’s’ in the spelling’? etc.
Strategies of Spelling Practice:
- Keep a spelling notebook handy: Encourage the child to read a lot of good books and expand his/her vocabulary. This will help the child learn new words as well as understand how to use them. Give him.her a spelling notebook where he/she can write down the most interesting words and review it from time to time. It also helps to keep a list of the words that they miss out on in quizzes and tests in the spelling notebook
- Practice writing words on your own so that you don’t always have to involve another person. Or type them into a text document on the computer.
- Make your child learn basic spelling strategies and rules. Make a list of commonly-used words that are exceptions to these rules, or words that are quite commonly misspelt, like ‘maneuver’ or ‘receive’.
- Teach Children to Use the Dictionary to confirm spelling. This may be hard for children who do not yet understand the concept of alphabetical order. For children who do not understand alphabetical order, help them as they look up the word, providing assistance as needed.
Hope you liked my article on how to get your child ready for a spelling bee contest. Do share and comment below if your found this helpful.