Why Do Kids Have Trouble Spelling?

Why Do Kids Have Trouble Spelling?

Reasons Learning Spelling is Hard

There are several reasons for kids to have trouble with spelling.

The main reason kids have problems with spelling is that most spelling books teach over 30 spelling rules. Expecting kids to memorize 30 spelling rules is overwhelming, especially when most of my struggling students have problems with either auditory memory or visual memory skills. Expecting struggling students to remember so much is really just setting them up for failure.

The reality of it is, we only put letters together 8 different ways to make words. Those are the spelling patterns we teach. Spelling becomes a lot easier when you only have 8 things to remember vs 30 rules to remember! That being said, let’s delve into spelling problems a little bit more…

Auditory Processing Difficulties May Cause Spelling Problems

Typically, kids that have trouble with spelling may have one or more areas of auditory processing that aren't working as efficiently as they should. For instance, they may have an auditory discrimination difficulty. Auditory discrimination is the ability to discriminate between words that are similar or different in the way they sound e.g.: mob and mop; very and berry; scream and stream; mesh and mush.

Two More Auditory Processing Areas That Impact Learning Spelling

Another auditory processing difficulty that affects spelling is auditory-visual integration. This is the ability to accurately relate an auditory sound with a visual symbol. For example, if you heard the word boy, you could point to the letter b as its beginning sound.

Auditory closure is another auditory processing area that affects spelling. This is the ability to combine sounds that are presented orally to make words. For instance, when given the individual sounds: 'c', 'a', and 't'; auditory closure is the ability to bring those individual sounds together to make the word 'cat'. It is also the ability to 'fill in' the missing piece of a word. For example, if I were to say 'po _a to', you would be able to fill in the missing 't' and say 'potato'.

So, spelling well is dependent on areas of auditory processing working well. These areas are developed early on with phonemic awareness and phonics. Additionally, spelling improves when you combine this instruction with the eight spelling patterns. Spelling becomes much easier. For more information, check out the Awaken the Scholar Within Spelling and Phonics Program.

If you have additional questions regarding improving learning skills, set up a complimentary 30-minute consultation here.


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Written by: Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET See other articles by Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET
About the Author:


Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET is the author of Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills, Ten Minutes To Better Study Skills and numerous others books, reading games, and guides and the Awaken the Scholar Within Programs. She is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of BonnieTerryLearning.com. Terry is an expert in identifying students’ learning disabilities. Ms. Terry coaches teachers and parents so they can give their child a 2 to 4 year learning advantage in just 20 minutes a day. She is a frequent media guest and speaker.

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