Do I Really Need to Teach Spelling?

Previously posted on September 20, 2015 @

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.

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.

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 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!

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

Daily exercises involving the week’s Spelling List.

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

or dry erase board style:

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

1. Writing Cards/Letter Writing

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

Oopss! “milimeters!”

3. Note-taking/ Dictation

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

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

7. And of course, READ, READ, READ.

At the end of the week, or maybe two, allow the children to review their Spelling words and take a posttest 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!

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Colossians 3:23

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