How to Teach Spelling to Children With Learning Disabilities

An adult may need to try several different methods when teaching spelling to a child with learning disabilities.

Teaching spelling to a child with learning disabilities can be a challenging task, as they child may have to overcome difficulties related to focus, retention or a number of other issues. Since each child is different, it's important to try a number of strategies to determine what method, or combination of methods, works best for an individual child. These teaching techniques may include a number of different activities, such as using flash cards, repetition exercises and writing challenges.

Encourage reading. Read to the child and let him or her follow along the page as you tell the story. This will help him or her become more familiar with a range of words, as well as the context in which they're used. It's equally important to take time for the child to read to you. Studies have shown that good readers are also good spellers and good speakers.

Follow the rules. Spelling rules are a great resource for children with learning disabilities. Focus on rules that apply to the largest number of words, such as "i before e, except after c" or how the child should drop a silent 'e' from the end of a word before adding an 'ing' ending. For example, 'make' would become 'making' and 'hide' would becoming 'hiding'.

Make spelling hands-on. Many children with learning disabilities have difficulty spelling orally, so the more interactive the spelling exercises, the more information a child is likely to retain. Use word tiles, magnetic letters, flash cards and other visual aids that allow the child to see the word he or she is spelling.

Write stories. Like reading, writing is also an important tool for helping a child with learning disabilities see how words flow together to create sentences. Encourage the child to incorporate as many different words into the story as possible. Hands-on activities like this will help him or her to take his spelling from practice exercises into real-world applications.

Create word families. Take a word that your child is confident spelling, such as cat, and ask him or her to think of words that rhyme with cat, such as bat, mat, hat or sat. List these words underneath the original word and the child will notice that all the words have identical endings. Work with your child to create several sets of visual word groups like this to help him expand his or her vocabulary.

  • Be careful not to become frustrated if a child isn't progressing as quickly as you hoped or has a setback. Each child learns in a differemt way and progresses at an individual pace. Focus on and praise the child's accomplishments and continue to build from there.

Hallie Hammack has been a writer and multimedia reporter since 2005. Her work has appeared in publications for the National Guard and the Olympic News Service, among others. Hammack holds a Bachelor of Journalism in media convergence from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri.