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Making Spelling Easier for Kids – i before e

Making Spelling Easier for Kids – i before e

Here’s a good way to teach your kids the ‘i before e except after c’ spelling rule.


In words that include a ‘c’, ‘e’ and an ‘i’, the ‘e’ usually goes first if they make the ‘ee’ sound when they are put together.

For example, these words follow this rule:

  • Receive
  • Deceive
  • Ceiling
  • Receipt

They make the same ‘ee’ sound as other words that use an ‘ie’ combination, such as:

  • Achieve
  • Believe
  • Chief 
  • Piece


It is the ‘c’ that makes the ‘i’ and the ‘e’ say ‘see’….

Some children remember this rule by learning that, when a ‘c’ comes before an ‘i’ and ‘e’, it ‘makes the letters swap spots’.

Of course, as is always the case with the English language, there are a few exceptions!

Sometimes words that make the ‘ay’ sound also fit the ‘i’ before ‘e’ rule.

  • Beige
  • Neighbour
  • Vein
  • Weight


And let’s not go there with words like weird, seize, foreign and caffeine that kids just have to learn as well!

When supporting your children with spelling rules, little tips like these act as problem-solvers. Your child can ask ‘does the word make the ‘ee’ sound?’ and if it does, there’s a good chance the ‘e’ comes before the ‘i’ if a ‘c’ is in the mix.

English! What a crazy language!


Sonja Walker
Teacher & Founder
2014 Kids First Children’s Services

How to get spelling help for your child

If your child struggles with spelling, Kids First’s teachers or Speech Pathologists may be able to help

Contact Kids First today to discover how your primary schooler can get the support of a qualified teacher in our after school Reading, Spelling and Writing groups.

Kids First’s Speech Pathologists also provide one to one support for children with specific language and literacy challenges.

Phone our northern beaches based team on (02) 9938 5419 or email us here

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