How You Can Help Your Child Become a Better Speller

How You Can Help Your Child Become a Better Speller

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It's as easy as A, B, C......

Young children apply what they know about phonemic awareness and phonics when they learn to spell. Spelling develops in stages with the child becoming more proficient at each stage. Spelling involves word memory, the sound of phonic elements, knowledge of how to write letters automatically and what letter(s) make what sounds.

To help children develop as spellers, they need to have good phonic skills. They also need to see the word often as they read. Finally, they need practice in writing the words in real life situations to develop ownership of their spelling.

These are a few suggestions for helping children develop their spelling ability at home. Parents can make this fun and meaningful if there is a reason for spelling/writing.

  1. Create a picture of the word with its spelling. After studying it for a while, have the child imagine the picture in his/her mind and use elements of the picture to help spell the word. (i.e. the word “cat” is spelled with a “C” because the cat curls up on your lap.)
  2. Stress those words that end in double consonants (i.e. fuss, mitt, buzz, less, mess).
  3. Put the spelling of the word to music. Music helps with memory. We can all spell “Oklahoma” from the show.
  4. Use a highlighter to focus on the part of the word that is difficult. Have the child practice writing the word several times for repetition.
  5. Break the word into syllables and practice writing each syllable.
  6. To improve working memory, dictate phrases and sentences instead of individual words.
  7. Use post-its placed around the room to imprint more difficult or unusual words.
  8. Use a variety of word puzzles. These are fun and improve not only spelling, but vocabulary skills.
  9. When studying for a spelling test, use the following technique: Look at the word, spell it to yourself, cover the word and spell it out loud, write it. Finally check to see that you have spelled it correctly,
  10. Use mneumonics to memorize tricky words.

For children with phonic/spelling difficulties, the use of movement can help improve spelling. There are a number of methods of including movement in spelling practice.

  1. Have the child write the letters/words in the air using big arm strokes and saying the letter sound. This trains the large muscles and provides muscle memory.
  2. Have the child write a word on your back or on your hand. See if you can figure out what the words is. Change places with your child and you write on the child and see is s/he can figure out the word.
  3. Practice writing the words in shaving cream. This gets tactile/kinesthetic senses involved.
  4. Use individual tiles and have the child move them around to spell words.
  5. Have the child make the letters of the word in clay and put the letters together to make a word.
  6. Teach the child word processing. This involves all the fingers not just the thumbs as in texting. The child needs to move his/her fingers to the correct letters and needs a mental image of the keyboard.
  7. For a whole-body experience, try “Spelling Cheer Leaders”. The letters a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, and z are made with the hands on hips. The letters b, d, f, h, k, l, and t are made by placing the hands in the air, and the letters g, j, p, q, and y are made by touching the ground. The child is told a word and spells it letter-by-letter using the motions to correspond to the letter. This adds large muscle movement to the practice. 
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