My Child Can Read but Not Spell

My Child Can Read but Not Spell

Mar 20, 2022

Congratulations! Your child is no longer a ‘non-reader’. They have developed the ‘reading bug’. Every time you turn around your child has a book in their hands. You are confident that their literacy skills are back on track and you breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last long.

You’ve just tried to read a word your child has written but you struggle to understand what the word is meant to be. Feeling quite puzzled, you ask yourself, “Why can’t they spell the words they read?”

It makes logical sense to think that once a child can recognize and read words, being able to spell accurately should just follow. After all, spelling is the reversal of reading, right? That’s where I pose the question to you - if spelling was an automatic result of learning to read, why is it that spelling remains so difficult for many fluent readers and even for adults?

Whilst many of the skills needed for reading and spelling rely on the same letter and sound knowledge, multiple other factors impact accurate spelling. Relying solely on exposure to print or written language is not enough for a child to become a proficient speller. Learning to spell requires an individual to have good phonological awareness skills, the ability to match the correct sequence of letters to sounds, grammatical knowledge and an understanding of the meaning of a word. Spelling also requires a child to use their knowledge of phonics and word rules. Further, significant demand is placed on a child’s memory and on their fine motor skills when spelling.

Spelling can be especially tough for children with literacy difficulties and underlying speech difficulties. For example, children with speech difficulties may have trouble hearing the difference between the voiced (which means you can feel your voice box vibrate) ‘b’ and unvoiced ‘p.’ Matching the correct letter to the spoken sound is therefore really hard and the child may end up writing ‘sbort’ when asked to spell ‘sport,’ as this is the way they say the word. Some children may also have a visual weakness impacting their spelling ability, meaning they will struggle to write letters in the correct sequence.

There is good news though. Approximately 50% of all English words can be spelt correctly by matching what we say (spoken sounds) to the letters that naturally make those sounds. Another 36% of words can be spelt correctly by matching spoken sounds to letters except for one speech sound (usually the vowel). Therefore, if we teach children the most predictable patterns using an explicit phonics approach while incorporating spelling rules, an understanding of the origin of words and their meaning, children will have the best chance of spelling correctly. Your child can definitely be a great reader and speller!

Course One of The Reading Spelling Toolkit teaches you and your child how to read and spell words and sentences using 27 consonant sounds and 13 vowel sounds. This means by the end of Course One, your child will be able to accurately read and spell hundreds of words and sentences using 46 different letter patterns. Each sound is introduced in an explicit, systematic and multi-sensory way and hundreds of activities are provided so you can put these skills to the test. This gives you the best chance of perfecting your child's reading and spelling abilities so help them become the amazing young readers and spellers we know they are capable of being!

If your child is a good reader but poor speller read more on how The Reading Spelling Toolkit can help. Visit us on Facebook or feel free to get in touch at any time.

If you are concerned your child may not have the tools they need to spell accurately, download our free literacy assessment, to determine exactly where your child is struggling and how the unique and clinically proven tools in The Reading Spelling Toolkit may benefit your child.