To Spell or Not to Spell…

As of yet, I have not introduced any sort of writing instruction into our homeschooling.  Bailey is very creative and has enjoyed “writing” stories even before she could read three-letter words.  Now that her reading has taken off, she is writing even more on her own…stories, journals, magazines, charts.  But there have been several misspelled words in her writing, including some that we felt she should already know.

When she is writing for herself, I try to refrain from correcting things too much.  I want her to continue to enjoy writing without the fear of being over-criticized for spelling or grammar mistakes.  If she asks how to spell a word, I just tell her rather than interrupting her creative flow to make her sound it out or check a dictionary.  But I did start looking into spelling instruction for next year.

At first I experimented with Spelling City a bit.  At Spelling City you can put in a list of words (or use a list saved in the system), and then your child can play games using those words and take an on-line spelling test.  I started having Bailey take three or four tests twice a week using second-grade spelling lists from a school.  To my surprise she was only missing maybe one out of every ten words.  Keep in mind that she was taking the tests cold with absolutely no idea of what words she would be asked to spell.

This made me question whether we should do any spelling instruction at all next fall.  She’s reading at about a third-grade level and appears to be spelling at least at a second-grade level, and she’s just finishing first grade.  Maybe I should let her spelling skills to continue developing naturally and maybe assess her using third-grade spelling lists next spring.  After all, to be minimally successful at homeschooling you only have to do as well as your local public school.  But of course we aspire for more.

Which leads me back to whether or not we should do any formal spelling instruction.  And if we do have formal spelling instruction, do I want to use the traditional structure of introducing a list on Monday, practicing the word list throughout the week, and testing on the list on Friday? (Which is what Spelling City is designed to do.)  And then where do I get my lists from?  Do I try to make up my own lists that tie in with things we are studying?  Do I borrow lists from others?  Is that extra work that I want to take on with a new baby coming?

I am thinking “no”.  Either we won’t do spelling instruction at all, or I am leaning towards using Sequential Spelling which is a non-traditional program.  It involves the child taking a “test” every single day using word families that build on each other in a logical sequence rather than grade level.  After each “test” the child corrects her own work in order to see where she made mistakes.  The book gives you the word list for each day, it should only take about ten minutes a day, and Bailey can get more practice writing on lined paper.  Sounds like the perfect plan for us, if we use a spelling plan at all.

Sometime before I have this baby, I am hoping to place my last homeschooling order for the 2010.  I am giving myself until then to decide which way I am going to go.  To spell or not to spell…that is the question on my mind these days.

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