Spelling Lists Do Not Work: Your Child Hates Them and So Do You!

Learning at home
  • Are you preparing your child for their 11+ exams?
  • Do you want to improve their spellings to improve their scores on the verbal reasoning anf English test papers?

Most parents who answer ‘yes’ to the above questions tend to look for spelling lists; they are usually the most likely tool to come to mind – children often get these lists from school, so they must work, right? Well, wrong!

Spelling lists are common favourite among parents and teachers, and are consideted to be a proven way to expose children to new words and increase the number of words they know. But research suggests something completely different. And if you are a parent of a child in year 4 or year 5, you probably know that your child often mispells words they have learnt for spelling tests.

Why Don’t Spelling Lists Work?

Firstly, let’s make it clear thatit’s not that spelling lists are completely useless – they do have their place and their benefits in terms of testing the words your child already knows. However, if their purpose is to improve your child’s vocabulary, spelling lists just aren’t the most effective method to adopt. 

This is because children don’t always know the meaning of the words they are spelling. By not knowing the meaning, children will struggle with their association of words during their practice for the spelling test.

What’s more, spelling tests often assess a child’s ability to spell, which is great. However, one crucial factor in helping children to develop their vocabulary that is missing from the use of spelling tests is that they don’t help the child to retain the knowledge of words they spell incorrectly and why they are incorrectly spelt.

Given that these lists do not aim to test a child’s understanding of spelling or the word meanings, it’s not surprising that many children forget how to spell certain words if they are retested a week later – sometimes even earlier! So, the question remains then, how can you improve your child’s word retention and vocabulary without spelling lists?

What To Use Instead of Spelling Lists?

If it seems like you’ve exhausted all of the available options when it comes to improving your child’s spelling and you’re unsure about what other options are available to you, then you will find the following useful:

  • When it comes to improving spellings and overall vocabulary, it is just as important to focus on the meanings of words, too. This is why crosswords can be effective – the definition of the word that is given must produce the correct word in order to complete the squares properly. We have found an effective way to give children the extra edge in their word learning, and we have produced the Geek Worms Subscription Club for this purpose.
Our Geek Worms Club Subscription Box has the perfect mix of word puzzles to help children improve and incease their spelling and vocabulary effortlessly.
Our Geek Worms Club Subscription Box has the perfect mix of word puzzles to help children improve and incease their spelling and vocabulary effortlessly.
  • Working our word puzzles, crosswords, word searches and other games like hangman have benefits and strengths. In particular, they provide boast brain-boosting properties. As your child practices these word games regularly, they will begin to exercise their working memory. This goes for both their long and short-term memory.  
  • Children view doing puzzles as a recreational (fun) activity, so they are much more motivated to complete them. Many will go the extra mile to work out word meanings because it isn’t presented in the form of a test for school etc.

Mind you, we want to stress here that you shouldn’t do away with spelling lists altogether. The suggestion is to try to incorporate more challenging and engaging forms of learning spellings and vocabulary to more effectively nurture your child’s progress.

How Are Crosswords and Other Word Puzzles More Effective?

Crossword puzzle, goal
Crossword puzzles and other word puzzles are much more effective than just giving a child a spelling list to memorise.

As we mentioned earlier, crosswords and other word puzzles have their place In the learning process. They can help with expanding your child’s vocabulary much more than simple spellings lists because your child will be exposed to new and unfamiliar words the more they engage in these activities.

We often speak highly of crosswords and puzzles at Geek School Tutoring, and this is because we have seen the effects of these activities firsthand. However, we don’t want you to just take our word for it – try with your child! We believe you will begin to see a difference.

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