Spelling is a complex skill which requires that a person have an intimate knowledge and understanding of not only graphemes (letters) and the phonemes (sounds) that correspond to them, but also of letter sequences and patterns, syllable structures, and morphemes (parts of words which carry meaning). Spelling is a more difficult skill to master than reading, especially for students with reading disabilities.
With the wide variety of sounds and spelling options in English, it would be easy to believe that achieving accuracy when spelling is impossible. However, this is not the case. According to the International Dyslexia Association, only 4% of English words are truly “rule-breakers” and need to be memorized. The majority of English words follow logical spelling patterns that students can master to become better at spelling.
More information about spelling from the IDA here: https://dyslexiaida.org/spelling/
If your child is struggling with spelling, then they are unlikely to become better without help. Students with reading disabilities do not intuitively “pick up” on the pattern of spelling rules, and rather must be taught the spelling rules of English in a direct, explicit, and cumulative manner.
Why does spelling even matter in the age of spellcheck? Besides the fact that spellcheck is still a flawed tool that often misses spelling errors, poor spelling affects students negatively in other ways. The book “Structured Literacy Interventions” states that “The ability to spell is critical for expressing thoughts in writing. When students struggle with spelling, they often write fewer words, shorter sentences, and less complex ideas than they may be able to communicate orally. A poor speller’s available attention during writing may be taxed simply by the effort of transcribing the words onto the page. Little attention is available for organizing thoughts, formulating sentences, or choosing precise words–especially if those words’ spellings are unknown.” Therefore, if a child is to become an enthusiastic, capable, and creative writer, they must be able to spell.
If you are worried about your child’s struggles with spelling, you can reach out for a free parent consultation to discuss your goals and concerns or sign up for a dyslexia screen to see if dyslexia is at the root of their spelling difficulties. The Orton-Gillingham methods we use at Aspire Academy to teach decoding and encoding strategies are effective for most students, and our one-on-one, cumulative approach can help your student reach their true academic and personal potential.