I’m speaking on Talk Radio today about the importance of spelling & whether it matters now we all have spell- checkers on our computers.
As a former Deputy Head Teacher, spelling is important because it aids in reading. It helps cement the connection that is shared between sounds and letters. Learning high frequency sight words also has been shown to help with both reading and writing. This is why students learn sight words during their early years.
Here are also six reasons why spelling is important:
Communication: good spelling aids effective communication because by following the same set of rules for spelling words, we can all understand the text that we read.
Comprehension: good spelling avoids confusion. In a way spelling is a bit like football or netball It’s up to the person passing the ball to make sure the receiver actually catches it! The same goes for spelling. If you write with proper spelling, the receiver of that text will understand it quickly and easily.
Future: let’s face it, university applications and job resumes littered with spelling errors don’t make it very far. Bosses are not impressed with text speak!
Computer error: we can’t rely on computers to check our spelling. They get it wrong too.
Distraction: poor spelling distracts the reader and they lose focus. It’s hard to read a text for comprehension when it’s full of spelling mistakes.
Impressions Matter: when people read something you’ve written and it is full of spelling errors, it doesn’t leave a good impression. We should care & be proud of the part good spelling plays in our language.
But what is important is to not to equate good spelling with intelligence. Dyslexia is a real condition and so many inventors, creators, entrepreneurs and musicians have it – from Tom Cruise to Richard Branson.
I wonder whether you were ever told that you were a poor speller at school.
If you were, I bet you can still remember exactly who told you that, where you were and how you felt……. The power of teachers and I should know…. I used to be one !
Now think back and remember a time when someone said to you, “Excellent! Well done Brilliant!” Close your eyes and really remember the picture of where you were, what you were doing and how you felt ‘ really hear the words that the person said to you clearly and let the warm feelings of success and pride cover you like a cosy blanket. Take those great feelings and sounds and pictures and spin them up and down through your body and then squeeze your right hand into a fist to anchor them into your memory.
When I work with kids in school nowadays as a coach I always get them into a positive and confident state first as it aids learning and let’s the whole experience feel more relaxed and enjoyable.
I also think getting kids into a really positive state first is really important for you as parents to remember to do at home before helping your kids with their homework or their spellings as it creates the mood of success.
Get your child to sit down and relax and breathe deeply and slowly and to shut their eyes and to remember a time when they found something really easy to learn , really easy to remember and really enjoyable as it was all so easy. Ask them to see what they were doing ‘ hear what they were hearing inside their heads and to feel how good they were feeling and to give those pictures, sounds and feelings a lovely colour. Let that lovely
colour spin through their bodies from the tips of their toes to the tops of their heads round and round faster and faster and ask them to smile and say “yessss….” while clenching their hand into a fist.
Then ask them toimagine feeling like this when they are learning something new – to relax and to breathe deeply and to imagine learning their spellings easily and effortlessly
without any effort ‘ without any struggle knowing that they have learnt a really
easy strategy for remembering their spellings magically now.
And get them to open their eyes.
Spelling is a visual skill and excellent spellers always go through the same strategy so by learning the steps and following what excellent spellers do your child is going to learn to spell new words easily too.
Magical Spelling Made Easy
Get some paper and break the word up into blocks of 3 or 4 letters with each block being a different colour and slightly spaced apart. Let’s practise with a difficult word to prove it too you !
Chry san the mum
Show only one block of letters at a time and cover the others up.
Now stand behind your child and hold the piece of paper up high to the left with those 3 or 4 letters and then move the paper down to the right and up to the left again asking them to move their eyes up and down just relaxing and looking at the colourful letters. (I do this by pointing whilst saying “now look up here”) Your child can do this for themselves once they’ve got the idea
Get them to make the letters bigger in their imagination or brighter or flashing on and off
Say the letters out loud.
Ask them to close their eyes and to really see the letters in colour down to their right and to check that they feel right and then write them in the air using their finger.
Do this 3 times on each group of letters and move through the other colour groups.
Then get your child to see the whole word and place it again up to the left and down to the right.
Then ask them the magic question: Spell the word ‘
Now spell it backwards – what are the three letters in the middle, at the end, (or any other
If they can’t do it, or falter over a block, get them to do the process again, only emphasise that they do not need to work at it, they only need to relax and use their eyes and look.
This strategy works because you are asking them to place the letters in a place where they visually remember, using NLP’s eye accessing cues. They can easily recall the picture of the word that they have placed in their visual memory.
(Neuro Linguistic Programming is an ever-growing collection of information, insights and mental techniques that can enable people and children to improve how they think, behave
This works by going from up left to down right however, some children, (and adults), place the other way so to check where your child visually constructs ask them a visual question and watch their eyes. i.e. do we have a shed in our garden? Where in the garden is it? This will tell you which side their visual memory is on.
I used this spelling strategy with a group of dyslexic children and their confidence really soared as we had such fun with it. It builds capability rather than just short term memory.
By teaching your children how to learn to spell you are helping to improve their
learning strategies in general and giving them the gift of independent inner learning for life.
This technique motivates and empowers your kids so what better gift can you give them?
Enjoy exploring and have loads of fun learning lots of new words.