Learning Syllable Division


One of the most prominent symptoms of dyslexia is low phonological awareness. This means people with dyslexia often have difficulty identifying and manipulating syllables or letter sounds.

For children, identifying the components of a multisyllabic word can be challenging and it’s important they understand the essential building blocks of our language in order to learn to spell, and form words and sentences.

This article will discuss teaching a child syllable divison in a way that’s engaging and memorable, because……learning happens when it’s fun!


Understanding Syllable Division

Begin with a short word. E.g Helmet

  • Allow the child to read the word aloud before beginning
  • To split a word into syllables first underline the vowels
  • Find the middle point between these vowels, it’s important at this stage to choose a word which has only 2 consonants in between the vowels so the divide is more obvious, we can move on to more complex structures later.
  • Draw a line down the middle of the word and cover one side, ask the child to say it then the other and repeat.

how do syllables work

Some Examples:

  • Basket
  • Sunset
  • Magnet
  • Picnic
  • Goblin

Once they get the concept of syllable division try some longer words or words where the syllables are not divided directly down the middle. E.g invent. The concept of the vowels is still the same, but the place in the word has altered.

Always repeat the word aloud, telling them to look for the natural pause.


Open and Closed Syllables

An open syllable occurs when a a vowel is at the end of the syllable resulting in a longer vowel sound. A closed syllable occurs when a consonant is at the end of the syllable resulting in a short vowel sound.

With words like this some trial and error can occur, get your child to read out both parts of the word when split to see if it sounds correct.
E.g ‘medal’

If a medal is split ‘me-dal’ then the vowel elongates and the word sounds like ‘me’ – this would be an open syllable, but in this case is not correct. They should recognise that mee-dal does not sound correct and try resplitting the word. ‘Med-al’ – this closes the syllable and sounds correct when said aloud.


syllable help for dyslexia


When Teaching Syllable Division, Remember:

  • If a vowel is followed by an R these two letters should not be divided
  • If there is a doublet in the word e.g lesson, the two letters are divided
  • If two vowels are next to each other e.g contain then they should not be divided
  • If a word has a ‘magic-e’ at the end, don’t underline that vowel
  • If a word has ‘le’ at the end count back three letters and split the word


learning syllables

All these techniques and more can be found in our fun, low-cost app ‘Chimp-Fu’ which teaches syllable division with the help of the Monkey General.

Karate chop your way to the top!