Can’t We Just Use Spellcheck?: Secrets Behind the Importance of Encoding
“I can’t spell either, but isn’t that what word processors are for?” This is shared sentiment for many of us who were taught to read by recognizing words as whole units as opposed to breaking them down into sound parts. Regardless, we can indeed read, and that’s what matters…right? And that’s really all we need our kids to do…yes? Well, let’s break it down.
First, it is important to address some terms that we may hear thrown around at family/teacher conferences:
Decoding: the process of using sounds and blending them together to read words.
Encoding: the process of matching letters to sounds in order to spell words.
Phonemic awareness: identifying, hearing, and working with sounds in spoken words (i.e. changing the last sound in /cat/ to /p/ to make /cap/).
Phonics: connecting sounds to actual letters.
Reading and spelling work simultaneously to develop overall literacy skills. When we come to understand the relationships between letters and sounds (phonics) and how to manipulate those sounds (phonemic awareness), we improve our encoding (spelling) skills. And consequently, when we possess these valuable encoding skills we will in turn improve our decoding (reading).
Put simply: When you can spell, you can read more effectively, and visa versa. So take as many opportunities as possible to equally develop these skills with your child.
Perhaps you can both become literacy wizards!
Blog Post by Educational Strategist, Kimberly Desautels