The Power of Spelling - Some Have it and Some Don't
August 30, 2017
Mercy Every Minute  

For some kids, spelling is a breeze, and for others, spelling is really difikult!

We would all read good books, use great copywork, use powerful spelling curriculum, and those that struggle would still struggle all the way through college. We can help them all we can, but sometimes spelling just doesn’t click in for certain of us. However, each one would excel in one area or another—not all the same, but uniquely different—areas such as math, mechanics, history, art, and even hospitality!
It all starts with the way they are created and what they are created to do. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you can accommodate 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.

Consistency with spelling can be key. Word families, root word studies, and lists of similar words can help. A little here, a little there, five days a week, every month of every year, and they grow up knowing how to spell anywhere from fairly well to excellent.

Stress or anxiety about any subject (or any child) should be your signal to pray, listen, and find direction. Trust in the LORD to guide you and help you teach His children. Don’t be discouraged; be consistent, and enjoy those children as you keep them Home Where They Belong !

“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is” (Jeremiah 17:7).


Helpful articles abound on every subject in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine ! Here are a few on spelling:

Tissue Box Spelling , by Cheri Blomquist
How to Lose Those Spelling Blues , by Mary Pecci, M.Ed.
Overcoming Spelling Hurdles , by Karen J. Holinga, Ph.D.
P.S. If you have a struggling speller, you might visit Dianne Craft’s website to learn about right-brained spellers and how to get things to stick.
Nallenart's French as a Second Language Program, L'Art de lire, has been helping homeschoolers learn French for over twenty years now. But that's not all Nallenart has to offer! Come and see what's new, including Lapbooks for Reading, a fun English Phonics program for your beginning readers. Serving Teachers at Home and School Since 1995.
Norma Allen
Maybe you were one of those conscientious kids, like me, who studied hard and got good grades on your spelling tests. When I was in school half a century ago, spelling mattered.

Years later, when I started homeschooling, I still would have told you that spelling was important. Now that I've homeschooled my own children, and am observing the homeschooling of my grandchildren, my viewpoint has changed somewhat. Here's what made me change my mind. 

In my family, spelling came easily for some children and not so easily for others. In fact, I switched to a less demanding curriculum to help the orthographically-challenged achieve more success in this particular subject. Has this hindered their adult success? Hardly. 

Unlike when I was a child, we now have writing devices—computers—which have built-in spell-check programs to make suggestions if you’re having trouble. While they aren’t perfect, these programs have made spelling skills less crucial. 

In my view, this is something that should be celebrated. Because it’s got such a hodgepodge of word origins, the English language is extraordinarily complicated when it comes to spelling. There are more exceptions to the rules than words that follow the rules. There isn't enough room here to detail all of the examples of this, but if you look up "I before E except after C," you’ll see what I mean. More English words break this "rule" than follow it. 

So should we throw spelling out the window? No, I still think it matters. But you can adopt a bit more relaxed attitude. Recognize that some people have the gift of spelling and some people don't. For those who don't, you can switch curricula like I did, or reduce the size of your weekly spelling list to take some pressure off. 

As for me, I continued to be an excellent speller until it all fell apart when I started studying French at the university level. With so many similar words in French and English that differ only slightly, address and adresse, for example, I found myself having to think more about spelling than I ever did. 

So what's the best takeaway here for your homeschool? Celebrate each child’s strengths, and don’t be too hard on any one area of weakness. Like spelling, it might not matter so much after all.

~ Norma

Mom of three and grandmother of six, Norma Allen homeschooled for 18 years. Since 1995, she has been publishing curriculum as the owner of Nallenart.

Kerry Tittle 
Many of us were taught to spell by receiving a list of random words to memorize in five days. Write them, use them in a sentence, and spell them out loud, followed by the dreaded spelling test at the end of the week that separated the advanced spellers from the weak spellers. The final result? Those who did excel in spelling could not move ahead and those who struggled were pushed forward. I am fairly certain my silent prayers began in the days of impromptu spelling bees. This was a passive and ineffective way to learn spelling (not to mention fearful!).  

Even though methods have changed, it should come as no surprise that spelling is far more difficult than reading for most students, especially English-speaking students. There are 204 ways to spell forty-four sounds with twenty-six letters! Studies show that of 7,000 commonly-used English words, at least 60% have one or more unpredictable letter. It's no wonder there are so many meltdowns over this challenging subject! I finally came to a place where I didn’t start formal spelling until my child was well-established in reading. Trying to learn to read and spell at the same time frustrated them. In my experience, once a child was grounded in reading, it was easier to move on to spelling. 

Still, reading isn’t the solution. Years ago I bought the lie, “Once reading is taught, spelling will be caught.” This simply isn’t true. As important as reading is, it doesn’t make us better spellers, because reading and spelling use different processes. When we read, we are gathering information (like you are doing now). You’re not looking or caring how a word is spelled and you’re possibly even “skimming.” When you write a word you are using visuomotor skills. This integrates both visual perception and motor skills letter by letter. This is the process that teaches us to spell. It would seem that broadening skills in phonics benefits the students reading proficiency, not the other way around.

So how can we best help our students in spelling? Here are a few things that I have put into practice over the years that have been helpful for our family:

Daily journaling. The younger kids may write a simple statement with a picture. This is a safe way to learn from mistakes.

Copy work. I personally like to use Scripture, although books like George Washington’s Rules of Civility have small increments, yet a wholesome mixture of high frequency words, as well as irregular words.

Phonics-based spelling program. Memorizing how to spell a word isn’t enough. Understanding phonograms are key to spelling.

Have impromptu spelling games in the car. Spelling the word out loud is more challenging, but it’s a good skill to practice.

Play games like Scrabble and Bananagrams. There are several other spelling-based games available that are non-threatening and fun.

It’s unreasonable to think all of our children will excel at spelling. We need to move forward in direction, not perfection. Do the best you can, and let grace fill in the gaps. God will use them for His purposes regardless of spelling abilities!

~ Kerry 

Kerry Tittle is a mother of 9 children and an 18-year homeschool veteran. She was the founder of ReformationKidz Publishing that was lost to a natural disaster. Her desire is to honor Christ while encouraging parents during the hard years of homeschooling.
I can’t spell. Oh, I learned to take spelling tests and almost always got 100% on them . . . but I can’t spell. The words just don’t stick in my head, and I don’t see the misspelled words on the screen or on paper. My wife will say, “Did you even re-read that note you wrote?”

“Of course, I did,” I’ll respond. “I read through it a couple of times, and it looked good.”

She’ll then point out the dozen or so misspelled words and awkward sentences.

So, like I said, I can’t spell. I’m good with that.

Truth is . . . you have a kid or two who can’t spell either. But, like a typical homeschool mom, you’re NOT good with that. So you work them hard, give them critical looks, and say mean things in hopes of teaching them to be good spellers.

The only thing this accomplishes is to frustrate you and make your child dislike spelling, school, and his/her time with you. And they still can’t spell.

So, today’s advice from a non-speller: Keep plugging away at spelling tests . . . but don’t stop smiling. Don’t put grades at the top. Let them try; correct their mistakes; (don’t mark them wrong); throw the tests away afterwards, and accept the fact that your non-spelling kid is never going to be a good speller.

Be real,

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CONSIDERING  homeschooling know about the enormous  FREE  info-pack which awaits them here: .
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Whether you’re working on c-a- t or u-p-r-o-a-r-i-o-u-s, Schoolhouse Spelling has a word list for you! This amazing series has word lists and activities for every grade level, from preschool through high school, in a variety of styles. There are word lists drawn from Scripture and classic literature, Charlotte Mason Mondays, games, puzzles, activities, and so much more! Plus, each level can be done independently of the ones before it. Just find the list that matches your student’s skill level and
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in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
Contest Corner  
For the month of August

Easy Grammar was written by an English teacher who felt there should be a program that not only taught each foundational concept, but continued to build upon it in order to achieve mastery. Easy Grammar is a comprehensive, yet straightforward approach to teaching grammar. Dr. Phillips uses a method I have never seen before, in which the student learns first to identify prepositional phrases. This helps eliminate problems with identifying other parts of speech. Following prepositions, the table of contents includes verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, sentence types, friendly letter, interjections, conjunctions, sentences and fragments, sentences and run-ons, capitalization, punctuation, and writing sentences.

To facilitate a review, I received a complete Grade 5 Set, which includes the Teacher’s Manual, Student Workbook , and Student Test Booklet . I used this set with my ten-year-old who is currently finishing fourth grade. The teacher’s manual is just over 700 pages and includes introductory information on how to use the program, a copy of every worksheet in the student book, and an answer key. You will also find pre-test and post-test assessments, as well as sample lessons for Daily Grams: Grade 5, which is another Easy Grammar series.

The Student Workbook is around 320 pages and begins with a list of prepositions to memorize. While the Teacher’s Manual is very useful, the information in the Student Workbook is clear and concise, and a motivated student could utilize it almost independently. It gives a quick introduction and definition of the topic of study and a couple of examples, with key words and phrases emphasized in bold print. Simple directions are followed by only a handful of exercises on each page. I think this makes it easy for students to work quickly and efficiently. Once the student learns prepositions, they may move on to other concepts, but cumulative reviews allow the student to continuously practice previous material. The Teacher’s Manual encourages you to break the reviews down over several lessons if necessary to enhance learning. ( . . . )

YOU can WIN this nine-book set for your homeschool!

TO ENTER : Email  Kathleen  with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, “ Easy Grammar ” for a chance to win it for your family! 
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