The second part of our guide to getting your child’s spelling SATs-ready by May.
As with so many things, when it comes to spelling, practice makes perfect. By devoting as little as five minutes a day to spelling practice, you could help your child improve their spelling in time for the Year 6 SATs. But you’ll need the right strategies up your sleeve. In the second part of our round-up of techniques you can use to support your child’s spelling at home, we offer advice on five more approaches.
6. Write, write and write again
There is a lot of value in writing words (correctly!) several times to help memorise them. This technique is especially effective if the words are written in joined-up handwriting, which helps the child develop a memory of what the word ‘feels like’ to write. This is a great technique for kinaesthetic learners – children who learn through activity.
7. Look for words within words
This strategy is ideal for learning tricky words that don’t play by normal spelling rules – and homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings and/or spellings). The word ‘believe’ contains the word ‘lie’. Would you believe someone who told a lie? ‘Hear’ contains the word ‘ear’ and you use your ears to hear, which sets it apart from ‘here’. And, of course, ‘here’ is found in ‘there’, which pairs up these two words nicely. These sorts of connections can act as a powerful memory aid.
8. Dissect words
It can be helpful to draw attention to the way words are put together and can be broken down into parts, especially if your child is trying to learn words with prefixes (extra bits at the beginning like 'un' in 'unnecessary') or suffixes (extra bits at the end like 'tion' in 'contradiction'). You can even use scissors to cut up words, look at the parts and put them back together.
The dissection technique is also handy for learning the spelling of 'compound' words (words made of two words joined together) such as 'lightweight' or 'doughnut'.
You’ll find all the information you need about prefixes, suffixes and the important spelling rules your child needs to know in the York Notes Complete Revision & Test Practice and Catch-Up Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling books.
9. Use mnemonics to tackle tricky spellings
You probably remember the memory aids you learned at school to master tricky spellings. Many of these are still going strong today. 'Big Elephants Can’t Always Use Small Exits' is still a favourite for learning how to spell 'because'. Help your child make up their own mnemonics to remember tough words.
10. Be creative to encourage reluctant spellers
If you’ve got a reluctant speller on your hands, crack open the glitter pens to liven things up. Tape paper to walls, the floor or even the underneath of tables to make writing spellings more fun or use chalks to write directly on the patio if you don’t mind the mess!
We hope you’ll find the ten tips covered in our two-part guide to spelling revision useful in boosting your child’s confidence – and their spelling ability – in time for this year’s SATs. And we wish them the very best of luck in May!
Emilie Martin is a Primary Education Consultant at York Notes and an experienced primary teacher and English subject leader.