How much parent interaction is required in Spelling You See? Jean Soyke walks you through the answer to this question.
My homeschooling days are long gone, but if I were doing it now, I would immediately be attracted to Spelling You See. The passages are interesting, the activities are easy to complete, there are no boring word lists to drill, and the program is based on the individual student’s developmental level, not grade. I would especially like the fact that the lessons are short. This was important to me when I was homeschooling because it was often the “short” subjects (spelling, grammar, vocabulary) that could be assigned for independent work. However, when I look at the lesson activities and watch Karen Holinga’s videos, it appears that a lot of parent interaction is required. Perhaps you, like me, have wondered—how much do I need to be involved in teaching Spelling You See?
Of course, we all know what the ideal homeschooling scenario would be—one parent and one child, sitting side by side and spending hours together lost in the love of learning. The reality is, however, that there are meals to cook, laundry to wash and put away, phone calls to be made, et cetera, et cetera, and often several children homeschooling at the same time. The parent may also have obligations to an outside employer that need to be met. It is simply impossible to spend every minute of every homeschooling day with every child. However, while it is true that Demme Learning products are built on the principle of engaged parenting, it is possible to allow students some measure of independence while using Spelling You See.
First, consider students in the Phonetic stage of spelling development, working in Listen and Write or the first half of Jack and Jill. Generally children of this age need more direction and are less able to work independently, so you should expect to be with your child for most of the activities on this level. If your child consistently uses a correct pencil grip and forms letters correctly, you may be able to let him trace and write letters on his own. However, it is essential that you participate in the letter-box dictation, as this is the activity that incorporates the most meaningful language learning. Be sure to follow the directions in the Instructor’s Handbook and view the letter-box dictation video to get the most out of these sessions.
Once children reach the Skill Development stage (the second half of Jack and Jill, through Ancient Achievements), they are generally able to work more independently. The key to how much is how well they are able to read. You can gauge this on the first day of each lesson when you read the new passage. First read the passage aloud to the student to introduce any new or unfamiliar words; then have him read it back to you. If he can read it comfortably, without stumbling, you probably do not need to read aloud with him for the remainder of the lesson. You will also need to work with your student on the chunking exercises for the first few lessons, until he has had experience marking all the different chunks, but once a student becomes familiar with this activity, you may not need to be present while he is chunking a passage. Similarly, you will want to guide the first few copywork sessions until you gauge how well your student can complete them without copious errors. Students generally can also complete No Rule Day activities by themselves. If you choose to allow your student to work more independently in Spelling You See, however, it will be essential that you participate in and pay close attention to the dictation exercises. Use the first dictation of the week as a guide. If the student struggles significantly and repeatedly asks for help, you probably need to provide more guidance during the chunking and copywork activities. Continue to monitor your student’s progress until you arrive at the right balance of parental monitoring and independent work, re-evaluating periodically as your student matures and spelling skill grows.
Modern Milestones, the Spelling You See level for the Word Extension stage, is designed for more independent work. Lesson instructions are printed on the Student Workbook pages, and direct instruction is generally only needed for students who are new to the program or have challenges with reading. Dictation is still a critical component at this level, however, so parental involvement is still required. Once again, dictation can provide a useful gauge as to how much a parent needs to be directly involved in the student’s daily work.
There is no question that parental engagement and the ability to adapt instruction to the individual child are two of the many factors that make homeschooling so successful. Spelling You See gives you the opportunity to capitalize on both of these factors as you help your child become a successful speller, moving forward down the road of lifelong learning.