Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Natural Speller versus Has-to-Be-Taught

Ammon, Julianna and Mark
Will the "natural speller" please stand up?

Having homeschooled 7 children, I eventually figured out that either kids come as "natural spellers" or they don't. And if they don't, you have to teach them to spell.

The natural speller can
see the word in their head. You might see them writing it with their finger in the air when they are figuring out the spelling of a word. Spelling comes pretty easily to this child.

The "has-to-be-taught" speller is just as intelligent. In fact, spelling doesn't have much to do with intelligence. As soon as the "has-to-be-taught" speller gets some memory clues or rules to go by, they can spell just as well as anyone. Of my 7 children, a few of them are natural spellers.

For the natural spellers, it is pretty much a waste of time to give them spelling lists, spelling tests, workbooks, or spelling activities. They will get it eventually, no matter what you inflict upon them. They can
see the word in their mind's eye and the more times they see it, read it or write it, the easier it gets. For a natural speller, I have found the best exercise is to correct their daily journal writing, and help them analyze a misspelled word. Once it is pointed out, they can practice that word—write it a few times each day perhaps. A memory clue is big help, such as pointing out the word end in the word friend (a friend is a friend to the end). Once they can see the right spelling, they generally do great at self-correction in the future.

Here are a few spelling clues to get you thinking:

here, hear
hear--you hear with your ear. See the word ear in hear.
and there are places. You can see here in there.

Separate the word into syllables: to-get-her
If you are going somewhere together, you have "to get her" first.

The main thing is to talk through the misspelled word with your child the first time you spot it. Just dissecting it is often enough to help a natural speller see and correct his mistake. When my son spelled
rock as roc, I asked him to spell sock, clock, block, lock, etc. As he put the ck on the end of each word, he quickly recognized the pattern and fixed rock without another word from me.

For my "have-to-be-taught" kids, my favorite resource is Better Spelling in 5 Minutes a Day. This was a wonderful discovery in my homeschool, because my kids love to do it. It isn't the usual dry-bones spelling rules with drill, drill, drill. Each section of this non-tortuous book briefly teaches you (the mom/teacher) how to present the spelling rule to your child, often with a little rhyming ditty, and then the rest of the section has games to practice with: mazes, word games and puzzles that reinforce the spelling rule. There is
not even a spelling list! Or a test. Each lesson is a process of discovery in finding out which words follow the rule. It's empowering! This book can be used from about age 9 and up, but even a teen will benefit and learn to spell better.

Good spelling is just about as important as brushed hair or a washed face. It is often the first impression we will make. In a day when email or texting is a common form of communication, spelling matters. Believe me, I have seen my share of misspelled job applications—and they are not very impressive. It's worth it to teach our kids to spell!

Labels: ,


  • At February 16, 2009 at 8:27 AM , Blogger Melinda said...

    Thank you for the suggestion. I have a non-natural speller, stuck between two natural spellers. We just don't stress, and praise, praise, praise, when she does well. However I want her to learn to spell. I am always looking for ideas, and trying them.

  • At February 18, 2009 at 7:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This lady is writing a book about homeschooling and I know you have tons of wonderful experiences to share. I hope people like you might be willing to share their insights for the rest of us. She has an interview that she can send you to fill out part of it or none. She has one for students as well.
    HEr name is Sonya and her address is sonya@sonyahaskins.com

  • At March 2, 2009 at 9:42 AM , Blogger Toni said...

    I have a natural speller and one not so- the younger two I don;t know yet -. thanks for this suggestion I have seen this book/program many times and wondered about it. We are doing seguential spelling now and it is going good, but, I am always looking for a way to help her out a bit more.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home