Clarity and Confidence: Finding the Right Spelling Curriculum
Some parents make the decision to homeschool because their child is struggling in school. It was the opposite for me. With the support of my husband, I decided to become a homeschool teacher because I did not want our children to struggle through school like I did. Actually, through elementary, high school, and college, both my husband and I had a vision impairment called myopia that went undetected in school. Myopia is a refractive error in the eyes causing nearsightedness. We received our first pair of prescription glasses after high school, after we were married, and after we became parents. We both found out we had a vision problem long after we passed the eye chart exams at school and at the DMV. With our first pair of prescription glasses, we gained clarity and confidence. Learning became easy, and homeschool became our way of life.
Perception at School
Without his glasses, my husband is able to see for about five feet before the world becomes blurry, and his prescription is -1.00 in each eye; therefore, his was a minor adjustment, and he was an average student. My prescription is -3.25 in each eye, and I can only see clearly for a distance of about 10-12 inches; therefore without corrective lenses, I function at a level considered ‘border-line-legally-blind.’ In first grade, I was placed in special reading classes, and the special education label stuck all the way through school. As a child, trying to focus on an object was a game I played with my eyes. I assumed everyone’s perception of the world was the same. Squinting created a pin-hole-effect, a lightning flash moment of clarity, enough time to identify a single letter. By standing still and concentrating, I was able to pass an eye exam. I was never told I wasn’t allowed to squint; I was told to do my best. Although I was able to see my books and my homework on my desk at school, I was not able to read words written on the board, nor posters on the wall, nor signs in the street. Although my husband and I were not the best students, both of us were actually quite bright and creative to do as well as we did in school.
We Weren’t Good Spellers
Before our children were ready for kindergarten, I used a popular phonics curriculum to teach them how to read, and I realized I was learning with them. As an adult, I taught myself to read, by teaching my children to read. I accomplished my goal, my kids could read well at a young age, but none of us were good spellers. I searched and searched for curriculum. I found wonderful math, grammar, and writing programs, so we excelled in these areas. I became more of a student than a teacher learning along with my children. I completed all the work with them as I was truly learning it for the first time. We took turns doing math problems; they did an even numbered problem, then I did an odd numbered problem. We did most of our work together as a team; sometimes, they took turns being the teacher for the day. Remembering my days in special education classes, I realized I never did experience working through a step-by-step, well-planned-out-curriculum.
Looking for a Spelling Curriculum
During our homeschool years, I was still searching, yet not able to find a spelling program that worked for us. Something was missing, but I could not find the missing piece to the puzzle; until, Spelling You See. The Spelling You See curriculum was the missing part to our homeschooling program. I finally understood; after talking with Dr. Karen Holinga, The Reading Doctor, that reading is decoding (converting words from print to sound) while spelling is encoding (converting sounds to printed form). Reading and spelling are completely different skills that use a different part of the brain. As she explained the progression of the spelling levels, I realized that we had skipped over and missed the third and most difficult level of spelling called the skill development stage. My kids had a strong phonics background, but not a strong encoding background; therefore, irregularly-spelled words remained easy to read but difficult to spell. Nevertheless, with help from spell-check, my adult children graduated with honors at a university.
One is never too old, nor too young, to learn. I ordered the Spelling You See program, and I am using it with my grandson who is now almost two years old. It is exciting! After all these years God answered my prayers. After story time, my grandson watches me write my dictation words. This has become our favorite time together. What I love the most about the Spelling You See program is that in Level A (Listen and Write) it requires only ten minutes a day. Once I have completed the assignment, my grandson practices his prewriting skills, drawing over the words he just watched me write, spell, and read. He uses pens to color and highlight. He is beginning to trace over the letters. Babies are so smart! He already knows all the uppercase and lowercase letters, is learning the letter sounds, and is even beginning to recognize some words. Because he watches and listens, he understands the concept that letters spell words. Together, we are having so much fun.
Eye care professionals recommend children have their first comprehensive eye exam sometime around preschool age, and just before starting kindergarten. Our grandson will be having his first eye exam at the optometrist office soon. He may or may not need to wear prescription glasses like grandpa and grammie. The good news is, with good vision, and without having to rely on spell-check, we can all have more clarity and confidence in everything we do.
This blog post was written by a Spelling You See customer who wanted to share per personal story using the curriculum.