“How much time do I have to invest in Spelling You See?”
I am often asked this from parents, whether we are attending conferences, or having a consultation over the phone. My first thought of an answer is “It depends.” But before I go there, let me say there is an up-front investment of time for you as the parent.
Read the handbook.
I cannot emphasize enough how important that is – this program is not like anything you have done before, and in order for it to be effective, you have to do it right.
You see, I am the “yeah, I got this” parent. I read the directions only if I have to, and will skip an introduction paragraph – always – and maybe even look for the bullet points instead of a paragraph of instruction. Can any of you see yourself in me? A Spelling You See investment is not large, but it is different. Get your money’s worth by reading the handbook.
Now, let’s discuss a few details:
If you are a parent working with a student who is in Level A, then your involvement is every moment of the time your child spends working with Spelling You See. Do not panic. What that translates to is about ten minutes a day for you and your student. At Level A, called Listen and Write, you are dictating by sound to your student for ten minutes a day. This is cultivating the skill of phonemic awareness, the essential hallmark of phonics that must be met in order to crack the code of reading.
Bear in mind that it is not a page of completion, rather an investment of time. For instance, on a page that might have twelve sets of word boxes for you to complete, even if your student only completes six of those boxes in ten minutes, they have had a successful spelling experience. The magic and gold of your investment of time together is for them to read back to you the words they have written. Don’t skip this step, because it is the cherry on top so to speak.
At Level B (Wild Tales) there is still a great deal of investment of your time with your student, because you are still helping model for your student how they’re going to create the sound-to-letter correspondence of phonemic awareness. Further, you two are working together with nursery rhymes to begin to foster a reading confidence. Each day will give you a different task to complete with your child, using the same nursery rhyme for the week.
Parents sometimes balk at the “same thing every day”. Hasn’t your child had a favorite story they have wanted you to read again and again?? Honestly, one of my children wanted A Fly Went By read to him – every day – for an entire year. Any one of my other four children can now recite it by heart!
As an aside, have you ever wondered why children do that? It is truly not to drive their parents to the brink of insanity – although I know it feels that way sometimes. Their brains are striving for something called “fluency” and that repetition helps them order and improve the neurological pathways for their learning. So their seeming madness actually has a tremendous benefit.
Levels C and above offer you the opportunity for a little bit more hands-off experience for your student. From Level C forward, your investment of time needs to be in reading the passage to your student daily, allowing your student to read the passage with you daily and then helping your student chunk that passage, by checking their chunking after it is complete. As you and your student become more proficient with the process, that time together becomes shorter. Don’t skip that process of reading to your child and then reading WITH your child. The specific goal of doing that is so that your child reads exactly and only what is written in the passage. If you skip that, you are not getting your money’s worth from the process.
Remember, all of this investment of time assumes that you have taken the time to read the instructional handbook, because Spelling You See is so very different from anything you have used with regard to spelling heretofore.
If you have more than one student, you can capitalize on an opportunity for them to help each other, by having them check each other’s chunking. We call that “forced altruism” at my house. This allows them to learn from one another.
There are two more investments of time for you in Levels C through F, and they are dependent on whether you have a child who is required to do one dictation a week in Level C or 2 dictations a week in Levels D and above.
Spelling You See dictation is very specific. You will dictate for a period of 10 minutes, word by word, correcting for an error as an error is made. If you wait until the end of the 10-minute time to correct for errors, you’re not going to have the same degree of success and your forward progress will be markedly slower. (But then you would know that because you read the handbook, right?) You must correct in the moment for the correction to be effective. Remember, because this is a process, the correction does not necessarily have to result in a correct spelling – it is more about trying another pattern to see if it works effectively.
The beauty of a Spelling You See program is that once you have mastered the process as the parent, there is no preparation for you – it is only the process of doing the work. That was tremendously exciting to me. It also markedly separates Spelling You See from other spelling programs in the marketplace.
My last word about the time investment is more intrinsic. I never realized what a negative experience it was to teach spelling, until I had the opportunity to teach it affirmatively with Spelling You See. To watch a child go from dreading spelling to looking forward to it was humbling and exciting for me. I know you will experience that same transformation. Go forth and spell well.