Spelling – How to Help
August 24, 2022
Mercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor
How Do You Spell Consistency?
Ever had a good reader who was a bad speller? Yes, I have, too! We read good books and have a good spelling curriculum, and they still struggle.
I have homeschooled for so many years, and I still don’t know if I am doing spelling right. What I have found is that no matter how wonderful the spelling program, each child I apply it to is very different. I have several natural spellers and a couple of children that just don’t get spelling, but they excel in other areas such as creativity, art, and music. And that’s okay. God’s fingerprints have uniquely designed each child for His purposes (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Success comes with the way they are created. Some are created natural spellers, and some are created naturally gifted at other things. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you can cater to each child’s ability or developmental levels. If they need extra help in spelling, we have the time and most likely the resources to help.
What seems to work for me is a little word that does a big job in my home: consistency. A little here, a little there, five days a week, every month of every school year, and they grow up knowing how to spell anywhere from fairly well to decent to excellent, depending on how they are made.
These articles from fellow homeschoolers at The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine offer some more helpful hints:
The Spelling Apologist: Why Good Spelling is Essential and How to Select the Right Curriculum by Ellen Barski
Overcoming Spelling Hurdles by Karen J. Holinga, Ph.D.
Is Spell-Check Enough? by Dianne Craft
If you have a struggling learner of any kind, please visit Dianne Craft’s website, and you will also learn about those right-brained spellers. She has more amazing tips to share with you there.
Here’s praying that you are not stressing over a child needing extra help in spelling. Stress should be your signal to rest, pray, and find other helps. God consistently and faithfully answers our prayers for wisdom. Be consistent, and enjoy those children as you keep them Home. Where They Belong!
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
(Annie J. Flint 1866-1932 “He Giveth More Grace”)
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Spelling – Let’s Start at the Very Beginning
For just a moment let’s pretend this isn’t summer and it’s OK to think about school. When you think about spelling, I go to the wise sage, Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music. I mean she hit the ball out of the park when she sang to those eager Von Trapp children, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read, you begin with A – B – C.” I’ll edit the next part: when you spell you begin with C – A – T.
She and the kids went on to sing a wonderfully memorable song about learning music… but the lesson is the same when it comes to spelling: start simple and don’t expect too much. After all, as the good doctor, Todd, has said on more than one occasion, good spellers were created that way … as were the not-so-good spellers.
Go ahead and plug through those spelling lists of age-appropriate words. If they’re not reading or speaking the words, they shouldn’t have to spell them. Along with that, don’t rush your spellers. You won’t get better spellers by having your 3-year-old learn to spell the word dog.
OK we’ve spent way too much time thinking about school; it’s time to get back out there and enjoy summer!
About the author
Todd Wilson is a husband, dad, grandpa, writer, homeschool conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and down to earth realness have made him a favorite speaker all across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. As founder of The Familyman and The Smiling Homeschooler, his passion and mission are to remind moms and dads of what’s most important through weekly emails, podcasts, seminars, and books that encourage parents. Todd, and his wife Debbie, homeschool four of their eight children (the other four are homeschool graduates) in northern Indiana and travel America in the Familyman Mobile. You can read more at www.familymanweb.com.
Spelling, the Beach Way
We moved from the city to the beach a few years ago. Imagine my surprise when I realized many stores don’t have set hours. They open and close according to their schedule, which is a mystery to the rest of us. Things are pretty laid back here. It’s the beach way of living.
Our first semester of homeschooling, I had curricula for every language arts subject. Each day we covered reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. I had something for everything.
It was a lot. So. Many. Workbooks.
Honestly, it lasted about a semester before my children and I were in turmoil. I didn’t want everyone to hate school. I especially didn’t want to hate school myself. In the end, nearly every subject we studied was learned about using a literature-based approach with notebooking.
We used textbooks for some subjects—like science, languages, and specific high school topics—but most of our time was spent reading and notebooking. The boys even read books in Spanish as we studied the language.
As my children read the Bible and good literature and read about history, math, and other topics, they naturally picked up vocabulary, grammar, and spelling.
There were times when I would casually correct their spelling. We would read through their notebooks and I would mention how we spell something. I sometimes talked about spelling rules and exceptions over lunch, and we would joke about the English language.
As the kids began using a word processor to turn in papers on history or literature each week in middle school, misspelled words were underlined and easily fixed. In high school, as my kids studied for a college writing CLEP test—CLEP tests are a great way to earn college credit in high school—they filled in a few grammar gaps.
My kids entered college with their literature and writing requirements covered. They scored well on tests. Learning to spell through reading literature was a natural way to pick up a vital life skill.
It was the beach way to learn. Less stress for them, less stress for me, but we got it done.
About the author
Danika Cooley is the author of Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible (Bethany House) and Bible Road Trip™, a three-year Bible survey for preschool to high school. An award-winning children’s author, Danika’s new line of Christian history is for 3rd to 5th graders (Who What Why Series, Christian Focus Publications).
Pillar of Future
Dara Halydier – Make Spelling Fun!
When I started homeschooling, I thought that if one could read, they could spell. Boy, was I wrong! Spelling uses a different neural pathway than reading. Spelling came easy to my visual learning style, but not so easy for my kinesthetic and auditory dyslexic/dysgraphic boys.
Spelling is important for future education, jobs, and even texting. One day, I texted my teenager, “Have you eaten dinner?” He said they had Lousanna. I assumed they had a friend over that I didn’t know. “Who’s Lousanna?” I texted. “Mom! We had the Italian food with the wavy noodles!” Of course, Lasagna.
How do you turn a spelling lesson into a form that your kids can learn? We spelled words while marching, jumping, and skipping, and sometimes even cartooned them. We wrote the words, saw the words spelled correctly, phonetically sounded out words, and laughed a lot!
When my kids reached age 13, they took a huge leap in spelling. We focused on words that were similar. I also kept a log of misread and misspelled words that we went over daily until they got them correct three days in a row.
This method brought them to adulthood. So now, if they’re ever stumped in the spelling of a word, they can ask their spouse, as they married good spellers. And if all else fails, there’s always spell check.
About the author
Dara Halydier is an author, speaker, and mom of five grown boys! She homeschooled for twenty-one wonderful years and is now encouraging other homeschooling families. She is the executive director of Abiding Truth Ministry and the author of the Practical Proverbs series and other books. Dara has learned life’s lessons the hard way—experience! The lessons she shares come from truths that she has learned from dealing with chronic pain, having moved thirty-three times, having four boys with learning disabilities, and having overcome a past of abuse to proclaim God’s grace, forgiveness, and freedom. Find out more at www.abidingtruthministry.com.
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Teaching spelling can seem like a daunting task, but it’s a necessary skill to practice. Get help with Schoolhouse Spelling from SchoolhouseTeachers.com where students from kindergarten to high school can enjoy activities like brief videos, spelling lists, worksheets, and puzzles that enable each student to learn spelling in a fun way. Try it today!
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