Part 5: Tricky words

Teaching irregular words

Once the irregular words in the reading scheme(s) have been identified, the order for introducing tricky words may be changed. It is sensible to do scheme words first, as it makes it easier for the children to read their books. It is also useful to have the irregular words on flash cards. In the odd spare moment, say before going out to play, these can be practised.

Any children who have difficulty repeating the names of the letters in a small word, after they have just heard it a few times, invariably find it difficult to spell accurately. If they were also slow to learn the letter sounds, then these children have quite a problem. Eventually they can succeed, but they have to work much harder than the other children, and will need extra support.

The children begin to learn how to spell irregular keywords when they can read the first ones easily. It is usually about the sixth week.

Plan to teach about two new words a week, with revision of those already taught. Some fortunate children have a sufficiently good visual memory to master the spelling of the keywords just by reading them. Most children have to be specifically taught.