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#1 Tip for Teaching Homophones

Teaching Homophones: Is this owl peaking or peeking?Learning about homophones can be fun, and there are many ways to make homophones enjoyable. You can use games, tongue twisters, graphic organizers, and storybooks. The existence of homophones is what makes many puns possible, and they add richness and depth to the English language.

Many kids find homophones interesting. You can capitalize on this interest and use homophones to teach reading, writing, and vocabulary. Lessons that include homophones provide the perfect opportunity to play with words. 

This is all true—except if your child struggles with spelling.

If your child struggles, then concentrating on homophone pairs is one of the most confusing things you can do.

Say you meet three new people this week.

Imagine you were learning the names of three new people.

#1 Tip for Teaching Homophones





Would it be easier to remember their names if you met them in a group all at once? Or would it be easier if you met them at different times, under different circumstances?  

Most of us would agree that it would be easier to recall their names if the meetings were spaced out a bit.

Well, homophones are like that.

Meet them all at once, and they get tangled up in your brain.

Trying to tackle wait and weight in the same lesson can cause confusion where there shouldn’t be any.

A teen friend texted me “Weight for me at the barn.” She’s a victim of homophone confusion. She has literally given up trying to figure out when to use wait and when to use weight, and now she just uses the two words indiscriminately.

Her usage problem could have been prevented with a very simple strategy:

Teach the spelling of one word from the homophone pair at a time.

In the case of wait and weight, teach wait first. In the All About Spelling program, we teach words containing ai long before we teach words containing eigh – and we do so very deliberately. The vowel team ai is a much more common spelling of the long a sound than eigh, so wait is taught sooner in the program.

After teaching the word wait, we reinforce the teaching in multiple ways until the word is mastered:

  • Wait is included in sentence dictation. The student spells the word wait in the context of dictated sentences.
  • Wait is included in the Word Banks. The student reads from the Word Banks frequently so he can get familiar with how the word looks. 
  • Wait is on a Word Card, and that Word Card is reviewed frequently until it is mastered and retired.  

And that leads us to the Number 1 tip for teaching homophones:

Let many lessons go by before the corresponding homophone is taught.

The student should fully master the correct usage of wait before the homophone weight is introduced. By doing so, you greatly minimize the confusion and set your student up for success with homophones.

Then let the fun begin!