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7 Tips... to help with developing spelling

We're almost half way through Term 1, 2020 here in Western Australia! It's been a busy start to the year for Out Loud Developmental Services while we contact families to arrange appointments, work with schools to coordinate visits and set up our group programs for the year.

Did you know that there's over 40 schools in the South West and the Out Loud Therapists visit many of these throughout term? We support clients with speech, language, literacy and social skills so they are able to reach their potential and live their best life.

Before children can read & write, they learn to recognise symbols in their surroundings. We call this environmental literacy. Children often associate logos and brands with word meanings. They see signs (such as the M on the McDonalds sign and the apple on the Woolworths logo) and know that these consistent symbols match to a certain word or concept. This is the starting point for knowing that sounds and letters are related and that symbols have meaning.

Spelling, especially in English, can be very challenging. There are some rules and systems that make it easier, but there are also lots of 'exceptions to the rule' and unique quirks that can make it very difficult, especially when you are first learning.

Here's 7 top tips of helping your child develop spelling skills:

1. Build a strong letter-sound relationship. It is important that a letter or combination of letters represent a sound. Focus on the sounds as well as the letter names (ie, mmmmmm = M letter; ssssss = S letter, shhhh = SH letters).

2. Build a strong understanding of how words are made including being able to blend words (pushing sounds together - c-a-t = "cat") and segment words (pulling sounds apart dog = d-o-g)

3. Play with words. Change sounds within a word to create new words (ie, sun with a 'f' is "fun) and find little words in long words (ie, sunshine = sun + shine or mix it up to find "hiss, he, nine").

4. Look and talk about words and what they ‘look like’. Are they long or short words? Do they have letters that go under the line? Do they have repeated letters?

5. Build on familiar words by using prefixes and suffixes. E.g. use the word ‘love’ to build new words, loved, loving, lovable, unlovable and what these words mean.

6. Physically building words using post- it notes, letter cards or letter blocks. This will make spelling fun and interactive and draw your child's attention to the sound-letter link.

7. Empower your child. Allow them to achieve success while reading by starting with spelling small words (two – three sounds) and building up to bigger words (four – five sounds and or adding prefixes/ suffixes).

Spelling needs to be explicitly taught. This means that there is a preferred order to learning how to spell. Out Loud Developmental Services uses a range of therapy techniques including Sounds Write.

If you'd like to try some activities at home, you may find this online Sounds Write Phonics Program useful. Click here to enrol in the free home program.

If you need further information, please speak to your child’s Speech Pathologist or teacher.. Remember to make the activities as fun and interactive as you can, and your child won’t even realise that they are learning how to spell!


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