Helping your child learn how to spell High Frequency Words

Spelling Workbooks for Children

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My Spelling Book 1: High Frequency Words

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My Spelling Book 2: Medium Frequency Words (the next 120 most common words)

My Spelling Book 2

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These High Frequency Spelling workbooks have been developed and published by Carolina and endorsed by the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre.

“My Spelling Books 1 and 2 provide the learner an opportunity to learn and over learn High and Medium Frequency Words in a manageable and structured manner” Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre

Learning High and Medium spellings helps children experience greater success in free writing.

Did you know …?

High Frequency Words (HFW) and Medium Frequency Words (MFW) are a small group of common words (+/- 300) that account for a very large percentage (+50%) of all the words children and adults encounter in everyday reading, writing and spelling.

High Frequency Words are also known as ‘sight words’, because they are best memorised by sight.

High and Medium Frequency Words are essential words that all children need to learn in order to tackle reading simple texts and learn how to spell in order to write sentences that make sense. Children who find remembering spelling rules difficult benefit from this approach to remembering High Frequency words.

Many of these common words have irregular spellings and do not always follow the normal rules of synthetic phonics, and they tend to be rather abstract without being able to use meaningful picture cues, which makes them difficult to remember. So, for children who are unable to remember difficult spellings or irregular spelling rules, they experience more success in spelling and writing by memorising High Frequency Words by sight.

These fun workbooks are effective spelling resources that teachers use in the classroom and parents use at home with their child. Learning High Frequency spellings is something that every parent can help their child learn.

They are very easy to use and come with instructions for parents and teachers. The structure employs methods similar to the Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check used in most schools – but in a much more kinaesthetic and memorable way using NLP (neurolingusitic programming) visualisation as well.

Children eventually spell with their eyes closed, which is the visualisation part and children absolutely love doing this; it focuses children on using all learning styles.

The High Frequency Words in both the workbooks are based on Dolch’s list of basic sight words and Fry’s list of most essential words, as well as the national literacy strategy.

  • The first 25 HFW make up 33% of all the words your child will encounter in elementary reading and spelling.
  • The first 100 HFW appear in 50% of all pupil and adult writing
  • The first 1000 words are used in 89% of all writing

Children are generally taught how to spell HFW in the following years at school:

My Spelling Book 1: High Frequency Words:

  • Reception – the first 45 HFW
  • Years 1 and 2 – approximately 105 HFW
  • Year 3 – review the first 150 HFW again

My Spelling Book 2: Medium Frequency Words:

  • Year 4 and Year 5 – 120 (MFW)

Depending on your child’s ability, your child can learn a small section or just 2 or 3 spellings at a time. There is a section at the back of the workbooks to help you record and monitor your child’s individual progress, together with a certificate of spelling achievement. For tricky spellings, you can make your own flash cards, with pictures and mnemonics and have lots of fun with them; or you can model High Frequency Words using clay, Plasticine™ or colourful pipe cleaners.

As many children find spelling quite tricky, it may take longer to achieve automaticity in High Frequency Words. Sometimes, children are able to memorise spellings for a spelling test, but later forget how to spell the same words in free writing. This is because they need to be practised in a multisensory way and reviewed and practised regularly until the spellings are transferred into children’s long-term memories.

Take a look at at the Parents’ section on activities and games for more ideas, and the Teachers and Schools sections for learning in the classroom.

There have been many studies on the importance of teachers teaching children how to spell high frequency words. Thomas Horn, in his article on spelling in the Encyclopedia of Educational Research, reported that “there is as yet no field-tested substitute for direct instruction on the basic core of high frequency words needed in child and adult writing”. The article states that a good spelling program should concentrate on teaching children to spell words of highest frequency in the writing of both children and adults, and that teachers should choose high frequency words for children to learn to spell.