More ways to help your child with spelling


1. Mnemonics

Introduce your child to some well-known mnemonics:

  • necessary one collar and two cuffs — one 'c' and two 's'
  • because big elephants can always understand small elephants
  • embarrass you go really red (RR — two 'r's)
  • difficulty Mrs D, Mrs I, Mrs FFI, Mrs C, Mrs U, Mrs LTY

Make up mnemonics with your child for tricky words. Drawing pictures to match the mnemonic can help your child to memorise them because they remember the picture associated with the word.

2. Look for words within words

For example:

  • There is a 'hen' in when
  • There is a 'hut' in shut
  • There is a 'bus' in business
  • There is a 'rat' in separate
  • I can see 'wind' in window

3. Long word challenge

Challenge your child to find as many hidden words as they can. Eg 'transport' contains an, ran, or, port, sport. You could set a time limit.

Related link

4. Hunt the meaning

This is suitable for older children. Ask them to find out where a word comes from? Did it originate from Latin, Greek or French? By spending time considering the origins of words, they become more memorable and easier to spell. It can be useful to have an etymological dictionary.

  • Think of the root of a word and guess what it means. For example, 'tele' from Greek, meaning distant.
  • Think of other words beginning with the prefix 'tele-', for example, television, telephone, telegraph.
  • Check the origin in the dictionary.

Starter 'roots' suggestions:

  • auto (meaning self)
  • trans (meaning across)
  • bi (meaning two)

5. Spelling rules (for children aged 7-11)

These can be useful for some children:

  • 'i' Before 'e', except after c 
    This doesn't work in all cases but it can be a useful rule, eg field, thief, chief have i before e. The following pesky words have a 'c' first, so the two letters are switched round — ceiling, receive.
  • Change the 'y' to 'i' and add 'es' 
    Many words ending with a consonant +y change the 'y' to 'i' and add 'es' eg baby changes to babies, lady changes to ladies, party changes to parties and so on.
  • Adding 'ing' or 'ed' (short vowel sound) 
    You need to double the last consonant after a short vowel sound, eg drop becomes dropping or dropped. Other examples:

hop hopping hopped
tap tapping tapped
rub rubbing rubbed
plan planning planned

  • Adding 'ing' when word ends in 'e' (long vowel sound)
    If a word has a long vowel sound and ends with an 'e' you need to take off the 'e' before adding 'ng', eg hope becomes hoping, bite becomes biting, make becomes making

Some examples of tricky words and ways to remember them

These are only a few examples - your child may find other words tricky. 


Learning with Pearson logo

Last updated: about 3 years ago