The paper reports on a study designed to develop a risk model that can best predict single-word spelling in seven-year-old children when they were aged 4 and 5. Test measures, personal characteristics and environmental influences were all considered as variables from a community sample of 971 children. Strong concurrent correlations were found between single-word spelling and single-word reading while expressive language and, to a lesser extent, receptive language were less strongly correlated. Predictors of single-word spelling at ages 4 and 5 were dominated by child-related factors such as letter knowledge, a history of speech impairment and expressive language along with maternal word reading ability. Based on the strength of the predictive factors identified at both age 4 and 5, our results provide initial support for using a targeted model for screening pre-schoolers at risk of not mastering spelling in a timely manner.