One concern that I hear voiced by home school moms is the issue of spelling. How do you help a poor speller become a better speller? I have read many articles about this and the general consensus is that you are either a natural speller or you aren’t. It’s similar to a person who has a natural tendency toward math or science. This doesn’t mean that you give up and don’t do anything about it. There are methods that will help them improve.
First, be certain they know the sounds each letter makes. Does your student “hear” the difference between the vowels? The short /e/ and /i/ sound similar so be sure and provide a great deal of practice before moving forward. Also teach a simple rule that each syllable must have a vowel.
Secondly, teach the phonics rules and patterns that make the sounds. Write lots of words that are examples of that rule and have your child copy the words while saying each letter out loud when writing it. For example: /a/ as in cat, bat, rat, tack, flat, etc. Review and quiz before moving on to the next spelling rule.
Third, some words do not follow a set of rules and are easier if memorized. There are 220 words and 95 nouns used in 50-70 percent of our everyday reading and are known as Dolch sight words. Have your speller practice these each day- beginning with 5 words and then adding 5 more the next day if s/he is ready. Have your student do 10-20 words a week, depending upon their ability. Don’t rush the process as it is like anything else that is being learned; it takes time. Here is a link for the Dolch words with flashcards that you can print. click here. Once your student has finished one list, move on to the next until they have mastered reading and spelling them.
Lastly, practice, practice, practice! We retain 90% or higher when we say aloud what we are learning. So, spelling words out loud while writing each of them, having spelling bees (competitions), or jumping rope while spelling are all great ways to reinforce what is being learned. Here are some games to make and play as well.
Looking for a curriculum or want some help in choosing one? Happy with your spelling program, but are looking for a supplement? Here is a list and a review of products from The Old Schoolhouse magazine. I have also added some choices to the list. This is by no means an exhaustive list so if you have a curriculum you like and find beneficial to your family please post a comment about it for others to read. Thanks!