Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apprenticeships and Our Children

Children learn through observation and performance. They will watch adults and peers closely to gain knowledge about how people do certain things. Then, when they can gain the confidence, which can be fostered by a safe, supportive, and risk-taking encouraged environment, they will try it for themselves! Specifically when looking at a child's development through literacy, we see children imitating writing styles and spelling words from memory. For example, a student in first grade recently heard his teacher read a book about a mean, awful teacher. The children laughed at this book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Later in the day, Kenny decided to write his own version of this type of story-line. He wrote a story containing 45 words. Included in his story are 19 words that he spelled conventionally, we call this conventional spelling. The other 26 words were words that he spelled to the best of his ability. We can call these words "inventive spelling," or "temporary spelling." Kenny did a great job correctly spelling 19 words, but more valuable than these words are the 26 inventive words. Here, we can learn about Kenny's though process through literacy. We know that he has some background knowledge about words, possibly memorization. Instead of demonstrating strict "sounding out," Kenny spelled "was" w-u-s. This means that he knew the word contained and "s," instead of placing the right sound, a "z," at the end of the word. Inventive spelling is a great way to dig into a child's brain and understand their concepts of literacy. Without this freedom to spell things "incorrectly," children would miss out on this opportunity for creative, real, and interesting literacy experiences. Although names for this type of spelling differ, I have come to appreciate "inventive spelling," "temporary spelling," and the "developmental form of spelling." I prefer using these terms instead of wrong spelling because it is important to realize that this is a phase for children: an important phase. Children will move out of this developmental stage, but it should not be forced. Teachers can use inventive spelling to further understand and appreciate the children in their classrooms. What an amazingly beautiful picture of a child's pure thoughts and ideas!


  1. I, too, have developed an appreciation for inventive spelling, especially because of Lindfors' writing. It is so exciting to think of watching children's writing development during this time in their lives...We have so much to learn from them!

  2. I love it when I see the children I work with trying so hard to spell out the words that they want to say. It shows just how much they want to learn and how they really wish to express themselves. It is also a learning experience as well because seeing how they come up with unique ideas is so different than the way adults would approach it.

  3. I find it fascinating to observe children writing and to 'decode' their inventive spelling. Teachers and parents need to value this process, instead of dismissing or correcting it, causing children to fall into the "is this 'right'?" stage, because their genuine thought process is genius and we can learn so much about their learning from it.