Should I Teach Spelling in K-2?


A question I get asked regularly is: “Should I teach spelling in K-2?”

I think this question arises from a few different concerns:

  • Invented spelling is a good thing – it gets kids to apply their phonics knowledge. So is it okay to correct their spelling or teach correct spelling to begin with?
  • “Traditional” spelling instruction or rote memorization is often ineffective. So what should I do instead?

And these are valid concerns!

So…should we be teaching spelling in K-2?

I shared my thoughts in this video (a recording of a Facebook Live session):

The highlights:

  • Teaching correct spelling is a GOOD THING! We just need to follow best practices when teaching spelling.
  • We want to avoid activities that emphasize rote memorization. We need students to notice patterns in words – and apply those patterns to read and write other words.
  • As much as possible, we need to differentiate our phonics instruction.
  • There are ways to teach irregularly-spelled words that don’t rely on memorization. Check out this post for an in-depth look at how I’ve learned to teach high-frequency words differently.

If you need a phonics and spelling program, check out From Sounds to Spelling. I developed this program because I couldn’t find a resource that included ALL of the following:

  • Lesson plans
  • Word sorts
  • Multi-sensory work
  • Decodable texts
  • Games and independent activities

You can learn more about the program here.

Happy teaching!

Is it okay to teach spelling? Is it okay to correct students' spelling? What about invented spelling? This post gives Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade teachers guidance in teaching spelling and phonics effectively!
Photo Credits: Ljupco Smokovski, Shutterstock


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Shawna Freeman
3 years ago

GREAT video! I taught 3/4th grades for year and was never taught ‘how to teach spelling’. I would LOVE a link to the free scope and sequence. We don’t currently have one. Our district puts out a phonics pattern every week, but we don’t feel that it always makes the best sense.
Thanks a ton!

Reply to  Shawna Freeman

Hi Shawna! I’m so glad that you found the information in this post so useful! If you follow this link ( and scroll about halfway down the post, you will see where you can sign-up to receive the free phonics scope and sequence! 🙂

Heidi Torrance
3 years ago

I’m a reading interventionist working with Kindergarten and 1st grade students. Would you recommend using Sounds to Spelling as an intervention?

Reply to  Heidi Torrance

Hey Heidi! Yes, you could absolutely use From Sounds to Spelling with your intervention groups. I would recommend giving your students the the placement test first to see where you would start in the program.

Reply to  Heidi Torrance

Hey Heidi! Yes, I absolutely think that From Sounds to Spelling would work with your intervention students! You would just give them the placement test to determine where in the program they need to start. The pacing is completely customizable and there’s a variety of differentiated materials. Here’s the link to check out more: Let me know if you have any more questions! 🙂

2 years ago

Cant click on register. Button does nothing

Reply to  Cynthia

Sometimes that button is sticky, sorry about that! Here is the link:


I’m Alison, a literacy specialist. I love getting kids excited about reading and writing – and sharing teaching ideas with other teachers!

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