My thoughts on teaching spelling are largely influenced by my experience as a second grade, public school teacher. What I saw time and again was that my students could be successful on spelling tests, but struggled with carrying over what they had learned from that rote memorization into their real life writing. As with anything else, unless they were really ready and mindful of what they were doing, it really didn't stick. One way I found to make spelling more meaningful (since throwing out the practice wasn't an option!) was to create individual lists for each child based on their writing journals. They would have a core of five words that followed a certain pattern (called a word family in early literacy training) and then five words that we would pull from their journals. This seemed to encourage their interest, since it was words that they used frequently.
I appreciate that in the Charlotte Mason philosophy, teaching spelling is not really practiced until third grade. Up until that point, it is more encouraged to allow the child to be freed up to write as they wish so the ideas can freely and easily make their way onto paper. She taught that spelling was more of a natural skill and encouraged the use of copy work. The thinking being that the more the child is exposed to proper spelling, the more the child will correctly spell! I love this thinking. It jives with me. (Again, this is up to second grade. After that, a more intensive spelling program is encouraged.)
I've been thinking about all of this lately because of my Moonpie. She loves to write. And she loves for things to be correct. She will not sit and spell freely. She wants the words to be spelled the right way. This creates frustration for her because her stories are slower going than she would prefer. Because of this, that an extreme interest is there, I have decided to introduce some formal spelling lessons into our day. In small doses.
The nitty gritty:
If you are in a similar boat and wondering how to teach spelling, here are a few of the things we will be doing this week:
I am pulling from a common misspelling that I see frequently in her spelling- that dreaded silent 'e' ending! Yesterday, a story she was writing featured the baking of a cake. She had questions about spelling both 'bake' and 'cake', so we will be focusing on the -ake word family this week. She will be creating a paper cake to write out her -ake words. I'll come up with a nifty little poem featuring lots of
-ake words for her to read through and highlight. We'll be writing our words with sidewalk chalk and what not. As with any other skill, hopefully she will continue to pick up on the pattern of how words work. When we come into contact with words that don't fit our pattern, but have the same sound (for instance - the word 'break') we will call that word an outlaw word and put his sorry rear in jail. My hope for right now is to create a fun environment and one that she can feel successful in! And even though we are jumping into formal spelling training earlier than I had intended, I am content in knowing that it is something that she is interested in.
(this is an edited version! i love the irony that i wrote a post on spelling and made a ton of grammatical mistakes! so much for posting RIGHT when i wake up!)