Helping to unlock your child's writing potential

Mar 2012
Mastering the spelling of basic and more complex words could hold the key to unlocking your child's full writing potential.

The teaching of phonics, or the individual sounds that make up a word, is standard practice in many schools. Once pupils learn the full range of phonemes and corresponding graphemes, they can begin to spell words independently.

Many UK students also take 'look, cover, write' sheets home with weekly spellings and this can be played as a family game. Even modern technology can be used to improve spelling skills, according to research published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

The researchers involved recruited 114 children aged nine and 10 from primary schools in the Midlands and those who were not mobile phone users were split into two groups.

One of the groups acted as a controlled study, while the other was given a handset and were encouraged to text at weekends and during the school holidays over a 10-week period.

After a series of reading, spelling and phonological assessments, as well as the general monitoring of spelling progress, researchers found that the group using mobile phones scored higher in subsequent tests.

The government website offers the following advice on how to improve your child's spelling:

Writing and spelling
It's easier to get into good handwriting habits early on than to correct poor writing later in life, when the pressure of schoolwork is greater. The same goes for spelling. Help your child to see writing and spelling skills not only as fun, but as something important and a skill to be proud of:

  • help younger children by writing words and sentences for them to copy.

  • emphasise the links between drawing and writing, and make sure your child always signs finished artwork.

  • encourage your child to be inspired by examples of beautiful handwriting in museums, galleries and books.

  • older children can develop their writing and social skills at the same time by finding pen friends through school or clubs, or keeping in touch with friends they have met on holiday.