Why is learning to spell at home so important?
Being a good speller relies a lot on being able to build long lasting memories that can be retrieved easily by the brain. This involves quite a long process!
First the memory must be created. Your child’s brain send signals in a particular pattern associated with the word they are looking at and begins to create connections between neurons, called synapses. This will begin to happen in school when the spelling is taught. If they don’t do anything further, that connection disappears and the memory disappears with it. Consolidation is the process of committing it to the long-term memory so we can recall it later. The more your child practises each spelling, the stronger the connections in the brain become. This requires lots and lots of practise of each spelling! Then your child needs to be able to recall the memory. Each time they remember how to spell a word, the brain uses the connections they have build, making them even stronger.
Whilst lots of work is done in the classroom to provide an early, solid groundwork in spelling, the importance of parental help at home at this stage cannot be over-stressed. Unfortunately there just isn’t enough time in school to repeat the amount of practise that is needed make these long lasting connections and commit all the words children need to be able to spell into their long term memory.
Children need to have regular, short bursts of spelling practise to achieve this. Daily consolidation, just for 5 minutes is far more effective than trying to learn them in one go, once a week. This will just create week connections that quickly fade.