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Daily Spelling Help

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My nine-year-old stepdaughter has a problem with spelling. Every week she gets a spelling list to study and will practically ace every test, but when she is writing her everyday work, she misspells almost every word. It almost seems as if she only puts the effort in to spell correctly if she's being graded on it. How can I help her with her daily spelling?

A: Not everyone can be a great speller; however, poor spellers can improve with special help especially if they are interested in improving. Begin by having a talk with the teacher about the weekly spelling list. It is quite possible that it is not appropriate for your stepdaughter even though she aces it, as she is not recalling the words. Plus, why should she be working on learning how to spell grade level words if she can't spell easier more basic words correctly. She would probably do much better with a personalized list based on the most common words that she is misspelling or simply to work on a more elementary list.

The technique that children use to learn to spell words is extremely important. You want to have your stepdaughter learn to "see" words. Here is what she needs to do to really learn every word on the spelling list according to spelling expert, Brad Loomer:

1. Look at the word and say it.
2. Cover the word and write it.
3. Uncover the word and check her spelling.
4. Cover her work, write it, and check it three more times.

The more your stepdaughter uses the words that she is learning to spell correctly in her work, the more she will remember them. Also, a good spelling program for her will have a lot of review built into it.

When your stepdaughter needs help with spelling a difficult word, suggest that she learn to use one of the following techniques:

1. She can simply ask someone how to spell the word.
2. She can use a hand-held speller that will let her enter her version of the word and then a voice will pronounce and spell several alternatives.
3. She can try to find the word in a dictionary. (This actually does work.)

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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