Preparing for the weekly spelling test can be a chore for parents and a bore for young children. Whether your child has just started to receive spelling lists or has been dealing with these tests for a few years now, here are seven ways you can help your child score full marks for the tests, and better still, enjoy the process. 

1. Use your home

Whether it's a spelling test or your child is struggling with spelling in a general sense, you could write the challenging words on pieces of paper and stick them on the fridge using magnets. This way your child will be exposed to them on a daily basis and they can be practised at meal times. Alternatively, you could put them on the bedroom wall and he/she can read them as they get dressed in the morning and ready for bed in the evening.

2. Gap-fills

Provide additional support with difficult words by removing letters from a word and asking your child to fill in the blanks. Remove examples of silent letters or long vowel sounds (e.g. oo/ee/ai/ie) that usually cause some difficulty.

3. Keep a picture dictionary

Maintain a picture dictionary to store any difficult words your child may encounter. When they can't spell a word, they add to a notebook, write three times and then draw a picture to help them remember. They can then refer back to the dictionary when they need to remember a spelling. The picture aspect of this exercise will motivate those learners that are more visual.

4. Sound out the letters when practising at home

Run through the spelling words with your child and sound out the phonics. This will help them to isolate the sounds in order to piece the spelling together.

5. Listen, read, write

This is a useful technique to help them remember the spelling. Divide a piece of paper into three sections; the first has a picture, the second section has the written spelling and the third has a blank section for your child to write the word.  Firstly, look at the picture and say the word aloud to your child who repeats it. Then, fold the paper over and your child reads the word. Once again, fold the paper and then your child writes the word in the blank space trying to recall the word they have just heard and read. 

6. Take an interest

Show an interest in your child's spelling and ask them how they have done in their spelling checks. When they do well in a class spelling test, commend them as most children respond well to recognition of achievement.

7. Play down 'test' syndrome

Use words like spelling 'check' rather than 'test' as this word will only ramp up the sense of pressure - you want your child to improve their spelling but not to be fearful of being wrong. Tell them that we learn best when we notice our mistakes and correct them.


By Matthew Scott

Head, Pre-school Courses