As I sat at our dining table this morning, eating my cornflakes and mentally planning the day ahead, I noticed something that REALLY annoyed me. Spread out around me on the table were countless pieces of paper – many filled with scribbles and doodles, some school forms to fill in and a couple of pieces of homework Robert (5) had been given to do over the half-term holidays.
It was on one of these pieces of paper that the offending item sprung into my view. The sheet in question was a worksheet asking the child to trace along a series of lines, presumably to test their fine motor skills and penmanship. The worksheet had been downloaded from one the many teach resource portals – something I’m quite familiar with myself, with a teacher for a wife. But the name of this portal REALLY annoyed me – and you might spot why on the blown-up photo I’ve posted below…
Yes – TWINKL. No ‘e’ there – the resource in question has chosen a brand name with what they call in the marketing industry a ‘sensationally spelled’ brand name. Now don’t get me wrong – as a marketer myself I know why brands choose sensational spellings for their brand names. Whether it’s a matter of copyright, availability, creating agitation or just trying to look ‘hip’, there are many brands out there who choose to do it. I don’t necessarily like it, but hey. Here’s a few examples you’ll recognise:
As I say, I’m not really surprised that brands do this – but it still makes you wonder whether all this sensational spelling isn’t making it harder on our children when learning how to spell correctly. After all, we’re constantly being told that our children are getting worse at language skills – literacy levels are dropping, knowledge of English is getting worse and worse.
But what really DOES annoy me – as with the example I started this post with – is when brands who are specifically targeted to small children use this technique. Brands who our children are constantly exposed to on a daily basis, at that crucial stage in their development when they’re learning how to read and write. Brands like:
Robert is currently in Year 1 at school, so he’s deeply immersed in language skills at the moment. Watching him learn the complex and confusing rules of language (“i before e, except after c… er, mostly” or the complex way you have to pluralise words with a Y – there are lots of good examples here) I’m often amazed at how quickly he learns these things, and puts up with the ridiculousness of language. So do we really have to make it even harder for him by surrounding him with these silly mis-spellings?
I know it seems like a trivial thing to complain about in the ‘grand scheme’, but I genuinely feel like we’re making life a lot harder than it needs to be for our children – and have to accept that stuff like this is going to be having an effect on developing children.
That being said, I don’t have a clue what we can do about it. But hey – discussing the problem is the first step, right? I’m sure that’s what they say…
What do you think – am I making a big fuss over nothing? Or is this a genuine issue? Let me know!
2 thoughts on “Fatherhood²: When You Think About It, We’re Making Literacy Much Harder For Kids”
Texting isn’t helping much either.
Interesting thoughts. I guess the main thing is to help your children as best as you can with learning language(s). From what I understood, research has shown that reading them stories and talking to them from day 1 is important with that. And maybe address the strange spellings. For example: if they have learned the word ‘night’, ask them what they think of the ‘Dry Nites’ thing.
Okay, this might become quite complex, but it could be a start.
What I would be also quite interested in, in this respect, is how this is actually evolving over the years. We did have ubiquitous brands when I was young, but still I tend to think that I’m doing quite okay language-wise (please note: I’m not a native English speaker, so my English might contain mistakes, which are totally due to that, and not to my laziness in writing correctly). If someone sciency could do research on that, I would certainly be interested in the result.
As an alternative, you can buy loads of black tape and censor all the silly spellings you children might be confronted with.
BTW: just realised that because my first language is not English (and neither is it for our son), we might have less of an issue with this. We can always blame these things on the silly Brits.