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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Making the Change: Spelling

Spelling is the first subject up for review regarding how, when and why. We're in the middle of making a transition to a more natural learning environment instead of forced academics, my main objective is to combine teaching and reaching a child.

In The Well-Trained Mind it is suggested to start Spelling Workout A soon after phonics instruction is done. I've never questioned this, I just did what WTM says thinking that was what was best. Wrong. It's not best, a child needs time to focus on reading skills and even more time to reinforce phonics before diving into another skill to master such as spelling. I thought using Spelling Workout would solidify phonics because it is a phonetic based spelling program.

Camille is not behind at all, she's reading on a 3rd to 4th grade level right now and her fluency is building each day. To be frank, I do not know if Explode the Code is helping or if it has just been time and practice. I suspect it is a bit of both. We've also dropped spelling since we started using Explode the Code and believe it or not, I started worrying about if she'd be able to finish SWO C before 3rd grade. Want to enter my head for a moment here? "If she doesn't finish SWO C in 2nd, then SWO D in 3rd, SWO E in 4th, SWO F in 5th, SWO G in WTM says then she'll be behind when..."


Guess what? No more. I have read about how to use dictation to teach spelling which is how Charlotte Mason suggested. I have looked at numerous Charlotte Mason friendly spelling programs. I have read Ruth Beechick and a few other homeschooling books I have here at home and my instinct was right.

You do not need spelling instruction until your child starts composition and certainly not in the formative years of reading. What type of spelling program works best? From my research, spelling that is integrated in with writing works best, the least effective is teaching from spelling lists. If you do teach from spelling lists, it's best to have your child write sentences with the words and then spelling becomes a chore to the child.

Okay, now what? I decided that I didn't want to sacrifice academics by finding a more natural way to learn spelling. So I started looking for something that had the elements of Spelling Workout but was in a different format.

I want something to teach the spelling rules, including suffixes and prefixes as well as root words but in a format that Charlotte Mason would be proud of and I would be excited to use. I looked at a number of programs and finally picked Simply Spelling by Laurie Hicks of Shoelace Books. I was very reserved about using and purchasing an academic item from somewhere I haven't heard of. But it seems a few other homeschoolers I know use and love Simply Spelling as well. That is all the endorsement I need.

We have dropped Spelling Workout completely, Danny will not see a Spelling Workout book unless that format is the best that serves him, although I have a good feeling that won't be the case.

Simply Spelling is a 3rd grade -12th grade product although you can purchase the 3rd and 4th book independently in case you want to "try" it out. It truly is a program that will take minutes a day instead of the 30 minutes for Spelling Workout.

I have read why it is beneficial for children to learn spelling, how it is best taught and when it is best to start teaching. From there I have prayed, thought and sought counsel with other more experienced homeschoolers and decided to find something that would fit both of my objectives, to teach and reach my children. Simply Spelling is our choice.



Dixie said...


Is there any place online where one can view samples of Simple Spelling?

Thank You,


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I have been wanting to find another spelling curric. also that is different than BSS. which is similar to SWO. I have been looking at Natural Speller but I will check this out also.

Christy said...

I am really enjoying reading about your transformation. As a mother of boys, I think you will find the more family friendly CM approach serves his learning style better.
We have been using Spelling Power for years. I didn't start any of them in it until 2nd grade. the boys like it because they only have to study the words they miss on the pretest.
I find that they generally do well in spelling, but when it comes to application (during writing), that is another thing...
I just wanted to encourage you in your journey. I think you are going to be much more relaxed and happy.

Jamie said...

Like you, I have been moving away from the strict regimen of WTM.

I'm not a fan of Spelling Workout, which is what my son is currently using (this, his 1st grade year), and have been thinking about what to do for next year. It's interesting to read your thoughts on spelling as you re-evaluate your current methods. I appreciate your sharing them here. :)

my5wolfcubs said...

I haven't looked at Simply Spelling recently...I'm adding it to my "possibilities" list -- it is definitely a unique product! Thanks for sharing this!!

Anonymous said...

I was looking for a little information on whether or not my first grader should be doing spelling. I though not, and now I know why!!

Veronica Boulden said...

Thanks for these posts on your decision to change from Spelling Workout to Simply Spelling. I was looking into Spelling Workout (because Well Trained Mind suggests using it) and just happened come across your blog. Question for you: My daughter is basically finished with phonics, though we will continue reviewing it for a few years to come, is reading on a 2nd grade level and is finished with the basics of handwriting. She is now writing notes and letters to family and friends incessantly, so she is constantly asking me how to spell various words. I believe in going with the child's lead and she is frustrated that she can't spell what she wants to spell... Is this Simply Spelling something she could use now? She's young, "going into" 1st next year. Do you think Simply Spelling is something she'd benefit from?

Maple Grove Mom said...

Thanks for this post. I just purchased shoelace's simply spelling for my son. He will be 3rd grade next year, but we might do a little of it this year. I'd be curious to hear how you like it after a few years now of using it. Does it cover the important rules? Does your son like it? Does it seem to be effective? Thanks!