Is Spelling a Problem?


This morning Einstein (my husband) went to visit his brother, whom he hasn’t seen for some time, and during the course of the conversation, the subject of our home-schooling Little Einstein came up.

My brother-in-law gave Einstein a hard time, with all the usual arguments: “what about socialisation…” etc. At some point, my sister-in-law chipped in with:  “well, I hope you’re at least teaching him to spell, because none of the home-schoolers I’ve come across can spell!”

As he related this story to me, I put this question to myself: Is this a fair observation on her part?

While I’m sure it’s not true for all, in my experience with other children through the running of a group of Cubs, I have found that today’s children – generally – can’t spell for toffee. During this past year, I have given the Cubs small writing tasks, and have been stunned at just how poor their spelling is. In some cases, it is difficult to make out what they have written. This group of children are all from Grade 1 – 4, and are a mix of home-schoolers and children who go to both private and government schools. With only one exception, they cannot spell!

Without any bias, that one exception is my Little Einstein.

I can take no credit for this as we have been home–schooling for less than a year. Fact is, his spelling has always been excellent.

So what makes the difference?

I can only imagine that it has to do with his voracious appetite for reading.

Books have always played a major role in his life. From the time he was able to understand, I have read aloud to him on a daily basis. Even today, at the age of 10, he gets terribly upset if we miss our bedtime read-aloud stories.

Television and computer time has always been strictly limited and supervised in our house (another thing for which we have endured endless criticism), and Little Einstein has instead been driven towards books, with the result that he has grown up with an intense love of books and reading.

A trip to the library for fresh books is the highlight of his week!

Perhaps too, having good books as a reference for language, rather than television, computers and cellphones, along with “cyberspeak” and “cell language”, has protected him from bad spelling and given him an excellent vocabulary.

When we decided earlier this year to take him out of school and home-school him, I was momentarily concerned about a curriculum for English. Because finances were tight and we were not able to purchase a full curriculum, I decided to just buy the core subjects and “wing” it for language and Maths this year.

I trawled the internet for free resources, and came up with a wonderful English grammar and writing curriculum which I have used this year.

The Grammar and Writing Lessons from Scott Foresman Reading are available for Grades 1 – 6. You may find that you will need to backtrack a year, as they are of quite a high standard (e.g. use Grade 2 in place of Grade 3).

You can find this resource here.

When we had completed the Scott Foresman programme, we went on to some lessons from “Mega English”, borrowed from a fellow home-schooler. For the past few weeks, we have concentrated on creative writing: story writing and writing poetry.

To encourage Little Einstein with his creative writing, I also set up a blog for him, theming it to his passion for nature and the environment. Still in it’s very infant stages, “Frogs & Snails & Puppy-Dogs Tails” can be viewed here.

Finally, just last week I came across a fun game to really challenge good spelling.

Called “A Crossword Caper”, it’s a fun way for kids to practice spelling and boost vocabulary. Adults will enjoy it too!

“Bullies have stolen and hidden parts of Eugene`s amazing Letter Machine – right before the science fair! With his friends, Eugene travels across dozens of colourful levels to connect enough words crossword-style to build a path and collect the missing parts in time to outsmart the bullies and save the science fair!”

To get this totally free full version game, go to type “A Crossword Caper” in the Search feature and download! Enjoy! (If you’re a game junkie, there are lots of other free games to download here too)

This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more.  You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page.