St. Patrick's National School, Diswellstown, Castleknock.

Email: Phone: 01 824 9930 Fax: 01 824 9928

Address: Diswellstown Road, Castleknock, Dublin 15, D15 PH21.

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Helping your child with spelling

What is spelling?

  • The function of spelling is to give meaning
  • Spelling is writing words from memory
  • Some children ‘catch’ spellings but many don’t and have difficulty
  • Spelling is difficult as we don’t always spell a word the way it sounds
  • There are different stages that children pass through to becoming a speller
  • Spelling is predominantly a visual skill
  • Spelling and writing go hand in hand
  • Spelling should not be an oral activity

Spelling Myths

  • A poor speller is not intelligent!
  • The more I read the better my spelling!
  • Breaking up a word and sounding it out will improve spelling!
  • Spelling can be taught through rules!

What to do at home

  • ‘Live’ the strategy that is being used in school
  • Discuss the words prior to learning
  • Look for words within words or parts that are already known
  • Ask if s/he knows any part of it
  • Have child write the ‘bits’ s/he knows
  • Have child focus on the difficult ‘bits’
  • Look how the words are put together
  • Make sure that if you call out spellings to your child, s/he must write them down
  • Let the child then check if the word is correct or not
  • Always encourage your child to ‘have a go’ - take away the fear of being wrong!

Correcting Spelling

  • Child should always check his/her own attempt
  • Firstly, praise the child for the ‘bits’ that are written correctly
  • Only then do you focus on the ‘wrong bits’
  • Can you picture the ‘bad bit(s)?

Measuring Progress in Spelling

  • Progress is best seen in child’s free writing
  • An improving score in a weekly test is not a real sign of improvement
  • Are the child’s mistakes ‘getting better’?

What if I am not a good speller?

  • No problem! Use a dictionary together
  • Talk about what you do if you don’t know a spelling
  • Use a spell-checker. Be careful! (at times they are of no use and they do not remove the need to learn how to spell).

  • Brendan Culligan (

    Author of ‘Improving Children’s Spelling’ and Spelling and Handwriting'