Jump to content


How does a VS learner learn to spell?


Recommended Posts

I am pretty sure ds6 is a VS learner. He also has this weird kind of photographic memory. If he has seen an object somewhere (even weeks earlier) he can tell you where it is. Whenever we lose something, we ask for his help :) Clearly it doesn't work with letters. He is awesome at math and legos. He is my slowest reader but still ahead of grade level.


He is doing spelling workout A right now and close to done, but I really don't think it is sticking. We practice the same words day after day at the dry erase board. I tell him to pretend he's Cam Jansen and "click" the words. It helps a bit but I think there must be a better way for a vs learner. I am used to my older two boys who spell with ease.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have found this article to be very helpful. We do a lot of spelling words on a dry-erase board, with multiple colors. The key for my DS is to let him write a spelling word on the dry erase board with multiple colors, have him stare at it for a few seconds, at eye level. Then, I have him close his eyes and tell me if he can 'see' it in his mind. If he thinks he can, I ask him to spell it forward, AND backwards. If he can spell it backwards, he really has it and is not likely to forget the correct spelling again.


Also, this book, The Dyslexic Advantage by Eide, has been extremely helpful to me. From what I read, most 'dyslexics' are really just extreme VS learners, which is true in my oldest sons's case.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

AAS is working wonderfully for my VSL. I used to draw a green line down the left side of the whiteboard and a red line down the right side to remind her which way to write.


There are a LOT of tips in "Right-brainsed Child in a Left-brained World," like imagining blasting the letters into a wall with a laser or a flamethrower or some such, and picturing that when trying to spell the words.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks! Since he loves the dry erase board, I will try the multiple colors. Maybe a special color for vowels especially. We'll see how that goes.


I don't think he's quite dyslexic. He only reverses 9's anymore and he reads well. But I have the book on request anyhow :) Thanks again! Brownie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First -- 6yo is still pretty young for formal spelling and expecting retention -- a lot of students aren't ready until age 8-9 for spelling, and for those who struggle with spelling, it may not even begin to "click" until age 12-14.


(Side Note: just for the future, be aware that spelling and writing and thinking of what to write are 3 different skills processed in different parts of the brain, and many elementary-aged students may be able to memorize spelling words, but then not be able to spell them correctly while in the midst of also writing. Often, it takes more time and maturity to eventually be able to juggle these balls simultaneously.)



Second -- seconding all the ideas from the other posters! :)


Dianne Craft explains a similar way of making the spelling very visual here.


Jeffrey Freed's "Right Brain Children in a Left Brain World" has a lot of very specific helpful tips for VSL for math, reading, writing, spelling -- especially for middle school/high school ages. For spelling he highly encourages use of colors, and "taking a picture" of the word and then to spell, you can just "read it off the blackboard of your mind" -- which means you can spell the word correctly either forwards or backwards!


No personal experience with the program, but the All About Spelling program apparently teaches and practices spelling in a variety of methods to connect with VSL and non-VSL students alike.



Our VSL DS has struggled with abstract math concepts, spelling, and the physical process of writing (he narrates/dictates GREAT writing, but it somehow gets lost or disconnected going down his arm and through the pencil). He just turned 18yo, and every year since he turned 12, I have seen a move forward with the spelling, the writing, the math -- but he is definitely a "late bloomer" in those areas.


Below are things we've done over the years that have helped him. Mostly it was:

- patience/time (allow the spelling portion of the brain time to mature and "kick in")

- Megawords (for grades 4+; learn vowel patterns and to break words into smaller syllable chunks for spelling attack.)

- individualized spelling program we put together ourselves (from "The ABCs and All Their Tricks")



BEST of luck with your VSL DS! And don't forget to ENJOY your journey with him -- those VSL children take you to wonderful places you never would have thought to go to without them! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.





Individualized Spelling List:

(from "The ABCs...", but also using ideas from Sequential Spelling)


Example of a spelling list practicing 3 of the ways "long A" is spelled

1. Long A spelled with "A"-consonant-"E" (we call these words "magic E" words -- the silent "E" at the end of the word magically jumps over the consonant and makes the vowel say its name -- its long sound)

2. Long A spelled with "-ai-" (we call this vowel combination: "2 vowels go walking, the first one does the talking")

3. Homophones (words that sound alike but are spelled differently)


1. ate

2. date

3. dated

4. predated

5. dateless

6. made

7. pane

8. glaze

9. glazed

10. deglazed


11. maid

12. maiden

13. unmaidenly

14. pain

15. painful

16. painfully

17. rain

18. rainy

19. rainbow


20. eight

21. reign


So you have 6 words (roots) with 15 variations: adding prefixes, endings, suffixes, additional syllables, homophones, etc.


1. ate (eight)

2. glaze (glazed, deglazed)

3. date (dated, predated, dateless)

4. maid (made, maiden, unmaidenly)

5. pain (pane, painful, painfully)

6. rain (rainy, rainbow, reign)


(Over time, the word lists are more at grade level, with fewer variations, but still focused on only 1 or 2 vowel patterns.)



Then we practice the words:


1. Out Loud Practice

(idea from Andrew Pudewa's "Spelling and the Brain" DVD and IEW Phonetic Zoo Spelling program)

The concept here is to help them strengthen those auditory-sequential "muscles" -- because spelling is strictly sequential!


You clearly say the word aloud, spell it (syllable by syllable if that helps), and toss the child a beanie toy; then the student says the word/spells it correctly, and tosses the beanie back. The beanie toss helps keep him focused and mentally prepared. *Immediately* stop and correct any misspelling by spelling it aloud correctly several times and have the student spell it correctly by looking at it and reading it letter by letter several times. Hearing the letters in correct sequential order really helps cement correct spelling in the mind.



2. Work with words on whiteboard

(expanded from original idea from Sequential Spelling, with the visualization/mnemonic ideas from Stevenson Blue Spelling Manual)

The concept here is to use the student's strong visual memory (right hemisphere) to make memorable stories/images to send the spelling straight into long-term memory (also right hemisphere).


- reinforce vowel patterns, syllabication patterns, etc.

- write out root words and practice adding endings, prefixes, etc. -- tell it and draw it as a story with character pictures (ex.: "hope" -- the vowels at the end of the word like to fight with vowels at the beginning of an ending (like "-ing", or "-ed"), so you have to drop the "-e" at the end of "hope" and then add the endings such as "-er" or "-ing"; adding endings such as "-ful" or "-less", or prefixes such as "-un" are not a problem, because they start with a consonant, and consonants don't fight with the vowel at the end of the word)

- work with homophones -- see the different spellings, and draw a picture or tell a little story to help the difference stick (ex: "meet" and "meat"; it takes 2 people to "meet" and there are 2 "e"s in "meet"; draw the letter "a" to look like a heart and say "I love to eat "meat" -- and see, the word "eat" is IN the word "meat"; etc.)



3. Dictate sentences

(idea from Stevenson Basic Blue Spelling Manual)

The idea is to practice and strengthen simultaneous thinking/writing/spelling.

Dictate 5 short sentences, (slowly, one at a time) each with 2-3 spelling words in them.




4. Worksheets

Sometimes I made a variety of types of worksheets for the week, whatever fits on one sheet of paper in the spiral notebook for spelling practice:

- add the prefixes/suffixes (ex: _____ + ______ = maiden; pain+less=_______) (ex: add these endings -- "ing", "ed", "less" -- to these words -- "pain", "glaze", "rain" -- use each word and ending only once)

- break the words into syllables

- I write a brief sentence for each spelling word, with a blank for the spelling word; he writes the correct homophone to complete the sentence (ex: "The girl fell and had a ______ in her leg." choice: "pane", "pain")

- list the words in the top half of the page, then divide the bottom half of the page into 2 columns; he writes the words under the correct column headings (ex: "a_e" words / "-ai-" words) (or: 1-syllable, 2-syllable, 3-syllable words)




Other Spelling Practice Ideas:


- Magnetic letters; either child says each letter and lays out each magnetic letter, or look at a written version word and sort out magnetic letters to match. Helps the child see, say and manipulate the letters for spelling.


- Say each letter and use fingertip to write each letter in a tray of sand or cornmeal. Helps the child see, say and feel the spelling.


- Fingertip on tabletop; write each letter large (involve whole arm), saying each letter. Helps the child see, say, and feel the spelling.


- Child say each letter aloud while writing it; then child "unwrites" the word, saying each letter and going over the letter with fingertip to erase it letter by letter. Helps the child see, say and feel the spelling.


- Roll out "snakes" of clay and shape each into a letter of the spelling word. Helps the child see and feel the spelling.

Edited by Lori D.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My VSL's spelling skills have improved greatly since I started doing phonics and spelling intensively a little over a year ago. I am using Rod and Staff for phonics and spelling. He is only in second grade, but he was spelling almost every word incorrectly and he made some unusual choices like he didn't have a great understanding of phonics. Phonemic awareness activities have also helped. His reading skills were way above his spelling level.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

AAS is working wonderfully for my VSL. I used to draw a green line down the left side of the whiteboard and a red line down the right side to remind her which way to write.


There are a LOT of tips in "Right-brainsed Child in a Left-brained World," like imagining blasting the letters into a wall with a laser or a flamethrower or some such, and picturing that when trying to spell the words.


I'm also using AAS (started with informal word building) to teach my VSL to spell. We just started level one, but the word building that we did earlier was similar and it worked very well. This is also how I teach my kids to read.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think someone else has mentioned this, but try having him spell words backwards. That forces him to convert the word to a picture in his head, I suppose. It worked wonders for my similar-sounding child when she was younger. We also played a game we called "parrot," in which I would repeat a series of words to her, such as "red, blue, yellow," and she would repeat them back to me forwards and, later, backwards. I started with related words, such as three colors, and eventually went to unrelated words, such as "monkey, sing, book." We even would do numbers, such as 842, and she would have to repeat 248. She still has issues, to be sure, but spelling isn't really one of them.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...