Tips for improving your young child’s spelling ability

Tips for improving your young child’s spelling ability

Renee EllisonSep 28, '22

A customer asked for advice for teaching a child to spell:

What do you recommend for spelling for ages about 9 to 13, especially considering that the 13-year-old has strong dyslexia, but all four of my children need spelling help?  I detest lists.  I like to group words together according to phonemes: rain, gain, obtain, etc., for words with similar sounds in different spellings, bur textbook lists don’t seem to do that.

Renee answered:

Yes, the spelling lists we had to do in public school were insane, with obscure words, many of them rarely used.  I my years as a high school English teacher I found that many students, after all that training in earlier grades, still could not spell basic words well.  The reason?  Previous teachers had not insisted that the student focus on the spelling of basic words until each word was conquered beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Yes, learning similar words--grouping them in families--is a good idea, but that only takes you so far.  That system begins to break down. 

Soooooo, here's the solution we came up with: use the spelling lists at the back of our Zoom-Type course to teach spelling both visually and tactily.  What makes that list (the Dolch 220) so wonderful is that it is compiled of the most frequently used words in the English language.  If a child masters those specific words—(after you drill them, and drill them and drill them until they know all of them, cold)--they will not have poor spelling for the majority of everything they write for the rest of their lives.

Another second reinforcing spelling solution we’ve developed is …

Our daughter developed an auditory spelling course called Spell-Along that frees the mother from having to orally give spelling tests and wait for each child to write the words.  Using the 68-minute audio CD and the accompanying answer booklet, the student learns how to spell 360 words that come up in everyday situations. They listen, write the word, and check their spelling themselves.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published