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Spelling and Word Study

Question 1: I am homeschooling my child. Should her language arts instruction be based on whole language, sight words, or phonics?
Question 2: Is there anything I can do at home to help my dyslexic child learn to read and spell?
Question 3: My third grade son has problems with spelling; even if he practices a word several times, he cannot remember it. Often, he writes the word down the way it sounds to him. How can I help him with his spelling?

Question:

I am homeschooling my child. Should her language arts instruction be based on whole language, sight words, or phonics?

Answer:

After much debate over the best way to teach reading and writing, the growing consensus is that a combination of strategies is best, that all effective language arts programs have common components, and that no one program works for all students. The following article describes the elements of effective reading instruction and may be a good way for you to evaluate your program for balance and thoroughness:

As far as emphasizing sight words or phonics, it’s important that both elements are taught since they are both critical components of reading and writing proficiency. Another important component of literacy is a genuine enjoyment of the written word. The following articles from LD OnLine and Reading Rockets may give you some new ideas for promoting literacy:


Question:

Is there anything I can do at home to help my dyslexic child learn to read and spell?

Answer:

Even though the English language is complex, dyslexic children CAN learn phonics! They need the support of a sequential, multisensory, structured reading program, and solid reading support at home (including reading together, playing games that isolate sounds or build words, etc.).

The Reading Rockets website focuses entirely on reading and how to help kids who struggle. See, for example, the section on strategies to help kids who struggle. Also check out this page for parents, which gives you tips on what you can do at home.

And here is a link to LD Online's collection of articles on dyslexia.


Question:

My third grade son has problems with spelling; even if he practices a word several times, he cannot remember it. Often, he writes the word down the way it sounds to him. How can I help him with his spelling?

Answer:

Spelling can be challenging for students with learning disabilities, especially if they struggle with reading. The types of tools you might want to try with your son depend both on his difficulties with spelling and the importance of spelling to the task that he is trying to complete. For example, on a writing assignment, it may be more important for your son to get his words out on paper and express his ideas than to spell every word correctly. In those situations, your son could benefit from a writing program with word prediction or the use of a contextual spell checker. By using software to remove the need to know how to spell every word correctly, your son can focus on the act of writing as a way of demonstrating his knowledge. If the assignment for your son is to improve his spelling, it is important to give him a number of opportunities to practice and reinforce his skills. In addition to practicing at home with flash cards and rewriting words multiple times, there are a number of online spelling games and practice sites that you could try. Some online sites let you test your spelling skills with pre-generated lists, while others allow you to enter in your own spelling words to practice. Check out a few different options until you find one your son enjoys.
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