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Spelling | It's All About the Sounds

We shared a blog post earlier in June about the ultimate challenge that is handwriting. If you missed it, you can read it here. Handwriting is a skilled combination of motor strength & coordination, visual perception skills and executive functioning to be able to form letters on a page using a writing tool. It would make sense to think that being able to spell is similar to handwriting - and is about knowing the letters. It's very important that we understand that letters and sounds are related, but research has shown us that it's actually knowledge of the sounds in a word that contribute to successful spelling.

While it's tempting to teach your child their 'ABCs', here's some ideas for home that will set your child on the path to successful reading and writing skills from toddler to school student:

  • Tune in and listen to noises and sounds in your environment. This includes animal noises, sirens and machines.

  • Listen for the difference between sounds and talk about how they sound - ie, that was a soft sound, the ambulance siren has a quick part and a slow part, I can make /m/ into a really long sound

  • Talk about sounds in words before you talk about the letter name. This might sound like: "I can see the moon, moon starts with a mmmmmm".

  • Make comparisons about sounds - /p/ and /b/ both use my lips

  • When playing "I Spy" use sounds rather than letter names (ie, "I spy with my little eye, something starting with the /ch/ sound").

  • Sing songs & read books that rhyme; discuss how the rhyming words sound the same at the end

As your child gets older...

  • Talk about sounds in the middle and end of words (as well as the ones you hear in the beginning). Sound words out so they are stretchy (i.e. "h-or-s" for horse).

  • Match up words that have the same sound (even if the spelling is different) - i.e. phone and fish both start with a /f/ sound

  • Point out the patterns you can hear in words compared to spelling - i.e. sun and sugar both have the letter /s/ at the beginning of the word but different sounds

Learning to spell takes time and good strategies. If you are concerned about how your child is learning to spell, the team at Out Loud Developmental Services can help. Find our contact details here and get in touch with us for more information on how we can support your child with their literacy development.

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