Helping Children with Reading and Spelling Problems

Reading and spelling problems can sometimes be related because they both require students to break words apart and recognize letter sounds. If you're noticing a common problem in your child's reading and spelling abilities, then the following activities may help.

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How to Help Your Child with Reading and Spelling

Sound It Out

If your child is having a hard time sounding words out, then he likely has trouble with both reading aloud and spelling. He may not be able to match a letter with its sound. To practice, break a word apart into phonemes, or sounds. For instance, 'cat' is made of three sounds: 'c', 'a' and 't'. Have your child point to each letter and make the corresponding sound. Then, blend the sounds together.

Encourage your child to practice reading aloud. Whenever he is stuck on a word, encourage him to sound the word out. Similarly, when he is struggling to spell a word, have him sound the word out, matching the sounds with letters.

Word Patterns

Teaching your child word patterns can help her read and spell better. For instance, the ending 'tion' is pronounced 'shun.' Now, your child will know how to pronounce 'tion' words when reading and will also be able to spell words that have the 'shun' sound.

Another common word pattern is doubling the last letter before adding '-ing' to a word. For instance, skip becomes skipping when the suffix is added. Other examples include ripping, jamming and bidding.

Sight Words

Learning sight words makes reading easier because they reduce the amount of words that your child needs to decode. They are words that can be instantly recognized, like 'that,' 'what' and 'she.' These words are often hard to sound out, so it's best to teach them as whole words.

Look for words that your child gets stuck on, write them on note cards and review the words a few times every night. First, read the word aloud for your child, then have him repeat the word. For an additional challenge, mix up the note cards and quiz your child in a random order.

Test Prep

Before your child takes a spelling test at school, review by using flashcards or a mnemonic device. Repetition is helpful when learning how to spell because it involves memorization; so, make sure to use the flashcards every night. You may also create a mnemonic device to help your child spell a word, such as spelling a word using a rhythmic pattern or coming up with a story to remember the order of the letters. For instance, the word 'together' can be remembered using this sentence: if you leave to get her, then you will be together.

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