How to help your child improve their spelling for 11+ Exams

As parents, we want our children to succeed in their academic pursuits, and one important aspect of language skills is spelling. Strong spelling skills not only play a crucial role in achieving success in exams but also have long-term benefits for a child’s literacy development. In this article, we will explore how parents can support their children in improving their spelling for the 11+ exams, backed by evidence.


1. Reading for Vocabulary Enrichment:

Reading is a powerful tool for developing vocabulary and improving spelling skills. When children read extensively, they are exposed to a wide range of words, which helps them expand their vocabulary and develop an understanding of word patterns and structures. Research has shown that reading is positively correlated with spelling ability (Juel, 1988). Encourage your child to read a variety of materials, such as books, newspapers, and magazines, to expose them to different words and help them internalize correct spellings. We have selected a number of appropriate books for your child to read which you can find here: Reading Lists


2.Phonics Instruction

Phonics is a method of teaching reading and spelling that focuses on the relationship between letters and sounds. Research has shown that phonics instruction is effective in improving spelling skills, especially in the early stages of learning (National Reading Panel, 2000). Parents can reinforce phonics instruction by practicing letter-sound correspondences with their children, using phonics-based worksheets, games, and apps, and providing opportunities for them to apply phonics rules in their writing.


3. Practice and Reinforcement

Regular practice is key to improving spelling skills. Encourage your child to practice spelling words on a daily basis. They can create their own spelling lists, use online spelling resources, or participate in spelling bees to make learning fun and engaging. Encourage them to write in different contexts, such as journals, stories, or letters, to reinforce spelling skills in real-world applications.

Feel free to save common spelling words for all years below.


4. Word Study

Word study involves exploring and analyzing words to understand their patterns and structures. It helps children develop an understanding of spelling rules and generalizations. Parents can support word study by providing word sorts, where children categorize words based on their spelling patterns, and engaging in word analysis activities, such as identifying prefixes, suffixes, and root words. Word study encourages active engagement with words and helps children develop a deep understanding of spelling patterns


5. Feedback and Correction

Providing feedback and correction is crucial in improving spelling skills. When children make mistakes, it’s important to provide constructive feedback and help them understand the correct spelling. Avoid criticizing or penalizing mistakes, as this can discourage children from taking risks and hinder their learning progress. Instead, provide positive reinforcement for correct spellings and encourage them to apply their learning in their writing.


In conclusion, spelling is a critical skill that plays a significant role in a child’s academic success. By incorporating strategies such as reading for vocabulary enrichment, phonics instruction, regular practice, word study, and providing feedback and correction, parents can support their children in improving their spelling skills for the 11+ exams and beyond. Remember, patience, encouragement, and consistent practice are key to unlocking success in spelling!



  1. Juel, C. (1988). Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of 54 children from first through fourth grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(4), 437-447.
  2. National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.