July 19, 2013

Home School Spelling

Hi Kat! 

I’m sorry to spoil a moment of your summer with a school question. I’ll keep it quick and relatively painless! What do you (or have you) use(d) for spelling? We’ve used a plethora of things ranging from formal to informal methods. My youngest (age 10, but reading at a lower level) used Spelling by Sound and Structure Grades 1 and 2 (in 2nd & 3rd grade). Since she is entering grade 4, do you think it would be ok to skip the 3rd grade book and move her right into the 4th? I’m also open to starting something completely new. Any suggestions are welcome! 



Hi, Lisa.

It is always a treat to hear from you.  It's probably good for my brain to get a little stimulation during our summer hiatus.  Don't feel too sorry for me.  As you can see, I have not been busy blogging lately.  Your question may be the only thing keeping Art's Chili Pepper alive this week!

So spelling.  I go back and forth on the importance of spelling.  Not that I don't think it is important.  But sometimes in schooling I have to step back and say is it really important or is it just something I am obsessed with?  I was raised to believe the finer arts of spelling and handwriting were very important and in some ways even defined who you were.  That was before electronics took over our lives.  It was before an era when kids had to learn so much more like keyboarding and computer language.  It was before email, text and spell check.  The truth is, it's a different world we live in and except for a few dying of the breed, like myself, no one could care one bit if anyone has neat handwriting or good spelling.

Language arts is my area of expertise and it really has always come easy for me.  But not so much math.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses.  Our first daughter, Kaitlin, too is gifted in language skills.  She could tell you the etymology of just about any word we use on a daily basis.  That's taking it too far, even for me.  But she enjoys it, so we humor her.

Then along came our second daughter, Brianna.  Who happened to be dyslexic.  Needless to say, language did not come easy to her.  She is an extremely talented writer and loves to read the most challenging of literature.  She obviously overcame her trials with language.  But she is a LOUSY speller.  We tried for years and then it finally occurred to me, if she can read and write and communicate with the world at large, why should we continue to push in an area that she will likely never be able to master?  She knows how to look words up in a dictionary and she knows how to use spell check.  And just to be sure, she often has someone proofread her writing.  If you have ever read Brianna's blog, I am sure you have come across at least one spelling or grammar error in just about every post.  When we see them, we try to point them out so she can correct them.  But you know the thing is, many people visit her blog and write comments or send email about how her writing has reached and inspired them to walk closer with the Lord.  She has also formed many real life friend ships with very lovely young ladies who contact her for counsel and direction.  She will not officially graduate until August, but you know what?  This dyslexic, who can't spell very well, has been reaching the world for Him since she was 14 years old.  And all with her lousy spelling.

I share that to point out, with spelling, or anything, teach what they need to do the job He has put us here for.  After that we can let up a bit.

With that out of the way, we have used several spelling programs over the years.  As with all curriculum I found that not every spelling program worked for every child.  Each child learns differently so it is important to find what works best for your child.

Wordly Wise... This was the earliest spelling curriculum we used.  It was a simple but adequate program.  They still sell these books and in fact they are on sale at Christian Book Distributors right now.  Before you buy, you may want to check out their web program, though.  This is a nifty free interactive setup and even includes a free iPhone app.  This is excellent for the child who prefers technology learning.

Rod and Staff Spelling By Sound and Structure is a very thorough, comprehensive, and no frills program.  It
is the same program I used in parochial school 30 someish years ago.   It worked great for me but Kaitlin found it dry and boring.  Brianna, remember she is the dyslexic, found it overwhelming while struggling to learn to read.  But Emma, she's my simple girl.  She loves the "basicness" of Rod and Staff text books and still continues to choose them over the newer or fancier stuff.

Abeka, as with all their books, offers us the beautifully illustrated and fun Spelling, Vocabulary and Poetry program.  I always enjoy their text books because the kids go at them as if it is the current Hardy Boys book. A bonus with the Rod and Staff Spelling is the Poetry section.  My children love these poems and enjoy memorizing them.  I still hear the big girls reciting these poems to the preschoolers.  These books are excellent for kids who need a little more visual to hold their interest.  When you have a book your kids read and do in their free time, you know you have a winner.  This is the case with any Abeka text or work book.

I have also heard great things about Spelling City.  This is an online program that customizes games for your child based on the word list you enter each week.  I don't have any personal experience with this program because, as a general rule, I like to steer away from electronic teaching.

Make sure to mark your calendar and check out World Spelling Day during the online World Education Games 2014.  My  children have taken part in this competition for the past several years.   They not only have fun but I am repeatedly impressed at how much they learn in such a short time.  I just checked and the dates have not been released for next year yet.  You can learn more at their website.  Registration usually starts the first of February with the games being held the first or second week of March.  The online program usually costs several hundred dollars a year per student but during the month of February all registered competitors have access to the website for free.  At the end of the games there is usually a special discount for kids who participated.

While you are at it, consider taking part in World Maths Day.  This is by far the best of the three subject areas offered by Mathletics.  (The third being Science.)  I love their Math site and would definitely use it in our home school, if it were not so expensive.

In answer to your question about what level to use, although I would not suggest it with Math, in many other subjects you can easily skip a level.  And spelling is definitely one of those.  At each level you are typically reviewing rules and how they apply to groups of words.  The words change but the rules do not.  The lists and illustrations are typically geared toward their age so it will help to make it more interesting to your daughter.  Start your daughter in grade 4 and she will be good to go.

Happy Summer!


1 comment :

  1. Thank you. :) We have used Rod and Staff spelling books, and they have worked. I don't know why I question and doubt, but I'm thankful to have others to lean on for support. Since my daughter is a "basics" kind of girl, we'll stick with something simple. I appreciate you devoting time to this subject to address my question. Blessings :)