I’m not necessarily a world class speller, but I think being able to spell is important. Some people believe good spelling is a gift, and that may be, but studying and practice don’t hurt, either. My experience suggests that spelling practice helps improve reading skills. We use a phonics-based program to learn to read, and that’s fine for the half of the English language that follows the rules. The other half of the language follows no conceivable rules and must be learned by sight. Therefore, spelling study speeds word recognition with the “normal” words and begins to teach the abnormal words, thus enhancing reading skills.
We use a curriculum called Spelling Workout. It is laid out in weekly lessons. In first grade, the lessons include six to eight words, mostly three and four letters. Just about right for that age group. Subsequent grades have ten to twenty words in the weekly lists.
The list is introduced on day one, and then three to four days of exercises help the student practice the words. The exercises may be unscrambling the words, using them in sentences, proofreading them in a paragraph, or matching them to their definition. I like this practical approach to both spelling and vocabulary. At the end of the week, we have a spelling test. Missed words are written five times and then repeated back to me. I try not to get bogged down here, especially for the younger grades. It’s about learning new words, not absolute perfection at the age of seven.
Every seventh week, Spelling Workout has a review of the previous six lessons. I like to offer positive incentives and skip ahead when possible, so if the student has not missed more than two words on each the previous six lessons, she can skip the review and go to the next lesson. This is very cool at the end of the year when they finish spelling a few weeks before the rest of the subjects.
I think of spelling as a cornerstone to a good homeschool curricuum, but I like a program that doesn’t require any prep on my part and is a little repetitious. It’s not all about bells and whistles. We knock it out in fifteen minutes and move on. Low key and stress free…well until test time, and then you’d think my high strung one was competing in the National Spelling Bee. Did I mention she’s a little high strung?