Spelling with meaning

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Most children begin the new school year with hope - either hope that this year will be as rewarding as the last or hope that things will be a bit better this time around.

The causes behind the decline are hotly debated and accusations can include anything from teaching methods to advances in technology. Any change in tactics over the last few decades has risked being hung, drawn and quartered for depriving a generation of the ability to spell well.

Spelling lists

Some experts blame rote learning of weekly spelling lists, with no focus on what the words mean. Children only have to commit a sequence of letters to short-term memory and some weeks later parents are often puzzled to find their child can no longer spell the words correctly.

Sounding out

Others blame the practice of sounding words out, rather than looking at parts of the word and what they mean. They say this explains common misspellings like resadent, which comes from how the word sounds rather than knowing its meaning relates to where someone resides.


Technology and too much ‘screen time’ also come under fire. Some claim we now have an ‘auto-correct’ generation, who have had easy access to automatic spell-checking for so long they’re now lost without it. The use of txt language has had plenty of airing. Another frequently identified cause is watching and listening through modern media, instead of seeing words through reading. UK research, reported in the Daily Mail, tested children aged 10 to 12. They found only 24% of those surveyed could spell Edinburgh and only 28% got Parliament right, but 85% could spell Hogwarts, from the popular Harry Potter books.

We’re here to help

Whatever the causes are, if your child is struggling with spelling or reading, we can help. We’ll develop a customised, fun-filled learning programme for your child based on our proven techniques. Our approach includes giving words lasting meaning, looking at their structure, and some quick tips to avoid common misspellings.

There are also plenty of things you can do at home to help, particularly as your child’s confidence begins to improve. In an earlier story we listed some techniques you can use to teach spelling.

Bananagram game giveaway

Bananagram is an action-packed spelling game using letter tiles. It’s a race to use all your tiles to create correctly spelled words joined together like a crossword. If you win, you’re top banana. If you say you’re finished but you misspelled a word, you’re a rotten banana and the game continues without you. To find out more and enter the draw to win a Bananagram game simply like our Bananagram post on Facebook.

“Improving your child’s spelling ability boosts reading confidence, which in turn improves spelling, and so on. It’s a virtuous cycle. Before long you may find your child with their nose in a book a lot more than you ever thought possible.” Anne Smith, NumberWorks’nWords co-founder

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Posted on 06/05/2015

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