Spelling Problems: How to Help Children Overcome Spelling Difficulties

Spelling can be especially tricky in the English language because you can't always sound out the words. If your child is struggling, use the following techniques to practice often misspelled words or to review before his or her spelling test.

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How to Help Your Child Spell Better

Word Parts

Being familiar with common prefixes and suffixes can make spelling easier because your child will be able to break the word into parts. For instance, the word 'unbreakable' is easier to spell if you look at each part individually. There are three parts: the prefix (un-), the root word (break) and the suffix (-able).

Understanding word parts can also be beneficial if your child has difficulty spelling words that she has heard. Begin analyzing a word by using syllables and recalling familiar sounds. The word 'beginning' has three syllables: /be/ /gin/ /ning/. Help your child identify the sounds by asking questions like, 'What letter makes the buh sound?' Eventually, your child will recognize these sounds on her own.

Make Connections

When your child is learning new words, it helps if you can make connections between the new word and words that he already knows. For instance, look for words that rhyme. If the new word is 'trouble' and your child already knows the word 'double,' then half the work is done because he already learned the word pattern. This technique is especially helpful for words that are tricky to spell, like 'bought' and 'ought.'

Another way to make connections is to come up with mnemonic devices. If your child has trouble understanding the difference between 'dessert' and 'desert,' remind her that you always want more dessert after dinner. Therefore, the word meaning after-meal sweets always has a double s.

Games

Make reviewing fun by playing games with your child's weekly word list. Hangman can be especially helpful because it requires both players to know how to spell the word in question. You could also play Scrabble and give extra points if your child is able to assemble a word from the spelling list.

Competitions usually inspire kids to learn a new concept. Hold a competition in your house to see who can come up with a sentence that uses the highest number of vocabulary words. Have everyone write their sentences, so your child can get practice writing the words and using them in context.

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