Inventive Spelling

Happy Friday to all of you.  Today’s education blog is going to give you an inside look to what is going on in some schools around the country.  Unfortunately, it’s a trend which is not helping our children.  I believe when parents are informed- children will benefit so let’s dive in.

D U C Dat? (Did you see that)  In a nutshell that is your first lesson in a practice known as inventive spelling.  A trend that seems to be growing every year are the growing number of high school students who can’t read or write on grade level.  There are several reasons leading to this problem but I believe you can look at inventive spelling as one of the factors.

I love this inventive spelling
I still haven’t figured this out.

Wut r u talkin abowt Claton?  (What are you talking about Clayton)  I’m talking about kids in school who write assignments for their teachers based on how the words sound to them as opposed to the proper spelling. Instead of being corrected by these educators, they are praised for their effort and creativity.

The reason this concept is so important for parents to know is so you can have an awareness to what goes on in some schools.  When I was a teacher, spelling wasn’t emphasized as being important.  As a parent, that statement should concern you.  I did my best to teach students how to spell properly because I felt strongly about it; but not because spelling was a requirement defined in the core content.

The alternative means of teaching spelling is called foniks (phonics).  Some may shudder as you read the “p” word (f word if you are an inventive speller).  At the heart of it, phonics has been the best method I have seen for children to learn how to write.  Let me put it another way. Although children have shown me different styles of learning over the years, I have never seen a child who was able to write on grade level who had not learned basic phonetic principles.

There’s a reason cat is spelled c-a-t.  While I admit there are lots of words that aren’t spelled the way they sound, it’s important to know the rulz (rules) and learn over time when the rules do not apply.  Though it’s a lengthy process, 13 years of education (more if you count pre-school) is easily enough time to work out the kinks.

Inventive spelling , to me, is cute to read from a kindergarten or even a 1st grade student.  Though I didn’t let the errors go unchecked, I did appreciate the students’ effort during my time in the classroom.  Writing can be a difficult subject to teach.  It takes a lot of time and patience  It baffles me though how any grade (above K or 1st) would buy into inventive spelling.

Please remember the primary point of writing for anyone is to communicate on paper.  If the reader can’t understand what the writer is trying to communicate, then the writing is, in effect, worthless. Let us fast forward a few years ahead.  If a child can’t spell correctly, what type of college would you expect that person to attend or which job could you expect them to land?

Here’s another way of looking at it.  When was the last time you did something incorrectly, stuck with the same plan, and got it right without changing anything? Inventive spelling counts on the fact that although the word is spelled incorrectly now, it will work itself out over time.  It is a theory I have never understood.
Group of children in a primary school in Paris

There are plenty of schools who will pass students on from year to year even if the children can’t spell.  Therefore, you have two choices as a parent.  Either trust that the school is right (making me wrong) or take what I am saying seriously and work with your kids on how to spell. You can easily do this by looking at classwork and reading carefully what your children are writing.  This can also be accomplished by making sure all homework assignments are written properly.  Rest assured, I have made more than one kid erase a word and spell it correctly.  None of them were scarred for life.

For those who would like a little more information, here is a link from the National Right to Read Foundation that I hope will help.



  1. Courtney says:

    This is a great post! As we move more and more to the Internet for our economy, spelling and writing will only become more important. Kids today need to have these skills. Those factory jobs, where writing is less emphasized won't be there. Where will they find a job without writing, and writing well with proper spelling? Do you think texting has contributed to this trend?

    P.S. I really double checked my spelling here in the post, but I have to say as I get older, my eyes don't catch as much;)

    • claytonthomas says:

      To be honest with you, I don't think texting has a lot to do with the problem. The basic skills needed for writing are taught before most children learn to text on cell phones. Writing/Phonics is a difficult subject to teach. We are in a microwave society so when the results do not come quickly, we (as a society) tend to wonder what is wrong. Inventive spelling makes some in the educational system feel better because of the perceived progress. In saying that, the results speak for themselves. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. Becky Jane says:

    Phonetic spelling! I home schooled for 18 years and spelling was up at the top! I can see why teachers don't want to hassle with it. It's up to the parents.

    • claytonthomas says:

      Though it can be a hassle, basic grammar is extremely important. Math can be a hassle to teach as well but I don't believe it is a good idea to give that up either (haha).

  3. Cami says:

    I think it is so important for parents to be a large part of teaching their children.