This is the second installment in the Tressays Virtual Homeschool Convention
I have mixed feelings about spelling. If I was at a convention where there was a serious discussion on the merits of spelling, I would probably attend. I don’t mean a workshop on how to use Spelling Power or any other spelling program, but about spelling. Maybe it could be called “To Spell or Not to Spell?” I have no idea how to move forward with spelling at my house. I am wondering if I should even bother. Freckle Face does not spell very well. I am torn whether I should buy a program and trudge through it, or skip it altogether and focus on reading hoping the spelling comes around.
A little history before I get to the good stuff. My oldest is a natural speller. He started spelling correctly when he started writing. I never gave him a spelling lesson. I mistakenly believed that this was a normal consequence of my awesome mothering skills. (Isn’t it great how we always think our kids’ abilities are a reflection of our own personages, good or bad? Not really.) Then my daughter started writing. I didn’t really do any spelling with her because I didn’t think I needed to. Those mad mothering skills I had were still intact, right? Wrong. She struggled with spelling. I didn’t get it. I grabbed a spelling program, we trudged through it. I think it was Rod and Staff. We never finished a book. I rarely gave her a test. I thought she would never learn to spell. But then one day, it clicked. I have no idea when it happened. I just realized that now she could spell. Weird. Want to know something even stranger? She is kicking my butt in Words With Friends. Every. Single. Game. It is
starting to get on my very last nerve. Now Freckle Face is having trouble with spelling, but I am wondering if it has more to do with his resistance to reading than it does with an inability to spell. I just don’t know. I do know that many public schools are choosing to forego spelling. Allowing the kids to spell their own way. I don’t think that is the right answer either. My question is do I need a curriculum to teach spelling? Can I wing it? So with that let’s find out what other people have to say.
Classroom Spelling Instruction: History, Research and Practice by Bob Schlagel is quite the read. It is 15 pages, so get a drink before you start. The author argues for a modified basal spelling list approach. I like a few of the points. That writing the words over and over again is unnecessary. I like that. Remember writing your missed spelling words five times or ten times? I hated that. I am still not sure that I want to work strictly from lists, but he argues that a modified list is the best approach. He explains the best way according to his research to teach the words. It is an interesting article.
Importance of Spelling: Can’t We Just Use Spell Checkers? by Susan Jones. No kidding, right? Everyone types everything on the computer anymore. We have these lovely spell checkers that check our spelling. Heaven knows I can’t ever spell the word “curriculum” correctly. Thank goodness for spell check when I remember to use it. She argues that we need to learn to spell. That spelling increases reading ability and not the other way around. And no, we can’t use spell checkers for reasons she explains. I liked this article. Not as time-consuming as the last one.
Do We Need New Spelling? This is from Punctuality Rules! This is mostly just a rant from the blog’s author in response to a very old article in Time Magazine, but I included it because I wanted something light. I do think correct spelling is important. My question is do I need to teach it using a book.
Teaching Reading and Spelling Reform. I couldn’t even read this one. Go on over and tell me what you think. Are they for alternate spelling? I can’t tell because I seriously had a hard time reading it. I had to spend most of my energy decoding the words even though it looks like they are written phonetically. I think my eyes may be stuck.
OK. I am convinced. I think Freckle Face needs to be taught spelling. Maybe it isn’t necessary for every child, but I do think it would benefit my Freckle Face. I read many more articles than I posted here. It is difficult to find ones that aren’t selling something. I am trying to avoid that here.
Now, what to use? I purchased Spelling Power years back. I used it for a little while, but it required too much teacher involvement for me. (sad, I know) I loved the idea, but even though it should have only taken me 15 minutes a day I just didn’t like it. I have also used the Rod and Staff Spelling. It is just your basic, run-of-the-mill spelling book. I found that it did seem to follow the Grammar books which I liked. Even though I have been using the books for Freckle Face for the past 3 years, his spelling has not improved. This could be my fault, but I am not ready to accept all blame just yet.
One thing I could do is customize a spelling list for him. Take words that he consistently spells wrong and work on those words. But let’s be real. If I have learned anything these past years, I have learned that I like my work done for me. We are more successful when things are planned for me. So that’s out for me.
The “best” spelling curriculum (I spelled it right!) probably doesn’t exist, but leave me a note in the comments with what you use and why. I am open to most anything. I am not sure what I will do. I can tell you that I am not going to spend $100 on a spelling program. I am also not going to buy anything from a traditional school like Bob Jones or Abeka. Because if I do that, I may as well buy the Rod and Staff 6 spelling.
Man, my eyes are still crossed from that last article. Freckle Face says my eyes look OK. They don’t feel OK. Read that last article at your own risk.