Solutions for Struggling Spellers
I was recently talking to my husband about spelling in our homeschool and how sometimes it is a real struggle. For some of my girls, the letters just seem to flow like they are on stage at the National Spelling Bee. Others need a little more guidance, and I find myself praying for the ability to extend grace.
My husband questioned if spelling even mattered anymore. As a homeschool mom, I have a front row seat to the fruits of our spelling labor unfold as I listen to my girls read. When they are reading aloud, I am reminded that spelling aids in reading. This is only one reason why teaching spelling is important. As an avid reader myself, I pray I am raising kids who love to read. There is nothing like curling up with a great book! As they grow as readers, I want to focus on areas where they are struggling in a gentle, educationally fun way. The last thing I want to do is make the process a stressful one, admittedly though there are days that patience and stress levels are tested.
The English language is tricky. You can’t teach kids to spell solely relying on phonics. Word lists and weekly tests aren’t easy for me to keep up with. They tend to force me to move at a pace that may not work for my daughter. All my creative techniques, like using sidewalk chalk or shaving cream are beloved, but they don’t seem to be the ticket either.
So, what does work? I have made some discoveries regarding techniques that have worked for my girls. I hope they work for your family too.
- I create spelling lists using vocabulary words from reading, science, history, or writing. I find if they understand the word and are hearing it repeatedly, they get a better grasp on the word. It also makes spelling more meaningful.
- Turn spelling words into acronyms to help with recall. For example, if the word is k-n-i-g-h-t you could help them create the following sentence: Kenny Newton Is Going Home Too. I see the benefit of this activity when my girls are writing. They love to recall their sentences, and this helps them spell.
- Fill in the Blank Spelling Words. Just like the famous folk song “Bingo” where during the song, letters are omitted as the song progresses, use letter tiles to build words. Begin with having only one of the letters missing and then progress until they are using tiles to create the word independently.
- Hunt for the Spelling Mistakes. I tape words around the house and have them hunt for the spelling mistakes. When they discover the mistakes, I have them work through fixing the word. I love to throw in lots of words that are mastered. I want them to feel the progress they have made during this activity.
- Picture Spelling. I often have my daughters draw pictures of the words they are struggling with. This helps with understanding the word in context and creativity seems to be a benefit with recalling the spelling of the word.
- Use Music. Apply a catchy tune to practice spelling a word. You will find yourself singing and spelling too.
At the end of the day, ultimately patience is the key with spelling and everything else when it comes to homeschool, teaching, and parenting! I have an older and much wiser friend who often reminds me just because “it” is difficult today, doesn’t mean “it” will be difficult tomorrow. Our “it” just happens to be spelling. In the grand scheme of life, I think that is an okay problem to have.
Kristi Hertzog was a public high school teacher for 17 years. Now she shares her love of learning by homeschooling her three youngest daughters. Kristi, who is strongly passionate about all things education, blogs for the co-op program her daughters attend. This wife and mother of four daughters has faced numerous medical challenges. From battling debilitating Postpartum Depression to spending four months hospitalized due to complications from the flu, Kristi found purpose in the storm by sharing her story. She had the honor of sharing her personal story on the TEDx stage and writes about her life on her blog, Mom Battles: https://www.mombattles.com. On her blog, Kristi also shares how strongly she believes in advocating for others. As the Founder and Executive Director of Coming Home with Grace, a Nonprofit 501c3 Organization, Kristi and her team are on a mission to help people live with the grace and dignity they deserve through custom home renovations and community projects. She has spent the past 14 years advocating for her own daughter, Camryn Grace, a teenager with Autism and an Intellectual Disability and also the inspiration behind Coming Home with Grace. Kristi graduated with a B.S. in Secondary Education/English/Communication from La Salle University and an M.S. in Education from Villanova University. Currently, Kristi is enrolled at Drexel University for certification in Nonprofit Management. Follow Kristi @ https://www.mombattles.com. Read her article https://kristihertzog.com/how-to-teach-kids-the-true-meaning-of-time/ for some ideas on how to spend quality time with your kids in the new year.