Teaching the Person with Dyslexia to Spell


As a child, I attended Catholic school.  I distinctly remember spelling.  We had a book with ten words a week.  We had to write each word ten times, use each word in a sentence, do some kind of wordplay with the words and finally take a test.  I recall writing the numbers 1-10 in my spelling journal and copying each letter ten times (ie-shirt, 1. s, 2. s, 3. s,….1.sh, 2.sh, 3. sh…).  I rarely actually wrote the word out in full ten times (ie-1. shirt, 2. shirt, 3. shirt….).  I also rarely (if ever) scored a 10/10 on the quiz.  To this day, I struggle with spelling.  Thus, I want my children’s spelling experience to be different.

I thought from the beginning that we needed a multi-sensory, Orton-Gillingham based program.  We started with All About Spelling.  We learned the spelling rules.  The kids did terrific with spelling while we were spelling.  The program did not seem to carry over into daily writing.  Next we tried Apples and Pears.  Initially, everyone LOVED the daily work and the spelling carried over into daily work.  Unfortunately, everyone tired of the curriculum pretty quickly.  (Although, I still like it.)  Last year and this year, my older two kids used Phonetic Zoo.  Again, initially they loved it but they quickly got bored with it.

So what to do?  Well, my oldest mentioned last week how much reading books and copy work helps him with his spelling.  Doesn’t that just say it all?  He works with a dyslexic brain, as do I.  He has just over the past year started reading for enjoyment.  My daughter, a ferocious reader, has never struggled with spelling.

Now I have to make the decision for next year.  My gut is to play a lot of scrabble, read, do copy work, read, and maybe continue to read.

7 thoughts on “Teaching the Person with Dyslexia to Spell

  1. I have two very dyslexic children, (in the lowest five percentile). Neither was able to spell. With my first we tried everything, with my second I made almost no effort. The results are almost in.
    My eldest is now 21 and over time his spelling has improved. It is still very bad but good enough to allow spell check to work for him most of the time, my youngest is 14 and without any effort she too is improving at the same rate as he did with all sorts of intervention. With her I changed tack. I encourage her to write what ever she likes without thinking, her stories are wonderful and her language is far superior to his, because spelling is not an issue.
    Once they leave school here in Ireland and go to college everything changes. There is great technological help and my son who was very average in school is doing business and is regularly one of the top in his class.


      • I was reading a really interesting article written by a Sunday Times journalist. He is dyslexic and remarked that the one thing he struggled with in school was reading, it took him forever to read very little, yet ironically his teachers thought that giving him extra reading would be the solution.
        I was given great advice when my eldest with dyslexia was 12, a teacher said, ‘forget spelling, tests, reading and writing, just be sure you feed his confidence. The rest will come’

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved reading this, comments and all! “Give them confidence and the rest will come…” !!!!!!!!!!!! My husband just had so many troubles in reading and spelling in elementary school. Like you guys say, he had NO trouble in college (and med school). But now, he always asks me on his texting how to spell certain things. It’s cute to me (because I think he’s so great). 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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