I might have mentioned once or twice (or a million times) that spelling is a bit of an issue for my kids. One of the first problems is that I’m naturally a good speller, so I expect the same of the rest of the world. And the rest of the world refuses to cooperate! Rosie Girl doesn’t like spelling, but she does tolerably well and makes sure to use Spell Check before she turns in any assignments.
But, Wild Man. Ah, my Wild Man. What a different story with him. Wild Man is learning spelling using the All About Spelling curriculum, and I think it is a great fit for him. It is a multi-sensory curriculum that teaches spelling very methodically. I’m learning all kinds of spelling rules that knew nothing about!
Unfortunately, Wild Man’s brain doesn’t really work like most other people’s brains. Letters and words still don’t come easily to him. He is reading all kinds of things – in fact, he’s slowly working his way through Brisingr right now. Spelling, though, is inconsistent. One day, he can spell everything that he’s learned up till that point. The next day, it’s like he hasn’t had a spelling lesson in a year.
Last week, things weren’t going so well for Wild Man in spelling. He was discouraged. I was discouraged. It didn’t make for a happy homeschool. This week, for some reason, has been much better, although he still has some issues. For example, I had him spell “may”, and he spelled it “way”. (His tutor said that he’s the only kid she had seen who regularly mixed up “m” and “w” as well as the more common “b”,”d” and “p”,”q” pairs. Funny.)
I think I’m finally learning how to help him. It’s only taken a couple of years!
- Spelling lessons need to be short. The All About Spelling lessons are usually too long and I’ve been doing only 1/2 lessons at a time for about a year now.
- We spend at least a week on each lesson.
- We should try to do some spelling with his All About Spelling board every day, even if it’s just a few words.
- Wild Man does not do “leading questions” or the “Socratic method”. When I was in medical school, the preferred educational technique by most professors on rounds was to ask students questions until they didn’t know the answer and then to start teaching. Often, if we didn’t know an answer, they’d ask leading questions to try to get us to the answer. This frustrates the living daylights out of Wild Man. His brain doesn’t work this way so I’m learning not to use this.
- I’ve noticed in the last few sessions that Wild Man gets frustrated far more quickly in spelling than most other subjects. It’s better for me to give him the answer to a question and for us to move on than for me to just wait for him once he’s confused.
- And, yes, I still sometimes have him drink a cup of coffee before we start working on spelling because it does help him focus!
Teaching my kids at home is incredibly rewarding, but it’s also quite humbling. I try to read all I can about teaching spelling and working with dyslexic kids, but I’m finding that the only real expert on how Wild Man learns is God. But, all this time that we spend working through spelling is time together and it’s absolutely precious time that I wouldn’t trade for anything!