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6 Helpful KS1 reading and spelling tips for supporting your primary or early years learner at home

Early Years and KS1 Reading and Spelling Support
Reading and Spelling Support for parents of primary children

Early Years and KS1 Reading and Spelling Tips

There are several simple and practical tricks to support your child’s reading and spelling at home without it feeling stressful. Here are 6 activities that work well for parents of primary school learners and will help make reading and spelling tasks easier for your child.

These alternative ideas for literacy support offer solutions with a more encouraging and calming outcome. As all children learn differently, you can alter these to fit your own child's learning, ability, and interests. Try them out and adjust them to fit.

tandem reading

1. don’t insist on reading aloud

It’s usually very effortful for children to read aloud if they struggle with reading. If asking your child to read aloud causes any kind of anxiety or shame, then it’s better not to insist on it.

If you want them to read at home, do some tandem reading where you read one part and they read the next part - whatever part is comfortable for your child. You can take turns and make a fun game of this. Use the time to expand the meaning of what is read.

Some other great tools to help children become very well-read are audiobooks, which your child can listen to while following along, and graphic novels which are often easier to read because they have pictures to support their understanding.

2. use a reading ruler

Some children have what is called tracking difficulties - it’s hard for their eyes to move smoothly over a page and they often lose their place. If you spot that in your child, a reading ruler is a simple tool to help keep their eyes on the line they are reading and make it a bit less effortful.

reading ruler

I offer a set of free reading rulers which your child can colour and then use in their favourite books when you sign up for my KS1 reading and spelling tips and tricks. They double as bookmarks and can be laminated for durability and long time use.

word games

3. look critically at word “games”

Those fun puzzle-type games like word searches, unscrambling the word or identifying the incorrect spelling are often anything but fun for some learners.

Over-designed and cluttered pages are often visually stressful too. It’s best to look critically at “fun” word games and activities to really check your child will enjoy them.

Why not make your own interactive word game with letters so they can move them around?

An extra tip - some learners find bright white pages very glary so buy some plastic transparent wallets in different colours. Insert bright white pages into the colour folder to see if a coloured overlay helps.

online dictionary

4. alphabetical order might be difficult /choosing a dictionary

Sequencing skills are hard for some children who may be on the dyslexia spectrum, so learning the alphabet can be tricky too.

Telling some children to “use a dictionary” if they can’t spell a word is sometimes not the helpful suggestion it is intended to be. It’s best to just spell it for them if they find using a dictionary difficult.

Online dictionaries are also a good alternative as they have drop-down menus for alternatives, so it might help to provide the beginning of the word if the child isn’t sure. Being able to click to hear the word is brilliant, and extra helpful if English is not your child’s first language.

The best online dictionaries for upper primary learners are for learners of English as a foreign language because the definitions use a limited vocabulary, making them easier to understand. As a good example, check out the Advanced Learner’s dictionary from Oxford University Press.

pen grip

5. pen grips

If your child has reading and spelling challenges, there’s a chance they may also have motor skills difficulties which makes it challenging to hold or control a pen. Larger, triangular pencils or rubber pen grips can be a great help.

It’s not worth insisting on beautiful handwriting if your child has weaker motor skills. If possible, learning joined-up handwriting might also be helpful to create muscle memory that makes writing, and particularly spelling, more automatic.

But if writing is too problematic, then learning to type might be the most helpful thing for your child. Check out the typing club a free online tool to help teach your child how to type.

homework tips

6. practical homework help

The best homework help for primary school children with a lot of text to read is to read the text to them.

Read comprehension questions to them and check they understand the question before answering.

Younger learners often have challenges developing strategies for answering questions and tend to dive into the work without structuring how they are going to go about it. Helping them to organise their thoughts, and structure how to complete their work is effective.

And finally, the golden rule is to help for as long as it’s not stressful. If either you or your child is losing your patience, that’s a signal to stop. No successful learning takes place in stressful situations when tempers are running high. Pace yourself! Look after yourself. If you would like more tips like these, sign up for my weekly email list where you will also get a free toolkit to support your child.

Kara-primary tutor

And remember, you don’t have to do it all. I’m a qualified teacher and tutor with lots of experience supporting children who need to boost their learning. So, if you’d like some help, please let me know! You can book a free discovery call with me or contact me via email at


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