Ask the Teacher: Tips to improve fourth-grader’s spelling


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Q: My fourth-grader will ace the weekly spelling test; however, he misspells a lot of words when doing other work. How can he improve his spelling? - Misspeller

A: Part of the answer lies in how he learns the spelling test words. He may not be working with them enough to really learn them. He needs to write the words on a home spelling pre-test as soon as he gets them, self-correct the misspelled words and write them correctly, and then be tested on the missed words following the same steps until he can write them correctly. If he misses too many words, limit the number of words that he works on in one evening. The night before the test, re-test him on all the words and follow the same correction steps for any missed words.

There is a good possibility that the spelling test words are not the ones that he is misspelling in his everyday work. A good way to deal with this is to look over his work and make a list of the words he frequently misspells. Then you can follow the steps above and teach him five of these words along with the weekly spelling list. Review these words frequently in separate spelling tests until you see that he really can spell them. It could take a month for him to learn as many as 10 words.

To reinforce the learning of the misspelled words, play Hangman with your son using the words that he frequently misspells. If he can word process, he could type some of his homework. By using spell check, he'll immediately see spelling errors and be able to correct them.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com or visit dearteacher.com.

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