One concern that I hear voiced by home school moms is the issue of spelling. How do you help a poor speller become a better speller? I have read many articles about this and the general consensus is that you are either a natural speller or you aren’t. It’s similar to a person who has a natural tendency toward math or science. This doesn’t mean that you give up and don’t do anything about it. There are methods that will help them improve.

First, be certain they know the sounds each letter makes. Does your student “hear” the difference between the vowels? The short /e/ and /i/ sound similar so be sure and provide a great deal of practice before moving forward. Also teach a simple rule that each syllable must have a vowel.

Secondly, teach the phonics rules and patterns that make the sounds. Write lots of words that are examples of that rule and have your child copy the words while saying each letter out loud when writing it. For example: /a/  as in cat, bat, rat, tack, flat, etc. Review and quiz before moving on to the next spelling rule.

Third, some words do not follow a set of rules and are easier if memorized. There are 220 words and 95 nouns used in 50-70 percent of our everyday reading and are known as Dolch sight words. Have your speller practice these each day- beginning with 5 words and then adding 5 more the next day if s/he is ready. Have your student do 10-20 words a week, depending upon their ability. Don’t rush the process as it is like anything else that is being learned; it takes time. Here is a link for the Dolch words with flashcards that you can print. click here. Once your student has finished one list, move on to the next until they have mastered reading and spelling them.

Lastly, practice, practice, practice! We retain 90% or higher when we say aloud what we are learning. So, spelling words out loud while writing each of them, having spelling bees (competitions), or jumping rope while spelling are all great ways to reinforce what is being learned. Here are some games to make and play as well.

Bingo Games


Summer Spelling Pages

Looking for a curriculum or want some help in choosing one? Happy with your spelling program, but are looking for a supplement? Here is a list and a review of products from The Old Schoolhouse magazine. I have also added some choices to the list. This is by no means an exhaustive list so if you have a curriculum you like and find beneficial to your family please post a comment about it for others to read. Thanks!

9 thoughts on “Spelling

  1. Lisa, it’s crazy how you write these wonderful posts and I can apply them to almost everything I am going through in my life 🙂 I was a lucky one and don’t have struggling spellers, but a neighbor asked if I would tutor her child struggling in reading, writing and spelling. What an awesome post where all of these wonderful posts are pulled together for me~ thank you!


  2. That’s wonderful. I posted this on Monday and then realized I didn’t have any programs listed. I went back and added a variety of programs, both workbooks and online games, etc. You can check on Spelling Power (spellingpower.com) as well, as it is multi-grade level.


  3. Spelling is a subject that is worked on constantly here. My boys are finishing up 2nd and 7th grades now. Even during holiday breaks, and summer breaks, they have to do *something* with spelling…otherwise they lose any progress they’ve made. :/

    We use SpellingCity and my boys do well with it. They like that it’s online and not the same old writing down the spelling words kinda thing. They can play games, which is always helpful in motivating them, lol, and I can assign word lists and activities when I need to.

    Thanks for listing those great resources! 🙂


  4. It’s interesting that you included the McGuffey Progressive Speller on your list. You know we have experimented with many spelling programs over the years but have never used this one, even though we have it! I’ve always been intrigued with “old” teaching methods and old books. Thanks for reminding me of this one. I use the McGuffey readers with my daughter and they work well.


  5. Isn’t it great to realize you own something that you forgot about? It’s like finding a treasure! 🙂 I saw some reviews on it and people who used it liked it so I decided to add that to the list. The McGuffey readers were read by students for over 200 years and have sold over 122,000,000 copies . How many educational products can we say that about?


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