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Homeschool Spelling

Spelling Help

Homeschool spelling can be challenging. The curriculum you have chosen seems to make sense to you but you can't understand why your child does fine on a spelling test only to misspell the same words that afternoon in his writing. Or your child has trouble hearing the difference between short a and short e. You aren't alone. Many children have this problem and there is help and hope.

Maybe you have tried the typical spelling programs that consists of "here’s the list, study it, write the words five times each, use each word in a sentence" type lessons. Your kids memorize the list and do great on the test but don’t use correct spelling in their everyday writing, or they forget all the words that were on the test by the next day. This just isn’t working for you (or them.) Homeschooling is about being flexible and being able to leave the worksheets behind.

Have your child:

Write spelling words in the sand with a stick.

Use a spray bottle full of water to spell words on the side of the house.

Build spelling words out of clay or playdough.

Fill a large Ziploc with a small amount of shaving cream and write words with their fingers by pressing on the outside of the bag.

Write the different syllables in different colors.

These modifications can help some children who are right brained thinkers. For others (like my kids) that help just is not enough. We tried all of these activities and while they had fun, the words just weren't sticking. They were still making common spelling errors. Every year, I would end up abandoning my spelling program altogether and would just pray that spellcheck or voice word processing programs would become so advanced that knowing how to spell would be a lost art by the time my kids were in high school.

When they were in 4th and 6th grades, I started to get a little worried. I hadn’t really spent any time on spelling activities and it showed! My older child was getting embarrassed by her frequent spelling mistakes in letters to friends and family. I needed help! I found a program called All About Spelling that I decided to try. It was heavy on phonics and phonics rules but also had visual and kinesthetic elements. This homeschool spelling curriculum really worked for my kids.

One reason I think it worked is that the left sides of their brains weren’t quite ready for the phonics that is necessary for spelling longer words. Like I mentioned in the section on beginning reading, the left side of the brain isn’t really ready for phonics until 7-9 years old (or even later for some). They were good sight readers, but often missed words that were unfamiliar because they couldn’t sound them out. I had been beating my head (and their brains) against the wall trying to teach them something they just weren’t ready to do.

If you have a younger right brained learner, save yourself some heartache and teach homeschool spelling with an added dose of grace, or better yet, save it until they are in 4th or 5th grade. Once their left brains are mature, they will catch on to the phonics rules quickly and be able to apply them with more success.

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