Teaching spelling is the third component of language arts that we will address in this All About Teaching Language Arts Series. Spelling is actually a continuation of phonics instruction and incorporates handwriting practice.
Spelling should be taught very gently in the early years and as early as age three. No spelling tests necessary! Formal studies need not start until age 8 or older!
This article is part of a series meant to encourage and prepare moms to teach language arts at home to their children using almost any program.
- My approach to teaching language arts is very loosely based on the Spalding method which I have adapted to meet our needs as a large homeschooling family who embraces a lifestyle of learning.
- My goal is to show you how to teach yourself language arts so that you can teach your children language arts – while instilling a love of learning in your children.
- You will learn how to be intentional in language arts instruction so that you are prepared and able to utilize almost any language arts curriculum to your benefit.
- You may even realize you can create your own curriculum using the simplest and cheapest materials like notebooks and pencils!
- I recommend that you teach language arts to your children by example as soon as possible as an extension of parenting.
All About Teaching Spelling For Homeschool Moms
Here is a quick look at what spelling consists of when part of teaching language arts.
Definition of spelling:
- 1.the manner in which words are spelled; orthography.
- 2.a group of letters representing a word.
Definition of orthography:
- 1.the art of writing words with the proper letters, according to accepted usage; correct spelling.
- 2.the part of language study concerned with letters and spelling.
- 3.a method of spelling, as by the use of an alphabet or other system of symbols; spelling.
Primary Learning Log for Language ArtsTOPS 1-Subject Notebooks, Spiral, 8BIC Velocity Side Clic Mechanical Pencils4 SPIRALS: MEAD 43080 – Mead Spell-Write Steno BookBlack Learning Log: Student Supplemental MaterialThe Complete Guide to English Spelling Rules
Spelling In Real Life
- Spelling and reading are each one side of the same coin. Reading happens when you see a word and then think/say it and spelling is when you think or say a word and are able to correctly spell it for others to read.
- About the time that your child has a general understanding of phonics and knows that letters create words that can be spoken or written, spelling instruction has already begun.
- Every time you help your child sound out a word that they want to read or write, you are teaching spelling to them.
- Teaching spelling is, therefore, teaching children that letters work together to create words and there is a proper way to do this. Phonics is the key.
- Spelling is learning why words are written the way they are. It is not about memorizing how to write a word for a test.
- Spelling is about becoming confident in knowing and pronouncing new words. It unlocks the wonderful world of reading and speaking well.
- Spelling is internal to external. It is learning to think of the word and visualize it phonetically and then say/write it.
- Spelling is taking the phonograms learned during phonics instruction and putting them together to build words. Combine with saying/writing the word and you discover the beautiful ability to communicate well!
- Spelling rules teach us when and why to use the phonograms to build words.
How To Introduce Spelling
A great language arts program will introduce spelling rules after phonics, but before reading. This doesn’t mean that the child isn’t learning to read as a natural result of being taught phonics and spelling, but that you are not putting an emphasis on reading instruction.
In other words, you are not putting words/books in front of them and telling them to sound out words for reading practice. And you are not having them memorize words in order to “read” them back to you.
You are still in the stage of giving them words orally, walking them through sounding them out, and then having them write them down (if they are ready for regular handwriting practice).
- Phonics, handwriting, and spelling skills all work together seamlessly.
- Some children will catch on super quick to phonics and spelling and realize that it leads to reading. Everything just clicks and they are picking up books on their own, sounding out words, and reading within months.
- Other children spend more time grasping each concept. Phonics, then handwriting and spelling, and then reading.
- It is normal for a child to be age 8+ before grasping all or any language arts concepts. Slow & steady is best.
No matter when or how quickly your child starts reading, a continuation of phonics, handwriting, and spelling instruction is needed. A solid foundation in those skills is important to learning future language arts skills!
- Choose a solid phonics and spelling first program for language arts and use it as a guide to teach yourself.
- Learn the spelling rules: when and why we spell words according to the American English language.
- Start gently and then work at your child’s pace to know when to start formal spelling lessons.
- Instead of giving your child words to memorize throughout the week, teach them spelling rules in the context of phonics and handwriting lessons.
- Practice spelling rules by giving them words orally and asking them to say them back to you and spell them out loud.
- Help them work through sounding out words using phonograms and spelling rules whenever they ask how to spell a word.
- Use pre-handwriting activities as a way to practice spelling.
- Teach them to hear the word, think about/visualize the word, say the word and sound it out, then write the word.
- Work from phonics/spelling to writing/reading. Internal to external.
- Copywork is a great way to reinforce and practice all skills: phonics, handwriting, and spelling. It works best when the child is watching you write the words using proper letter formation, sounding them out phonetically, and referencing spelling rules while doing so.
- Sit to the left of your child while giving examples so that they are looking left to right (in the direction they will write/read). If teaching a room full of children, then stand at the chalkboard in front and to the left of them.
- Have fun ‘spelling bees’ where you give your child(ren) words to spell, or they give YOU words to spell.
Teaching phonics and spelling before reading may make you feel like your child is “behind” in reading since your child isn’t memorizing words and picking up on reading right away. You may even wonder if your child will ever ‘get it’.
Believe me, that ‘light bulb’ moment – where your child truly understands that phonics and spelling lead to reading and communicating through the written word – is worth waiting for!
Spelling through Phonics Programs
The Phonics Road to Spelling & Reading Level 1The Phonics Road to Reading and Spelling Level 2The Phonics Road to Spelling & Reading Level 3Spell to Write And Read / Core Kit – Teacher’s EditionAll About Spelling The Multisensory Program for Spelling Success Level OneAbeka Letters and Sounds 1
Which Way Is Best?
I have done it both ways. I have taught whole-word recognization/reading before giving in-depth instruction in phonics and spelling.
To be honest, that child was reading chapter books by age six … but they could not spell, read out loud, or write well — and as a result, could not communicate with the written word well which led to frustration with handwriting and spelling lessons by age seven.
I stopped formal handwriting and reading lessons with that child and spent an entire year focusing on phonics and spelling skills, all taught orally and visually because of their aversion to handwriting.
Guess what?! Their spelling improved drastically, and as a result, their pronunciation skills while reading out loud improved greatly, too!
Now I teach pre-handwriting skills, phonics, and spelling first without an emphasis on reading and by age seven/eight, my children are not only reading fluently but also spelling & writing correctly!
It is okay if they take a little longer and do not master all of the phonograms, spelling, handwriting, and reading skills until nine or ten. They are building a strong foundation in language arts and once it all comes together, it is some of the key skills they need to learn anything they want to!
The best part is that they were allowed to go at their own pace, enjoy the process, see the results, and grow their love of learning.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments and I’ll do my best to address them!