Errors may be sign of learning difficulty

Q. My seven-year-old daughter spells "medicine" without an "e" and "intelligent" with a missing "l". How do I get her to be less careless?

A. Literacy development in children goes through various stages and different paces. There may be times when they move back and forth between stages.

It is not unusual for a seven-year-old to still have missing letters in her spelling. But this could also suggest the presence of a learning difficulty, which could have an impact on her future learning.

If there are difficulties with attention and focus, the child may have trouble attending to details, and thus seems careless when writing.

Another learning difficulty may be dyslexia, which makes reading and writing or spelling, or both, difficult.

If you are concerned, seek an evaluation by a clinical or educational psychologist or get an eye check to rule out or correct any possible optical causes.

Meanwhile, to help the child be more mindful when writing, you can get her to speak out polysyllabic words as she writes.

Other strategies include checking the written work with the child, so as to inculcate this practice and using different coloured pens to differentiate the various syllables of the word when learning spelling.

That said, your child may simply need more time for her literacy development to catch up.

Ms Matilda Chew, who answered this question, is a psychologist at the Department of Paediatrics at National University Hospital.

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