Do I Really Need to Teach Spelling?

Recently, our 10 year old Gino had a chance to see his “old” spelling books. He then asked me, “Ma, why didn’t  I have words? Why was there just one letter per number in my spelling notebook? ”   He was giggling. I said, “Because you wanted to join your 3 other siblings in Spelling but couldn’t spell yet so I just asked you to write the letters as I called them out.”  That’s funny. “Spell, K. “K” as in kite.”

My teen son who was homeschooled for 10 years and is now in level 10 in a regular high school told me once that I shouldn’t bother too much about Spelling anymore with his younger siblings because they can always spell check or use auto-correct.  I disagreed.

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Auto correct merely “corrects” the spelling of a word but does not consider the context in which the word is used. So you can have so many homophones mixed up.   I wouldn’t want any of the students who “graduated” from our homeschool struggle in using the correct word and spelling. What if the computer or smartphone autocorrects and types “rice” when you meant “rise”,  “blue” when you meant “blew” or  “weak” when you meant “week.” No, no, you can’t rely on Auto-correct or Spellcheck.

You can be very academic and search for studies that support SPELLING in the classroom but I guess at the end of it all,  it is just a known reality that being a bad speller can create a whole lot of negative impressions, and limit their opportunities if this is seen as a weakness in future jobs/ duties, and you wouldn’t want your children to have to deal with that.

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Some say,  loads of reading may be enough to create good spellers.  I,  however have seen  and experienced the wonderful world of what the discipline can offer. For one, you can deal with vocabulary words and create sentences that can further lock the meaning as mental hooks into your student’s brain and memory.   For the beginning writers, this could be a good time to practice those strokes and basic letters. Correct pronunciation is also enhanced when the children hear the actual word being uttered.  And then, you have the glorious and funny opportunity of coming up with sentences that uses all the  Spelling Words of your students in 1-2 sentences. Oh my dear,  I remember days of using four spelling words in a sentence when our classroom was full with 4 children! There were  times we would be in tears because how some sentences ended up being so silly!

I initially used the Sing, Spell, Read and Write Spelling Exercises for our preschoolers. I eventually shifted to the SpellWell series where I learned to create different activities to foster mastery in Spelling. You can see a lot of options in the eps.schoolspecialty.com for many areas of literacy.

SpellWell introduces a Spelling list of words that share a common sound or syllable and provides the teacher to include several other new words that child may encounter in other subjects such as Reading , Science, History or even Math!

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Pre-test and Post tests are set up and children correct their own mistakes. page1-300x408

Daily exercises involving the week’s Spelling List.

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At the earlier years, you can use the suggested Spelling lists. However as the child matures and begins to have more reading material, you can actually build his own spelling list from the  new vocabulary words he encounters in reading assigned chapter books, in Read-A-Louds, and in every subject actually.  Doesn’t it make sense to say “Spell circumference” when he is daily computing for circumference in Math!    If he is doing  a writing exercise and he asks, “Ma, how do you spell ________? ” Take note of that and include it in his list for the coming week.

My memory of Spelling in my early elementary years is my Spelling Booklet.  I don’t remember using  exercises for my newly spelled or newly encountered words.  We just hat to spell, letter by letter.

As we completed all the levels of SpellWell for four children, I learned to create my own exercises on the spot, notebook style!

Notebook Exercises
Notebook Exercises

or dry erase board style:

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Here are other ways of promoting good spelling part from reading:

1. Writing Cards/Letter Writing

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IMG_51782.  Written Work  (essay, poems, interview,  timelines, directions,  mini books, summarizing, timelines etc)

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Oopss! “milimeters!”

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3.  Note-taking/ Dictation

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4. Writing Lists (Things to do/ Chore Chart/ Books Read/ Christmas Wish List)

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Oops again, “clening”, “exersise” and “puting” !!!!

5. Word Games such as crossword, word search, etc.

6. Using a Language curriculum that incorporates Dictation and Spelling

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6. And of course, READ, READ, READ.

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At the end of the week, or maybe two,   allow the children to review their Spelling words and take a post test or be different a bit and ask them to create a story using 5 or more of their Spelling Words.

Last weekend, my two children wrote  “Anniversery” and “Aniversary”  in a card for their grandparents.  Haha! They were certain that this word would come out in their Spelling List this week.  “Ok, kids, spell ‘Anniversary'”.

Just for some fun, why not take this Spelling test of the 25 Commonly Misspelled Words!

 

Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

 

 

 

Sharing Stories and Digging Deeper

My earliest memory of “sharing” is about M & Ms. Yes, the all time favorite chocolates !  Nine  cups and M & Ms.  When my parents would come home with a bag of M&Ms, out came the nine cups from the cupboard, and the “assigned” dealer dropped one piece at time, like playing what most Filipinos know as “sungka (small shells being placed in circular holes in large wooden piece or plate), and went around the cups until the chocolate bag was emptied.  The older siblings got the extra pieces that could not be evenly distributed: Perks of being older!

If there is one virtue I learned early in life, it was this: sharing.  Having been the youngest of nine children, we shared practically everything: the toilet, rooms, cabinets, beds, clothes, toys, nannies and we had to share our parents’ available time for the children.

Being close to my heart, it was but natural to just prioritize “sharing” as I had one child after the other.  I had the perfect setting of four children who were two years apart!

Having multiple children who are closely spaced, you will definitely find yourself in situations where they all like the same thing or food.  I have learned through the years to welcome such situations rather than stress about them. When and where else can they learn these valuable truths?

Mommies,however, have that God given instinct to sniff, recognize and even extinguish or avoid a possible melt down of grabbing, pulling and screaming.  We are the best CSI  when it comes to these things.

I truly believe that,  ” Character is caught more than taught,”  We must as parents live the values and morals that we desire our children to learn, imbibe and exemplify.  So I guess, if our children see in us  compassion, empathy, generosity and yes humility in seeking others first, then the positive behavior of sharing can be more easily learned .

Nothing beats seeing your own children learn this. Though a bit a manipulative, I distinctly remember our then six and four year old boys wanting to be the superhero Daredevil. My eldest then, a master of conflict management, whips, ” Marco, I am the real Daredevil and you are the cartoon Daredevil.” The younger four year old could not care any less,  he heard he was Daredevil and he was fine with that.

There was another situation when we created a giant red car from a balikbayan box, my younger children then, Raya, 5 yo and Gino 3 yo, wanted to have their “initials” in the license plate for this cool car. Mama, another conflict management facilitator, comes to the rescue, “Ok, Raya’s initials will be at the front license plate and Gino’s will be at the back. And from time to time, we will exchange those so yours can be seen from the back and yours from the front.” Satisfaction achieved. 500,000 points for Mama. Whew.

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Initials and birthdate formed the license plate

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While they were younger, both Raya and Gino always wanted a go with the ATM machine or even with stirring sugar and creamer in my coffee in restaurants.  So here is our usual routine.  “Ok, Gino, you get to insert the card, and press a few buttons.  I will have to put in my PIN number.  Raya, you press how much cash we need and take the card and get the cash. Then next time, you guys will reverse roles!”  Another whew!

We may laugh at it now but there were times  I had to say, “Ok, you sprinkle and  stir the sugar then your sibling will sprinkle and stir the creamer for my coffee.” Triple Whew!

Of course, I can recall a whole lot of times when equal sharing was not possible at all.  Or any amount of creativity or distraction didn’t do the trick.  When my 2nd son was barely a few days old, our eldest Vince really punched him because “Mom carried the baby all day” in trying to set the milk in for breastfeeding (he also didn’t sleep when laid down in his cot!). But generally, for as long as  you try to invest a bit early on and teach those life lessons when the “perfect learning moment” arises, I believe, you will be eventually be able to raise children who care enough to share .  That punching episode was never repeated since  then.

“Sharing” per se is just an outward manifestation of what is going on in one’s heart . As the Bible says in Luke 6:45, ” A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

The key then is laying the foundation of love, compassion, empathy and  humility. All of which are in the life of our Savior, Jesus!  Jesus is our perfect example. The Ultimate SHARER, “who gave HIs life as a ransom for many.”  Sharing is merely an outward behavior and children need more than just to be told, “You have to share!” They need to know why, they need to see  and know how, they need to  find the strength to do so and they need to know from whom to draw this strength.

All outward behavior emanates from within. So whether it be in “sharing” , “being patient”,  “speaking in polite manner” and the like, they all are merely mirroring what is really within.  So let’s  not get so engrossed with the outer manifestations but rather take time to purposefully guide our children’s inner being! For indeed the natural fruits of a “inner life raised in the fear of the Lord” will eventually shine!

 

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.