Need advice for spelling and writing issues…

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  • Francis2911

    My 12 year old son has always had great difficulty with spelling and writing. He struggles to spell relatively easy words and ends up writing things phonetically. As for writing, he has difficulty getting his thoughts clearly out onto the paper. He was a very late reader and has a hard time reading out loud, although he seems to do better when reading to himself.

    I have been advised in the past to just let him write very little. However, I am worried that that approach has led us to where we are. I have him copying a paragraph or writing one of his own about every day. There is a bit of progress but it is very slow. Can anyone offer some advice as to how I can help him? Has anyone else run into this problem with their child?


    Sounds like my 14 yo. I believe she has dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities. That could be what is going on with your son. As far as writing, my daughter loves to write (on her own), but her spelling is not good and she has difficulty expressing her thoughts sometimes. She actually tries to take notes in church and she will write random things in journals, which I rarely look at. She also writes points in a journal when we do Bible at home. Sometimes I will read points to her to write down and I spell words she has trouble with, because I want those to be written correctly. (Church notes and random journal corrections would be endless, no way of keeping up with those) Not only is it helping her remember what was taught, but it gets her writing and spelling correctly. Sometimes she will copy a Scripture verse. I do not push spelling rules. I will point out rules when she reads a word incorrectly, but all the exceptions make it confusing. I know her independent writing has many spelling mistakes, so that will slow down her progress in spelling, but all I can do is keep her writing some things with correct spelling, so she SEES it written correctly. There is not just ONE way of getting your child to write. I think what you are doing is fine. The author of Learning Adventures homeschool unit study curriculum, who has a specialization in language arts said, the best way to learn to spell is by reading and writing. So, keep you son reading and writing (even copywork) to help him learn to spell. My daughter can spell a word right one day, and the next day can spell it wrong. I think exposure (just seeing the words) will help, no matter what method you use.

    Rachel White

    My son was like that in spelling at that age. He started reading on his own so quickly,  I unfortunately failed to give him a thorough phonics education. It caught up with him once his had multisyllable words. Some words just require memorization, but the majority of English follows rules in order to sound them out and spell unknown ones. Some people are natural spellers, but others aren’t no matter how voraciously they read. It’s a myth that more reading and writing alone will improve spelling: not for everyone. Over and over, I’ve known many parents told that-myself included-but who had kids who read heavily and wrote, but it made zero to little difference. So, we go back to basic phonics instruction. Learning the rules, slowly, and applying them.

    So, I started him on the Megawords series. It’s designed for older youth with spelling issues. Just follow the instructions of the program ( so get TG). It’s simple and straight forward.

    I agree with you about writing less being counterproductive; I made the same mistake. Copywork daily is great. Writing on his own, not so much, IMO. Reason is that he has nothing to confirm that he’s spelling correctly, so it’s possibly reinforcing poor spelling.

    Alternatively,  in addition to the copywork you provide, let him choose from books or magazines which he likes in order to copy from, too.

    My dd used to skip around and go too quickly while reading aloud. So, I gave her the Pathway Readers, Elson Readers, and Reading-Literature readers (by Treadwell from Yesterday’s Classics,  also free, I think) to read aloud a couple of times daily. The stories were rich,  but the language simple enough so she increased her confidence. I would read alongside her. When she’d start skipping or mispronouncing, I would just have her go back and have another go. It got better. She’s an excellent reader, now. So, you could try the same with him and see if there’s improvement.

    As said previously,  testing is an option to glean more insight, if you think it would be helpful. I know I should have gotten my dd tested sooner to confirm her math disability. So, it’s worthwhile.




    I loved your answer!!


    You do not need spelling rules to learn spelling. I also have been round and round with this question in my mind because my 11-year-old son is very bright, but lacks reading and language skills.  There are days I feel like a failure, because I didn’t make choices when he was younger because I didn’t know. I’ve came to the conclusion after reading thousands of Internet blogs, that Copywork, Dictation, and Narration is the best way to learn how to spell and write.

    Have them read, read , read!

    So I got the McGuffey readers and started those. I’ve noticed a big difference in his reading skills, and we also use that to copy work out of. I know that he’s old enough now to do grammar and so we do oral grammar. For example, basic eight parts of speech and sentence structure, capitalization and punctuation. I am noticing he is progressing, and my portfolio evaluator told me as long as we see progression that’s all that matters. Because everyone learns at their own pace


    Do you think he’s dyslexic? Barton Reading and Spelling program is fabulous. And Susan Barton is a wealth of information.  Bright Solutions for Dyslexia

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