Guest Post: Help! My Child Struggles With Sounding Out Words

A girl spelling words on a blackboard.

By Teresa Gretencord, Reading Specialist at the Dyslexia Diagnostic & Treatment Center

Teresa Gretencord is an experienced and Certified Reading Specialist at the Dyslexia Diagnostic & Treatment Center. She wrote this post providing simple and fun activities to help your child sound out words, which is the basis for spelling skills. Teresa offers Reading Therapy sessions online, and you can schedule a session with Teresa at DyslexiaTreaters.com.

Tips To Help Your Child Spell Words Big and Small

Ahh, the dreaded spelling test!  Does your child struggle to hear individual sounds and phonemes in words?  This is a common problem for students who struggle with reading and especially those identified with dyslexia. Keep in mind this won’t work for every word, but it will help with those spelling patterns that many spellings tests contain. Also, once your child practices and learns the spelling pattern, there is no more just memorizing for the test. This away the need to memorize words because we have a rule and a pattern that is predictable! 

Here Are Some Quick Tips That Work With Many Kids:

1. Play With Sounding out Words:

Oral language is a huge piece of this puzzle. We call this phonemic awareness.  Try giving your child a word like “bat.” Have your child say each sound in the word while moving their hand in a roller coaster motion saying /b/ at the bottom, /a/ at the top and bringing their arm down and saying /t/. 

2. Break It Down:

Have your child practice breaking words into syllables.  Say words like “teacher” and have them respond with teach-er, “fantastic”= fan-tas-tic, and “vacation”= va-ca-tion.

3. Pound and Tap:

In Orton-Gillingham, we use something called “pound and tap” when writing unknown words.  Our brains are wired to be able to hear 3 or 4 sounds at a time.  Every decodable word can be broken into syllables and each syllable will consist of 3 or 4 sounds.  This makes spelling long words manageable. 

When students do sound out the word, they pound the syllable and then tap the sounds in that syllable. For example, the word “Titanic” would be broken up into the syllables Ti-tan-ic. This enables children to hear all of the sounds in the syllables. This is also useful if your child misses middle parts or sounds in words.

4. Use Toys When Sounding Out Words:

What kiddo doesn’t love these poppits? They are the new craze and honestly, they are quite fun. So, let’s engage kiddos and get some learning in as well! These are great for spelling practice.

They can be used in the same way as the pound and tap hands.  Have the child say a syllable of the word, pop out the sounds for that syllable, write those sounds and move on to the next syllable!  Learning should always be fun!!!

So there you have it, four simple and fun ways to promote your child’s ability to sound out and spell words. At the Dyslexia Diagnostic & Treatment Center, we can also offer direct, online support at a very reasonable cost. Check us out at DyslexiaTreaters.com. Happy spelling!!