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My recent musings on spelling


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I'm only talking about *my* experience with *my* kids, but I'm starting to doubt that spelling programs do much at all after having studied phonics. I think it's worthwhile to talk about phonics and patterns in our day, but more that that...I'm just not sure anymore.

 

Has anyone ever just decided fairly early on that a spelling program is a waste of time?

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They don't work very well, and they work least for the students that need them most. I use them more out of guilt and because phonics fascinates ME. So it's kind of win win that students are asking for them and I like to teach them. :) If I'm teaching cursive and grammar at the same time, I don't feel like it's a total waste.

 

Phonics and spelling teaches students to READ, but doesn't always teach them to spell. Most students that spell well are just writing what they have memorized while reading.

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I think some spelling strategies are useful to learn. Mostly I'm thinking about learning to pronounce words clearly (or exaggerating the pronunciation even, ex: "Wed-nes-day") for spelling purposes and learning how to add suffixes. I wish I had been taught the strategy of spelling a base word first and then adding the suffix using rules.

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We did! Last year we did Spelling Workout A and B. The only thing my son learned was how to do a crossword puzzle. I bought Spelling Workout C this last spring but after researching how to teach spelling through dictation, we decided to not even start book C. My son needed to see the whole picture. Letters make words and words make sentences and sentences tell a complete thought. Spelling through dictation is teaching him to edit his work and reviews his phonics. We do it through WWE and ELTL. Also, my son hates multiple subjects. He likes one with a few parts but not a few totally different subjects. He's young though.

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I'm only talking about *my* experience with *my* kids, but I'm starting to doubt that spelling programs do much at all after having studied phonics. I think it's worthwhile to talk about phonics and patterns in our day, but more that that...I'm just not sure anymore.

 

Has anyone ever just decided fairly early on that a spelling program is a waste of time?

 

I think it depends on what kind of spelling program.  I agree with MotherOfBoys, that dictation is a great way to learn spelling.  More specifically, in my opinion at least, studied dictation.  Instead of learning isolated single words you learn to spell words in a complete sentence and, as you advance through studied dictation, through paragraphs. 

 

We are using Delightful Dictation with Spelling this year.  We like it so much better than anything JB has used so far for spelling.  One nice thing about DDwS is that each lesson focuses on something from that sentence and then gives more examples of words that are similar.  As an example, yesterday the sentence was: Knowledge is power.  First we talked about what that means.  Then we looked at the word knowledge and the tricky parts of that word.  I gave her 4 more words with kn: knight, knitting, knew, knife. 4 words with -dge: bridge, fudge, midget, gadget. And 4 challenge words (2 kn and 2 -dge): acknowledge, knickerbocker (she looked that up in the dictionary), hedgehog, and cartridge.  Btw, DDwS has an optional teacher's book with the words already chosen, but I just bought the student book that gives the page numbers for the ABC's book and I choose the words...I try to choose words I think she'd like.  The next day, she looks over her sentence again and when she is ready she turns to the back of the book and rewrites this sentence.  So far the sentences are short enough that I don't have to actually dictate it, but later in the book they get a bit longer...there are poems and quotes from books.  It's as simple as that.  I really wish there were more levels of this book.  Once we complete it, my plan is to use Spelling Wisdom.  It's similar, but doesn't have the extra words given.  I will probably still pull out words from the ABC's book to go along with words in those sentences. I wish there were more studied dictation options out there for spelling.  If anyone knows of any others, please let me know.

 

ETA: I'm thinking I might make a blog post about DDwS and add some photos.  I'll try to do that this week.

 

We did! Last year we did Spelling Workout A and B. The only thing my son learned was how to do a crossword puzzle. I bought Spelling Workout C this last spring but after researching how to teach spelling through dictation, we decided to not even start book C. My son needed to see the whole picture. Letters make words and words make sentences and sentences tell a complete thought. Spelling through dictation is teaching him to edit his work and reviews his phonics. We do it through WWE and ELTL. Also, my son hates multiple subjects. He likes one with a few parts but not a few totally different subjects. He's young though.

 

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I do not believe there is a single approach that works for all children. I have had kids that have done great learning to spell via phonics and phonics rules bc they could easily connect correct phonogram choice to correct spelling. I have had 2 where phonics rules were worthless. I have had one that didn't ever need to study spelling bc he could spell every word he encountered.

 

Dictation could have been classified as cruel and unusual punishment for my horrible spellers. ;) Imprinting correct spelling was a long arduous process requiring multiple pathways and, unfortunately, years of constant repetition and correction (and they are still poor spellers.)

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Once we complete it, my plan is to use Spelling Wisdom.  It's similar, but doesn't have the extra words given.  I will probably still pull out words from the ABC's book to go along with words in those sentences. I wish there were more studied dictation options out there for spelling.  If anyone knows of any others, please let me know.

 

Perhaps the Dictation Resource Book together with Spelling Plus would work similarly?

 

http://www.susancanthony.com/bk/db.html

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I'm creeping toward this conclusion with my daughter. We did AAS 1 and she already knew the rules and almost never made a mistake. Partway through AAS 2 I started pretesting her and she could test out of about 60% of the steps and just needed a quick "this is the rule" five minute lesson to get each of the other steps. She thinks spelling is boring and would rather learn something else with this time, so we're shelving it. She's young, we'll come back to it down the road if it turns out she needs it.

 

OTOH, I've read plenty of posts from people whose children have benefitted from carefully and systematically working through AAS, so this obviously doesn't hold true for everyone.

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I think some spelling strategies are useful to learn. Mostly I'm thinking about learning to pronounce words clearly (or exaggerating the pronunciation even, ex: "Wed-nes-day") for spelling purposes and learning how to add suffixes. I wish I had been taught the strategy of spelling a base word first and then adding the suffix using rules.

 

I don't know whether there's any research on this, but I'd be willing to bet that auditory learners are stronger spellers than visual learners. If you can say/hear a word and get clues about the correct spelling, then you've got a step up from someone who looks at a word and tries to figure out if it's correct or how to correct it. I'm a visual speller, and I really suck at it. My dh is strong auditory and can spell like a charm - never studied. I know when a word looks wrong, but can't figure out how to fix it. I recognize when it's correct, though. When I use pronunciation cues to guide my spelling, it works out great.

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I'm starting to feel that way. My children that spell well seem to get it easily and would probably have spelled well without a spelling program. My children that are poor spellers do not seem to improve much despite using multiple intensive programs. I do see progress with the poor spellers and I see minor improvements in the good spellers, but I wonder if the returns are worth our efforts. I too continue with it because of guilt, but we've moved to programs that take less time. I find that the best spelling method is really just to enforce editing of their work in all subjects. 

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I don't know whether there's any research on this, but I'd be willing to bet that auditory learners are stronger spellers than visual learners. If you can say/hear a word and get clues about the correct spelling, then you've got a step up from someone who looks at a word and tries to figure out if it's correct or how to correct it. I'm a visual speller, and I really suck at it. My dh is strong auditory and can spell like a charm - never studied. I know when a word looks wrong, but can't figure out how to fix it. I recognize when it's correct, though. When I use pronunciation cues to guide my spelling, it works out great.

 

Well, if we're going with personal experience, my DH is an auditory learner and I am more visual.  He can't spell worth a flip, and I get along pretty well with spelling... :p  However, I am far more well-read than DH...and that probably has more to do with it than our favored mode of learning.

 

OP - I'm considering dropping spelling this year for my oldest DD.  She is a struggling reader and spelling often feels like busywork that is really, really hard. :D  I'm almost at the point of deciding to drop spelling in favor or more reading practice time.  (Because honestly, with a 3rd grader who is reading at a 1st grade level...who cares if she can't spell!?  I'd much rather get her closer to her grade level in reading!)

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Well, if we're going with personal experience, my DH is an auditory learner and I am more visual. He can't spell worth a flip, and I get along pretty well with spelling... :p However, I am far more well-read than DH...and that probably has more to do with it than our favored mode of learning.

 

OP - I'm considering dropping spelling this year for my oldest DD. She is a struggling reader and spelling often feels like busywork that is really, really hard. :D I'm almost at the point of deciding to drop spelling in favor or more reading practice time. (Because honestly, with a 3rd grader who is reading at a 1st grade level...who cares if she can't spell!? I'd much rather get her closer to her grade level in reading!)

Have you looked at Apples and Pears spelling? The visual discrimination exercises and its over all methodology did help my worst speller at least somewhat improve. Struggling with reading in third grade is probably indicative of some sort of LD. With my dyslexics, spending time with visual discrimination exercises (like word searches, circling b's in a sheet of b, d, p, and q's, etc) helped improve reading as well as spelling. Multi-sensory pathways helped as well.

 

Just a thought.

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My oldest is very visual and has almost impeccable spelling.  Doing a spelling program with him was painful and pointless.

 

Next oldest is very auditory, sequential, and very "rule" oriented---this one has the most trouble spelling and we have tried AAS, Sequential Spelling, Apples & Pears, and studied dictation.  It does not sink in.  She reads extensively and writes on her own, but the same misspellings happen over and over, no matter how many times I correct them or remind her of the rules.

 

Next oldest is my SN child and very visual.  When he tried to spell using phonics, his spelling was a disaster---he would try to record every schwa or intake of air he heard when a word was spoken.  :lol:   After I explained to him that written words were just symbols to represent the words spoken and not sound-by-sound recordings of the words, he had a light bulb moment.  He is now spelling quite well, better than his older sister.  If he misspells something (which doesn't often happen), I simply point out the correct spelling, he looks at it, internalizes it, and spells it correctly from then on. 

 

I'm also a decent speller, but I see the word in my head, I don't sound it out to spell.  Going by my experience, I suspect that kids who are good at picturing things in their minds and see the whole picture (rather than bits and pieces) have a leg up on spelling.  But that's purely anecdotal.

 

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I think the concepts of auditory learning and visual learning are often used in ambiguous ways. What seems to be missing for my poor spellers is visual memory. Some kids see a word 1-5 times, and they easily remember how to spell it (i.e., what it looks like). For other kids that same memory might take 1000 repetitions (this is my dyslexic). So not expecting spelling to "kick in" until at least 11 or 12 years old helps. By that time they have had time for the thousands of repetitions that they need.

 

Phonics, correct pronunciation and hearing the sounds will only get you so far. My middle child knows the "rules" quite well, and spells almost everything phonetically correct. That doesn't mean it's right. 

 

I continue with spelling through middle school. No harm in practicing. But the lessons are short and I try not to make a big deal of it. Once you reach high school it's time to figure out your own coping strategies (thank goodness for spell check).

 

If you have a good speller consider yourself lucky. If not, modern technology makes these struggles less obvious. Visual memory is only a tiny component of intelligence. 

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Both of my visual learners are very good spellers. My oldest is finally being challenged in spelling with the R&S 7th grade spelling lists. My youngest could spell the words in R&S spelling 2 when he was in Kindergarten (my oldest quizzed him on the words for the first half of the book for fun one day). I am a visual learner as well; if I see a word, I can store it in my visual memory and recall the image of it whenever I need to spell it.

 

My auditory learner struggles greatly with spelling. I found two tricks that work for her. The first is for her to read and spell each spelling word aloud every day so she can hear the spellings. The second is for me to write the words that she doesn't spell correctly (from a spelling pre-test at the beginning the week and also from her own writing) with the corrected spelling of her misspellings in red and the rest of the word in black on index cards, so she can try and visually imprint the correct spelling of the word as she reviews them each day.

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I agree with you!  DD always got 100% on spelling tests, but couldn't spell a lick IRL.  Over the past year and a half that she has been homeschooling, she's finally come up to grade level.  I am teaching phonics to her to solidify and improve her spelling more.  The one thing I will say is a pretty good spelling program is Rod and Staff, because it focuses on the sound of the words and incorporates phonics.

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I think more than just visual learning styles, good spellers have some sort of internal natural self editing. My DS is a good speller when motivated and he's a visual learner in other subjects, but he does not seem to see his own work in the same way that he sees others'. When I write, I read as I go along-I see and hear what I'm doing as I do it- and if something looks or sounds off in my head as I go along, I get alarms going off in my head. DS claims that he doesn't read his own words as he writes- he thinks them and isn't doing a visual double check as he goes along. I can't understand not reading my own words as I type or write, but it seems unnatural to him to self edit as he goes along. He can check his work after he writes and find errors, but it's not natural to him to check as he goes along. For me, leaving an error in the page to fix later would be unthinkable. It would be screaming at me in my head until I fixed it.

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I do not believe there is a single approach that works for all children. I have had kids that have done great learning to spell via phonics and phonics rules bc they could easily connect correct phonogram choice to correct spelling. I have had 2 where phonics rules were worthless. I have had one that didn't ever need to study spelling bc he could spell every word he encountered.

 

Dictation could have been classified as cruel and unusual punishment for my horrible spellers. ;) Imprinting correct spelling was a long arduous process requiring multiple pathways and, unfortunately, years of constant repetition and correction (and they are still poor spellers.)

"Imprinting correct spelling is a long, arduous process"

--agreeing with this sentiment.

 

Now a 6th grader, my eldest is finally improving in his spelling ability. He started out as a very poor speller, partly due to his experience with the public school's creative spelling program in K-1st.

 

With him I have done Spelling Power and R&S Spelling. This year I have added some Apples and Pear lessons as well as started Word Wealth Jr., which happens to have quite a bit of helpful spelling lessons. I correct his spelling in every single thing he writes, and I keep a running list of words he frequently misspells.

 

Hitting spelling from many angles has helped in his case. I would encourage this strategy rather than giving up on teaching spelling all together.

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Well, if we're going with personal experience, my DH is an auditory learner and I am more visual.  He can't spell worth a flip, and I get along pretty well with spelling... :p  However, I am far more well-read than DH...and that probably has more to do with it than our favored mode of learning.

 

 

When I was typing my post about me being a visual learner I kept thinking, "But I play music by ear, and have perfect pitch. I SHOULD be a pretty strong in the auditory learning category." Maybe there are some other genes or magic dust that some people have that makes them awesome spellers. My dh just picked out a spelling error in the teacher's poster of my ds's Language class at "Meet the Teacher" night tonight! He just can't stand seeing something spelled incorrectly - it pops out at him. The rest of us (including the teacher herself) had to study the poster for several minutes to find the misspelled word.  :lol:

 

My dh and I are both well-read, though he grew up reading the encyclopedia for fun. Maybe that's what should be included in spelling programs. ;)

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We've been using AAS and even though my DD memorised the rules and got 100% every time on her spelling tests...the skill has not crossed over to her writing. She is a terrible speller. My DS who has a photographic memory can already spell well for his age without much instruction.

 

I just recently read some things John Holt said about spelling and I am ditching formal spelling ( yay for my budget) and just going to encourage my kids to write and read more and pick their spelling words from their mistakes instead.

 

We use CLE language anyway and that has spelling rules in it...so I'll just go with that lightly...learning what they will and not focus on spelling as a seperate subject.

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These are the strategies I think that are important when teaching spelling (and they all need to be there)

 

1. The child needs to be reading and seeing the words - reading usually precedes spelling as it gives a reason to write. 

2. The child needs to be writing in some form (typing included here) else what is the point of teaching spelling - spelling is only necessary for written communication.

3. Phonics (and I am sure there is a word for what I mean - but I use this as phonics to encode (spell) - not to decode (read) - which means what options can I choose from to write that particular sound)

4. A knowledge of specific spelling rules as well as knowing the exceptions to these rules

5. Dictation which helps to spell words in context instead of just in a learnt spelling list

6. Repetition just like anything else (practice, practice, practice)

7. Sight word work - while "sea" and "see" both sound the same only one will be correct in the context it is used - this requires vocabulary and sight word recognition - just like knowing that ue, ew and oo can be used to spell the same sound - only one will be correct for a certain word which again requires an ability to recognise the word by sight.

 

And even then some people will find spelling easier and some will find it more difficult - but doesn't that go with anything?

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I certainly felt spelling was a waste of time for my older daughter. It was just busy work with no purpose. When I stopped and her spelling was still excellent and improving, I felt no regrets. My younger daughter, on the other hand, has really benefitted from apples and pears. I think it's the right program for the right kid at the right level at the right time. Would it be right for anyone else? No idea...

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Well, yes and no.  For a neurotypical child I think exposure to lots of reading material is probably more effective in the short run anyway.  And honestly I learned to spell because I was a voracious reader and loved to write. 

 

FWIW, standard spelling programs were a nightmare for my kids.  Didn't help them at all.   They are both dyslexic, though, so not NT.

 

But going back to the very most basic components of spelling/reading through Barton Reading and Spelling was the only thing that actually unlocked both reading AND spelling for my dyslexic kids.  They needed tiny components done slowly over time.  Now DD especially does not study for spelling tests.  She just takes them and usually gets 100s because she has internalized the spelling rules and can apply them without having to think about them.  We are only on Level 4 of a 10 level program so we have a ways to go before she is spelling at a High School level, but her spelling and reading turned around 180 degrees once we started over with Barton.  

 

And honestly, I have loved finally understanding WHY something is spelled a certain way.  Every day I am surprised once again at the WHY behind the English language.  I don't think I would have appreciated having to move through a program like this as a kid because I had no issues with reading and spelling but honestly, I still kind of wish I had had it.  I wouldn't have had to study hardly at all for spelling tests and I appreciate the building blocks of language so much more now.

 

Edited to add, I think for your average NT kid if they are getting a ton of exposure to good literature and being given opportunities to write about things that spur interest and a desire to write even more, spelling will probably naturally develop for most.  I do think incorporating a bit of phonics is important and can help that process along.  But starting an NT kid out when they are very young with lots of drill and kill spelling is probably not a terribly effective or desirable way to approach spelling.

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I am going to follow this b/c spelling has been annoying me this year--it's our first year on it (I'm using R&S) and I just feel it's such a waste of time.  I only spend a few minutes per day and my son has already zoomed through 3 weeks' worth of lessons in 2 weeks, but it still seems a little...premature? I chose to do it this year b/c there's a spelling component on our required state testing.  Blah. 

 

 

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I have to disagree with OP, lol.

 

I am a natural speller.  At least, I was, until pregnancy stole my brain cells. I digress.

 

I have always been able to visualize a word, or sound it out, or both.  

 

But when I started teaching AAS with my kids, I learned a lot more about WHY words are spelled the way they are.  I think there is quite a bit of benefit to that.  

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I have to disagree with OP, lol.

 

I am a natural speller. At least, I was, until pregnancy stole my brain cells. I digress.

 

I have always been able to visualize a word, or sound it out, or both.

 

But when I started teaching AAS with my kids, I learned a lot more about WHY words are spelled the way they are. I think there is quite a bit of benefit to that.

This describes me, too (including the loss of brain cells). I can't believe how much I'm learning while dd does AAS. I think dd is a natural speller, too, but now that she's learning spelling rules, she is proof-reading her own work to make sure she's spelling correctly.

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I don't know whether there's any research on this, but I'd be willing to bet that auditory learners are stronger spellers than visual learners. If you can say/hear a word and get clues about the correct spelling, then you've got a step up from someone who looks at a word and tries to figure out if it's correct or how to correct it. I'm a visual speller, and I really suck at it. My dh is strong auditory and can spell like a charm - never studied. I know when a word looks wrong, but can't figure out how to fix it. I recognize when it's correct, though. When I use pronunciation cues to guide my spelling, it works out great.

 

Like many PP, I disagree with this.

 

I think the concepts of auditory learning and visual learning are often used in ambiguous ways. What seems to be missing for my poor spellers is visual memory. Some kids see a word 1-5 times, and they easily remember how to spell it (i.e., what it looks like). For other kids that same memory might take 100 repetitions (this is my dyslexic). So not expecting spelling to "kick in" until at least 11 or 12 years old helps. By that time they have had time for the thousands of repetitions that they need.

...

If you have a good speller consider yourself lucky. If not, modern technology makes these struggles less obvious. Visual memory is only a tiny component of intelligence. 

 

Agreeing completely! Although, my two olders seem to need more like 500 to 1,000. I have many times told the story about my oldest, who LOVES Trixie Belden stories & read the whole series (40 books?) over a summer (and has re-read it several times since). Trixie's best friend is nicknamed Honey. That name must be in every book about 55 times. Guess what word she misspelled that fall on her spelling lists multiple times? Yeah, "honey." 

 

Well, yes and no.  For a neurotypical child I think exposure to lots of reading material is probably more effective in the short run anyway.  

 

My oldest loves to read & reads voraciously. If she's not on her bike, she has her nose in a book. However, she's still a poor speller because her visual memory is almost nil. Her auditory skills are pretty decent and she memorizes fairly well that way. Dd#2 loves to write. Her spelling is terrible. Again, almost no visual memory. Dd#3 spells really well for her age, but her visual memory is average.

 

We trudge through spelling because it does help... but it is a long & painful road. I completely agree about not using a spelling program for a natural speller. And I also think it matters what program you use -- with the understanding that not every program works for every kid.

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My oldest does benefit from practicing spelling in some manner. He did great on the spelling portion of the SAT-10 last year, because he does recognize when a word is misspelled (he reads a LOT); however, coming up with the spelling on his own is a lot harder. Now if he has practiced writing a specific word, he will remember how to spell it. So for him, using a spelling program is important, because it introduces the words he needs to learn how to spell, and it has him write those words multiple times in a short period. He is not a natural speller, but he also isn't a horrible speller either. Since he taught himself to read, I'm running him through LOE real quick to just get a good full phonics course in him. Then I'm thinking Spelling Power will be a good fit (I own an old, falling apart copy that my friend picked up super cheap because it is literally in two pieces :lol:). He'd only be working on the words he doesn't already know how to spell, and he'd be practicing those words in different ways and using them in sentences. I think that method will work well for him in the long run.

 

Jury is still out on the middle, but since I suspect he's probably dyslexic, I imagine spelling will be a bear. He's still working on reading fluency, so he's only "spelling" the words he needs to write in R&S Phonics and Reading 1. If he tries to spell words on his own, he'll leave out all the vowels and such, or use very strange, illegible spelling. And this is a child for whom intensive phonics/rules a la Spalding/LOE/etc. just confuse him. He does best learning one thing at a time. I have Apples & Pears if he needs it later. We're just not there yet. R&S Phonics and Reading is working great for him, so we continue with that for now and don't worry about spelling quite yet.

 

My youngest is using Wheeler's Speller at a slow pace (because he's 5). He's somewhat of a natural speller, I think. He's an advanced reader like his oldest brother, and he seems to remember spellings very easily from seeing them (unlike oldest brother). He's also my child that gets a new memory verse in class at church and has it memorized by the next class 3-4 days later, when they're meant to be learning it over a period of a few weeks. He is a memorizer. But he also has intuited phonics, as he can easily tackle large, multisyllable words and get them correct or really close to correct. For example, when sounding out "paralytic", he said "pair-uh-lie-tic?" Well, that's a reasonable assumption given the base word paralyze has the "y" saying long /I/, and in "paralytic" is says short /i/. He's not spelling big words like that yet, but the small words appropriate for his age that he does spell, he usually gets correct. So Wheeler's copywork/dictation method seems to work fine for him. He may not need a spelling program past 2nd or 3rd grade or so.

 

 

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Agreeing completely! Although, my two olders seem to need more like 500 to 1,000. I have many times told the story about my oldest, who LOVES Trixie Belden stories & read the whole series (40 books?) over a summer (and has re-read it several times since). Trixie's best friend is nicknamed Honey. That name must be in every book about 55 times. Guess what word she misspelled that fall on her spelling lists multiple times? Yeah, "honey." 

 

 

 

 

Yes! A typo on my part. I meant to type a 1000 rather than 100! I had this observation confirmed by the neuropsych when we had my DD evaluated. It's not uncommon at all for dyslexics. DD comprehends long passages very well because she is so good at understanding context. But she has difficulty with short passages (like instructions).  I think dyslexic kids are actually "seeing" the words on the page very differently. So it doesn't surprise me at all that she could read "Honey" over and over again without really "seeing" how the word is spelled. 

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Some people like to memorize.

 

I've never done random lists of words, though. I remember doing these in school. I taught my kids to read with Reading Reflex, which basically teaches reading through word formation/spelling, and am using How to Teach Spelling with the How to Spell workbooks.

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I have to disagree with OP, lol.

 

I am a natural speller. At least, I was, until pregnancy stole my brain cells. I digress.

 

I have always been able to visualize a word, or sound it out, or both.

 

But when I started teaching AAS with my kids, I learned a lot more about WHY words are spelled the way they are. I think there is quite a bit of benefit to that.

I completely agree. I have a very rules-based, logical thinker for a dd. She is also quite a natural speller and loves to read and write her own little stories. We have gone through the first 3 levels of AAS, and are 1/3 through level 4, and I just presented the rule whilst she had no problem applying it. In fact, it wasn't until the very end of AAS3 when we finally ran into a few words she actually had to try to spell (applying the change the y to i rule and the exceptions).

Yet it has been wonderful for her. She LOVES being able to explain just why a word is spelled the way it is. When she is doing her own writing she seems to just know when a word doesn't 'look right' and the ability to self-correct is a huge tool for her.

Granted, she is very young...and did not really have specific phonics instruction when she learned to read. This is also MY covering bases I guess, lol.

 

I guess the point is, there is no hard and fast rule for those that benefit from spelling instruction. Once again, reason # 8, 769 for homeschooling😄

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Dictation could have been classified as cruel and unusual punishment for my horrible spellers. ;) Imprinting correct spelling was a long arduous process requiring multiple pathways and, unfortunately, years of constant repetition and correction (and they are still poor spellers.)

 

 

I'm finding this to be true. 

 

 

Good spellers naturally memorize words as they read. I'm trying to teach my spelling-struggler techniques for memorizing words via dictation. Some days, that looks a lot like copywork with a sheet of paper covering the passage...peek, write...peek, write... Even without any overt, external pressure the process of dictation is painful. (Glad to hear we are in good company! :lol: )

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I am in the camp of, it varies. I am a good speller, and I always thought it was because I was a prolific reader as a child. And maybe it was. But maybe some people are just good spellers and those parts click. I tend to have a very visual memory. When I read something, if I want to go back and find that passage, it is like I can see it in my head, where it was on the page. When I was in school, I would study my notes and then could literally see those notes in my head when I was taking a test. So I think that is why I am a good speller, because if I have seen the word, I can spell it. However, if I've never seen a word, I probably would just guess, as I really don't know many spelling rules myself (beyond the basics like the e on the end makes the vowel say its name, etc).

 

Personally, I think that we learn a language best by speaking it, reading it, and writing it, and not worrying about the specifics at first. But later, once you know those things, it is kind of interesting and can be helpful to go back and point out some of those patterns and "rules" (which always seem to have a million exceptions, especially in English!).

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I think more than just visual learning styles, good spellers have some sort of internal natural self editing. My DS is a good speller when motivated and he's a visual learner in other subjects, but he does not seem to see his own work in the same way that he sees others'. When I write, I read as I go along-I see and hear what I'm doing as I do it- and if something looks or sounds off in my head as I go along, I get alarms going off in my head. DS claims that he doesn't read his own words as he writes- he thinks them and isn't doing a visual double check as he goes along. I can't understand not reading my own words as I type or write, but it seems unnatural to him to self edit as he goes along. He can check his work after he writes and find errors, but it's not natural to him to check as he goes along. For me, leaving an error in the page to fix later would be unthinkable. It would be screaming at me in my head until I fixed it.

I disagree with this. My child who was my worst speller was my best at finding the word that was wrong in a group of words. When we would go through her writing and I had her circle the words that were misspelled, she caught 90% of them. In fact, on her ITBS she got something crazy like 80th percentile. But she had no idea how to fix them--even though she knew her phonics. Trust me, she could not spell. It was going through a repetitive program like Apples and Pears--that hit the words in different ways and teaching her to visualize words that finally worked.

 

I think for natural spellers, spelling programs are a lot of busywork. For poor spellers, skip the regular programs and do Apples and Pears or AAS or some other program for dyslexic children.

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I disagree with this. My child who was my worst speller was my best at finding the word that was wrong in a group of words. When we would go through her writing and I had her circle the words that were misspelled, she caught 90% of them. In fact, on her ITBS she got something crazy like 80th percentile. But she had no idea how to fix them--even though she knew her phonics. Trust me, she could not spell. It was going through a repetitive program like Apples and Pears--that hit the words in different ways and teaching her to visualize words that finally worked.

 

I think for natural spellers, spelling programs are a lot of busywork. For poor spellers, skip the regular programs and do Apples and Pears or AAS or some other program for dyslexic children.

 

My son was exactly like this, only he got something like 98% on the spelling portion of his standardized testing.  He was in high school, straight A's in everything else, reading voraciously at college level, but spelling at a mid-elementary level in real life.  A prime example of standardized testing not being accurate ;)  Apples and Pears was the only thing that helped him.  He still isn't the best speller, but he's a lot better!  My only regret is not having found it sooner!  AAS didn't work for him at all.  It's a great program, just not at all what he needed.

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I disagree with this. My child who was my worst speller was my best at finding the word that was wrong in a group of words. When we would go through her writing and I had her circle the words that were misspelled, she caught 90% of them. In fact, on her ITBS she got something crazy like 80th percentile. But she had no idea how to fix them--even though she knew her phonics. Trust me, she could not spell. It was going through a repetitive program like Apples and Pears--that hit the words in different ways and teaching her to visualize words that finally worked.

 

I think for natural spellers, spelling programs are a lot of busywork. For poor spellers, skip the regular programs and do Apples and Pears or AAS or some other program for dyslexic children.

 

But that's not the same thing as self-editing and seeing what you write as you go along. My child who can't self-edit as he goes can find the misspelled words when he is forced to edit and revise once the draft is completed. He can spell when he's focused, however, and doesn't have a problem knowing what the correct spelling is when it's pointed out. He just doesn't spell well when he's not focused on spelling. 

 

It could just be that there are a million types of spelling problems and a million reasons why different people don't do as well as they would like. 

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I haven't read your replies. Phonics based spelling, let alone phonics based reading instruction, did nothing for my weak speller. Apples and Pears, on the other hand, has definitely improved his spelling.

 

OP here. To be honest, I'll never know, but sometimes I've wondered how much phonics has helped, too. Some things just seem to come to them intuitively. 

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  • 2 years later...

I think it depends on what kind of spelling program.  I agree with MotherOfBoys, that dictation is a great way to learn spelling.  More specifically, in my opinion at least, studied dictation.  Instead of learning isolated single words you learn to spell words in a complete sentence and, as you advance through studied dictation, through paragraphs. 

 

We are using Delightful Dictation with Spelling this year.  We like it so much better than anything JB has used so far for spelling.  One nice thing about DDwS is that each lesson focuses on something from that sentence and then gives more examples of words that are similar.  As an example, yesterday the sentence was: Knowledge is power.  First we talked about what that means.  Then we looked at the word knowledge and the tricky parts of that word.  I gave her 4 more words with kn: knight, knitting, knew, knife. 4 words with -dge: bridge, fudge, midget, gadget. And 4 challenge words (2 kn and 2 -dge): acknowledge, knickerbocker (she looked that up in the dictionary), hedgehog, and cartridge.  Btw, DDwS has an optional teacher's book with the words already chosen, but I just bought the student book that gives the page numbers for the ABC's book and I choose the words...I try to choose words I think she'd like.  The next day, she looks over her sentence again and when she is ready she turns to the back of the book and rewrites this sentence.  So far the sentences are short enough that I don't have to actually dictate it, but later in the book they get a bit longer...there are poems and quotes from books.  It's as simple as that.  I really wish there were more levels of this book.  Once we complete it, my plan is to use Spelling Wisdom.  It's similar, but doesn't have the extra words given.  I will probably still pull out words from the ABC's book to go along with words in those sentences. I wish there were more studied dictation options out there for spelling.  If anyone knows of any others, please let me know.

 

ETA: I'm thinking I might make a blog post about DDwS and add some photos.  I'll try to do that this week.

 

Hey mama. I know this post is old but was wondering how you fared with DDwS and then moving to Spelling Wisdom. This is the path I was looking to take with my boys. :) And did you ever write that blog post about DDwS? ;)

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This sounds very like a phonics debate. I wrote out every letter or letter combination that can be used to spell a particular sound to see if I could help my daughter - this is opposite to teaching phonics for reading. And only three sounds (b, p and l) had only one choice and even they could be single or double consonants - though those have more specific rules. So to say that auditory learners spell better seems confusing - just because I hear a sound does not mean I will be sure how to spell it. Also almost every single letter the alphabet can be a silent letter in a certain word/s.

 

Some spelling instruction however is helpful - my elder daughter does best by dividing words into syllables, using root words to spell and learning words with similar spelling together as well as concentrating on dictation. She is my kinaesthetic child and probably learns through repeated hand patterns from writing the same word over and over but I also teach her to say difficult words the way they are spelled... my younger child is a far more natural speller, but she also reads more independently than my elder child.

 

I actually think that perhaps mathematical kids could be good spellers since really it is just seeing a pattern and repeating it in many words - except for all the exceptions... who knows? If you can only link the word to the correct pattern...

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I wanted to add, my oldest could never spell well until at age 17 I had him go through R&S spelling books 2-6 doing all the exercises and copying the rules into notebooks. He said spelling finally clicked for him then. I had tried every other spelling curriculum known to homeschool kind before that. I think sometimes it just takes maturity.

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I agree with what SWB said in one of her lectures, spelling in their writing compositions comes together in the logic stage, when connections start being made. Dd's spelling definitely improved through a combination of instruction, practice, reading and time.

That said, we sort of focused on spelling with r&s last year, I'm backing off a bit this year for dd. She hated it.

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I don't know whether there's any research on this, but I'd be willing to bet that auditory learners are stronger spellers than visual learners. If you can say/hear a word and get clues about the correct spelling, then you've got a step up from someone who looks at a word and tries to figure out if it's correct or how to correct it. I'm a visual speller, and I really suck at it. My dh is strong auditory and can spell like a charm - never studied. I know when a word looks wrong, but can't figure out how to fix it. I recognize when it's correct, though. When I use pronunciation cues to guide my spelling, it works out great.

 

Ah, but my Dh and I are demonstrate the opposite. He is a very visual learner who excels at art, math and music. He is an excellent speller. I am a very much an audio learner and can't spell. I enjoy and do well with reading, writing and grammar, but not spelling.

 

I was taught to read with phonics, but not to spell with phonics rules. I do think they help. My spelling has improved a bit after using AAS for 5 yrs. 

 

My personal hypothesis ( I had to look that up! I told you I can't spell.) is that spelling is a toggle-switch type genetic thing. Either you are a good speller or you are not. Good spellers don't need much help and a zillion hours of serious work doesn't change bad spellers into good ones. Just into ones who know how to check their work and use tools well. 

 

My Dd is a good speller, my Ds is not. I teach him and we work at it, but I am not going to worry over it. Math and writing yes, spelling, no way. 

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