Primary Spelling

Improve your child's spelling

Spelling is a core skill for children to master, but many learners struggle with it throughout primary school and beyond. Building strong spelling skills at an early age will help your child in both their academic and everyday life.

We know how challenging encouraging your child to improve their spelling can be. This guide explains all you need to know about the spelling standards expected of primary school students from Year 1 all the way to Year 6, and how you can help your child attain them. You’ll find activities that will keep your child engaged and interested in working on their spelling skills, including printable word lists and spelling worksheets to work through. Keep reading for more information about primary spelling, or select your child’s year above to start learning!

What is primary spelling?

Spelling at primary school level is all about helping your child to develop their understanding of essential spelling principles.

In Year 1 and Year 2, learners are expected to use their phonic knowledge to recognise common spelling patterns, vowels and consonants, sight words, and learn to spell a selection of prefixes and suffixes. In Year 3 and Year 4, children should be confident in the skills built in earlier years and use them to build a general understanding of spelling techniques and principles, such as ending rules, and how to correctly spell commonly confused words, also known as homophones. By Year 5 and Year 6, learners should be fluent spellers, and have a growing vocabulary of prefixes, suffixes, word families, and more.

What are the 7 basic primary spelling skills?

At primary school level, there are seven main spelling skills children will develop:

  1. Understanding phonics - knowing sound spellings
  2. Sight words & high-frequency words
  3. Adding suffixes to base words
  4. Syllable patterns - there are 7 syllable types students are taught that support spelling
  5. Ending rules - e.g. changing y to ies carry > carries
  6. Word families - e.g. help > helping, helper, helpful, unhelpful
  7. Position-based spellings - e.g. i before e except after c

Our primary spelling guide identifies the key focuses of the curriculum for each year, and provides lots of free spelling resources you can use as your child learns how to spell. Our activities include spelling lists for each year group, step-by-step spelling instructions, fun game suggestions such as word searches, and more!

By what year should a child be spelling fluently?

Children will start spelling words in Year 1, but most learners tend to have a basic understanding of spelling rules by Year 3, or between the ages of 7 and 8. From then, it’s all about refining and building confidence in key primary spelling skills, such as the ones listed above.

Having said this, please keep in mind that every child is unique and learns at their own pace, so it’s normal if your child takes slightly longer (or less time) to develop their spelling skills. Literacy skills are crucial for your child’s later academic success and professional development, so be sure not to rush the learning process - gaining the necessary skills is the most important thing!

How do you teach primary spelling?

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Teaching spelling can be a tricky task to achieve on your own, but we’re here to help!

Our reading & writing program for kids includes thousands of research-based primary spelling resources to boost your child’s skills in a fantastically fun way! It uses gamification to teach English, which keeps children engaged, focused, and entertained as they develop their reading and writing skills.

Our award-winning content has been created by experienced educators, and includes everything learners need to develop their spelling skills, from word games about phonics, to interactive lessons about nouns and consonant digraphs, and even challenges on proofreading!

Night Zookeeper is a fully adjustable education program, which means that you can adapt the content your child has access to based on their school year, age, or current learning ability! You can also decide the type of content your child has access to, to ensure that they get exactly what they need out of the program. For more information on the program features, please visit our user guide.

These features also help to make our program very inclusive and accessible for as many learners as possible. Night Zookeeper has been proven to work well for SEN schooling, including many success stories from children with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, ADHD, amongst many other special educational needs (SEN).

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