Friday, August 7, 2015

FRIDAY FEATURE: Gentle Spelling

If you have a child who is a generally good speller, many spelling programs can be rather frustrating, because you may feel your child isn't learning anything new. Over the years, depending on the needs of each of my children, I've used varying methods for spelling. However, once they've become basically adept, I found so many programs to be more "busy work" than truly instructional, and one of the advantages of homeschooling is to be able to eliminate "busy work"!

My youngest daughter is a natural speller. Now, that's not to say that she's a perfect speller. She does make errors on occasion...more in her earlier years than now, about to start third grade. But in general, she does spell fairly well.

When I do discover a spelling error, I have some basic criteria for determining whether or not to correct it.

  1. Does the spelling error make sense? In other words, when I look at HOW the word was spelled...given what I know about her level of understanding of phonics, does her misspelling have some logic? 
  2. Is this is a word she's going to be using regularly, or is it one she's unlikely to use again for some time? At her age (8), I really want to focus on words that will be common in her writing. If it's unlikely she'll be using the word again any time soon, I see no reason to focus on it.
  3. Was it misspelled while copying it from another source? I'm teaching my daughter that she needs to be paying attention to things such as spelling and punctuation when she's copying something down, so I will have her take a second look at a word when I know she's copying from a book or sign or some other source.
  4. How old is the child? I rarely correct spelling before about the first grade, unless my child asks, especially if the spelling fits #1 above. I still get warm fuzzies remembering how my daughter spelled the word "mouse" as M-A-O-O-S when she was about 4 years old. At first I couldn't decipher it, but after a moment, I realized it made perfect sense when you said it out loud, slowly. The "ow" sound in the word "mouse" when dragged out, sounds like the sounds "ah" and "oo"!

If it is indeed going to be a word I foresee her using regularly, I have come up with a way for her to keep track of these and have them readily available for review.  I purchased a pocket chart like this one.

Next I cut card stock into strips to fit the pockets. Dollar Tree also has some "Word Strips" in their educational supply section that fit in the pockets. I made a fancy "Spelling" sign as you see here that fills the top pocket, and the three middle pockets are for putting the cards my daughter writes her words on. The bottom pocket has extra cards. By limiting the number of pockets, it keeps the words fresh and keeps them from being overwhelming. Whenever my daughter needs to recall how to spell that word, she can refer to her chart. I hang in a place easy for her to view from her school desk.

Do you have a fun way you've come up with to help your child review spelling?


Edna Bloom said...

I like your criteria for deciding when to correct a spelling error. I've tried a number of spelling programs over the years, so it's refreshing to hear someone else mention the busywork angle. Good-by guilt! (at not persisting with some of those programs, that is)

Brenda said...

I'm certainly not discounting that there is no place for a spelling curriculum. *Some* children do need one. But even then I think it's better to customize it for that child if at all possible, absent obvious learning disabilities.

I've heard it said that one of the best ways for improving spelling and vocabulary is for a child to *READ*. Constantly being exposed to words and becoming familiar with what they look like and how they are used is what is going to help the typical child.

With my son, I did eventually get him a spelling program, but it was not a typical one. He had some learning issues specifically related to his Aspberger's Syndrome. I'll talk more about what I used for him and why another time.