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Boost Children’s Reading through Spelling Bees.

By Norryn Gloria

Everyone thinks Africa has a poor reading culture. One fellow actually went ahead to say that ‘if you want to hide a treasure from Africans, you hide it in a book’. Absurd, right?

Children today have been brought up in the same school of thought that Africa has a poor reading culture, and that it will possibly always remain as so. However, some effort has been made by the government, literacy stakeholders, and a few parents to improve children’s reading and writing abilities in the recent years. Sadly, most of these have been frustrated at ground level and many children still read with difficulty.

The good news is that we can still do better. Ever thought of how much spelling can contribute to the improvement of the children’s reading abilities? Well, in this article, we will look at some of the reasons why spelling bees must not be taken for granted. For starters, a Spelling Bee is a competition in which contestants are asked to spell a broad selection of words, usually with a varying degree of difficulty.

Spelling Bees are the best activity to boost children’s confidence levels in both writing and public speaking. During spelling contests, children are constantly reminded that the competition is not just about winning but also about learning from each other and discovering how best to use new and complex words. This in itself is the number one benefit to all participants of spelling bees.

If it doesn’t boost your children’s vocabulary and grammar, then it’s not about spelling. Though sometimes we tend to think that anyone that has gone through school can be a great speller, the reality is far from this. Spelling competitions or games are one way of teaching children to take the initiative to learn new words in a very friendly environment.

If you can spell it, you can read it. Majority of school-going children read a simple text with a lot of difficulties. Yet, those who can read with ease also face a spelling challenge. If children participate more in spelling activities, they will not only improve their grammar but will also be comfortable with reading anything and eventually improve their writing skills and other learning outcomes.

Spelling Bees create an avenue for networking and creating friendships. Children who participate in spelling competitions have an opportunity to learn from each other and create new friends that can support their reading abilities. They also create friends with their teachers, mentors and other responsible adults in their lives.

Spelling Bees also instill problem-solving skills in children. If your child spells a complicated word under duress, they for sure can work out challenges, even under pressure. Allow your children the opportunity of participating in these spelling games or competitions whenever possible because out of them, rise well-equipped resilient individuals who can overcome everyday problems through critical thinking.

Spelling Bees help to boost children’s memory. It’s more of a mind-exercise because participants are expected not to just remember a number of words but also master the art of spellings words they have never encountered before. Interestingly, this doesn’t end with the competitions. These children easily put the same words to good use during their academic and regular life.

The more children participate in spelling games, competitions and other similar activities, the more they enhance their vocabulary and word usage. However, some parents have been hesitant to let their children participate in their schools or communities’ spelling competitions. The majority actually subscribe to a school of thought that Spelling Bees are only a way of forcing their children to memorize a bunch of letters to win a competition. If we take up the challenge to create awareness on the benefits of Spelling Bees to children, we will have parents’ support in improving their own children’s reading abilities. They are the first educators of their children anyway so they play a great role.

In conclusion, we are grateful for the parents and teachers that have already embarked on the noble task of helping these young learners to fall in love with reading and writing. We also encourage the rest of the stakeholders to take up the challenge and lead by example by reading, if we have a generation of reading parents and teachers the children will learn by default and we shall all be making a lasting impact.

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