Spelling can be one of the most frustrating things that a dyslexic learner has to do – they often do really badly in their spelling tests even though they may have spent hours learning them. The ‘trick’ is to make their learning more effective for them, and treating them as an individual is the key to this. All dyslexic children have a weak working memory which means that they find it difficult to switch from their own preferred learning style, so finding out their preferred learning style is the key to success. As a parent, you are in a unique position to help your child get to know how they can learn their spellings.
The first thing you must do is open your mind to the fact that your child may learn to spell using a very different method to the one you used at school and that Look, Cover, Write, Check doesn’t work for all children ( in fact I would say it doesn’t work for any of my dyslexic learners).
Now that that is out of the way, I am going to outline how you can start to experiment with different methods and find the one that works for your child.
Technique 1: Visualisation. This is very helpful to those children who are strong visual learners which a lot of dyslexic children are. Neuroscientists have identified that good readers and spellers store a ‘picture’ of a word in a kind of ‘brain dictionary’ which makes it easier for that child to pull out when they want to spell ( or read) it. I have prepared a pdf about visualisation techniques that I have found works for my students - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your free copy.
Technique 2: Movement. Some children need to move around and use their motor memories for learning. If your child falls into this category, then try chalking out a selection of letters on your patio (or making large letters on card) which include those required for words in their spelling list. Your child then jumps on the correct ones for a particular word, saying the letter names as they do. Lots of fun!
Technique 3: Mnemonics. If your child is an auditory learner (they like to talk about what they need to do) then they may have lots of fun making up mnemonics for words they need to learn. This may seem a laborious way to learn words, but for some dyslexic learners it suits them perfectly.
Technique 4: Using plasticine/ wooden letters. If your child likes to work in 3D then this could be a good technique for them. With wooden letters, have a selection in front of you, including those needed in the word to be learnt. Ask your child to select letters from these to spell the words. Making the words out of plasticine can also be beneficial for those who prefer using materials they can manipulate.
Suddenly learning spelling doesn’t seem so boring! These methods will help your dyslexic child store the word in their memory so that they will be more successful in spelling tests and with their spellings in their writing. I have had lots of success with my students using visualisation techniques, with the spellings staying learnt!
Don’t forget that you click here to get your free PDF showing you how to use visualisation techniques with your child.
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Would you like to discuss your child's progress with a specialist dyslexia tutor? Contact me to arrange a consultancy meeting ( these can take place online).