Is high school too late to learn to spell well?
Absolutely NOT. Spelling is one of those skills that even adults should work on. Spelling doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and when you have a child with learning disabilities it can become an ongoing struggle. My boys have plodded along, correcting the spellings that I asked them to but not paying close enough attention to what they write. I’ve corrected, cajoled, and reminded for the past couple of years since we stopped “officially” doing spelling.
The trouble is that we didn’t get anywhere.
They still repeated the same simple mistakes. They weren’t learning how to spell, just correcting as they were told. The results of our yearly standardized testing showed a glaring gap in the area of spelling.
Common errors they were making include:
- Not knowing how to add an ending (dropping an /e/ or doubling a consonant, for instance)
- Improper word choice when it comes to homophones and homonyms
- Leaving out silent letters (as in ‘solemn’ or ‘yolk’)
- Adding letters that shouldn’t be there or missing letters that should
- Wrong phonogram choice (‘rens’ instead of ‘wrens’)
Once I showed the testing results to the guys, they both understood that now is the time to do something about it. Being shown that you’re still at an elementary level of spelling mastery has a way of opening your eyes.
High school seems late to study spelling, yes, but it isn’t.
Here’s what I’ve discovered about brushing up on spelling skills with high school students.
1. They don’t drag it out.
What teenager wants to spend even an HOUR working on SPELLING? Not mine. Even while dealing with D1’s Autism and D2’s dysgraphia hasn’t hindered us from getting through the lessons quickly and painlessly. I attribute this to maturity level and a longer attention span.
2. They pay closer attention to the spelling patterns.
The curriculum we’re using this year is one I’ve actually tried several times in the past, with awful results.
It was disappointing because I could see the potential goldmine that is Sequential Spelling. I have bought (and sold) the first level of this curriculum TWICE. This third time through we’re using it and with great success.
Yes, easy! Once they get the pattern (or spelling rule) they can tackle similar words with ease. The way that Sequential Spelling is set up makes this a VERY productive way of learning the word families. (It was also the reason we weren’t successful with it when they were younger– they include multisyllable and compound words right from the beginning of the program. It was too difficult for them in elementary school, coupled with writing delays and Autism.
4. They become motivated.
After our first lesson, which went so quickly, they wanted to do another. We now do two lessons per day and will complete Level 1 by January, when we will begin Level 2. They want to be better spellers because they don’t want to have people looking at what they write and asking what it means. (Hooray for classes outside the house which make them care!)
5. They become better spellers.
Not always a given with a second or fourth-grader, better spelling is inevitable with teenagers because their brains are wired to see a bigger picture than when they were younger.