Why isn’t a baby cat a citten? Or an adult kitten a kat? Is this just somebody’s idea of a joke? A dirty rotten trick? Or is there a method to the madness?

In last week’s video blog, we asked you to come up with as many spellings as you could of the /k/ sound. The answer? There are at least 4 ways of spelling this one sound: “c,” “k,” “ck,” & “ch” (not to mention the “que” in “plaque”!). No wonder spelling is such a difficult thing to master, especially if your brain is wired at all differently. However, there are some tips and rules that can help unlock some of the mystery.

This week’s rule helps with when to use the “c” and when to use the “k.” Basic rule: if you hear the /k/ sound in front of an “a,” “o,” or “u,” you will normally use a “c.” Examples: cat, cob, cup, cast, comb, curl. Conversely, when you hear the /k/ sound in front of an “e” or “i,” you will normally use a “k.” Examples: kettle, kitten, keyboard, kite. It is fascinating how knowing a rule even as short and sweet as this one can take some of the guesswork out of everyday spelling. Especially for our students with dyslexia, hearing this /k/ sound in so many words–and not having any direction on when to use which one–feels like they are being set up for failure, and they can quickly lose hope on ever learning how to spell. Just this month, I taught one of my students this c/k rule, and you should have seen the sparkle in her eyes as she wrote some words with confidence, knowing exactly when to use that “c” and “k”!

Join us next time for another fun spelling tip!