My son has a hard time with spelling words. So, in the past I did what any good mom would do. I would make him practice writing troublesome words over and over again.

And over.
And over.

But this year, we are trying something new. Instead of writing the words, I let him do what he loves best. I ask him to draw the words.

Before I explain, I have to say that this idea isn’t mine. In fact, it’s the farthest thing from my left-brained way of thinking.

I went to a seminar this summer by this woman who gave me lots of great ideas for teaching my right-brained learner.

I’ve always loved the subjects my son dreads: math facts, spelling words and grammar. Left-brained learners like me excel at memorizing data, lists and rules.

But my son sees the world in pictures. His favorite subjects are history, science and Bible. While I struggle with these subjects, he can visualize the stories we read and re-tell them in great detail.

Did you know that half of all children learn best with their right brain? I also learned that if your first born is a right-brained learner, your second born probably will learn best with his left brain. Kids who have a learning glitch often are right-brained learners, making it even more difficult to thrive in a traditional classroom if it emphasizes memorizing data.

I learned that the right brain is where we store long-term memories. So, I’m trying to help my son visualize his spelling words and math facts so he can plant them in his right brain — the more creative side of the brain — and store them long term.

The first step we use is to separate troublesome words into colors, so that the part of the word that he tends to misspell stands out from the rest of the word.

In this example, he kept forgetting the “p” in empty, the “e” in pretty (he substituted an “i”), and the “a” in heavy.


If he continues to misspell a word, I ask him to draw a picture of it. I don’t set any limitations on his drawing. I want him to feel the freedom to use his creativity, so that hopefully, it will help him remember what he wrote.

This is his picture of “pretty”:

We also purchased these cards that we use for familiar words. They each come with a story on the back that explains the drawing. On the cards pictured below, the top one is a story about a boy who threw the ball over “there”. The bottom one is about a family with a dog. “Their” dog is very big.

We use the same concept for math facts that he misses repeatedly. Each of these cards has an elaborate story to explain the picture. On the one below, an 8-year-old boy was afraid of a 7-year-old bully. Even though the 8-year-old was older, the 7-year-old was much bigger in size. To protect himself, the 8-year-old got a big dog, named “56”, who scared the 7-year-old away.


To help him memorize this way, I ask him to look at the card for a few minutes. I then put it down and ask him to tell me the whole story on the card. When he comes across that math fact later, I ask him to tell me about the picture that he memorized, which helps him recall the answer.

We still have a long way to go, but I have seen progress using this method. I’m hoping it will Work For Me!

For more great tips, check out Works For Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

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