Tuesday, December 2, 2008

a Brilliant Homeschool Spelling Curriculum

I am in love.

Any moms out there who enjoy teaching spelling?

(insert crickets chirping)

I loved spelling in school because it was so easy. No one needed to teach me the rules and exceptions regarding vowel sounds and consonant doubling. It just made sense to me. I just 'got it'.

Fast forward to today: I assumed that since my kids are good readers that spelling would just come naturally to them too. And in the basics they have. But some bits were eluding them. So I decide to "teach spelling".

Oh poor me.

I had a few old "real school" spelling text books that seemed like a good place to start. What I found were a bunch of randomly chosen words that did not connect to each other in anyway except that they all contained a combination of letters that my children knew.

I also thought I'd try to make vocabulary lists from books we were reading but again, besides being relevant to our current study topic, they were just random words. I still like to do this for vocabulary building and dictionary skills, but as a means of learning how to spell in general, it was useless.

So then I thought we would re-emphasize some of the phonics rules as laid out in their reading program. So many rules to memorize with not enough practice on them ...highly frustrating for the kids. Too many tears.

Then (insert clouds parting and angels singing) I heard about AVKO Sequential Spelling.

What a breath of fresh air! This program teaches spelling by word families instead of random rules or lists. It starts so painfully simply which is encouraging to the children but by focusing on the word family and adding certain suffixes and prefixes, one advances quite quickly.

Today we began Level One. I started with my 3 oldest girls (10, 8, and 7). The 10 year old is an excellent reader and a decent speller; the 8 year old is a bit of a reluctant reader and a pretty good speller actually; the 7 year old is a new reader and has very limited spelling skills. (wow. That was somewhat humbling to type. Tell me I'm not alone...)

The first "spelling test" the book administers is the spelling of their name on the top of the page. And everyone gets a gold star :-) The girls thought that was funny and instantly wanted to do more.

The second thing they had to do was spell "Beginning". I didn't tell them if they had it right or wrong. I told them that apparently only 60% of 8th graders can spell it correctly. I do really hope that is a false statistic.

Then their first lesson began. They had 4 words to spell.


That was it. The older two laughed at how ridiculously easy that was. The 7 year old struggled with spin for a bit, but then quickly figured it out. She said "Even *I* can do this test".

Then they all begged to do another lesson. So we did. 8 words: I, pins, win, sins, spins, kin, skin, twin.

My 7 year old posed the intelligent question "I wonder if kin starts with a k or a c, because sometimes they both make that sound". Very clever. She guessed right.

The words continue to build like this so that by lesson 5 they should be able to spell beginning properly and see how far they have come already.

Then they all begged to do another lesson. The book is laid out to be used once a day for the year. Or for those who want to fast track they say you can do up to 4 lessons a day and finish 4 levels a year. There are 7 levels to the program in all. I'm guessing we will be fast tracking to some extent.

Now granted, this is our first day using it, but it is so clear and fun and incremental and useful and quickly advancing and....we love it! If I change my mind I'll let you know.

But I can't imagine.

You can also purchase it through my favourite Canadian Supplier: The Learning House.


Kate Thompson said...

i love reading this blog...your kids are blessed to have a Mom that is willing and able to spend this time with them...way to go!!

max said...

There is a feature interview about me in the Nov/Dec issue of Homeschooling Today because I grew up as a reluctant reader. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that girls and boys hate to put down. My web site is at http://www.maxbooks.9k.com and my Books for Boys blog is at http://booksandboys.blogspot.com

I also have a short story in a new book called LAY UPS and LONG SHOTS, published by Darby Creek Publishing. It's a Junior Library Guild selection. I'm also featured in an article in the 2009 edition of Children's Writer Guide.

My other books are all ranked by Accelerated Reader

Max Elliot Anderson

Andrew said...

Thanks for the reference Barb. I might actually pick that curriculum up for some of the people in the office here.

Lindy said...

I am so glad there are different methods out there to learn to spell - because I was dyslexic I still was writing my name backwards in grade 6 and my spelling was (and still is - sometimes) horrid. I was placed in a special 'morphographic' spelling program with three other students - two months of that and I could finally spell words that people could recognize! We memorized the syllables of words and their origin and meaning when applicable and learned word families - it sounds a little bit like this! It was a blessing for me and along with Microsoft Office I'm sure the only reason I graduated highschool and university. :)

I wanted to ask you sometime - do you have recommendations for for pre-school aged learning to read books or methods? My daughter is desperate to learn to read!