Sometimes students struggle to spell words. Other times it seems as if they can spell them at home but then somehow “lose” the spelling when it comes time to take the test.
When a student has weak visual memory, remembering math facts, the exact spelling of words, what homework was assigned, or even what was just read, can lead to daily frustrations and poor grades.
Being able to spell properly affects reading and writing, so here is one method to begin training the visual memory system to see and remember what words look like.
Homework Solution: Learning to SEE The Words
DON’T worry about how many steps there are to this technique. It’s actually not as overwhelming as it first looks! For this activity, you’ll need:
Lined paper, pencils, a black or dark blue dry-erase marker, and either a hand-held white board or a piece of plain white paper in a page protector.
- Begin by folding a sheet of the lined paper in half lengthwise. This will create four separate panels, two on the back and two on the front. Now you have room to write your words four separate times, but don’t write them yet.2. You (the parent) write their first spelling word on the white board or on the sheet protector using the dry erase marker.
3. Show your child the word you’ve written and talk about it using questions, such as:
a. How many letters does it have?
b. What sounds are in the word?
c. What sound does it start with?
d. What sound does it end with?
e. What letters make those sounds?
f. How many vowels do you see?
g. Are there any capital letters?
h. Can you “sound spell” the word?
(Use the letter sounds instead of names to spell the word.)
- Have them spell the word out loud while looking at it.5. Ask them to close their eyes, ‘see’ the word in their mind and spell it out loud from what they ‘see.’
6. Have them open their eyes and write their spelling word on the first panel of their paper, without looking at the word.
7. Ask them if it sounds right and if it looks right.
8. Show them the word again and have them compare what they wrote to what they saw. If they spelled it correctly, move on to the second word, etc.
If they spelled it incorrectly, have them flip to a new panel (so they can’t see the word they just spelled) and review steps 3-6 until they are able to spell it correctly. Having the four panels gives them an opportunity to spell the word several times until they get it right.
9. As soon as they spell it correctly, stay on the current panel and continue to the next word. (You will NOT end up with a complete list of words on any one panel.)
10. Repeat these steps for each spelling word they have to study.
Remember, this isn’t just “drill.” It’s not repeating over and over. It’s building the skills that help visual memory to get stronger. Think of it as weight lifting for spelling. It will take doing the exercise several times (over several weeks) to make that “muscle” stronger.
DON’T GIVE UP on this technique. As time goes on, the better their visual memory skills will become…and the faster they’ll get at memorizing those spelling words.