Parents of homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike agree that spelling is a tricky subject. Many parents I talk to cringe when I bring up the subject. The only advice that I have to offer in this area is that slow and steady wins the race. Spelling is one of those subjects that you just need to keep on practicing and when you think your child has practiced enough, have them practice some more. It surprised me that when all of my children were learning to read they caught on great, but when it came to writing those same words down on paper, they would draw a blank. I was extremely discouraged at first but once I tried a few tricks of the trade, I noticed their spelling skills were gradually improving. Here are several ways that have helped me see improvements in my children’s spelling:
When my friend told me about this little trick, my jaw about dropped to the floor. “Are you KIDDING me?” I said, “How do you get your kids to do THAT?” Her response, “I don’t give them a choice.” I thought it might be a long shot and was confident that my kids would be kicking and screaming the whole time but surprisingly, I was wrong. At first they weren’t thrilled with it but now they oblige and it has become a part of their daily homeschool routine. Stretching their words means they write their spelling words, letter by letter. For example, for the word Kentucky, they would write:
It might appear that it would take forever to go through a spelling list like this but my kids have become pros. Somehow, they get it done. Even within a week I noticed a drastic improvement on both my son’s spelling test and his normal, everyday writing.
Say, Spell, Say
This simple method helps children slow down, focus, and hear themselves spell each word from their spelling list aloud. Again, this might sound daunting but can happen quickly if added to one’s daily homeschool routine. The child goes down the list, stating the word, spelling it aloud and saying it again.
What is the point of teaching your child new spelling words if they don’t have an opportunity to use them in everyday situations. Ultimately, you are teaching your child to spell so they can become better communicators. Forget the spell check, hand your child paper and a pencil and tell them to write a paragraph using at least half of their spelling words. Some children are intimidated with this method but if you, the parent sit alongside them and help them with sentence structure or words they don’t know then they can focus on their creativity and practice of their spelling words.
One site that has helped my children is Spellingcity.com. A free version available as well as a subscription option which includes more games and benefits. You simply import your spelling list onto the site and it teaches your child the words, provides practice with a variety of games and even tests them at the end of the week. This worked particularly well for us when the children were all in the lower elementary grades but now that some of them are moving up, the other methods that I mentioned seem to work better.
Hopefully these methods help you succeed in teaching your child using your current curriculum. But, if you are in need of a whole new spelling curriculum, then check out these resources!