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AmberW

Spelling for 6 year old

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My six-year-old daughter is reading on what I'm estimating to be a 6th grade level.  She enjoys all kinds of books and reads voraciously and easily.  We quit doing any kind of phonics instruction over a year ago.  However, she struggles with Spelling.  We used Abeka 1 last year because we had it on hand, but she really hated it and struggled to regurgitate proper spelling even though she can read significantly harder words.  My questions are:

1. Is there a spelling program I should consider for her?  Could I continue with Abeka 2 for continuity and just skip the testing?

2. Should I consider not doing formal spelling instruction right now because she will eventually spell well when writing ability catches up to her reading ability?

3. Should we just do informal word studies/sorts?

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It's up to you, but here's my experience.  Ds learned to read fairly quickly when he was 4 and quite well by the time he was 6.  We tried All About Spelling, and while there was some good to take away (like breaking down the words into sounds using tokens and the focus on rules) it didn't do him much good.  I switched him to an old speller from the 1960s (Spell Correctly) and that was okay but didn't seem to either help or hinder.  I did like that it focused on one sound a week and was very sweet and simple.

What did work: Ds did copywork for handwriting practice.  We started with letters in K, moved on to words, and finally to sentences.  Toward the end of 1s (age 7) t I gave him the first few spelling exercises from Dictation Day By Day as prepared dictation, meaning he copied them, we talked about the rules in each word and sentence structure, and then he wrote it from dictation at the end of the week.  We did the whole book in grade 2 as cold dictation (I write new words and we talk about the rules before I give him the whole piece for dictation each day) and have kept on with the series.

So whether it was time he needed, or more writing fluency, it did work well from age 7 on.  I still have AAS and I like components of it, but if I were going to advise anyone I'd suggest waiting at least until 2nd or a child is writing fairly well.

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Second everything HomeAgain has said.  My 10 year old was an early reader and terrible speller.  After trying several spelling books/methods I switched to dictation (first from Dictation Day by Day then to our own selections) but doing standard prepared or cold dictation was not sufficient for retention.  Adding LoriD's spelling advice for learning the words that she got wrong worked really well but was very time intensive for both of us and switching to Apples & Pears worked out much better (we still kept dictation for other benefits).  I wouldn't go straight to A&P until it is clear that regular dictation does not work because it really is overkill for a child who only has standard spelling difficulties, but you may keep that at the back of your mind as you move forward.

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My 3 older kids didn't learn to read early but once they did learn they did it quickly and what I soon realized is that their phonics knowledge was not all that great because their reading was so intuitive. So they actually needed the explicit phonics instruction of AAS to be able to spell well without guessing. 

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My oldest is only 7 but he read early and well, so from 4-6 I mostly focused on writing. He did copywork, bits of prepared dictation, bits of spelling from sounding out and word families, grammar, freewriting sentences, I scribed for him, and so on. I used the book ABCs and All Their Tricks to sometimes model how to spell based on rules as we went along, but I wasn't looking for retention. 

Under 6yo he could spell words in isolation pretty well. He started Spelling You See D (modified the dictation part) and learned consonant chunks, vowel chunks, tricky y, bossy r. After that his writing became more complex and he was thinking in whole sentences so I think spelling all those words at once became overwhelming. I thought maybe he was going to be a struggling speller after all, but at 7yo he started Dictation Day by Day and is doing great with it. He does it cold, but if there is a tricky word I will give him a hint based on the spelling he learned from Spelling You See. 

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My almost 7 year is also reading at a very high level, but she’s a fairly natural speller. How badly does your 6 year old spell? We’ve just been practicing by doing our usual writing and having her ask how to spell things if she’s uncertain, then having me fix anything she misses.

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She's probably average when she's just writing, but actual spelling tests are torture. I've nearly convinced myself to skip formal spelling this year and just use dictation in other subjects as opportunities for spelling instruction.

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A little six-year-old person doesn't need formal spelling (except for those learning to read and spell with something like Spalding, which teaches children to read by teaching them to spell). I think copywork would be good, and reminding her to do things like begin sentences with capital letters. 😉

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47 minutes ago, AmberW said:

She's probably average when she's just writing, but actual spelling tests are torture. I've nearly convinced myself to skip formal spelling this year and just use dictation in other subjects as opportunities for spelling instruction.

 

I'd totally do that if she hates spelling tests!! 
 

My daughter, weirdly, has asked for spelling tests before. But maybe that's because we don't do any actual spelling instruction and it's a change of pace! 

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