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  1. #1

    Default When do you start teaching spelling?

    I have a friend who is a public school teacher and out of curiosity I asked her to show me what type of school tests they administer for kinder and first grade. I was very surprised to see spelling tests at that age. I'm comfortable with my six year old's current reading ability. But there is no way he would be able to spell from memory words that he may recognize on paper.

    I have a very relaxed teaching style, so we are not about to start practicing for the spelling bee. But I'm curious, when did you start spelling lessons ... if ever?

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  3. #2

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    Since we use the Spalding method, or derivatives thereof, I've done spelling lessons and tests from kindergarten on. Though, over the years, I've found that I don't need spelling tests to know if my child is learning the words or not. I can see it in their other writing. So I've dropped the spelling tests. If I'm unsure they are retaining a particular spelling pattern, based on what I see in their other writing, I might give a prepared dictation instead of a test so I can try to figure out where the error is coming from.

    When I'm just teaching my own kids, I don't see a whole lot of need for tests at all anymore. I can tell whether or not they are retaining the information because I'm interacting with them constantly. None of my kids who ended up going to public school in high school had an issue with having very few, if any, tests when they were young. They did just fine.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Arrived TFZ's Avatar
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    When I taught 1st/2nd, we did spelling along with phonics so it was just kind of worked in. We'd be learning about short a and they'd be spelling hat, cat, fat, that, sat. We haven't formally taught it at home yet (he's in 1st now), but we worked through phonics last year. Now I just kind of keep an eye on it when he's writing on a worksheet or making a list.
    I'm a work-at-home mom to three, homeschool enthusiast, and avid planner fueled by lattes and Florida sunshine. My oldest is 6 and is a fircond grader (that's somewhere between first and second, naturally), my preschooler just told me she wants to learn how to read, and my toddler is a force of nature.

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  5. #4

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    DS is 10 and would be considered 4th grade.

    I have not and do not give spelling tests. He asks me how to spell a word, I ask him to give me an idea of how he thinks it is spelled and then I fix it, if needed. We do some phonics worksheets and discuss sounds and how they are spelled.

    I encourage him to write regularly, no matter if it for his video games, a journal activity, or for school. With repeated use, even if I am telling him how to spell it over and over, he will eventually get it. I have him to keep a list of words he writes regularly that he can reference it when needed instead of asking me. The list has been working pretty well.
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  6. #5

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    I started spelling after they were competent enough with phonics to read later beginning readers fluently or early chapter books. Most O-G style programs do it that way. For example, All About Learning recommends that you get to a certain level with All About Reading before starting All About Spelling, though both are teaching overlapping skills since O-G programs emphasize the sound to spelling approach. Public schools usually aren't emphasizing phonics, so they aren't coming from the same philosophical approach.

    Basically, public schools are whacked and out of line with the latest research. Homeschoolers are more on point with this stuff.
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  7. #6

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    I was in the public school system until 8th grade. Spelling tests were given weekly on Fridays from a very young age, like 1st grade through 4th or 5th. I was a natural speller so I never had an issue, but I do recall other students being distressed, worried, and ashamed about getting a bad grade on the tests. Some teachers even said things like, "Well, you had all week to study. You should use your time more wisely." It (the testing & obviously the teacher's comments) was completely unnecessary, IMO.

    I have a young 2nd grader, who is a fluent reader (reading at a 5th grade level) but struggles with both spelling and writing. We've gone through all the phonics lessons, so he gets the spelling process, but some words just aren't that easy to narrow down when spelling. Because of that, we're using the Apples & Pears spelling books/program from Sound Foundations, Brave Writer's Jot it Down and A Quiver of Arrows, and reading LOTS of books both together and independently. I encourage him to sound out words when we're writing and help him spell when he needs it, as he is easily frustrated with himself that he doesn't know everything. He gets that from me, I suppose. I'm kind of a perfectionist in recovery.

    I figure by him writing a bit more, dictating to me + french dictation, and lots of reading, the spelling will begin to come and cement itself into his growing mind.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Arrived TFZ's Avatar
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    Public schools aren't usually emphasizing phonics? Your school district must be very different from mine. We used Saxon, which was very thorough and also available for homeschoolers. It was the main emphasis for K-2 reading.
    I'm a work-at-home mom to three, homeschool enthusiast, and avid planner fueled by lattes and Florida sunshine. My oldest is 6 and is a fircond grader (that's somewhere between first and second, naturally), my preschooler just told me she wants to learn how to read, and my toddler is a force of nature.

    I gather all kinds of secular homeschool resources and share them at TheHomeschoolResourceRoom.com.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by TFZ View Post
    Public schools aren't usually emphasizing phonics? Your school district must be very different from mine. We used Saxon, which was very thorough and also available for homeschoolers. It was the main emphasis for K-2 reading.
    This is changing slowly and my district has moved toward doing more phonics, but nationwide, this is just a fact. Most districts still tout "balanced literacy" but most schools don't emphasize phonics and do emphasize sight words.

    There's a newish book that lays out the research (again, since the results aren't especially new):
    https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018...w-it-is-taught
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  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by TFZ View Post
    Public schools aren't usually emphasizing phonics? Your school district must be very different from mine. We used Saxon, which was very thorough and also available for homeschoolers. It was the main emphasis for K-2 reading.
    My experience has been more similar to yours TFZ. We've lived coast to coast and everywhere in between and there is definitely not a decisive majority for either phonics or whole language in the public schools we've been exposed to. I definitely saw a stronger tendency for phonics instruction, including a lot more school districts that use pure phonics methods like Spalding or Wilson Language Program with no sight words used at all the further west of the Mississippi we went. The closer to the east coast we've lived, the more districts we saw using whole language instruction with very little if any phonics instruction. But of course there was the odd school district on both coasts that used the opposite of what most of the local districts were using. Even the DOD schools overseas that we weren't enrolled in per se but did have contact with used a phonics based program that did include a few sight words but overall I would have called it balanced as in it didn't favor phonics or sight words but had a good combination of both. Its just not what I would have chosen to use, lol. The name of the program escapes me right now but it is a fairly popular one used by schools.

  11. #10
    Senior Member Enlightened Artmama's Avatar
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    I have a reluctant writer who hates any kind of repetitive writing tasks. As a sort of sneaky spelling exercise she has a book of Word Ladder games by Scholastic that she does 3 - 5 pages in a week. She considers them fun and I feel better about her lack of spelling drills.

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When do you start teaching spelling?