How To Make a Child Remember Spellings: A Complete Guide

Does your child’s heart sink ever time their weekly spelling test comes around? Do they put off spelling practise and homework or even refuse to do it? If so, don’t worry. 

While it’s clear that your child may not be the biggest fan of spelling, there are several activities you can introduce at home to make spelling that little bit easier for your little one. In today’s piece, we’re going to look at eight different exercises you can use to help your child remember spellings.

Eight Activities to Make Words Easier To Spell and Remember

#1 – Highlight The Difficult Bit(s)

In most instances, it will be just one letter or part of the word that trips your child when they’re attempting to spell it. If this is the case, give them a helping hand by highlighting the letter or part they find difficult or write in a different colour altogether. This places emphasis on the tricky letter or part, which will help them to focus on it – and ultimately, remember it. For example:

Light Weird Deceive Two There Their

Alternatively, longer words may pose more than one problem. If this is the case, highlight or make colourful all the areas that cause issues for your child. For example:

Necessary Address Accommodate 

Once you’ve highlighted all the tricky parts with your child, ask them to write the entire word(s) out again without peeking at the highlighted or colourful versions. Your child will pay specific attention, focusing on correcting the part they previously spelt incorrectly and should find it easier to remember by focusing particular attention on these letters or word parts.

#2 – Make it Stick

Although the above method is reasonably effective, it might not always be successful; therefore, using this next trick might work. This technique utilise word association to help your child remember how words of spelt, the order of letters, which letters come first etc. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

– Many children (and adults for that matter!) often confuse the ‘I’ and the ‘e’ in words that contain both letters consecutively; therefore, making this easier to remember is essential. If we take the word ‘weird’ as an example; to help your child remember that the ‘e’ comes before the ‘I’, use the phrase “we are weird” and have them repeat that several times over. When they come to spell the word weird, they’ll remember this saying and spell it correctly. 

– Another example of a word that children struggle with is dessert, as it is often confused with desert (and vice versa). To help your child remember which is which, use the phrase “desserts are sugary and sweet”. This will help your little one to remember that there are two’ s’ in dessert and one in desert. 

– Some words, like ‘necessary’, are even more challenging to remember, so phrases can be convenient here too. It is the middle part of the word necessary that usually causes problems, I.e. the ‘cess’, so try breaking this portion of the word into individual words, such as: Cats Eat Sugary Sweets.

#3 – Break Down Words Into Syllables

Words that contain two or more syllables can be broken down into their component syllables to make them easier to remember (‘polysyllabic’ words). It’s likely that your child will be doing this at school, using the words’ beat’ instead of a syllable. To help them figure out how many syllables are in a word, clap once for each syllable – getting them to join in an clap with you. Once your child has deciphered how many syllables are in a specific word, ask them to say each syllable several times over, before writing it down as follows:

Two syllable words…

Bottle – Bo / ttle

Present – Pre / sent

Picture – Pic / sure

Three syllable words…

Chocolate – Choc / o / late

Exactly – Ex / act/ ly

Make a word chart that lists the words, followed by each syllable. Use headings such as ‘Syllable 1’, ‘Syllable 2’ etc. to help your child in which order they come.

#4 – Copy and Recall

This is a game we like to call ‘Write, Copy, Recall’. To use this exercise, create a chart with the headings ‘Write’, ‘Copy’, and ‘Recall’, laid out as follows (we’ve used the word’ said’ as an example):

Write Copy Recall 

Said Said Said

In the first column (‘Write’), tell your child to write the word you want to practise, spelling it out for them. In the next column (‘Copy’), ask them to copy the word from the first column. Then, when you reach the final column (‘Recall’), cover the first two columns up and ask your child to write the word without any help from or the previous two columns. 

‘Write, Copy, Recall’, is similar to a classic spelling exercise called ‘Look, Cover, Write, Check’ – something I think everyone remembers doing as a child! If you’re unfamiliar with this game, the name is relatively self-explanatory; they look at the word, cover it, up, write it, then check it. Simple! 

#5 – Mind Pictures

This tried and tested memory trick can potentially help your child to remember how words are spelt more easily. It revolves around creating a visual image of what they’re trying to remember, i.e. the spelling of a word. Here are some examples: 

If your child is learning the word ‘tank’ but writing the word ‘tang’, remind them that it ends in a ‘kicking K’, and use the phrase, “I kicked the big, heavy tank and it hurt my foot”. If they’re learning the word cat, but use a ‘k’ instead of a ‘c’, remind them it’s a ‘curly c’ and use the phrase, “Cats love to curl up in front of the fire and sleep”. Of course, these are specific phrases and visual images for specific words but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box to help your child use their imagination to boost their spelling ability. In fact, why not encourage your little one to create their own phrases and methods for remembering words and how they’re spelt. 

#6 – Say It As You See It

Having fun is a core component of learning. Not only does it stop boredom from setting in, but it can also boost your child’s motivation to learn. Why not have some fun with words and say words they’re spelt. Here are a few examples:

– Words that end with double ‘s’: extend the sound of s….fussssssssss.

– Words that end with double ‘z’: extend the sound of the z….fuzzzzzzzzzz.

– Words that contain double ‘e’: extend the sound of the e: deeeeeeeem. 

To remember which words contain ‘ee’ and which words contain ‘ea’, pronounce words that contain the latter as two distinct sounds, Dre-a-m.

#7 – Use Acrostics

As mentioned above, visualisation can really help to make a word stick in your child’s head. To take it one step further than image visualisation, use acrostics – a word, puzzle, poem, or other forms of composition in which specific letters in each line form a word(s). In some instances, the acrostic can be even easier to remember than the word. You can have lots of fun with this by making up your own and encouraging your child to do the same. Here are a few examples to get you started:

Friend: Find Rivers In England Not Denmark.

Table: Ting A Bell Loudly Every day.

Bottle: Boat Out To The Lake Every day. 

Ocean: Otters Can Eat All Nuts.

Flower: Fly Low Over West England’s Rivers.

#8 – Singing

Do you remember learning the alphabet at school? If so, you’ll probably be familiar with the alphabet song! Although it may seem a little goofy looking back through the eyes of an adult, singing the alphabet song is one of the quickest ways to learn the alphabet. Why? Firstly, it’s fun, and if learning is fun, it’s more likely to be effective; and secondly, because learning a melody can speed up how fast something is remembered. But it’s not just the alphabet that this technique works for – it can also be used for words and spelling. Even if your child forgets how to spell a word, they’ll still remember with the rhythm and sound of the word, which will give them a nudge in the right direction. 

How To Make Your Child Remember Spellings: A Summary

While there are no doubt a wide array of techniques, methods, strategies, games, exercises, and activities that can be implemented to help your child remember how to spell words, the above eight suggestions should provide you with a starting point and help you to lay a solid foundation. Remember, learning and confidence go hand-in-hand. The more confident a child is, the more they will want to learn and the quicker they will typically learn. If your child shies away from spelling because their confidence is low, use the above exercises to help build their confidence and ability, and watch them grow into a very confident speller!