Upper Elementary Words: The Proper Use of Homonyms

Is your child currently learning how to use homonyms at school? If so, then keep reading to find out methods that you can use at home to help your child.

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Teaching Children How to Use Homonyms Properly

What Are Homonyms?

Homonyms are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. For example, the words 'aisle' and 'isle', 'ate' and 'eight' and 'cent' and 'scent' are all homonyms. Children often speak with homonyms effortlessly at a young age, but struggle in upper elementary school when learning the correct spelling for different homonyms.

Using Word Parts and Context Clues

Learning the proper use of homonyms with upper elementary words involves a lot of memorization; however, learning about common roots, suffixes and prefixes can make working with homonyms easier. Your child will then be able to deconstruct the word parts in his or her brain upon seeing them. In doing so, your child will gain an understanding of the differences between the words.

Using context clues is another helpful way to determine the different meanings of homonyms. For instance, in the sentence, 'I ate eight sandwiches,' it's clear that 'ate' is functioning as a verb and 'eight' refers to the number of sandwiches. Similarly, consider this sentence: 'The dog picked up the criminal's scent.' Here, your child will likely be able to tell that the dog didn't pick up a coin, but rather, the criminal's smell.

Teaching Your Child about Homonyms

Start with seemingly simple words, like 'flower' and 'flour'. Your child may already know the definitions of these words and use them in everyday speech. Write them side by side with two pictures to represent each word. Have your child write each word in a separate sentence using the proper spelling of both. Once your child can do this with a certain amount of skill, you can move on to more challenging words like 'flair' and 'flare'.

Helpful Resources

A number of websites provide free games, activities, worksheets, quizzes and tests that your child can take to learn about homonyms. For example, there might be a list of words on the left side of the screen and another list on the right. Your child will be required to drag each individual word on the left side to the corresponding homonym on the right.

If your child is struggling with homonyms or other aspects of reading and language arts, consider hiring a personal or online reading tutor. There also may be reading experts who can help your child at school, a local library or a learning center.

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