Helping to learn spellings

Spelling will remain a persistent difficulty for some pupils with dyslexia. Some children can become so hung up on spelling that it puts them off writing. Encourage your child to take risks with spelling.  Get them to underline words about which they are unsure.  Spelling should not get in the way of creativity.

 Help your child to remember spellings

  1. Use ‘Look, cover, write, check’ and versions of it such as ‘Simultaneous Oral Spelling’ .
  2. Highlight the tricky bits in the word and then find ways of memorising the problem letters. E.g.  ‘There’s a rat in separate’.
  3. Chunk the word into smaller bits.  Break words into syllables; each syllable should have a vowel. Beat out the rhythm if necessary. Encourage your child to say each syllable as they write the word: (sat-ur-day), (lem-on-ade), hospital (hos-pit-al), man-u-fac-ture. Also use phonics to sound out the individual sounds.
  4. Think about the meaning of the word and where it comes from. The syllables in tricycle can be understood through its components: tri  (Greek for three) as in triangle, tripod, triathlon and cycle (Greek for circle) as in cyclic, cyclone, cyclops the round-eyed giant. Think about smaller bits of meaning e.g. ‘ed’ at the ends of words which stays the same in spite of pronunciation.
  5. Refer to word families For example: near, fear, hear; light might night fight tight.  Your child can apply familiar strings of letters to new words. Notice beginnings and endings around the same root word. For example: helper, helpful, unhelpful, helping are all based on the word ‘help’. There is an example here using the word ‘Joy.’
  6. Refer to other versions of the word: e.g. sign and signature.
  7. Mnemonics.  Personal ways of remembering spellings:  e.g. Necessary – one collar, two sleeves; Accommodation – comes with two double beds; BecauseBig Elephants Can’t Always Use Small Exits.
  8. Say the word as it spelt  (Over articulation) En vi ron ment    and Parl i a ment  exaggerating the usual silent letters will help them to remember the spelling.
  9. Look for words within words: ‘I will be your friend to the end’, vegetable, to get her (together).
  10. Think about the rules g. changed y to i when adding ed in carried.

Other strategies

  • Encourage your child to keep a personalised spelling dictionary or word cards on a key ring
  • If you are correcting your child’s spelling, select only a few to look at. Tick the letters that are correct rather than cross the words that are wrong.
  • Pin words in high visibility places: e.g. back of toilet door
  • Use the sense of movement and touch – air writing, trace around the word
  • Joined-up writing sometimes helps with memory
  • Play individualised games, Shannon’s Game, Three in a Row link 
  • Play commercial spelling games: Scrabble, Slam, Boggle, SWAP link
  • Check with their teachers for target/key words
  • Give your child access to a spelling dictionary or allow them to use their phone to find spelling (Ask Google/Siri).
  • If they are able to word-process, help them to use spell-check features.

National Curriculum Word Lists

Remember it is better to use the list suited to your child’s needs rather than choose by year – but maintain self-esteem by removing embarrassing details.  These words do not need to be learned religiously.

Year  1  

Year  2

Year  3 and 4

Year  5 and 6