“I am the Spelling Bee,” announced the Spelling Bee. “Don’t be alarmed — a-l-a-r-m-e-d.”
Tock ducked under the wagon, and Milo, who was not overly fond of normal-sized bees, began to back away slowly.
“I can spell anything — a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g,” he boasted, testing his wings. “Try me, try me!
The other morning, I came out to the kitchen and saw that someone had added an item to my whiteboard grocery list:
The telltale “e” on the end alerted me to the identity of the culprit. That “e” is a flail, an insurance policy tacked on “just in case.” If she wrote the word again, she might spell it differently. It’s occurred to me that this child would have thrived in the Renaissance, when non-standard spelling was the only rule to remember. Unfortunately, we live in the 21st century.
Everyone says that one of the great advantages of home education is that you can tailor your instruction to the learning style of each child individually. Lately it’s really registering with me that I have to do something different in spelling with Child #2. Child #1 has used Spelling Workout with good results. But Child #2 has been using it for 3 years (this is the fourth), and she has learned nothing. And it’s largely my fault, with my desire to stick with the known. Where’s the Spelling Bee, from Norton Juster’s Phantom Tollbooth, when I need him?
Child #2 is very smart, but very different than her sister in a number of ways. In math she’s sailing along, and in her conversation she often startles me with sophisticated vocabulary and deep insight. But with the written word — handwriting and spelling — it’s a very different story. Coming to terms with this — and also with the discomfort of having only the most intuitive understanding of how she might learn more effectively — I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the last few days researching different spelling curricula online. I wanted to use SRA Spelling Through Morphographs, but the cheapest used version I could find was $189 on ebay. Finally I decided on Apples and Pears, a program originating in the UK but available here in the states. Like the SRA program, it breaks words down into their smallest units and focuses more on word construction than memorizing lists and rules. It uses short lessons and LOTS of repetition, spiral fashion.
Last night, having made my decision and printed out the placement tests, I went to bed. But not before passing the whiteboard once again, and seeing yet another item added to the grocery list:
I’ve put off a change for a long time. Now it can’t happen soon enough.