Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Spelling Success!! Finally!!

Sometimes, the most difficult things to teach are the things we do really well. Spelling, in school, was never a challenge for me. With a semi-photographic memory, I could look at the list once and remember how to spell the words. I did not have to incessantly drill to get 100’s on my spelling tests. I did care why words were spelled a certain way. I just knew how to spell them. I don’t really ever remember learning the rules. They were just something that everyone knows.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a semi-photographic memory for spelling words. Everyone does not automatically know the spelling rules. I felt like my 11 year old son was way behind in spelling. No matter how many times we practiced spelling words, he still could not spell when it really mattered. I found from talking with my network of homeschool moms, that this is actually a common problem, particularly with boys. When I found received the All About Spelling program in the mail, I was hoping it would not just be the same old routine. They claim to be a multi-sensory approach to learning spelling that will work for students of every learning style. I opened the package, and was a little overwhelmed at first. Once I got everything sorted, it wasn’t so bad.

Here is how the program works. With each level, you get a teacher manual and a student material packet. The teacher manual is pretty self explanatory. The student material packet is quite unique. It contains flash cards, divided into groups. There are phonogram cards, sound cards, cards to learn the key concepts and word cards. The materials also contain a couple of fun extras. The teacher manual/student material combo sells for $29.95 for level 1 and $39.95 for levels 2 through 5. Level 6 is still in production. In addition, you will also need the letter tiles, magnets, and phonogram CD-rom. This is sold in a kit for $26.95, but is used for all levels. You can also order extra student materials if you wish, but that is really only needed if you have more than one student working in the book at the same time.

I started both my kids at level one at the same time. I have a 5th grader and a 1st grader. The books are not labeled for a grade level, so if you have an older child who is struggling, they won’t be offended by doing 1st or 2nd grade work. My boys love using the letter tile magnets (which you have to cut out and stick on the magnets). At first, in level one, my fifth grader was able to get through several lessons a day. Even though he seemed to fly through them, I still made him do all the lessons to make sure we didn’t miss any important concepts. Now he is working through level 2 and I can definitely see the results. Each concept is taught in a very logical order, and then reviewed in following lessons. He is finally remembering the rules and applying them to his other writing work. I cannot believe the progress he has made in two months compared with the last five years. I will definitely be continuing through all levels of this program. My 1st grader is now almost finished with level 1 and just amazes me day by day with what he is accomplishing. We had to spend some extra time on the concept of “th”, because he is only seven and still has a hard time saying that sound. Now he is hearing the sound finally and knows when it is used in spelling, even if he still refuses to say it properly. Yes, I said refuses.
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