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Tips for Helping Children Learn Spelling Words

Spelling is an important communication tool. Many children struggle with spelling. Here are a few simple tips that will enable children to learn spelling words more easily.

For many children spelling is one of life’s great mysteries. It comes naturally to some, and to others it’s a struggle. Many children appear to learn weekly spelling list words, yet fail to remember how to spell them in everyday writing.

Here are a few simple tips for helping children learn new spelling words.

Look, write, say: When children are learning spelling words, the more ways they practise them, the more chances they have of retention. When learning a new word encourage the child to write it first, saying the word out loud and then verbalising the letters in it. For example, cat, c-a-t. Then get them to write the word, either tracing their finger on the table or other surface, or writing it with pen or pencil. Once written they see the word visually and hear the letters in it as they say it out loud again. By combining all three strategies they are reinforcing correct spelling.

Magnetic letters: Some children need more reinforcement than writing and saying the word. Another spelling tip is to use magnetic letters. Physically manoeuvring the letters is a powerful way of cementing the letter order in their mind. Initially, just put out the letters for one word and encourage them to assemble the word. As they improve a larger selection of letters can be provided to choose from.

Listening to sounds in order: Many children have trouble actually hearing the sounds in words and so, when they come to spell them, they try memorising the word as a whole. This often results in all the letters being there, but in the wrong order. A good spelling tip is to stretch the word out orally, a bit like stretching a piece of elastic. By saying it in a stretched way, the child is able to hear the sounds more easily, and then have better success at recording them in the right order.

Spelling Games: There are many spelling games you can play with children to help them learn spelling words.

Hangman is a popular one. Try playing with individual words initially, then try it with a short sentence. Children love working out a word and they increase their visual skills and awareness of how words are spelt. Another game is to challenge them to create word families. Take a simple word such as ‘and’ and get them to write as many words as they can using it, such as hand, stand and so forth.

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These are just some spelling tips, but by using some of these simple tips you can help children increase their awareness of words  and develop increased spelling confidence. Learning spelling words will no longer seem difficult.

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User Comments
  1. martie

    On December 14, 2009 at 3:20 am

    I think the more you read the better you spell also.

  2. Christine Ramsay

    On December 14, 2009 at 6:55 am

    A great set of tips. A real help for parents.


  3. Patrick Regoniel

    On December 14, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    This is very useful. Thanks!

  4. Christine Ramsay

    On June 6, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Some good ideas there, Val. I used the Look Write and Say method and I also made up lots of rhymes to help remember certain spelling patterns. They seemed to help quite a bit.
    A very useful post.


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