How We Did Spelling in Our Homeschool - And Help for Struggling Spellers and 2e Kids

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Are you looking for a quality spelling program for your kids?  Or do you have one that struggles with spelling?  Or a child who feels they should already know things, before they get time to learn them?

One of the hardest things my 2e daughter encountered as a young learner was to deal with corrections to her work.  When I showed her the correct way to spell something, on her written work, she was crushed.
And I wanted to help her with spelling without correcting her spelling errors in her written work, so as not to squash her passion for writing.

Today, I'd like to share about how we dealt with spelling in our homeschool, including dealing with the following...

- Written work with LOTS of spelling errors, and how we then..
- Separated written work from spelling, and using...
- Our favorite curriculum for spelling, then...
- Reinforcing success in spelling, and writing separately

This approach worked out well in our house, because we separated spelling from her written work.  And the skill of applying good spelling to her work did come, over time, and without inhibiting her passion for writing.

So let's start with how our daughter struggled with spelling, specifically...

1.  Written Work with Lots of Spelling Errors

When my child do her weekly spelling work, she did quite well. But applying that to her writing just was not happening.  When she wrote essays, stories, or whatever, she tended to fall back to spelling her words phonetically.  

At the same time she was a good writer!  

She just could not transfer the skills developed in her spelling lessons to her written work.  And we learned that that was ok...

That she would, over time, learn to incoorporate her spelling skills into her written work.

She loved to write in her Hello Kitty journal and create simple reports, usually on penguins, toucans, or airplanes. She also enjoyed creative writing, and made her own fiction stories.  

Correcting her spelling discouraged her a lot, and left her frustrated and upset.

As a 2e kid, being corrected was such a blow to her self esteem.  She felt that she should already know things....before she had time to acquire the skills.

Can you relate?

Correcting her spelling on her written work would crush her self confidence in writing.  And we did not want to do any of that.....

We wanted her to feel free to express herself in writing.  So we had to find a way to separate spelling skills from her written work.

So next, let's look at how we did that....

2.  Separating Spelling for Written Work

So how could I teach her spelling, and still encourage her in putting words on paper?  

I didn't want to squash her creativity by correcting her misspelled work in her written work.  

This is what we did:

1.  We did spelling work, with spelling tests each week.

2.  We also did a lot of written work without correcting her spelling, all.  

This freed my daughter up so that her written work flourished.  

At the same time, she was developing spelling skills through separate spelling study.  Some would say that would lead to bad habits in spelling....But it didn't.

And eventually, she learned to apply her spelling skills to her written work, over time.  

Next, here's what we used for spelling curriculum, which we loved.

3.  Our Favorite Curriculum for Spelling

All three Primers make a complete introduction to phonics for your young learners!
This phonics program is research based.

During the K and early elementary years, our spelling was done through the Explode the Code series.  We were using this program anyway, for phonics.  While our student was learning phonics, she was also learning spelling. 

We started with their pre-K Primers.  For more information on that, feel free to check out my post on Explode the Code. 

Here is an excerpt:

"Do you have a young learner who is eager to learn to read? Are you looking for a good, easy-to-use, phonics program? How about a well-researched phonics program? Explode the Code offers all of these to introduce phonics and early reading.  Each primer introduces a group of consonants, their sounds, with fun activities on each page......"

Using these primers not only gave my daughter a good start in both phonics and spelling, but it also gave her a feeling of success, which is so important for our early learners.  

And phonics is the basis for spelling.  So we continued with Explode the Code through elementary..

Explode the Code - Elementary 

 This phonics program goes from preK through 6th grade.

We continued working in the Explode the Code series each year, starting in Explode the Code - Grade 1, then Grade 2 and so on, through 5th grade.  

Are you familiar with this series?  Here is something from my review of it:

"Following the same consistent pattern in each lesson, the series progressed to more advanced phonics, such as consonant blends and phonetic patterns, preparing the child for intermediate reading.  

The format and layout of the lessons helped make the learning easy......"  Click here, to read more.

Then, in second grade, we started a phonics based spelling program, by Evan-Moor, one of my favorite educational publishing companies.  

We loved using this spelling program starting with Building Spelling Skills – Grade 2 by Evan Moor.  

I like Evan-Moor as it is developmentally based.  We continued with that through elementary school.

The Spelling words in this book are based on the 200 most commonly used words in the English language and the words frequently misspelled by second graders.  Now that is something that I like!

Features of  BUILDING SPELLING SKILLS – Grade 2:

Each lesson includes 10 spelling words, with room to add ones that your child wants to learn.

They are printed in large font with nice illustrations.

The lessons are centered around common phonics rules, making them easier to learn.

 Click here to read the complete review of this spelling  program.

As my daughter worked in Explode the Code, and her Building Spelling Skills program, she gradually developed her spelling skills.  

Each week, she looked forward to her spelling tests, and did quite well on them.  

Finally, let's discuss how we reinforced success, but separately.....

4.  Reinforcing Success in Spelling & Writing Separately

Each week, my daughter did well on her spelling tests, and earned stickers for that.  

And each week, she did very well in her writing assignments.  She learned to write good sentences, paragraphs, and later, stories and essays.  

She picked out special stamps and earned them for each writing project that she finished.  That was our thing at our house.

She developed good writing skills, learning how to make good sentences, paragraphs, too.  She started writing easy reports in 2nd grade.  My daughter was becoming a great spelling and a great writer!  But these two skills did not show up together...... for many years

But they did come together, later.  By doing her spelling program, and her spelling tests, she learned good spelling skills, that, much later, were applied to her own written work.   

I was patient, rewarding her successes, and when it all came together, later, her confidence in writing was intact! 

So be encouraged.  It can take a LOT of practice, and sometimes, years, to be able to apply newly learned spelling skills to one's actual writing.  

By middle school, her spelling skills showed up regularly in her writing.

College Update - 

Today, my daughter got back her first essay for her college English class.  (Brag alert -She got an A).  And it showed her good spelling skills, too!  

A picture from freshman year

She was also asked to write a short piece in her business school's newsletter, based on her writing abilities shown in college admissions essay.   So success came, only later.

May you all enjoy your younger learners, as they strive, and work hard in their studies.  

Do you have a struggling speller?  What are your favorite ways to teach spelling? 

I truly enjoy hearing from you, and sharing your knowledge and experiences with spelling and writing can help another homeschooling family.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college senior, whom she homeschooled from preK through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

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