How to Motivate Your Child to Learn Spelling

You may have heard about the debate on whether text messages are killing the English language because of the excessive use of abbreviations which are being translated into daily life. Personally, I have never had a problem with SMS because I don’t abbreviate. Recently, I have seen a new benefit of text messages – it encourages my son to learn how to spell so he can send messages to his one of his favourite uncles.

Gavin loves sending messages. Initially, it was annoying because he would type random letters and send junk messages to his Dad who did not appreciate having to pay for rubbish text messages on overseas rates because he was travelling on business. Here’s another reason why we’re glad Gavin can read because all messages stopped when Daddy responded with:

Stop sending me messages. Stop playing with Mommy’s phone.

Next he started tormenting his aunts with junk messages and they did not appreciate a barrage of text messages at 6am in the morning. When he started communicating with his Uncle S over the phone, he started asking me to help him write his messages. He would type in the letters while I spelt the words out to him.

Recently, he started wanting to reply my messages to my friends. When I wouldn’t spell the words out for him, he would try to apply the rules of phonics to help him sound out the letters. How’s that for motivation to practice spelling? I’ve always believed that when a child wants to learn something, the battle is already won because whatever he sets his mind to, he will achieve.

When I was a child, we wrote to penpals using snail mail. In this age, text messaging is the new snail mail and children as young as 4 years old can have message pals.

Here’s a message from Gavin to Daddy that he wrote on his own:

Dad. I. Want. To. Watch. Angrybrds. Movie. Pelisse. Pelisse. Pelisse.

Okay, so his punctuation and his spelling needs a bit more work. Nevertheless it’s kind of amusing and he has never been more motivated to learn how to spell.

Oh yes, there is also an iPhone app that Gavin has been playing which teaches him how to spell using phonics. It’s called ABC Phonics Rocks! The words they teach are pretty basic but Gavin really enjoys the game. The app sounds out the word by breaking it up into its individual letter sounds. For example, “hat” becomes “huh” ,”eh”, “tuh” and the children need to select the letters based on their recognition of the sounds.

I’m afraid I haven’t really explored spelling games on the iPhone/iPad much. I stumbled across ABC Phonics Rocks quite by accident. If you know of any apps for teaching spelling that your children enjoy, please share them in the comments section.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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