"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fun (or not) With Spelling

I never really spent much time thinking about spelling.  

I went to public and private schools through all of my schooling.  I knew the model of "get a new list on Monday, test on Friday, spelling homework in between".  I was a natural speller, once even winning the school spelling bee for my grade.  (Only to lose on the first word in the regional bee--but whatever. Darn that word "original".)

So, when I pulled my girlies out of school, I just figured we would follow that same model.  After all, my oldest was going into fourth grade and had proven herself to be a chip off the old block.  She was a great speller, and fell easily into the old school model I was familiar with.

And then there came Firefly.

Now, if you ask her, she's a wonderful speller.  As a matter of fact, she was once asked to make a list of the things she was good at:


I rest my case.

And though we tried with the lists and the practice and the tests, it just never seemed to make a difference.  She was frustrated, I was confused, and it wasn't working.

I kept hearing raves about this curriculum:  All About Spelling, and finally broke down and bought it to try.  The kinesthetic part of it had me intrigued, as Firefly had proven herself to need to move throughout her school day (among other things).  I bought Level 1, thinking we could start at the beginning and move quickly through, since by this time Firefly was in mid-3rd grade and could at least certainly master the word "cat".

Although she balked when she saw the easy list of words, she quickly jumped on board--I think because a good deal of the writing had been taken out of spelling.  She could use her finger to write sounds in the carpet.  She could move letter tiles around on a white board.  She could dry erase on the washing machine.  OR she could simply tell me how to spell the words or sounds.

Now, I don't think that's exactly how All About Spelling is designed, however.  But I found, for me, that once I started to get outside the box of the "normal" way to teach spelling, I could get more creative.  

All About Spelling is a really interesting way to go about spelling.  And while I won't do a whole review here, I'll point out a few of the unique things about it.  First off, they work on teaching sounds and how to spell them.  Before you even jump into word lists, you work on phonograms.  For as long as it takes.  Secondly, there are rules given.  Not just the "i before e except after c" stuff--but things like "English words don't end in i, j, u, or v", or "the vowel in a closed syllable is usually short".  I don't get it.  I never learned like that.  

But Firefly does.  She knows these rules and I see her apply them.


But now we are mid-5th grade and she is getting ready to start Level 3 next week.  She still doesn't complain about spelling, which for her is huge!

AND, she can correctly spell "spelling", which makes me feel better.

Flash forward a bit and it was time for my Bug to start spelling.  He is an excellent reader, but hadn't yet made the connection between sounding words out to read and sounding them out to spell.

So we both eagerly sat down one day to start All About Spelling Level 1.  I pulled out the bright yellow index cards that held the phonograms on them and happily started asking him which he could tell me.

And, you know when you get that feeling that says, "I don't think I can go through this again, or I may have to shoot myself in the foot"?  I think the feeling also comes when you are getting ready to sit through yet another recitation of "The Big Cat Sat" with an early still-sounding-it-out reader.

Yep.  We lasted one day.

While All About Spelling may have been a good fit for Bug, it was not a good fit for me.  To use again.  So soon.  And I think that speaks to a part of homeschool curriculum choosing that gets overlooked very often.

Curriculum XYZ may be a perfect fit for your child and their learning style.  It may be just the thing that you've been missing.  But if Momma can't do it--whether it's too time-consuming, too filled with crafty-type things that make her blood pressure rise, too textbooky for comfort or not textbooky enough--ain't nobody should try it.

I've had that feeling before.  But this time, as a seasoned (kind of) homeschooler, we only did the one day and then switched.  Back to the learn it on Monday, test it on Friday, practice in-between method.

And, you know what?

My Bug has made leaps and bounds in his spelling.  He is sounding words out rather than always immediately asking, "how do you spell .....?"  He has learned the rule for Silent E, even though it's not the same as the wording Firefly has learned.

He can't spell "spelling" yet, but I'm confident he will learn.

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

I am part of the Virtual Curriculum Fair again this year, which gives homeschoolers a chance to talk about what's really, truly working for them in their homeschools.  Make sure to take a look at what my fellow bloggy friends are talking about--this week's posts are all about Playing With Words:

If you want to see what we've used in the past, here are some posts to check out:

What do you use for spelling in your homeschool?  Is there anything you've had to toss out the window because it just. wasn't. working?  I'd love to hear about it--feel free to comment or link up a post below!


  1. I agree---if Mama can't stand to do it, it won't get done and that helps nobody, no matter how excellent the program is! Thank you for sharing your changing approach to spelling---I think homeschoolers need to hear things like this.

    1. Thanks, Susan! It took me a while to figure out it was OK to change approaches.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...