If you grew up when "ur" was just a typo, you probably cringe when you realize the e-mail you just sent has a misspelled word in the subject line. Correct spelling makes us look smart. In second grade, though, it has an even more important job.
Second-graders are learning to read on a whole new level. This year stresses fluency, speed and a dramatic broadening of vocabulary. It's no longer about sounding-out; it's about knowing -- and learning to spell plays a significant role in this process [source: Jaynes].
To consistently spell correctly, even when the words are not entirely familiar, requires an understanding of how letters relate to one another. When children are learning to spell, they're learning about letter patterns, letter combinations and the connections between letters and sounds.
And when children are learning to read, they're learning about letter patterns, letter combinations, and the connections between letters and sounds.
Spelling ties in with writing skills, too, and not just in the obvious ways. Yes, it makes your writing seem more reliable and intelligent, but it's also a critical part of learning to effectively convey ideas: a "coarse map" and a "course map" are two very different things.
Spelling, then, in second grade is not just about how one presents him- or herself in written communications. More importantly, it's part of the process of learning to read fluently, write clearly and communicate effectively.
Of course, your child won't be in second grade forever, so there are other considerations in play, too ...