Tips to Help Schoolchildren Who Hate Spelling

Are you a parent with a school age child who struggles to maintain a positive attitude about studying spelling words?

Maybe your child’s list contains relatively simple words like “here” or “girl” (like my kid’s did last year). Or maybe your child’s teacher has a higher standard of expectations, and thinks nothing of putting words like “cotyledon” and “multiplication” on the list (like my kid’s does this year).

You’ve heard the whining. You’ve witnessed the falling on the floor, the legs kicking in frustration. You’ve listened to all the procrastination excuses. Now it’s time to get serious about studying, because you don’t want your child to be the only one in class to get “megalith” wrong on the test, right?

Trouble is, your child is recalcitrant. Intractable. Obstreperous. Truculent. Insubordinate. Defiant. Rebellious. Contrary.

So what do you do? Try one of these tips.

1. Ask your child to quiz you. Yes you. Let her read a word from her spelling list out loud, and then you can carefully, slowly spell it back to her, so she can look at each letter to make sure you are getting it right. See what you are doing here? You are making her look carefully at the word while she thinks she’s making Mommy or Daddy do all the hard work of spelling it.

2. If he’s the competive sort, make a game or fun activity out of it. You know your child best. If he likes writing, have him write the words into a story. Maybe bring out the gel pens and black paper and have him practice writing the words in an artful script.

3. Help the child see how many “hidden” words are contained in the longer word. Like how “intractable” contains “in,” “tract” and “able.” This doesn’t work for all words, but when it does, you’ve got a study tip and a word seek game all wrapped into one.

4. When it’s time to quiz the kid, bring in a favorite stuffed animal or puppet to do the dirty work of reciting the word list.

Picture of stuffed animal reading spelling words.

Don’t forget to use a funny, but clear, voice.

P.S. Remember to sprinkle in some encouragement. When he does well, you might tell him you are impressed that he managed to spell a bunch of words that even some adults can’t spell.

If you have any more tips to suggest, please comment.

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