Teaching your child to spell can be a challenge if you don’t know where to begin. Writing spelling words over and over may help a child learn at some level, but it’s important that they also understand the mechanics behind forming written words. We’ve previously written about spelling games for children to encourage their motivation, so in this guide, we’ll look at some effective spelling strategies to enhance their learning.
Sound it Out
Thinking about how a word sounds can help your child break down its spelling. Also known as spelling phonetically, sounding out words can help them visualise the individual letters.
For example, by encouraging your child to sound out the word ‘dog’ as ‘d-o-g’, they’ll realise that they can separate the sounds in the word and write them down letter-by-letter.
Although your child may not get the spelling correct first time (particularly with longer words), they’ll be able to review what they’ve written and make adjustments. For example, after sounding out the word ‘teacup’, they may write it as ‘t-e-c-u-p’. After reviewing the word, they may realise that it doesn’t look quite right and can then rearrange it until it looks correct.
Highlight the Tricky Parts of the Word
The English language is full of tricky sounds that aren’t written like you’d expect. We have silent letters and sounds, extra letters that can change an entire pronunciation and those that don’t affect pronunciation at all.
If your child is attempting to spell a word that has a tricky part, highlight this to them first so that they’re aware of what to look out for. For example, if they’re spelling the word ‘fright’, make them aware that the vowel sound has a tricky spelling, i.e. the ‘gh’.
Likewise, if they’re spelling a word with a double letter like ‘hello’ make them aware of the extra letter before they start. If they write the word incorrectly, ask them to review the spelling and point to the part of the word that may need looked at again.
Break the Word Down
Ask your child to spell the word ‘instruction’ and you may be greeted with a look of disbelief. However, when you break the word down for them into their syllable parts, the task suddenly seems more achievable.
Have your child to tap out the syllables of the word on the table, e.g. ‘in-struc-tion’. By breaking the word down into three smaller parts, they can write each part one at a time.
Once they have the three parts written out, ask them to review what they’ve written, does ‘in-struc-shin’ look correct? If not, what needs changed for it to be spelled correctly?
The ‘Cover, Write, Check’ Method
This spelling strategy is particularly effective for older children if they want to test themselves. First, have them look at the word they need to spell. Encourage them to look at the individual letters and sound them out.
Then, ask them to cover the word and write it out from memory. Once they’ve written it down, they can uncover the word and compare it to what they wrote. If they wrote the word incorrectly, have them fix the mistake and try it again using the same method.
This multi-sensory approach to spelling engages more than just your child’s sight. They also need to sound out the word, remember it and physically touch the word to cover and uncover it.
Dictation as a spelling strategy involves reading a text or a story out loud and having your child write down exactly what you say. You can choose a passage from a book they enjoy, or a random article from a newspaper that contains a good mix of easy and more challenging words. For younger children, you can choose a passage that contains around 50 words, and for older children, you can increase the word count to 200+.
Read the text out slowly sentence-by-sentence, repeating each one three times. Have your child write out what you say while you read. If they’re unsure of the spelling of a particular word, tell them to leave an underlined space in place of the word so they can return to it at the end.
Once the whole text has been read, ask them to review what they’ve written. Did they miss out any words? If so, ask them to guess what the word might be based on the context of the sentence before and after. Similarly, ask them to check the spelling of each word from the passage.
Once they’ve reviewed their writing, compare it against the original text to see how they did. Take a note of any incorrect spellings and show them how they should be spelled. Ask them to write out each incorrectly spelled word three times for practice.
At Edu Prints Plus, we make educational posters for children to inspire their learning. If you’re looking to improve your child’s spelling, we have a fantastic range of children’s vocabulary posters to improve their word association skills.
All of our posters are printed on thick, luxurious 350 gsm art card with a soft finish. They also have added surface protection.
Here are two of our most popular vocabulary prints below: