Stages of Spelling Development

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In the first stage, called the Emergent Stage, children are able to convey his/her message by scribbling, drawing shapes, writing mock letters, and/or random strings of letters/numbers. In some cases, one letter represents an entire word or the most salient sound of a word. Some Emergent children confuse letters, numbers, and letter-like forms and substitute letters and sounds that feel and look alike (e.g., the sounds /v/ and /f/, the letters d and b) The child generally lacks knowledge of the alphabet, lacks left-to-right directionality in writing, and lacks concept of word (one-to-one matching of spoken and written words). Consistent spacing between words and consistent use of letter-sound correspondences are absent. What Students Do Independently

Hold writing utensils
Write on page
Distinguish between writing and drawing
Draw letters and letter-like shapes
Left-to-right directionality
Some letter-sound matching

What Students Use but Confuse
Draw and scribble for writing
Confuse letters, numbers, and letter-like forms
Wrap writing from right to left at the ends of lines
Substitute letters and sounds that feel and look alike (e.g., the sounds /v/ and /f/, the letters d and b)

What is Absent
Sound-symbol match
Left-to-right directionality
Sound-symbol relationships
Consistent spacing between words
Consistent use of letter-sound correspondences


In the next stage, called the Letter Name Stage, children are first able to distinguish consonant sounds that come at the beginning of a word and then are next able to hear the ending consonant sounds. Later they are able to hear more refined distinctions in blends and digraphs, first at the beginnings of words and then at the ends. Also within this stage is the ability to hear short vowel sounds in the middle of one syllable words. Students begin to understand letter-sound correspondences. At this stage, students are becoming phonemic spellers. They may spell every sound in a word with one letter and omit silent letters. Students may not include spaces between all words. Generally, students at this stage of development begin to understand concept of word, are slow word-by-word readers, and point to each word as they read. Students confuse some sounds based on point of articulation (e.g., jrop for drop) and spell long vowel sounds with one vowel. Consistency in representing sounds in spelling, preconsonantal nasals (jup for jump), most long vowel markers and vowels in unstressed syllables (e.g., redr for reader) are absent.

What Students Do Independently
Represent most salient sound in words (usually beginning or ending consonant) •Know most letters of the alphabet
Letter-sound correspondences
Some blends and digraphs
Most beginning and ending sounds
Clear letter-sound correspondences
Some frequently used short-vowel words
All of the above plus:
oRegular short vowels (e.g., CVC)
oMost consonant blends and digraphs
oPreconsonantal nasals (e.g., jump, fund)
oSome common long vowel patterns

What Students Use but Confuse
Represent some sounds based on point of articulation (e.g., jrop for drop) •Spell long vowel sounds with one vowel

Substitute letter name closest to point of articulation for short vowels (e.g., het for hit) •Some consonant blends and digraphs
Preconsonantal nasals (e.g., jump, fund)
Substitute common spelling patterns for low frequency short vowels (e.g., bot for bought)

What is Absent
Spacing between all words
Vowels in syllables
Consistency in representing sounds in spelling
Preconsonantal nasals (jup for jump)
Most long vowel markers
Vowels in unstressed syllables (e.g., redr for reader)

In the Within Word Stage, children spell most single syllable short-vowel words correctly, along with most initial consonant digraphs and blends. At this stage of development, they begin using long vowel markers in their spelling...
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