Spelling Problems?


From time to time, we call upon our resident manners advisor, Mrs. Schoolmarm, to respond to our readers’ EQs (etiquette questions and ethical quandaries).

Dear Mrs. Schoolmarm,

Recently I had occasion to spend some time in my son’s third grade classroom. I couldn’t help noticing a number of misspellings sprinkled in the teacher’s posters and instructional materials hanging around the room. I even found an error right there on the whiteboard, where the kids might copy it into their work! What’s the best way to handle this tacky situation?

Oy. This certainly is, as your son’s teacher would say, a nitemair. Unfortunately, these children are just now at a level of reading and writing mastery that coincides with an emerging spelling sense. Fortunately, the solution couldn’t be simpler. You will send an email to the teacher, with a cc to the principal (it’s only courteous!). “You’re so clever to have incorporated the children’s Word Study spelling unit into the classroom materials! I was able to find occasion, Israel and spaghetti misspelled during my visit. Did the children find the mistakes too? Were there others I missed that the kids were able to find and ‘correct’ for you? What a neat challenge for them!”

Now, if the errors you saw are of the homonym variety, this is a whole other ball of wax. Or, er, whacks. Because if these children are ever going to learn their they’res from their theres. they’re going to need to break it down now. This sort of anarchy must be brought to the attention of the Powers That Be.

We all know that bad spelling doesn’t necessarily equal bad brains. But we do know that it always equals bad spelling.


About the author -

Alison Minion

Alison Minion is a writer and editor. In addition to Funderstanding, she has contributed to vitaljuicedaily.com, the New Jersey Jewish News and other publications. She served as the editor for the Union County (NJ) Bar Association centennial commemorative yearbook. Before leaving the publishing industry to stay home with her children, Alison was an editor of children’s nonfiction and textbooks. As an editor, much of her time was spent sitting down with a manuscript and a red pencil, researching the marketplace and reading the competition. The most valuable on-the-job training, however, was the time spent visiting schools, debriefing educators, and watching children consume texts and process material. In her life as a freelancer, she does this now most evenings while her own three sons complete their homework.


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