29 July 2009

Spelling Choices

The first year that I followed Susan Wise Bauer's advice as found in The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, I bought all the necessary books (She lists crucial texts and then extras). She listed Spelling Workout as the way to go with spelling instruction. So, it went in my cart and my daughter and I went through it in first grade. Then I started looking ahead to the future with that workbook series and got nervous. When I had four kids using 2 workbooks a year (one each semester) my annual total for Spelling alone would be $92, even if the price never rose. What!

Then I began to look at nonconsumable spelling texts. I bought some school textbooks for spelling (5 of them) for .25 each at the library. There seemed to be a gap, though, from where we left Spelling Workout and where the texts began. Then after lots of comparison shopping at *Rainbow Resource* I settled on Natural Speller. I used it for all of second grade and have been pleased with it. It lists words in groupings by sound or sight pattern. The lists are broken down into grade levels. There is parent instruction for the first 3 pages on how to go about teaching spelling. There are four pages of activities to use when practicing spelling. In addition, there are sections on grammar skills, spelling rules, homophones etc., foreign words, and word roots. Its really a great resource for the price, and is an excellent choice for families with more than one child.

Some things to think about: When considering curriculum for your homeschool, remember that because something is the same as what a public school uses, doesn't mean it is good. Spelling Workout is very much like what you find in schools, utilizing fill-in-the-blanks, word puzzles, and other methods that lend themselves to worksheets. On the other hand, and equally true, remember that being different than what a public school offers doesn't ensure it is better. Natural Speller is a method that requires discipline, self-control, and creativity. You need to ensure the words are being learned. You can't just see that your child has filled in the blanks of their workbook and then move on to the next lesson. Their education rests in our hands. It's a big responsibility to ensure that they are getting a good one!

I compared Natural Speller to at least 3 other curriculums when I decided to move from Spelling Workout. It's a lot of work to invest the time. Unlike teachers at a big school, we have a vested interest in the success of our students. We don't want to use a method without some thought being put into it, to ensure it matches our philosphy, our kids, and our pocketbook.

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