Helping a Struggling Speller

Helping a Struggling Speller

There are some children who is having a hard time in learning how to spell. / Photo by: Aleksei Ivanov via 123rf


The English language is known for having the illogical and chaotic spelling of its words. The complexity of words can be intimidating for children that they find it hard to learn them quickly. Even parents find it hard to teach their young ones how and why certain words are spelled that way. Kids will ask why is there a "w" in "two" or why is the "k" in "knife" silent? These are two of the other numerous questions that children will ask about the spelling of words.

Most of the time, parents don't have an answer to such queries. They would simply say that the English language is just tricky or that there are words that should be learned and understood by heart. But these responses do nothing to help the child learn and understand how to spell as well how spelling works.

Elements That Explains the Spelling of Words

New words are formed and added to the English language every now and then, but this doesn't mean that the language is random. There is a system of spelling that the language follows, along with the reasons why words are spelled the way they are.

There are factors that work together to explain why words are spelled the way they are  The Conversation state these elements include morphology or the meaning unit of words; phonology or the sound unit of words; orthography or the ways the same sound can be written, and; etymology or the origin of words.

English is a morpho-phonemic language, meaning that the words comprised of it are spelled based on their meaning as well as their sounds. This is where morphemes (the meaning parts) play the role as base words, prefixes, and suffixes. In order to teach English spelling properly, one has to teach phonemes (sound unit of words) with morphemes since both elements work together.

For instance, the word "magician" is not spelled as "majishun" because one has to understand the meaning of the word. In this case, the word "magician" is someone who can do magic—and "magic" is used as the base of the word and "ian" is the suffix which means "the person who does."

Ways to Improve a Child’s Spelling

Every child needs to learn this fundamental skill since it is vital in their development, academic wise. The Scot College in Sydney Australia gave the following ways to help in enhancing a child's spelling abilities.

Motivate them to read

The more reading they do, the more a child will be able to understand the spelling of words. Giving them books that they enjoy can help kids get into reading, especially if such books have fascinating and interesting stories. A wide variety of text can also help in developing their spelling abilities. Short stories, poetry, picture books, and even simply letters from friends can all help in improving their spelling.

Sound it out

As stated earlier, teaching phonemes are important in developing this particular skill. Having phonemic awareness can aid a child to spell words easily as they are able to distinguish and recognize the sounds of words, as well as able to translate them into written text.

Teach spelling patterns

Understanding and practicing standard spelling patterns will it make it much easier to spell words out. This is due to the fact that spelling patterns can be applied to many words. Children can explore spelling patterns as they read through books that are familiar to them, idenfying patterns such as rhymes and being able to pick up on them can help in spelling out words that have similar sounds.


Parents should urge their children to read as the texts that they will encounter can help in developing their skills in spelling. / Photo by: Getty Images


Make a list and practice them

Some children struggle more than others since certain words are more complex to comprehend. In such cases, it is advisable to write down a list of such words, as well as common mistakes, and correct them. Common spelling mistakes include:

Using the wrong letters (spelling "cat" as "kat" or "seat" as "seet")
Leaving out certain letters (spelling "kicking" as "kiking" or "plain" as "plan")
Writing single consonants when it should be doubled (spelling "butter" with a single "t")
Including the "e" when it should be removed (spelling "riding" as "rideing")
Lastly, using "y" instead of replacing it with "ies" for plural (spelling "cherries" as "cherrys")

Learn how to use a dictionary

If the child is not sure about how a certain word is spelled, they may opt to consult a dictionary. This tool can be used as a reference to determine if they spelled a word correctly.

Communicating with one another is an important aspect in everyone's lives, and spelling is basically how language came to be. FirstCry Parenting states that when children are able to understand spellings appropriately, they will be able to relate to the sounds of the words thus, helping them to improve their reading skills. Moreover, accurate writing can also help them boost up their confidence. Repeated and practiced spelling can bring about a confident speller and reader.