The Foundations of Spelling Success

To develop a foundation for spelling success and strengthen spelling skills the student needs to:

  1. Develop Phonemic Awareness: Phonemic awareness (PA) is critical to spelling development. The child needs to be able to recognize and distinguish the sounds within spoken words in order to then translate these sounds back to print. If the child has a phonemic weakness, you need to help that child strengthen their phonemic awareness with PA training. The great news is that research proves PA training has “strong and significant effects on reading and spelling development” (National Reading Panel) See Phonemic Awareness Explained.

  2. Understand phonemic nature of spelling: The student needs to understand written English is based on a phonemic code. In other words printed black squiggles represent sounds in the word.

  3. Learn the phonemic code: The student needs to learn the complete phonemic code. The English phonemic code is complex and the student needs to learn the complete code in order to handle these complexities. The student needs to learn the code systematically beginning with the basic code and then adding the complexities with vowel combinations, r-controlled combinations and other intricacies. Although there is code overlap (more than one way to write a sound), irregular and unexpected spellings, English is based on this phonemic code.

  4. Approach the process of spelling phonemically: The student needs to base their spelling on converting the sounds in the spoken word into print. They need to write the phonemic code for the sounds in the word. Spelling needs to be approached as recoding sound to print. Once again phonemic awareness is a critical skill. The child must have the phonemic awareness to recognize and distinguish the sounds within words. If your child has a phonemic weakness, you need to help the child strengthen their phonemic awareness.

  5. Acquire knowledge of spelling patterns and learn helpful guidelines: The student needs to learn and practice the common spelling patterns that are used in English. There are also guidelines that can help us learn correct spelling. While there are exceptions and irregularities most words follow common patterns. There are also a number of helpful guidelines to aid us in accurate spelling. Children are better able to achieve spelling success when they learn and practice these common patterns and helpful guidelines.

  6. Learn/memorize specific and ‘tricky’ spellings: For accurate spelling the student does need to learn the correct spelling for common words and begin memorizing the specific spelling pattern used for particular words. Accurate spelling can be tricky and does require remembering which spelling pattern is used within certain words.