Litriú / Spelling
We live in a society that expects its children to acquire a competent
level of reading and writing. Despite the fact that we are now in the
technological age, it is still necessary that our children will be able
to write what they want, when they want. To achieve this, the acquisition
of spelling skills is crucial.
The ability to spell accurately is directly related to the memory for
words and the phonic letter understanding that has been acquired. When
children have been taught to listen and identify the sounds in words
and know the different ways of writing those sounds, then they have
a good phonic understanding. From then onwards, it is necessary to revise
the letter sound knowledge and develop spelling strategies to help the
children remember the words.
In the infant classes a lot of time is spent on phonological awareness
– naming and identifying letters and the sounds of each letter.
- breaking words into syllables and building up the words again
- identifying word families e.g. cake, bake, make
I would recommend that children use the letter name and sound and do
not over-emphasis the Letterland characters e.g. Clever Cat/Poor Peter.
There are a few things children need to know before they start a formal
spelling programme in Rang I.
- The names of the 26 letters of the alphabet - The children need to
know that letters have got names as well as sounds. The sounds are used
to read unknown words by blending and the names are used when you want
to talk about letters. Young children like to sing the alphabet and
it is an easy way for them to learn it. The more familiar the children
are with the letter sequence in the alphabet, the easier it becomes
for them to use a dictionary at a later stage. One suggested activity
to help them learn this is to muddle a set of alphabet letters up and
get the children to lay them out in the correct order. When they are
quite good at this, make it a timed activity and let them try and beat
The children need to know and be able to recite the vowels a-e-i-o-u
and know that y can sometimes be a vowel as in words like sky and my.
This knowledge is very useful when they are learning spelling patterns
Children must be taught that Capital Letters only go in special places
and that they should not put them all over the place when they write
on their own.
N.B. It is worth mentioning that pre-school children should not write
Capital letter and if children are writing before coming to school make
sure it is small letters they use.
Rang I - VI
Both the parent and teacher have a vital role in ensuring children experience
success with spelling.
In school we have a policy for spelling and we recognize our role is
one of teaching spellings not one of giving spellings. Likewise it is
necessary for parents to be actively involved with the learning process
required for spelling and not just “asking” spellings and
1. Sa Ghaelscoil we teach the method
LOOK SAY COVER WRITE and CHECK
Look at the word – paying attention to the letters.
Say the word – emphasising proper pronunciation especially “th”
at the beginning of words and “d” and “t” at
Cover the word - the visual representation is removed and the child
is being asked to see it in his/her mind.
Write the word – it is essential to remember any spelling activity
be a written one as it is only by writing they will become familiar
with word-patterns or letter-strings. As writing and spelling are so
closely linked a cursive (Joined) style of handwriting is advised –
the style in use in our school.
Check – it is more advantageous if the child verifies the accuracy
of his/her spelling than having others (teacher or parent) check how
he/she performed. A word is really not mastered until it can be written
correctly from memory several days later. Therefore there is an ongoing
need to learn and relearn these words and use them in their writing.
A lot of the spellings taught and learned in this way belong to the
Word Families. These are words that are based on endings called Rimes,
where the endings sound the same in every word with a particular Rime
- ake - ight - eel
take light feet
make sight greet
and developed and developed and developed
baker frightened meeting
shaker tightens fleeting
It is important for you to emphasise to your child that he/she does
not need to learn every word on these lists if he/she can spell the
Rime, e.g. if your child is having difficulty spelling frigthtenend
ask him/her to spell right – then fright and then add the ending.
2. When we write, there are certain words that we use very often. These
words do not always follow patterns or rules and they need to be learned
and not sounded out. These high frequency words are used about 50% of
the time. Therefore, if the children learn these “frequently used”
words well, they will be at least assured of getting approximately 50%
of their words spelt correctly! As these words tend to be irregular
in the way they are spelt, they need to be taught and practiced in their
List of frequently used words – mostly irregular
3. A very useful technique for learning certain irregular words is
to teach all children to say the word in the way it should “sound”.
For example with the word “mother”…instead of saying
it as “muther” the children say “mother” with
the short “o” being used (to rhyme with “bother”).
It goes like this
Teacher/Parent says Children respond
Mother Mother (to rhyme with bother)
Put put ( to rhyme with but)
Was was ( to rhyme with gas)
Monday Mon day ) breaking up the words in the
Wednesday Wed nes day ) way they need to be said to
February Feb ru ary ) be spelt.
The children quickly understand that they are saying words incorrectly,
in order to help them remember the irregular spellings. It does not
affect the use of these words in their normal conversation.
By the time children are eight years old, they should be able to spell
correctly most of the everyday words they meet in their reading and
require in their writing. They should be using the word families and
irregular words list and mentioned previously combined with spelling
rules that apply to the English language. These rules (and their exceptions)
are dealt with in their spelling books, but require constant revision.
Some Spelling Rules examples:
• The sound “f” is spelt with “ph” in
some words e.g., photo, graph alphabet.
• The letter “Q” is always followed by “u”
and then another vowel e.g. quick, quarrel, queen.
• Purals – a vowel before “y” – add “s”
e.g. monkey – monkeys. A consonant (a letter that is not a vowel)
before “y” – change the “y” to “i”
and add es. E.g. lady – ladies.
• “I” before “e” except after “c”
e.g. thief, receive.
• “ai” – in words – Rule : when two vowels
go walking, the first one does the talking. i.e. the first vowel “a”
is the sound we hear and it does the “talking” or says its
own name and the second vowel keeps quite.
• Le – when the le comes at the end of a word it has the
sound of il.
• Silent Letters
b – is silent when it comes after m or before t e.g. written wren
w – is silent when it is followed by r e.g. written wren
g - is silent when it comes before n e.g. gnarl, design
t - is silent when it follows s or f e.g. thistle, often
n - is silent when it follows m e.g. autumn, column
Tips for Spelling
• Remember not all spellings are “caught” they need
to be “taught”
• All spelling activity should be a written one
• The meaning of confusing words e.g. their/there must be taught
and put into a sentence when asking a child to write it so they know
what word you require
• Do not tell the child the word should be known just because
you think it easy
• Play alphabet games such as “I spy with my little eye
something beginning with….” – Go through the alphabet
in turns : you being with /a,/ a child says /b/ you say /c/ etc –
Go through the alphabet in turns, you being with /a,b/ child says /c,d/
• Invest in a set of plastic/magnetic letters for young children
• Concentrate on common words your child needs in reading and
• Your child may keep a dictionary of troublesome words with a
page given to each letter of the alphabet
• If your child requires a spelling when writing, write the word
for him/her and do not call it out
• Encourage your child to participate in word games/activities
e.g. Junior Scrabble, Hangman, Crosswords/Word searches, Word snap,
word bingo, inding small words within a big word.
Use Mnemonics – these are our memory in the spelling of words
we find difficult. The more bizarre the mnemonic, the greater the chance
of the child remembering it e.g. – Who – Wally Hates Onions,
- ight – I Gave Him Tea,
- horse - Hairy Old Rats See Everything
• Stepword Puzzle – Turn the top word into the bottom word
by changing one letter at each step to make a different word e.g. change
“oil” to “cap”
If your child tells you that he has no spellings to learn, revise some
of the troublesome words from his/her dictionary or play a spelling
game. Finally, please remember: Keep supporting and praising your child.
Remember that your role is that of helper. A fun approach to spelling
is essential for young children.
Go raibh maith agaibh.
Lúsaí Ní Mheara