More challenging homophones such as to, too, and two; there, their, and they're; and threw and through are the focus of most third grade homophone study. While students often begin learning about homophones in the first grade, by the third grade teachers hone in on longer words and contractions.
Homophones can be difficult for spellers at any reading level and any age. The homophones presented to third graders often continue to be a problem for spellers throughout their lives. Confusion between there, their, and they're, for example, is commonly seen in emails, texts, and on billboards or signs. The persistently incorrect usage of these homophones only serves to highlight the importance of effective teaching methods during elementary school.
Educational theorists D.R. Bear and S. Templeton suggest that understanding homophones should actually be seen as a transition in a student's advancing spelling and vocabulary skills. Homophone instruction highlights for the students the importance of spelling in that it denotes not only the sound of the word, but also its definition.
In the third grade, teachers commonly use songs or sentences with incorrect homophone usage to more clearly demonstrate the importance of connecting correct spelling with correct meaning. Homophones such as weather and whether; ate and eight; and due, dew, and do become all the more clear when a student can contextually or visually obtain the specific meaning of each word and then correctly choose its spelling.