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Spelling Tips

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Spelling Tips


Homeschool Mentor


                       Welcome to Spelling Tips and Rules!

I really could have used some good spelling tips when I first started homeschooling. I think this subject has by far been the most challenging for my boys, who are slightly dyslexic at times. On the other hand, my daughter spells with ease. I'm not sure if it is a difference between boys and girls or if it is because by the time my daughter started spelling I had found techniques that worked.

Spelling Tips

 When it comes to spelling two different processes need to be addressed separately.
            1. Spelling -Does your child know the words and how to spell them?
            2. Recall and use -Can your child spell them again a week or two later?

Spelling Tips ON SPELLING

Techniques that we use that seem to work the best, are techniques that focus on the visual aspects of spelling. If you ask someone who is a good/great speller how they spell, most of the time they will say something like, I see the word or visualize it in some way.

So, for someone to become a good speller it seems to be important that they see the word in their mind.  Spelling correctly is about putting letters in a relative position to other letters.

Also, it is important that when they speak/hear the word that they hear it correctly and if it is not phonetic they need to isolate those areas. Then when trying to spell the word they need to be aware of that potential problem area.

Spelling Tips Method 1:

1.  One effective way is to ask them to spell the word orally several times but not necessarily all in one period of time.  See next tip to take out the boring repetition.

2. Go through each word on the spelling list, identify areas where your child might have problems, and point out the correct way to spell the word, then quiz him/her orally once or twice...then an hour or so later, ask him/her to spell it out loud again, then a couple hours later again, lengthening the time frame until there is no doubt your child can spell the word. This forces your child to recall the spelling and it doesn't have to be traumatic.

While this method works and is effective, it is time-consuming and requires the teacher to keep track of words and which ones need to be re-tested. The next method is one I use and recommend trying if you are just starting out or have struggled for years with spelling.


It took me several years to find a great spelling method..

The simplified method which we now use successfully and where I have seen the most improvement is...

Spelling Tips Method 2 Optional Starting Point:
a. This step is optional but it is something we have started doing recently and to explain it in depth would take awhile-so while I mention it I don't necessarily think you need to do it..
Photoread a dictionary or part of dictionary with focus on spelling patterns and vocabulary improvement to help in spelling and writing. Photoreading is a process similar to speed reading but with a different twist. 

Spelling Tips Method 2 Start here:
b. Do one word at a time....ask your child to write down the a spelling test without the studying. If he spells it correctly, go on. If he has to think about it a lot or gets it wrong proceed with the next steps.
c. Let him See the word, by itself, written correctly.  It is important that you isolate the word on a paper or blackboard whatever. (Because I do all three kids at once, if one gets it wrong they all do the process...but I spell the word correctly to them, they check and write it down as I spell it out loud.
d. Identify potential spelling problem areas, for example,
"sense"  an area to focus on would be "s" or "c" for the second "S" sound
e. Then rewrite the word, isolated-meaning by itself with no other words around it-emphasizing the problem area in bold or color   "senSe"
Color is more fun and helps to visualize it better.
f. Tell your child to look at the newly written word-notice the area in bold/color....then have your child close his/her eyes, look up and to the right and try to see the word in his/her mind....this takes practice.

If this is a problem, try it with a word your child knows, and practice.

Now, while seeing the word in his/her mind, have your child spell the word forward and then backwards- this will help put the letters in the right spaces...this gets easier the more you do it.
Then have your child look at the word again and self check.. Did he/she spell it right.....regardless....repeat the look at the word, look up to right, eyes closed, spell the word forward and backward and check.  Repeat this 5 times. Then have your child write the word down.
g. Retest....either orally or on a subsequent test. I do ten words per day and at the end have them turn the paper over and retest problem words and words from previous days-especially focusing on words they have had trouble with...

The Spelling Tips Method 2 Simplified

1. Write down the word
2. Identify problem areas
3. Rewrite the word
4. Close eyes, look up to the right
5. Spell word forward and backwards
6. Self check
7. REPEAT 5 times
8. Retest


This area is especially troublesome for some teachers because one week your child spells the word, passes the test and you go on assuming they have it down only to find that very same word misspelled a week later in a written essay. Can we say, "Frustrating?"

My advice is, RELAX, this is normal. I think it is important to not STRESS about this...around 13-14 for boys and a little earlier for girls, something clicks and this is one of those things that improves.

However, if you, the teacher make a big deal out of this when they are 9-10 or earlier while they are learning to write and make it a chore to write because they are going to stress about spelling, it will be more of a problem. I know this from experience. Check out my Homeschool Journal and see how often my oldest is struggling with getting words onto the paper.

A bigger problem is that your child may eventually not enjoy writing and consciously or subconsciously dread it. Remember the bigger picture about spelling is that spelling is a tool of writing and while important can be checked in other ways if necessary.


Spelling Tips Important Note:

So, instead of getting stressed about it when checking a writing assignment, note the spelling error and go on....writing is something that can easily be stifled by details. When doing writing, focus on ideas and the presentation. Gently correct everything else.

Spelling Tips: Spelling Rules

Spelling rules can be helpful and using them in combination with the visual techniques above can reinforce or help make spelling more understandable.

I don't recommend trying to drill them into your child's brain. Instead if you find a problematic pattern in their spelling that is directly related to a rule bring that rule to their attention. Point it out in their spelling and review the rule.

Spelling Tips Important Note:

There are many rules and if you focus on rules too much it can be confusing. There are some basic rules that are worth knowing.

1. i before e except after c.

        Put i before e

        Except after c

        Or when it sounds like a

        As in neighbor or neigh.

2. To add a suffix or verb ending when a word ends in y.


      If the word has a consonant before the y, change the y to i.

      If the word has a vowel before the y, keep the y.

3. How to make nouns plural.

      For words that end in ss, sh, ch or x add es.

      For  words that have a consonant before a final y, change the y to i before adding es.

      For mst nouns that end in f or fe add s. Please not that some change the f to v and           add s or es. 

      Most nouns ending in o add s. However, some may add es.

4.  Words ending in a silent e drop the e before adding ed and ing.

5. Words ending in a vowel and y add ed and ing without making any other change

6. Words of one syllable word ending with a single consonant preceded by a single vowel double the final consonant before adding ed and ing.

7. Words with two or more syllables double the final consonant before adding ed and ing if: the last syllable ends in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel, and the accent is on the last syllable.

8. Along with silent e there are other silent letter patterns, gn, pn, kn= n sound, rh, wr = r sound, pt, ght = t sound, ps, sc = s sound

9. The letter g has the soft sound of /j/ when it is followed by an e, i, or y.

10. To spell a long sound you must add a second vowel

11. The letter c has a soft sound like/s/ when it is followed by an e, i, or y.

12. The letter j is usually used if the sound if followed by an a, o, or u.

13.  The consonants, v, j, k, w, and x are never doubled.

14.  No normal English words ends with the letter v and words that end with the v sound need a silent e.

15. Silent e can appear in 5 types of ways.

(1) The word has a long vowel-says its name
(2) When C and G say their soft sounds (chance,change)
(3) Every syllable of a word must have a vowel
(4) English words cannot end in I, U, or V.
(5) A miscellaneous category where the e  is not serving in one of the above ways.

This set of rules is a good starting point. If you feel I have missed an important rule please submit it in the form below.

Spelling Tips: Spelling Lists

At this point, I am not planning on adding spelling lists to this page, I may later if several people request lists.  The reason being, is that most homeschoolers use spelling programs that already have lists and spelling words. Also, most history and science texts have vocabulary words which can be used as age appropriate spelling words as an alternative.

If you are looking for a list, I would suggest trying to create your own.  Afterall, individualized learning is one of the benefits of homeschooling.  Take words from books your child is reading. Choose a variety of words in difficulty and that focus on different spelling patterns.

Spelling Tips for Spelling Challenges

As I mentioned earlier, both of my sons suffer from mild dyslexia, where they have a tendancy to switch letters around. In order for them to improve in spelling, they had to recognize they had a problem, focus on methods that helped (like identifying problem areas) and learn to double and triple check everything they write.

When they hurry to write something, they make mistakes. If they go back and check it, they almost always spot their errors and sometimes they even laugh at themselves over it.

I wish I had discovered the technique I talked about earlier because I know it would have helped them, but I didn't. So now, we deal with the consequences and work from there. It could be worse, I could be beating myself up about this....but I don't do that...I know I have always kept my children's education as a priority and I always will. Sometimes I will make mistakes but every day I get a chance to correct those mistakes.

I can hope that my mistakes which I have shared here on Spelling Tips will help keep someone else from making the same mistakes.

Spelling Tips: Spelling Stories

Once on a trip with my family, my younger sister who attended public school in another state and a friend of hers were doing some homework. The conversation turned to spelling and we started to quiz my daughter who was about 7 years old at the time. They were amazed as my daughter spelled huge words not only forwards but then backwards. 

Spelling can be fun when boring methods are replaced with spelling tips and methods that work.

Do you have a great spelling tip?

Do you have a great spelling tip, rule or list? Please, share it!

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