Spelling is another one of those skills that parents often worry about but I’m going to let you in on a little secret..I don’t!
Did you just jump? Get the willies? Are you skeered?
I don’t even make my kids memorize spelling lists or give spelling tests. Is that scandalous? Is that okay? Well, either way, I don’t stress about it. Stressing about spelling is an extra stress that I don’t need to add to my list. Here’s why and here’s my approach.
We have used some spelling workbooks in the past such as Spelling Workout and Spectrum Spelling, and I’m totally okay with those as far as getting some regular work done on spelling. I don’t avoid doing spelling at all. It’s just that I have a theory that you don’t NEED to do lists and lists of spelling words to learn how to spell. How many things in my lifetime have I memorized long enough to pass the test and then forgotten them because I didn’t use them?
Spelling words, bible verses, history dates.. lost forever in the depths of my brain, never to be heard from again.
I think it’s not enough to just memorize them, I think it’s better to *use* them. Don’t you? (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely knocking spelling lists — I did learn and remember MANY words that way!)
Before you step away to call the homeschool police… my kids *do* learn to spell!
So what *do* we do, you may ask?
As I mentioned, we do include some spelling practice workbooks. Now that my oldest daughter is, well, older, I think it’s also important to include some Latin root words, too. Knowing the Latin roots not only helps with spelling but can help you identify the meaning of new words, too! This year we’re using Words on the Vine, Vocabulary Units on Root Words.
Another new thing we recently started for our oldest daughter (but everyone benefits) is a “new word of the week.” It’s posted on the bulletin board and we try to use it throughout the week–we learn vocabulary and spelling at the same time! Along the same lines, we do notebooking and we’ve started using word banks to help with that, that also helps with the correct spelling of new words.
In addition to using these workbooks (and learning to read with a phonics approach, that helps, too) we give our kids plenty of opportunity to read and write. It’s here, in the actual usage of spelling, that we find “learning that sticks.” I encourage my children to read a variety of books, often slightly challenging, which provides a variety of new and challenge words to read and learn.
Repeated exposure to good literature will not only increase a child’s vocabulary but also their familiarity with the word, and the knowledge to spell it.
Next, your children will start to *use* these words! They’ll say them, they’ll write them. They may spell them wrong, but with correction and rewriting them, they will learn the new spellings. The correction and the rewriting is important! I’m not so legalistic as to correct a birthday card from my child, but outside of something thoughtful such as that, we need to correct bad spelling so that it doesn’t become habit!
To help them get enough practice: ask for writing assignments, encourage your children to write thank you notes, letters to grandparents, find them pen pals, ask them to write grocery lists while you call off items, have them create menus for supper.. we do it all day long, every day, as a part of everyday life.
And so my children learn spelling by doing it more than anything else. I know I’m not alone on this, can I get a second? Or are you a hardcore spelling list giver? Either way, what’s most important is that our kids learn how to spell well, however they learn it best.
I’m not sure if spelling is a dying skill, if people simply don’t care enough anymore, or if I’m just more aware of it as I grow older, but if Facebook is any indicator the overall quality of spelling does seem to be declining! I don’t want my children to be a part of that statistic! I’m sure that regardless of your method, that is one that we can all certainly agree on. =)