Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spelling challenges

Spelling is a subject my oldest son flew through like a breeze. The Spelling Workout program was just right for him, and without any effort he has acquired a perfect command of all existing spelling rules in English.

My fourth grader on the other hand has always been struggling. Until last year, he still mixed up b and d consistently, as well as read a lot of words backwards, especially three letter words: ‘was’ always turned into ‘saw’, ‘God’ was ‘dog’. It made for a few laughs during reading time, sure, and at first I thought maybe he would just grow out of it, but last year we realized this was a serious matter, and something we have to work on. One of the problems is that he knows all the rules, but when it comes to applying them to actual words, he gets lost. 

We have chosen not to label his condition, since 1/ the label's main purpose is to determine what to do with children in regular schools that don't keep up with the lesson plan, and 2/ there seems to be as many programs and solutions to this kind of challenge as there are children (although we are of course following general common advice recommended in this kind of situation; one-on-one tutoring and special attention and education [kind of hard to avoid when you homeschool, ha ha]), but have designed a special program this year, hoping to overcome the bump that we are facing.

We are still using the Spelling Workout program, but are complementing it with extra reading practice and word recognition, word roots/suffixes/prefixes and spelling memorization. 

Google will tell you that the average college educated person knows 20,000 - 25,000 words, and there’s obviously no way my son can memorize the spelling of all those words, but we’ve started with a memorization program with the 1000/2000 most common words in the English language, and I figured we could get at least 3000 more words done within the next couple of year. Spelling workout provides about 7000 words, so I figure, come high school, my son will know for sure how to spell at least 10,000 words, and in reality probably about double that, since he actually is starting to recognize patterns and related words daily. We just have to stick with it.

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