Helping Students Find Out How Words Work...
Read about the stunning results from the Shine 'Sounds Like Fun' Literacy Project at
Home Support

Learning to read, write and spell is a task that requires support at home as well as instruction at school.  The most valuable contribution parents and families can make to their children’s literacy development is lots of pleasurable experiences reading together and making up stories.   Building children’s vocabulary knowledge and providing lots of opportunities to find out more about the world lays the foundation for their future reading and writing skills.

English is a complex language to learn to read and spell and many intelligent and articulate people don’t find it easy.   Spelling in particular is difficult for many people who do not find it easy to remember the visual images of words.   These people need to learn how the spelling system of English works so that they can correct the words they write that sound right, but look wrong (orfull/awful, hoyst/hoist, mows/mouse).   The incorrect spellings might look like ‘bad’ spelling but they actually show that the person writing them knows quite a lot about the alphabetic code – but not enough about the spelling system to make the word look right.  They are examples of good (phonetically accurate) spelling, but not accurate spelling.

Read this article about how children learn to read and spell and why spelling  is so difficult for many.

If you are a parent wanting to help your phonetically accurate speller become a more accurate speller and you have the time and motivation to work with your child at home, you could use Switch on to Spelling with children up to ages 10 or 11, or Spelling Under Scrutiny for children in upper primary and secondary classes.   Spelling Under Scrutiny is also suitable for adults to use to improve their own spelling knowledge.  These books have been written for school use but parents can also use them successfully at home.   You can email for help with selecting assessments from these books -

If you are a home-schooling parent you can use any of the teacher resources to plan a carefully sequenced spelling programme to support your children’s spelling development.

Sounds Like Fun is designed to be used in the first year at school, but it can also be used with 4 year olds.   You can use this for the first 6 months, complete the assessments at the end of the teaching plan and decide which topics to revise.   At this stage you can either go back over topics in Sounds Like Fun that need revision or move on to the same topics in Stage 1 of Switch on to Spelling.

Switch on to Spelling is broken into three stages.  The information in Stage 1 is designed to be introduced in the first year of school.   If you have worked through Sounds Like Fun first, just use the topics in Stage 1 that your assessments show your child needs to revise.   Once this knowledge is secure, move on to the teaching notes in Stages 2 and 3.  This is likely to take you to the end of Year 4 or 5 to complete. There are assessments you can use to decide which topics your child needs to cover. The assessment section of this book will suggest appropriate assessments to use for the different stages.  

Spelling Under Scrutiny was designed to be used with children from Year 7 to 10, however, it can be used from Year 5.   The topics that are covered in Switch on to Spelling are also covered in this book but there are other topics included as well.   Begin by administering the Gap Analysis assessment (choose the most appropriate one from the three available) and use this to decide which topics your child needs to revise or learn.