Helping Your Dyslexic Child to Spell Scientific Words

It is not uncommon for anyone to struggle with scientific terms. They are usually long, multisyllabic words which are difficult to spell. WIth dyslexia, our students may experience even more difficulties with them. Long scientific words pose a great challenge to our dyslexic students who labour to spell them during their written examinations. While many of our students are able to answer a question correctly, spelling scientific words accurately has been their main obstacle in achieving the scores that they deserve. In my classes, I observe that many of my students are intimidated with the arduous task of spelling such words even though they know the answers. In their words – “Teacher, I know the answer, but I don’t know how to spell!”.

Many parents are at a lost on how to help their child with spelling. If you are guiding your child at home and are looking for a way to help your child with spelling scientific terms, do consider trying this method out!

Help your child to remember how to spell some scientific keywords by breaking a word into bite-sized chunks. Colour-coding each chunk also helps to make it more interesting and easier to remember!

For example, if you are teaching your child how to spell the word “photosynthesis”, you can divide a piece of paper by folding it into 5 parts, each part representing a syllable in the word “photosynthesis”.

Get your child to remember the first syllable first, before adding the second syllable. Like this:

Step 1: Get your child to read [pho] then spell it.Step 2: Get your child to read [to] and spell it. Then, add the 2 syllables together to form [photo], and get your child to spell it.

Step 2: Get your child to read [to] and spell it. Then, add the 2 syllables together to form [photo], and get your child to spell it.

Step 3: Get your child to read [syn] and then spell it. Add this syllable with [photo] to give the syllables [photosyn]. Get your child to spell it.

Step 4: Once your child is able to spell [photosyn], get your child to read and spell [the]. Then, add the syllable [the] to the chunk and your child should be able to spell [photosynthe].

Step 5: Lastly, get your child to read and spell the last syllable [sis], then add the last syllable to the chunk to help your child spell the entire word [photosynthesis].

This method is structured, sequential and cumulative, which makes it easier for your child to learn and remember the words, without overwhelming him or her. Reading each syllable before spelling it out also helps your child to remember how to pronounce the word correctly. At any point in time, if your child misspell any of the syllables, you should practice the incorrect syllable with him or her again until he or she gets it right, before moving on to the next step.

Do be patient with both your child and yourself. It may take several tries for your child to get it right. If you find it frustrating to guide your child, imagine the amount of frustration that a child with dyslexia faces everyday!

Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

Written by:
Lim Yi Qing
Senior Educational Therapist
RETA Member