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.

Find available tutors

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.


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.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth