Spelling Questions & Answers

Whether you are a school teacher, parent or tutor, you may well have a student who struggles with learning to read/spell. Register your question about spelling by Clicking here

The aim?

  • Provide real life examples of students who struggle with spelling, with suggestions on how to help
  • For others who may see similarities with students that they are supporting
  • To share knowledge/experience, and, (if relevant), mention specific Wordshark features that might help too

Question 1: How can I support my 7 year old child with their reading and spelling bearing in mind that they have dysgraphia? (Paraphrasing)

Jump to answer (Question 1)


Question 2: How can I support my 11 year old son with his reading and spelling bearing in mind that they have severe ADHD? (Paraphrasing)

Jump to answer (Question 2)


Question 3:

Jump to answer (Question 3)


Question 4:

Jump to answer (Question 4)


Answer to Question 1

There are different types of dysgraphia but a common one is associated with difficulties in various aspects of handwriting. Typing is the easier skill so computer work should be easier than handwriting when putting words together – and when learning spellings.

A 7 year old with dysgraphia and struggling with spelling will need success at every stage. Small achievable steps forward need to be built in and celebrated.

It’s tempting to stress the usual advice of following a structured spelling course but it is also hugely important to ensure that learning remains fun. Exploring how letters commonly work together to represent a single sound could be fruitful, and spotting them visually. This is in words your child encounters (not just in school work) such as the simple example of ‘sh’ in ‘shop’ but also the bit more advanced ‘ti’ in ‘action’. Acknowledging the tricky words that don’t obey the rules is also important, spotting the rotten rule breakers with their unexpected spellings. Otherwise our English spelling can seem overwhelming.

A program such as Wordshark can provide a structured approach. Creating own lists to practise (with help of an adult), and recording your own voices can be fun, for words needed frequently for writing, or ones needed for school tests , or just ones that follow a special interest.

Plan with motivation and success in mind: note what works for your individual child and go for it!

Answer to Question 2

  • The focus is more on spelling here as that is generally the trickier skill.
  • There is a lot more to say about each of these 13 points, so get in touch if you need more details.
  • 13 suggestions is a lot! Pick just a few at a time to try out.
  1. Aim for every spelling or reading opportunity to produce some identifiable success e.g. reading a page together, getting a certain number of spellings right on the computer or writing them down when dictated etc etc
  2. Often this is very tricky, but try to involve some element of fun wherever possible
  3. Any sessions set aside for work on reading or spelling should be really short but more than once a week. They should have defined and achievable objectives!
  4. Keep spelling sessions multisensory – using sound, sight, touch, and movement – and explore resources that foster an emotional ‘feel good’ factor that is associated with spelling, including the possible use of NLP
  5. Explore the different ways to practise spellings including pencil & paper, pen & whiteboard, using computers, combining spelling with handwriting, using one’s voice etc
  6. Celebrate each success in both reading and spelling and keep some sort of record (a recording on your phone?) to prove progress is being made over time – but accept there will always be good days and bad days short term
  7. As a parent – try not to get cross when helping with homework, but have a strategy for dealing with this – including walking away for a while if this works if the mood gets tense
  8. Agree on content for reading/spelling that is as relevant and meaningful wherever possible – hopefully giving some control over how and what is being worked on. This includes trying if possible to link any homework with the child or young person’s own interests
  9. Remove distractions when working on spelling/reading at home/school
  10. Explore general rules that govern whole sets of words and how they are constructed, thus giving a better attack for unknown words when reading and writing and cutting down the amount to be learnt Examples include noting any letters that work together to represent a single sound in words, and practising the splitting of longer words up into syllables to read and to spell
  11. Have fun in spotting words together that do not ‘obey the rules’ of what you would expect in reading or spelling
  12. Have a card with a dynamic list of words needed often in writing, including subject vocabulary. Ask ahead for more technical words that will be needed in class work
  13. When out and about and in general life, look at words around you and try to turn this into games


Please note: the information provided on this page is not intended to diagnose any issues, more about giving some free, helpful and supportive suggestions based on our 25 years of experience in this field. If you have any feedback about the responses, we would love to hear from you: online@wordshark.co.uk