My friend Christy called today with a homeschooling question: Spelling. Her 12-year-old would like to be a better speller, but he just can't seem to remember some of those pesky blends like "is it ir or er?" They are working on words he routinely misspells, but she says he just can't get it and is very frustrated.
I told her not to worry too much, since he loves to read and reads all the time, but if he truly wants to work on his spelling, here's an interest-led opportunity! I had some basic suggestions from my bookshelf:
Spelling Power and the accompanying practice notebooks
We have gotten a lot of good out of this book, off and on, over the years. It covers spelling instruction for grades k-12, and is not consumable, so every kid in your family can use it for all 12 years of schooling. Very practical. The child takes a placement test which tells you where to start them in the book (if more than one child is using it at a time, mark their places with different colored post-it notes). They practice a list until they pass it and then move on to the next one. The book offers spelling practice suggestions, so it's easy to assign things or let your child feel the thrill of accomplishment by racing through the lists. But I wouldn't force feed this. Only do it if they like it and it helps.
I like The Natural Spellerby Kathryn L. Stout because it's a bare bones, grade by grade outline of a public school curriculum. Not a lot of lists, like Spelling Power,but it has all the rules and ideas to teach spelling k-12.
Then I thought, with all the things online now, surely you can teach spelling without buying books! So first I went to my techie friend who posts weekly about great learning sites and did a search for spelling. Sure enough, TopsyTechie had a Friday Hardwired Hit all about Spelling. I especially liked her link to Spelling City. Just enter your list and then choose "teach me, "test me," or "play a game." And at Skillswise you can pick a spelling concept to learn more about and practice with online games.
I also found a site called Basic Spelling Rules that has it boiled down to eight rules with online practice tests. And a site with spelling lists. This Internet thing sure comes in handy.
But a word of caution, especially for us methodical types. Sometimes we can make spelling too complicated and kill the joy of learning. I took an English pronunciation class when I was pursuing a masters in Teaching English as a Second Language (but didn't finish). The teacher had a whole system worked out for when to pronounce things a certain way, based on the spelling. It was so intricate, I felt sorry for the nonEnglish speakers who had to learn it!
If your child wants to learn spelling rules, let him, but being exposed to correct spelling through plain old reading will do the same thing in the long run.
What online spelling resources do your kids enjoy?