Marvelous Monday – Spelling & Handwriting

     I have four children.  Two of my children are fairly natural spellers, and two have a difficult time with spelling.  You’ll not wrangle which two are which out of me!  Though I’ve used some graded spellers in the past, I am now completely sold on Spelling Power.  Though the initial $60 investment may seem pricey, this is a one time purchase that will see your entire family through all of their spelling needs.  Beverly Adams-Gordon’s approach is simple, yet very, very effective.  Your child masters lists of words by applying basic spelling rules. 

     Yes, I know, no one likes learning spelling rules.  Yes, I know, none of us like spelling lists.  However, none of us want to be poor spellers either.  Spelling Power makes this approach fairly painless for parent and child.  The bottom line is, it works!  Allow yourself a couple of hours to familiarize yourself with the program’s outline and you’re all set.  Each daily lesson takes less than thirty minutes.  Though the book claims the lessons should take no longer than fifteen minutes, we generally need twenty minutes or so to finish. 
      Your student begins the lesson by copying the current spelling rule.  Then a five minute “test” is given from a word list that follows the spelling rule.  Your child self-corrects his test as you correctly spell each word from the list.  The next step is the one that I think really makes this program work.  After correcting the daily test, the student is directed in a ten step guided exercises to learn to correctly spell each missed word.  Write the word, spell the word aloud, look at the word, spell the word aloud, cover the word and spell aloud, check the word, trace the word while spelling aloud, check the word, write the word.   The final step is using the word in a sentence.  (My bunch like to try to use all missed words in one sentence!).  Missed words are reviewed daily until they can be spelled correctly. 
     Spelling power is non-graded, and includes placement testing so that each of your children can be plugged in exactly where he needs to be.  Advancement is at a steady pace.  Your struggling spellers may never become “natural” spellers, but at least they’ll know why words are spelled as they are.  The program even covers those odd words that don’t follow the spelling rules, and incorporates words that your children misspell in other daily work as well.   Spelling Power has plenty of built in periodic and cumulative review, too. 
     All you’ll really need is contained in the main book, including blank copies of the daily test forms; but we enjoy the convenience of the student notebooks.  You might see mention of a set of Student Activity Cards.  I bought these, and I don’t use them.  Stick with the book.  It’s a one time investment in building spelling skills for your child.
     Handwriting is a matter of personal preference.  Some love to teach their children a lovely, italic hand that transitions seamlessly to an italic cursive.  Others prefer the more traditional printing – cursive route.  I fall into that second category.  Legible handwriting takes practice, but there’s no reason for the practice to be meaningless.  That’s why I love the Reason for Handwriting series.  Other than the Kindergarten book, the series is non-graded, which makes it nice for families with late bloomers.  I have always just started my children in Book A. 

     Book A will introduce your child to the printed (manuscript) alphabet, with plenty of guided practice.  Book C will do the same a couple of years later by guiding your child in learning a beautiful cursive hand.  (I’ve never used Book T – Transition.  My children have done quite well with the ample transition work found in Book C.)  The first half of these two books are filled with plenty of letter by letter and then word by word practice.  The latter halves of these books, and the majority of the rest of the series are what we love.


     The premise is simple and child-friendly.  Each week a new Bible verse is used for the week’s lesson.  Monday through Wednesday your child uses the printed, guided practice to write a few words from the verse.  On Thursday, the child writes the entire verse onto practice paper.  Friday is the day they’ll look forward to! 


    
     On Friday, your child will choose a “border sheet” from the back of the book (lined paper with attractive black line drawings around the borders), and he will carefully write the week’s verse on the border sheet.  The border is then colored in, and your child chooses someone to receive the finished page.  My children have given these to pastors, mailed them to friends and family, and even blessed me with one from time to time.
     The Teacher’s Book is nice, I suppose, but I don’t think you’ll need it.  A copy of whichever student book your child needs, a sharpened no. 2 pencil,  and a nice set of colored pencils are all you’ll need.  The Reason for Handwriting series is widely available from the publisher and many homeschool vendors, but I’ve found the best price at Amazon.

     If you haven’t already done so, please visit Kendra’s site to see her Marvelous Monday recommendations for Spelling and Handwriting. 

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27
 

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7 comments to Marvelous Monday – Spelling & Handwriting

  • Thank you for reviewing a Reason for Handwriting! It had been recommended to me by a friend, and I appreciate the peek into the books that you gave. 🙂

    http://herdofsteph.blogspot.com

  • Re the (allegedly!) “more traditional printing-cursive” route —

    The custom of teaching printing first, then replacing it by a different style called “cursive,” has existed for only about 70 years. Cursive itself — the writing-style we now call “cursive” — has existed for only about 300 years. Italic, though (including the semi-joined italic cursive) has existed for 500 years. Keep this in mind, as you realize that anyone calling today’s cursive (or today’s print-then-cursive) “more traditional” has grossly misstated the facts of handwriting history.

    Kate Gladstone
    Founder and CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
    Director, the World Handwriting Contest
    http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

  • @KateGladstone – Okay.  Thanks for your perspective.  I will stand by my preference for this method.

  • Thanks for the spelling review, and the pictures!  I’m looking for a little “more” than our spelling offers (I print off custom handwriting sheets with verses, etc., but I love the border sheet idea!)

    One thing that HAS helped my poor speller is dictating the words to him before he ever sees them (I had to confiscate his spelling book!).  I read the word, he writes it, I spell it out loud and write on the board, and he corrects it.  Somehow the combo of auditory and self-correction seems to work – that sounds like it is exactly how this program does it, too!

    Do you have your kids write spelling words in addition to the book exercises?

  • Cheryl,

    I used the Reason for Handwriting with my almost 17yo daughter years ago and she would send the colored pages to her Grandma. My MIL still has them in a scrapbook. It so sweet! I really liked that program and I also liked Italic. I used that with my almost 21yo son. They both have beautiful handwriting.

    I am really enjoying these series.

    Love, Heather

  • @Milehimama – Yes, this sounds very much like the method used in Spelling Power.  The new list is not seen beforehand, and the combination of audio (hearing the word and its correct spelling) visual (seeing the correctly spelled word) and even kinesthetic (tracing and writing the word) covers all the bases for most learners.  We do just the exercises in the book.  They are enough.

  • I’m thinking to switch back to Spelling Power with my son next year.  Glad to read it has worked well for you with kid’s who are not natural spellers…and I already have it.  I used it with my daughters but they were natural born spellers.  I’m convinced spelling is a gift….some of us have it….some of us, not so much. 

    I’ve always used the Getty/Dubay Italics handwriting course and really love it.  It seems like handwriting curriculum is a preference kinda thing.  My daughter gets comments on how cool her handwriting is though!