Get everything you will need to work through the High/Medium Frequency spelling workbooks ready in advance:
pencil, rubber, flash cards, colouring pencils, drawing paper etc
ask your child whether he would also like to make the spellings out of clay or using pipe cleaners, sand, flour, pasta and get those ready too
Organise a quiet, comfortable place to sit down with your child or pupil, preferably at a desk or a table away from any distractions or interruptions. Set aside 1/2 hour to an hour to give your child the attention he needs.
Make sure you are feeling in a positive, calm and upbeat mood!
- Give your child the spelling workbook to look at. Let your child flick through the pages, make observations and chat about learning the spellings.
- Let your child write his or her name in fancy, bold colours on the front of the workbook and put his class name or number.
- After you have read the instructions, allow your child to see if he can read any of the words in the first section. This will enable him to show you what he already knows and will make him feel very proud of his knowledge.
- Then, read through the words together in just one section and praise him/her.
- In the first 1st column, get your child to trace over the first word in pencil (not in pen, so that he/she can rub it out if need be). If your child is using cursive handwriting at school, allow him to trace over the word in his joined up handwriting (many schools use different types of joined up handwriting, and that’s the reason why the words in the workbook are not joined up. Non-cursive handwriting is easier to read, whilst the action of cursive handwriting is easier for spelling, as the brain remembers the continuous flowing strokes more easily).
- In the 2nd column, get your child to copy the spelling and say the word aloud at the same time
- In the 3rd column, cover up the word and spell it from memory
- In the 4th column, spell the word again from memory with eyes closed – this enables your child to visualise and draw on memory skills to remember. It doesn’t matter if the spelling goes outside the box or the writing is wobbly – this is the fun bit!
If a word is misspelled, tell your child all the letters he got right first, by ticking above the correct individual letters – this is so much more encouraging than saying the whole spelling is incorrect, because of 1 or 2 incorrect letters.
Then point out the letters that are incorrect with a dot above. Give your child the opportunity to make suggestions as to what the correct letter might be before you tell him the answer. He needs to draw on his knowledge and he might even know the correct answer. Place a tick next to correct spellings, but don’t put a cross next to incorrect ones (it’s demoralising and upsetting for the child).
Combine a section of written spellings with hands on play activities to reinforce learning. You can check out all the different spelling activities and games you can play under the Parents’ pages.
There will be spellings that your child will find more tricky to remember than others. It is important to practise any tricky word frequently (a little and often every day), so that your child’s learning is transfered from his short-term/working memory to his long-term memory. Practise writing and spelling the High Frequency Words in sentences or in a short story too.
Remember, all children need encouragement, support and praise for their effort, even if they misspell a word!