I certainly never feel that way, regardless of the almost 7 years under my belt (is that what that is?). What I do feel, though, is that I'm much better accustomed to going with the flow, tweaking and changing what we do to make it fit instead of lamenting over whether I make the perfect choice of curriculum for each subject every year.
Spelling is a perfect example of this and one of the reasons I love homeschooling. If something isn't working, I can change it! Over the years of Sam (K-6th) and Sadie (K-2nd), we've used four different spelling programs. I thought it might be helpful to share a little bit about them in case our experience might benefit your family.
Spelling is a odd thing. I have never been very good at it. The English language has so many funny rules and many of the rules don't apply at random times and often for no apparent reason. No wonder it can be tricky for kids to learn! Here's a bit of our journey....
I started both Sam and Sadie out with the Spelling Workout books. They reminded me most of what I remember doing in public school for spelling. Each week, the child is presented with a list of words that have something in common. Then they're given short exercises to practice spelling their words with little boxes the right size and height for each letter to act as clues. I would also ask them to occasionally write sentences that used their list words or practice writing trouble words a certain number of times.
Sam breezed through the workbooks the first few years and then became incredibly bored with them. He is a voracious reader which helps immensely with spelling. He certainly doesn't always spell words correctly right off the bat but he can look at a word he's written and know whether it looks right or not because he's so familiar with the written language.
Sadie breezed through the first year of Spelling Workout but then began to have trouble. There was little explanation of rules and reasons as to why more challenging words were spelled in a way she wasn't expecting. Just memorizing the spelling was difficult (and no fun for sure), so we abandoned them for Sadie as well.
Back to Sam. After Spelling Workout we tried Sequential Spelling. It is one of the spelling programs recommended by Sonlight and I was intrigued because it looked so different. Each day, the child is dictated a rather long list of words. As they write them down, the parent is watching and immediately corrects any misspellings. There are no tests, no exercises. Just a list each day to dictate. Words in the list are repeated and share prefixes or suffixes so patterns are established.
There wasn't really anything wrong with this program other than I kept thinking about another spelling program I had on my shelf that I had wanted to try: Spelling Wisdom. This is a Charlotte Mason-inspired spelling curriculum which is also based on dictation but instead of dictating lists of words, excerpts or poems from famous writers are dictated. The child is exposed to excellent writing and through the chosen passages, the child learns to spell the 6,000 most used words in the English language.
The way it works is that parent and child read through the passage together and determine which words the child doesn't know how to spell already. The child practices and studies those and once they can spell them, the passage is dictated to them to ensure they can, indeed, spell all the words correctly. We're still using Spelling Wisdom for Sam and he and I both enjoy it (as much as one can enjoy Spelling, of course).
Back to Sadie. Again, I went to Sonlight to see what they recommended. I needed a program that would go a little slower, provide more explanation of rules and some new ways of thinking about/doing spelling. I decided to try All About Spelling. I must admit, I was a bit intimidated by the actual program when it arrived. The teacher's book was simple enough to follow but there were lots of rule cards to file, magnetic letters to find a board for, and clear, colored discs for who-knows-what. I had to sit down and give it more thought than the other programs just to figure out how it worked, BUT BOY DOES IT WORK (for Sadie)!
We started back at Level 1 and Sadie (and I!) learned spelling rules I never knew existed which makes spelling seem less of a giant guessing game. For example, how do you teach a child whether to use a "k" or "ck" when they hear the "k" sound at the end of a word? Well, there is a rule for that. If a short vowel sound is used before the "k" sound, you use "ck". Now she knows and there is no floundering and guessing! It also teaches the student to spell by breaking down words into syllables (that's what those clear, colored discs were for) and has built in review of rules. We are well into Level 2 at this point. It takes a little extra time compared to the other programs but she's getting it. She loves the magnetic letters and really does benefit from "building" words on the board as well as writing them.
So, who knows. Maybe we've found the spelling programs we'll stick with from here on out. Maybe as their needs change, we'll switch again. Either way- we can do it.
Take that, spelling. Pin It