Teaching Spelling to Children

Homeschooling is becoming a more popular option for providing children with a good education today. Parents believe that they are able to provide their children with a more rounded education, one on one tuition and a much better standard of learning than they would get in ever increasing class sizes. This particular view seems to be backed up by academic studies that have evaluated a number of facets of homeschooling and the ultimate effects it has on students:

…several studies evaluate those grown up homeschoolers to determine how they are getting along in the real world. Those studies have shown that, compared to the general public, homeschoolers are more likely to continue on to college and obtain college degrees; to participate in community service such as coaching a sports team or volunteering in a religious or neighbourhood organization; and to be involved in politics and to vote (more than twice as likely). (Vahid & Vahid, 2007, p. 33)

This quote just gives you an example of the advantages that you can tap into when homeschooling, but whether you are a teacher, a parent or both there is one question you have to answer – are you spending enough time on your child’s spelling skills?

This is a valid question because many parents and teachers fail to focus on spelling and thus do not provide children with what they want and need from English lessons. It can have a profound impact on children and what they learn now as well as impacting on their futures. For example:

Some children struggle with spelling because they can think of several perfectly good ways to spell a word. So why not let them practice invented spelling? You will find opinions on both sides of this issue. We think it’s a bad idea because it puts the pattern of incorrect spelling into their brain. Once it’s there, it’s hard to get it out. Why not take the time to learn it correctly to avoid relearning later? (Field & Field, 2007, p. 100)

This academic quote provides every reason why spelling should be taught as a priority when you are homeschooling that you will ever need.

In recent years, research has proved that the nature of schooling has changed because there has been a distinct reduction of the focus on teaching spelling in English lessons. This applies to both homeschooling and teaching within schools and is because, according to Taylor and Martlew, of the fact that the focus has fallen on introducing and encouraging reading instead (192., p. 168). Of course, encouraging reading is no bad thing. Being able to read is a true gift that too many people do not appreciate to its fullest extent, but that is not to say that it should be taught at the expense of spelling. The consequences of this switch in focus are dire because, as a result, children are leaving school with poor spelling skills because they have never been corrected. If that then continues into life as an adult, which it certainly will do unless remedial action is taken, it can cause problems related to an individual’s ability to gain employment, promotions or even when it comes to making the decision to home-school their children. This is because good spelling is necessary when it comes to preparing documents for work, applying for jobs or even just writing a letter. Furthermore, passing such poor skills onto the next generation simply makes the whole conundrum worse.

As children, we take it for granted that we do not need to learn how to spell each and every single little word out there because we have the technology and the tools to help us. We are able to use a dictionary, use the spell checking facility on the computer and not have to think about learning the words for ourselves. This is no bad thing because it gives us advantages over previous generations, right? Wrong! “If you really want to be a better speller, you have to develop your own sense of whether your spellings are right or wrong. Computer spell checks or dictionaries and other people are all useful resources, but if you depend on them all the time you won’t get much better.” (Brown, 2002, p. 78). As such, a homeschooling specialised spelling program that empowers children to learn to spell on their own without such tools and aids available needs to be formulated. There are some other points that need to be taken into consideration as well, such as what is best for the child in terms of the techniques used to teach them.

Lois Brown Easton is an expert in the field of learning and readily points out that every individual learns in a different way and will take more from those techniques that appeal to his or her way of thinking more (2007, p. 18). As a teacher, this can be rather frustrating because it can interrupt the schedule that you have adopted in more ways than one. Teaching a class that learn a specific way and one or two individuals that do not definitely means that you have to undertake more work but it is also infinitely worth it when you think about the difference you are potentially making in your students’ lives. If you home-school your child then the same sort of principle still applies. It may be that you have tried different techniques before and your child just does not seem to be responding to them. It may be that you are finding your lesson plans particularly hard going because they have become disheartened because they are finding it particularly difficult. This is exactly where this eBook can help you.

This eBook is designed specifically to help teachers and home-school parents by showing them the most robust methods for teaching spelling to children. As such, each and every single one of the lesson plans that have been provided in the book are tailored to the needs of children between the ages of 5 and 15. If you feel that your child is in need of harder and tougher challenges than those exemplified in the modules then you can change the difficulty level, although you will find that each module gets progressively harder to ensure that your child is learning at an appropriate level. Finally, each of the modules include three specific elements, in addition to a quick explanation of why it is a good module to undertake. It will include a lesson plan, exercises that should be completed as a part of the lesson plan and at least one worksheet that can be used to enhance your child’s knowledge.
The formula that appears in this eBook, as outlined above, has a number of advantages, including but not limited to the following:

  • It considers a number of elements of spelling so there is no particular focus on one spelling skill. Unfortunately, many of the spelling resources out there for use by teachers and homeschooling tutors actually focus on one specific element, such as using visual cues. This does not give students the opportunity to develop their own methods of picking up difficult or unusual words, especially not if one method suits them more than the one that is taught. For example, visual cues will not work if a student instead learns better by listening “…to the sounds in word and then [they] write down letters for those sounds.” (Powell & Hornsby, 1993, p. 29).
  • All lesson plans, exercises, worksheets and information outlined here are based on academic research so it has proven to be effective in theory and in a classroom setting in the past. Many of the other resources out there do not have the same credibility so you can really enjoy the benefits that each module offers.
  • The exercises in each of the modules are very flexible so you can alter them to suit the age and abilities of your students. They are also suitable for individual children that have learning difficulties because they can be tailored to suit any needs he or she may have, particularly those making the most of visual cues. All of the worksheets in this eBook can be changed to suit your own specifications and requirements.
  • It embraces manual methods of teaching and improving spelling as well as the technology that is readily available today so it blends the best of both worlds for the best possible teaching experience. This makes it fun and enjoyable as well as hard work. Whether you teach in a school or home-school your children, blending the two will help to improve spelling quickly and easily.

Each module featured in this book has been specifically chosen as a result of the benefits it can offer and, put together, they will offer a well rounded education in spelling. It is advised that you work through each module in order but you can switch the first four around if you so wish. Modules 5 and 6 should remain the last two and in that particular order because they reinforce the teachings of the previous modules in addition to providing testing to see just how effective this program has been.

As a teacher or tutor, it is your responsibility to identify weaknesses, determine learning levels and use the modules outlined here effectively. Using different techniques will enhance learning but you have to be fully aware of what to do for your students to ensure that it is all in their best interests. As such, this tool can only help you as far as you are open to it so read on and go to module #1 to see what it can offer you.

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