Here is a Facebook conversation we recently had with a friend.
Debra: I have an 8-year-old and 7-year-old (along with three littles). Both are reading very well. We read aloud a lot and love it. They want to write letters and notes. I am simply noticing a lack of any good spelling. I’m wondering if I should start slowly in spelling and dictation with my 8-year-old third grader (she already does lots of copywork). She seems ready but I don’t want to push too early. Thoughts? Still wait another year or so? Or no harm in starting? We have pretty much followed every suggestion you’ve made in your book.
Me: Maybe you could start some dictation now — make it fun. Don’t make it a test, but make it a learning experience. If she doesn’t know how to spell a word or where the punctuation should go, show her. The goal is to help the child 1.) learn to love to write, and 2.) develop creativity. If we press the technicalities (spelling and punctuation) too early, creativity and the love of learning is stifled. This is especially true of children who lean toward perfectionism. Technicalities can be learned at any age, but creativity and the love of learning are developed at an early age.
Debra: I wish other people spoke the way you do on this subject!!!! You make it so easy. Should I just encourage her to write each day without me “checking it” or does it matter how much she writes on her own now? Thank you for the encouragement. A breath of fresh air.
Me: Yes, encourage her to write without worrying about technicalities. You’ll want to see it, though — to praise her and oouuu and ahhh over it. Buy her special paper and pencils and pens and all kinds of art and writing supplies to encourage her in this. Just to encourage you, here is a little essay our daughter Ava wrote long ago when she was 8-years-old.