How can I support my child?
Spelling is one of the biggest, and most widely experienced difficulties for the dyslexic child and adult. Most dyslexic people can learn to read well with the right support, however, spelling appears to be a difficulty that persists throughout life.
It's not entirely understood why this is the case. It is known that dyslexia impacts phonological processing and memory. This means that dyslexic individuals can have difficulty hearing the different small sounds in words (phonemes) and can't break words into smaller parts in order to spell them.
Many children with dyslexia find it difficult to learn how letters and sounds correspond to each other and may not be able to recall the right letters to be able to spell the sounds in words. The complexity of the English language means that learners also have to remember irregular spelling patterns and sight words such as the, said, was.
Although spelling is likely to be something that a dyslexic person always finds challenging, there are strategies that parents and teachers can put in place to support learning.
The British Dyslexia Association has created a series of videos for teachers called Teaching for Neurodiversity, you may find them helpful to support learning at home.
There are some simple activities you can do with your child to help strengthen their spelling:
- Help your child to understand words are made up of syllables and each syllable has a vowel sound. Say a word and ask how many syllables there are. Help your child to spell each syllable at a time
- Write words in different coloured pens to make a rainbow or in shaving foam, flour or sand over and over again to help your child remember them
- Look with your child at the bits in the words which they find difficult - use colours to highlight just the tricky bit
- Look for the prefixes and suffixes in words, e.g. -tion, -ness and learn these chunks. Explore with your child how many words have the same chunks at the beginning or the end of words
- Use flashcards or play matching games to let your child see the words lots of times - the more times they see the word, the better they will be able to read and spell it
- Use cut out or magnetic letters to build words together, then mix up the letters and rebuild the word together
- Use mnemonics - silly sentences where the first letter of each word makes up the word to be spelled
- Find smaller words in the bigger word, for example 'there is a hen in when'
- Go over the rules of spelling together, e.g. a 'q' is always followed by a 'u'. Ask your child's teacher for the rules they teach in class
Soundcheck booklet: This was produced for the Department for Education funded BDA project 'Sound Check'. The aim of the booklet is to help parents and carers support their child with reading, spelling and handwriting.