Tips to Help Your Child with Spelling

by BrendaReeves

Many intelligent people find no logic in their sometimes phonetic and sometimes rule driven English language.

An English speaking child that has a learning disability (LD) in spelling, would most likely spell successfully in a purely phonetic language such as Spanish. Help awaits the child that isn't a natural at spelling, and the help is not for the LD child only. The following tips may not turn your child into the winner of the National Spelling Bee, but it can certainly bring up those spelling grades.

Helping Your Child Succeed in Spelling

It's time to add a new spin on the old "memorize and quiz" method of spelling practice. Understanding how your child learns is the first step to helping him or her succeed. Everyone learns through three of their senses. In the field of education, we call them modalities:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic

Visual learners gather information by sight and remember what they see. Auditory learners remember what they hear and kinesthetic learners learn by touch. Most people learn through all three modalities with one being stronger than the other two. The next time you help your child with spelling practice see if you can figure out how she learns by using some of these techniques.


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Spelling Practice for Visual Learners

Try this method to determine if Suzie is a visual learner:

"Suzie, let's try a new way of memorizing your spelling words. I want you to think of your eyes as a camera. You can actually take pictures with your eyes. I'm going to give you 10 minutes to practice the words, but instead of just thinking in your brain about how the words are spelled, I want you to also take a picture of each word with your camera eyes, so when you take your spelling test, you'll remember what the words look like."

When you quiz Suzie, first remind her to think about how the words look. If Suzie does exceptionally well with this method, you'll know she's a visual learner.

Spelling Practice for Auditory Learners

Kids love hearing how they sound on a recording. Let Suzie record herself practicing her spelling words and have her play the recording back. Make it even more fun by practicing the words with her. Record and listen to your voice. After Suzie takes her practice quiz, have her give the quiz to you. She'll love it if you miss a couple of words. Choose the words she has the most difficulty spelling. When she corrects your spelling, it reinforces the correct way to spell them. You can even get a little silly about it. Having fun is a great way to reinforce learning.

Spelling Practice for Kinesthetic Learners

If John is a "touchy-feely" child, he's probably a kinesthetic learner. There are many fun ways for the kinesthetic learner to practice their spelling words:

  • Spell the words with play dough
  • Write the words with chalk on the sidewalk
  • Write the words in sand
  • Place dry jello or some cake mix in a pan to write the words in with her finger. Let her taste the mix after each word is spelled correctly

Try all of these methods and learn how your child gathers and remembers information. If you have trouble deciding on one learning modality, use them all for spelling practice. The more fun you can make it; the better your child's success. Before long, he will look forward to practicing his spelling words.

When helping your child study his or her spelling homework, utilize all of the learning modalities. Try to determine which modality your child's strength is in and utilize it heavily. These tips can help all learners; not just LD children. Remember that English is not purely phonetic and many successful adults have difficulty with spelling.

Updated: 09/18/2012, BrendaReeves
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BrendaReeves on 11/11/2012

He was obviously learning disabled.

katiem2 on 11/11/2012

I know people like that, some in very high positions who can't spell. The VP of the company where I once worked used to buzz into my office 10 or more times a day simply saying a word, I'd spell it. It came to be such a common occurrence he'd call say the word, I'd spell it and we'd hang up. They were simple words AND he continued to call asking about words I had already told him how to spell??????

BrendaReeves on 09/23/2012

Yes, spelling is something that either you have or you don't. My ex just couldn't spell anything. He would ask me how to spell words like come. Even so, he had an MA from USC in Pulblic Administration.

katiem2 on 09/23/2012

Spelling is def a subject much over looked in the current environment in IMHO, spell check and the auto correct features of computers and smart devices has kids missing the mark when it comes to learning to spell. I have a dictionary on our dining room table. We've played games with it since the girls were old enough to lift it and thumb through the pages. Great article. :)K

BrendaReeves on 09/19/2012

Thank you Sheila. I used that camera trick with a student who I was tutoring. Her mom hired me to work with her on spelling. After just a few sessions with her, she was getting 100% on all of her tests.

sheilamarie on 09/19/2012

You've given some fantastic tips here, Brenda! It's so important to know how one learns so that one can find strategies that help. Sometimes people benefit from using all modalities, too.

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