My Personal Experience Using All About Spelling with an Older Child ~
Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool and Introverted Moms
“Mommy, I think it’s time to start getting more serious about my spelling.”
My son uttered those words years ago on the way to look at Christmas lights, and they were music to my homeschool mom’s heart.
If you’ve been reading Simple Homeschool for any length of time, you know that our family has always marched to the beat of a different drum.
We’ve never followed any Scope and Sequence for long, but have always used healthy relationships as our measuring tool, our compass letting us know we’re heading in the right direction.
Prefer to listen instead?
That became our priority because two of our three children joined our family via international adoption, but it’s interesting to look back and see how our biological son, Jonathan (starting his senior year), has also reaped the benefits of this interest-led, relationships-first model.
Note: Remember that there are a million ways to design a successful homeschool, and zero ways to design a perfect one! Though I’d encourage you to make healthy relationships one of your top priorities, it doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) look exactly like ours.
Our Experience with Spelling
Here’s how our approach unfolded when it came to this subject:
1. In the younger years, I introduced a variety of resources at different times, including Touch Type to Read and Spell, copywork (though I wish we had done more), and focused on tons of independent reading.
2. Some children are natural spellers, who begin to “pick up” the spelling of words from activities like the ones above. You can usually tell by age 10-12 if your child is one of these.
3. If they are, they may not need formal lessons. This was the case with my daughter, who did so much creative writing on her own that her spelling slowly improved.
As the years passed with Jonathan, however, I could tell he would need more instruction. But I sensed the timing wasn’t right. I’ve noticed that allowing my young kids to focus mainly on strengths helped them develop a solid self-concept BEFORE we began to remediate weaknesses.
He was in his early teens, with a lot more self-confidence, when he said the words at the top of this post. I knew the right time had finally come. I let him know that I would look into some options, that we could choose one together.
Using All About Spelling with an Older Child
I showed Jonathan a sample – this is key in my opinion when starting a new program with a tween or teen. You need buy-in if there’s any chance of it being a successful learning experience!
Once he gave a thumbs up, we got to work. Here are some of the features I’ve appreciated:
I love that it tells me what to say and when! I don’t have to worry about forgetting an important phonogram or spelling rule.
Even though my son was a teen when we began and had a foundational spelling knowledge, we still started with Level One, to make sure he not only knew the “what” but the “why.” We discarded or skipped any bits that felt too child-like or unnecessary for him.
Format of Spelling Lessons
Each lesson begins with a review of phonograms, key spelling rules, and a handful of words.
It moves on to teaching using a magnetic white board, has students practice with the new concept, then proceeds to dictated sentences that incorporate the new material with what’s already been learned.
I’ve also appreciated the Memory Sheets, where students read words aloud to secure the spelling in their visual memory bank.
How We Do Lessons and How Long They Take
We usually do spelling around twice a week, making it through two “steps” (AKA lessons). We will do a 20-30 minute session together, take a break, then come back later in the day to do another 10 minutes of writing sentences.
Keeping to that schedule, we JUST finished the final level yesterday – woot!
That means it’s taken us just two and a half years to complete all seven levels – that’s what can happen when you’re working with an older, motivated student!
If You Begin with a Younger Child
I’m not at all saying that it’s wrong to teach spelling to a younger child. This approach is what our family needed, but there are many reasons why someone might begin earlier.
If you are planning to teach a younger child, I recommend waiting until after they are making solid progress on their reading journey (no earlier than age seven or eight for spelling). Even then, I would do short lessons (5-10 minutes!) with tons of encouragement – and bribery if needed. 😉
As you proceed, though, if you begin to sense that it’s putting a strain on your relationship, please know there are other ways to move forward.
A Different Way to Think of Spelling
Spelling is important, of course, but never more important than the overall health and well-being of your child!
Even with all the hard work we’ve put in, Jonathan is never going to call spelling his favorite subject, nor will it be his strongest one. The way I see it, that’s what spellcheck and dictation are for. 😉
I’ve asked him if, looking back, he wishes that I had pushed him to start earlier. He said, “Sometimes I do, but I think even though it might have made my spelling stronger, it would have made my love of learning weaker. And I don’t think I would be as interested in writing as I am now.”
My biggest advice, no matter what subject you’re covering with your child, is to remember to laugh! Because Jonathan chose to get serious about spelling, he was (almost) always a willing participant, which means we have had some of our best times and biggest laughs during our lessons.
When relationships are solid, you can journey through tough things together.
Want to give All About Spelling a try?
I hope this article has helped you decide whether AAS might be a good fit for your homeschool!
If you do decide to give it a try, keep in mind their incredible year-long guarantee:
Check out all of the step-by-step lesson plans and reading and spelling tips for ONE FULL YEAR. Treat the program like your own, and learn everything the program has to offer. If you bought it from us and decide it’s not for you, simply send the package back (in any condition), and we’ll refund your purchase price. No questions asked.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for All About Learning, which means I receive a commission on any purchases through these links. Please know I only ever share with you programs that have made a real difference in our homeschool! I received this curricula at no charge, but all opinions are my own.
Any specific questions about using All About Spelling with an older child (or any child)? I’d be happy to answer them!
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Originally published August 24, 2021