We are excited to introduce our new video courses for 2021! This year we have seven new courses that span from Grades 1–11. Each course is age-appropriate and, above all, is designed to excite a love of learning in your students. For more information about these new courses, see our new 2021 Catalog! [Read more…] about New Homeschool Video Courses
How does someone become good at spelling?
Is it by practice alone? If so, I would just need to get out the dictionary and have my child start memorizing words. But, thankfully, good spelling isn’t completely dependent on having a good memory. Practice and memory play only a part. Good spellers also have a deep understanding about how letters and sounds work together.
Connecting Spelling to Phonics
One of the ways to build deep understanding of spelling patterns is to study word families. If you’ve taught reading with the BJU Press homeschool curriculum, you’re familiar with the word family approach to phonics. Children learn to read words by identifying the vowel patterns in the words. The vowel pattern will provide the necessary clues to determine the vowel sound and then decode the word. Words with similar vowel patterns are rhyming words that also make up a word family. For example, the at family would include words such as bat, cat, mat, and fat.
This same word family approach is valuable for teaching spelling because it helps students understand the connection between the sounds of a word and its spelling. So, if I learn how to spell might, I also know how to spell words such as fight, bright, and light even if they never show up on a spelling list.
Discovering the Patterns
Another way to build deep understanding of spelling patterns is to help students analyze words to discover those patterns for themselves. To do this, you need to present them with spelling lists that contain words with similar spelling patterns and sounds. The list should also include several other patterns. As children group and sort the words according to the spellings, they will gain a better understanding of how the sounds and letters relate to one another. And they won’t as quickly forget what they’ve learned.
Becoming a good speller doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t even necessarily happen during one homeschool year. It happens gradually as your child grows in his or her understanding of the reliable spelling patterns that do exist in our language. Though it takes time, it’s also worth the effort.
I’ve used the BJU Press spelling curriculum in our homeschool for two years now, and I’m looking forward to using it again next year. If you’re interested in learning more about using BJU Press spelling in your homeschool, you can check out the individual products for each grade.
From my daughter’s very first spelling test in first grade, I knew that she was going to struggle. And I knew that I was going to have to find ways to help her learn those spelling words. I soon realized that even though writing the words and spelling them aloud helped a little, in order for the spelling patterns to really solidify in her mind, my kinesthetic learner needed to be able to touch and manipulate the words. Here are some activities that we tried that really helped my struggling speller.
Spelling with Dough
Play Doh®, cookie dough, salt dough, and even bread dough are all perfect for forming letters and words. Start by having your children make a word family (like ar) and then ask them to add different letters to that base to make different words (like star or tar). Ask them questions like, “How could I change tar to make star?”
Spelling with Alphabet Cards
If you don’t want to bother with the mess of dough, you can do a similar activity with alphabet flash cards (you may need more than one set). Start again by asking your child to form the word family with the cards, and then add and subtract letters to make different words.
Spelling with Sand
For some reason, writing with a stick (or your finger) is way more fun than writing with a pencil. And erasing letters with your foot is much better than erasing with an actual eraser. So practice writing spelling words in the sand (or dirt). Your kids probably won’t even notice that they’re doing schoolwork!
My daughter learns best when she can touch and manipulate her environment, so making spelling a sensory activity has really helped her learn and remember her spelling lists. How do you help your children learn their weekly spelling words? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below!
One morning, my second-grade daughter was taking a heritage studies test when she complained, “Mom, this question doesn’t make sense.”
I came to look and immediately saw the problem. My husband, who writes the heritage studies tests for our daughter, had accidentally typed on instead of own so the resulting question was confusing. Once I fixed the spelling mistake, my daughter knew immediately what he was asking and was able to complete the test without much difficulty.
Poor spelling often leads to poor communication. Any mom who has received notes from very small children knows this. My five-year-old daughter often gives me invitations to pretend parties that she throws for her dolls. I usually have to ask her to confirm the details because I have no idea what words like kokes (cookies) and juse (juice) refer to.
The main reason we teach our children spelling is because we want them to be clear communicators. One of the reasons I love the BJU Press spelling program is that it offers more than just a list of words to memorize every week. It uses an interactive approach to teaching so that my daughter will understand why words are spelled the way they are and will be able to apply reliable spelling patterns to words not on the weekly spelling list. This understanding enables her to apply what she’s learning to real-world written communication.
My daughter gets a lot of opportunities to practice written communication skills in spelling class because her student worktext is filled with writing activities such as writing a recipe, a letter, an invitation, or a journal entry. My daughter has also learned how to use a dictionary and is regularly challenged to proofread short paragraphs.
Even now, when my daughter sits down to write a thank-you note for a birthday gift or compose a creative story, she’s careful with her spelling and takes the time to look up how to spell words she doesn’t know. And every once in a while, she’ll point out spelling errors in the tests that my husband and I write for her. I’m proud of her—she’s a better speller than I was at her age.
If you’re interested, you can take a look at the Spelling 3 materials we’ll be using in our homeschool this coming year. I’m sure you’ll love them as much as I do.
We’re now on the fourth post in our series titled “Why Do You Homeschool?” We’ve been talking with Deborah, a mom who homeschooled four children, about some of the advantages of homeschooling.
Deborah mentioned what a blessing it was that homeschooling allowed her family time to journal regularly, so I asked her to tell us more about that. Here’s what she said:
“Journaling is such a wonderful tool if used properly. It teaches a number of skills that are needed in any child’s education—from handwriting, spelling, and punctuation to thoughtful creative skills.
“Because we were fairly structured in our homeschooling, journaling was simply part of our ‘school day’ once a week.
“This all got started because of the journal entry section in the BJU Press spelling curriculum. The purpose was to have the child use some of the spelling words in the suggested topic. These entries were never graded, but I would always answer their journals briefly, using any words that they might have misspelled. It was never meant to critique their writing or thought processes.
“The journal entry does not have to be more than a couple of sentences sometimes. I required at least five sentences from my kids while in school. If the suggested topic (in the spelling text) did not seem to fit, I chose the question/topic. On occasion the kids would suggest something to write about. Some topics were simply fun ones; others were more serious in nature. Because it was accepted simply as part of the lesson and was not a long assignment, there was never an argument from any of them when it came time to write.
“The kids loved reading journals from years past. Often it generated laughter and discussion of family trips, events, and situations. It gave great opportunity to talk about God’s active presence in our lives individually and as a family. Many truths were fleshed out over time as the family bonded.
“Of course, the most vivid memory for them is sharing favorite times with their dad—our hikes and camping trips, his jokes and all the fun times he brought to our home. Often we talked about the topic, and the older kids would share something their youngest sibling did not remember about her dad. It brought healing to our broken hearts and cemented precious memories.
“Today my kids are better than I am when it comes to journaling because they were taught from the get-go how important it is to put your thoughts into writing and to do so clearly. They learned that discipline early on. I can’t emphasize enough how life-changing this practice can be if nurtured. The memories chronicled, the joys and heartaches revealed, and the lessons from the Lord written down to revisit years later are all invaluable.”
Has homeschooling made a blessing like this possible for your family? Let us know in the comments below!