Where to Start?
.....with the Alphabet.
There is an alphabet diagnostic assessment in the Resources Page of the website available to members.
No matter the age of your child, the following stages help build a foundation for reading, decoding and spelling.  If any of these have been missed or not understood, these "holes" will get bigger as a child progresses through school.  "Plugging" the holes can make a lot of difference to a child's confidence and ability.
Make sure your child knows all the sounds each letter can make on its own and that when it plays with certain other letters it can make a different sound.
The "awareness" of different sounds is so children do not throw up their hands in horror and go "this is just too hard" when they come across an a that sounds "ar" and then it sounds "aw" and...........oh no, it can also sound "o"!!
Main Sounds                                Awareness of Sounds (with some
examples of words)

a -   “a”     cat     “A”  made “ar”  father

“aw”  talk  ball

“o” scalp  was

"u" allow

b -   “b”     bat Silent - lamb

c -   “k”     car     “s”  city

d -   “d”    did                            Silent - dodge

e -   “e”    egg    “E” eat            Silent - are        have blue

f  -  “f”     fit

g  -  “g”   got      “j”  gem           Silent - through

h  -   “h”   hat                            Silent with w-when ghost

i   -   “i”     in       “I”  mine         "E" non English words - ski

j   -   “j”     jet

k  -  “k”    kit                               Silent - knit

l   -   “l”     let                              Silent - half

m -  “m”   me

n  -  “n”    no                               Silent - hymn

o  -  “o”   on       “O”  no             “u”  come

p  -  “p”   up                                Silent - receipt

q  -  “kw” quit  (always with his best friend u)   “k”    cheque

r   -   “r”    red

s  -   “s”   so        "z" - pose

t   -   “t”    tap

u  -   “u”   up        “U”  tune         short “aw”  put

v  -   “v”   vet

w  -  “w”   wet                              Silent - write

x   -  “ks”  box  (only letter with two sounds together)

y  -   “y”   yes    “i”  gym     “I”  fly      “E”  funny

z  -   “z”   zoo

A great way to learn the alphabet.........(recognise, sound and write) ........

  • write a letter on a piece of paper (in lower case letters not capitals)
  • put it on the fridge for a few days
  • have your child turn it into a "letter person" to give it character.


"What is the name of the letter?"


Once that has been mastered, flip it over and have the child write it on the back.  If your child forms the letter backwards or the wrong way up, refer to the Handwriting section for more info.  Do not focus on this though.  As long as the letter is clearly what it should be.

When your child can do all 3 things easily and automatically, put a sticker on it and put it in a container to "bank" it.  This reflects the fact that the child has "banked" the letter in their memory.

PLAY GAMES - Play a game with the letters. Put them on the floor,  call out their names and have your child jump on them.  Call out 3 at a time and child has to jump in the order given.         Walk, hop skip around them, call one out and see who can jump on it first.  Ask your child to come up with their own game!!

Vowels and Consonants

Learning the 5 vowels and their sounds are imperative.  Every word and syllable in a word must have at least one vowel (or a y which can be a vowel or consonant)    The letters that surround the vowels dictate their sound.

A common spelling error children make is to leave the vowels out of words.  They don't hear them so do not write them.  Once they realise how important the vowels are, this problem soon stops.

Vowel Sounds

Knowing that specific letters make the vowel either a BIG or a small sound is a very important first step.

BIG VOWEL SOUNDS - have a Bossy e at the end  (shade, shape, stove), when the vowel is at the end of a syllable  (ba....con) or two vowels together (ee, ai, ui, oa  etc)

SMALL SOUND VOWELS - are followed by twin consonants (happy  funny), two different consonants (two are needed to be body guards to protect the small sound except L who is  lazy), dge, tch or ck.


"What sound do you make when you see it?"

Syllables are the sound pieces of words.  It is not so important that children know where to break words into syllables, but rather that they are able to clap them out into syllable "chunks".  This helps them to  spell each chunk at a time, particularly in longer words.

"Every syllable has to have at least one vowel or a y" also helps when checking spelling for correctness.

The ability to sight recognise and spell commonly used words instantly, is very important both for reading and writing.  I liken it to riding a bicycle or playing an instrument, when it becomes so automatic that you no longer consciously think about it.

This can be challenging for some children as they are unable to associate many of these words with pictures ...........with, the, it, be, so etc.  The only thing that works is to play around with the words over and over again in different ways.

Creating a daily routine with a few words at a time can make all the difference to a child's reading and spelling.

5 words on the fridge.  Say them, write them, draw pictures for them every day.


A good way to establish if your child has understood a particular spelling rule or concent is to give them and .... "nonsense words.    They cannot use any prior knowledge of a word if they have never heard it before!!!   Some examples would be the use of Bossy e :

scrate   thwote   strime

or learning the tion pattern for a "shun" sound at the end of words :

cration   redation  scrition

It is really easy to do.  Just  get real words and change some of the consonants!  I start a lot of these words with a blend................br  cl  str  thr  fl gl etc .......... because a lot of children leave the r  and l out when spelling.   Make up silly sentences........

The Fobbly wode in the strud and his thrike was full of clud.

These are the first steps to help your child with their spelling.  Simply do one thing a day or every couple of days to fit in with your routine.  ie - letters of the alphabet.




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