"How do you spell _____?" has become one of the boy's most commonly asked questions as of late. He generally attempts it first and then asks me for confirmation. If he's incorrect or if he hasn't yet attempted it, I guide him through the sounds to help him figure it out himself. In this way, spelling rules are gradually introduced as examples present themselves.
An interesting challenge has recently arisen with the boy's attempts at spelling. Because of his age-appropriate and yet incorrect pronunciation of certain sounds, he spells the words as they sound to his ears. When he asks if he has spelled it right, I enunciate the word correctly so he can hear the sounds. Only he doesn't believe me!
The first such controversial word was "truck". He had spelled it "chuc", which is phonetically correct according to his pronunciation. Somehow when he says it aloud, the difference isn't glaringly obvious, but a closer listen reveals that he does indeed replace the "tr" sound with "ch".
A similar conversation took place regarding the word "thing", which he pronounces as "sing". Again, it was a challenge for him to adjust his idea of the correct pronunciation of this word. This issue has led to interesting discussions on the concept of speaking clearly, the challenges of spelling words when they aren't pronounced correctly, and whether or not mom does in fact know how to spell.
The "tr" versus "ch" pronunciation came up again after he drew and labelled a picture of tarantulas ("chachalas"). I was impressed that he had tackled that word on his own. After telling him so, however, he asked if he had spelled it correctly. I told him it was close but the "ch" sound was actually "tar". Again, he had difficulty hearing the difference and remained convinced that he was indeed pronouncing it correctly.
I know the issue will resolve itself in time, as his speech sound acquisition progresses. In the meantime, it makes for a good reinforcement of careful enunciation as well as an interesting presentation of the challenges of phonetic spelling when speech sounds have not yet been fully acquired.
Language Arts: Reading & Viewing, Writing & Representing, Speaking & Listening