Read and Spell Blog

Teaching math facts

Teaching math facts

Math facts are basic calculations that children can learn in order to help them do arithmetic more quickly. By committing math facts to memory, they can be recalled fluently so attention is freed for working on higher order math functions.

Drills are often the first thing that comes to mind, but the goal for parents and teachers is to help children automatize these facts in as painless of a way as possible - even better if it can be fun!

Auditory processing disorder in children

Auditory processing disorder in children

An auditory processing disorder can cause difficulties with understanding in listening.

This program is working great. We are using it for our 6 year old and he is enjoying it. He wants to "do my typing" each day. Our 4 year old daughter watches with keen interest. The way it is designed really does include reading and spelling and not just typing. –

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spelling mistakes

3 Spelling mistakes that are easy to make

Not everyone finds spelling easy. Children and adults, native and non-native speakers, and individuals with and without learning difficulties alike can all struggle with the irregularity of spelling in English.

That’s because more than one letter or letter combination can be used to represent a sound. An f is used in fire-truck but ph is used in phone. Similarly, the same letter(s) can represent different sounds. The pronunciation of c in face is soft but the c in car is hard. The initial sound in kick is k, but the same sound is spelled with a ck at the end of the word.

Signs your child is dyslexic

Signs your child is dyslexic

As a parent of a daughter with dyslexia looking back over six years since her diagnosis, I can remember my daughter’s difficulty with reading words and spelling and how that got in the way of her being able to enjoy learning at school. Let me tell you about the signs that indicated that our child was dyslexic, how I was able to get her through the school system, and how she learned to thrive.

Visual processing disorder and dyslexia

Visual processing disorder and dyslexia

Visual processing disorders can interrupt an individual’s ability to understand and navigate written symbols, which may cause problems with math/maths and learning to read at school. They’re not due to vision problems or any issues with the eyes, but rather with how the brain interprets visual information.

On the other hand, dyslexia is a separate condition that often makes it challenging to break spoken language down into its component parts. This, in turn, complicates reading and spelling. While the two conditions can look similar, they have different causes and thus children and adults who have one and not the other will require a different set of strategies and accommodations.

You may also encounter the term visual dyslexia, which refers to individuals who have a type of dyslexia that is not related to phonological processing – learn more about the different kinds of dyslexia. In visual dyslexia, a child experiences a type of visual processing disorder. He or she may be prone to reversing or transposing letters, have difficulty locating words on the page, and have a tendency to skip over them. In comparison to phonological dyslexia, rhyming ability and language recall are less likely to be affected.

Typing is a great way to practice spelling words

Typing spelling words

There are many ways to practice a list of spelling words, from making flash cards, to using oral recitation, or just plain writing the words out by hand. Yet one of the most effective and easiest approaches is using a computer or tablet and wireless keyboard.

Not only is typing convenient, but it is also a multi-sensory activity that involves kinetic elements which can aid learning and retention of letter patterns. Typing is a highly accessible solution for learners who struggle with fine-motor skills and find it painful to write by hand, such as in dyspraxia.

It is also the preferred approach when dysgraphia is present or in certain cases of autism spectrum disorder, particularly for nonverbal individuals.

Moreover, touch-typing a word allows muscle memory to encode the spelling as a series of key strokes. This is a great aid for students who struggle with language-based learning difficulties. Learn more in this post on touch-typing for learners with dyslexia. Also note, learners with no disabilities, difficulties, or learning differences will still benefit from this approach as multi-sensory learning is effective for everyone.

Did you know learning to touch-type can make you a better speller*?
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5 Types of learning difficulties and how to help

5 Types of learning difficulties

A learning difficulty is a condition that can cause an individual to experience problems in a traditional classroom learning context. It may interfere with literacy skills development and math/maths and can also affect memory, ability to focus and organizational skills. A child or adult with a learning difficulty may require additional time to complete assignments at school and can often benefit from strategy instruction and classroom accommodations, such as material delivered in special fonts or the ability to use a computer to take notes.

No two individuals with a learning difficulty are exactly alike and many conditions, such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, exist on a wide-spectrum. There is also dyspraxia, a motor-skills difficulty that can affect a learner’s ability to write by hand, and may impact on planning skills. It’s not uncommon for learning difficulties and motor-skills difficulties to co-present. For example, dyslexia and dyspraxia, or ADD/ADHD and dyspraxia can occur together.

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Touch-typing can support spelling skills and help students build confidence in and outside of the classroom

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How to improve spelling skills for learners of all ages

How to improve spelling skills

Spelling is one of those skills that a lot of people find challenging to master. This is particularly true if English isn’t your first language. One of the main reasons spelling is so hard to learn is that English is a highly irregular language. It has borrowed words from many other tongues and anglicized their spelling in an inconsistent way.

Spelling rules such as “i before e except after c” do exist in English, as in the words receive and receipt. But there are also plenty of exceptions to these rules, such as in species and science. Moreover, knowing a rule doesn’t always mean you can operationalize it in an automatic fashion when you need to write words quickly and accurately, for example during interviews, sales-meetings or timed assessments.

Making spelling fun can be a more effective approach

7 Ways of making spelling fun

Spelling is one of those subjects that most children and adults associate with rote learning. In a classroom context, it typically involves reciting words in front of the class, writing on the board, spelling bees and weekly quizzes. But hands-on games are a great way to move beyond repetitive drills and memorization, so kids can have fun and learn to spell at the same time.

If students are focused on achieving a goal, such as helping their team win, they may be more motivated to engage with the material and are more likely to learn a word’s spelling incidentally.

That’s because the more you hear, see, and use a word, the more active it becomes in memory. Spelling outside of the classroom doesn’t have to be boring either. Homework is often workbook-based, yet creative and multi-sensory activities make for fun projects that can entertain kids and help them spell. And it's a lot of fun to get outside and learn on the go too!

There are words on menus, street signs, film posters, and even t-shirts. Language is all around us and once kids start to pay attention to what’s in their environment, they are more likely to pick up on correct spelling patterns from repeat exposure.

What to do when you can't spell

Help! I can’t spell.

Everyone has difficulty with spelling from time to time. You might make a mistake when you use a word infrequently, or have trouble reporting a word’s spelling verbally when you’re put on the spot. These are common issues for a few reasons. One is that spelling is something we usually do in writing - delivering this information in another modality can be awkward. Two, spelling is information that we store in the brain as procedural knowledge.

This means it becomes automatic only after a person builds up extensive contact through repeat exposure to a word in reading and writing. You might have certain words you always mix up because you never learned the correct spelling, or because you wrote them incorrectly and now can’t tell the right from the wrong version. But some people struggle with spelling in a very different way.

For example, dyslexic individuals may put a word’s letters in the wrong order, miss out on a letter, or even add one that doesn’t belong. They often have difficulty spelling consistently, and can get a word right one day and not the next. This doesn’t mean they are “stupid” or “lazy,” it just means there’s something interrupting the encoding process by which words are split into their component sounds and those sounds are then mapped onto English letters.

how to help reluctant readers

Why are some kids reluctant readers?

Teachers and parents may be familiar with the term “reluctant reader.” It refers to a child or young-adult who isn’t engaged when it comes to reading. These are the kids who tend to put a book down as soon as it’s given to them or pass it back and forth between their hands without ever opening to a page.

When forced to read, reluctant readers often appear demotivated and disinterested. You may see them looking out the window or staring blankly down, as though they are unable to focus on the text in front of them. For some children reluctance to read is due to competing interests such as sports, arts, or another extracurricular activity. For others, it’s because reading is difficult and they associate it with frustration and strain.