Understanding the Schwa Sounds Spelling & Phonics Rule

Reading & Phonics

The science is clear! Teaching children to read and spell through a structured literacy approach is the most effective way to equip them with the skills they need to write and read for a lifetime. And it’s exactly what we do here at The Reading School.

As phonics and spelling instruction has declined in schools over recent decades, not only are today’s children less likely to be equipped with these skills, you yourself might have received less phonics instruction than your own parents’ generation.

We present a simple series on our blog explaining the science of spelling rules. Refreshing your memory on the rules of spelling and phonics can help you assist your child in homework or during a “teachable moment” such as a handwritten grocery list or even a text message with your tween.

Why Does Spelling Matter?

While we tend to think of spelling as something we memorize, in fact it’s more like learning formulas in math. We don’t need to memorize individual words so much as learn the rules and patterns that govern 90% of English words.

👉 Check out this post to learn more about how the science of spelling can help equip your child with the powerful ability to read and write almost anything, in time.⁠⁠

The Schwa Vowel Sounds Rules in Spelling

You might be asking yourself: What the heck is “schwa?”

Schwa is the most common vowel sound in the English language because most unstressed vowels are pronounced as a schwa. Schwa is a relaxed /ŭ/ or /ĭ/ sound made quickly with barely parted lips.

The rules of the Schwa Sound are as follows:

👉 Any vowel may say one of the schwa sounds in an unstressed syllable or unstressed word.

👉  O may say /ŭ/ in a stressed syllable next to W, TH, M, N, or V.

👉  AR & OR may say their schwa sound, /er/, in an unstressed syllable.

See examples below for more clarification and to help you explain to your favourite student.

👇 Save the below graphic to your phone to come back to later! Follow The Reading School on Instagram for more bite-sized phonogram, phonics, and spelling help.

Spelling takes a lot of practice and patience. You can help by reinforcing the rules of spelling and phonics while reading with your child or assisting them with homework.⁠⁠ 

👩‍🏫 We can help by teaching them the rules and helping you uncover any underlying conditions which might be affecting their learning.

Send us a quick note to learn more about how we can help!⁠⁠