I've been thinking a long time about starting a new category here on Home School In Florida for reviews. When I find something that really works for us, or come across an inspiring or informative book I like to tell everyone about it so why not post about these things here? Sounds like a good idea to me!
Today I'm going to be talking about the spelling and phonics curriculum called All About Spelling. Before I begin I'd like to tell you a story:
When I was in graduate school there was an ongoing debate among educators regarding what was then called "whole language" which basically meant the teaching of literacy using sight words; immersing kids in print-rich environments; labeling common items around the room and/or home; reading lots of good, quality literature while pointing to the words as we read, and often using "big books", etc. Sounds like all the things that common sense would warrant, right? But where does the teaching of phonics fit in to this poetic scenario?
Ah. Thus the debate.
There were people on either side of the fence of course, and the pendulum would swing one way or another over the next 15+ years as I began my career and watched this debate continue.
Where did I stand? On the fence. Sort of.
Any good teacher knows that one size never fits all and that a combination of teaching methods is often best. That's where I fell into this debate. If I had to join a rank, I'd join the "whole language" crowd, however, I knew that to efficaciously teach reading and spelling to my students I'd have to use some sort of phonics program.
Enter the home school. My girls are natural readers. They're the kind of kids that one might say learned to read on their own with no instruction from me. Is this true? No. This is never true. My children were immersed in a literate environment from the moment they were born. They were immersed in the print-rich environment I speak of, they watched me point to words as we read even when they were still considered babies. They learned to read early and they read way above "grade level".
Since I know that <a href="http://www.homeschoolinflorida.com/how-to-1-teaching-writing-to-young-children/">reading and writing go so hand in hand</a>, I did not dissuade my girls from "writing" whenever they wanted to. Because of all that, they are both competent writers and pretty good spellers. But I wanted more. Why? Because I want my girls to know the "whys" of the English language. I want them to be able to decode words and spell words and understand the underlying workings of English.
Simply, I wanted a good curriculum that would teach my girls the way letters, sounds, and phonemes work and why. I was not looking for a "teach your child to read" curriculum and I definitely did not want a spelling program which had my girls write over and over and over again a list of words in a notebook. I didn't even ask my public school students to do this and would often get up on my soapbox about why spelling lists don't teach your kid to be a better speller, often to the chagrin of whatever principal I happened to be working for at the time.
I began to look for a packaged curriculum that fit my standards and what I know to be true about how children learn to read, write and spell. I asked around on a home school forum I frequent, and one mom suggested All About Spelling. After reading the website and other reviews I decided to give it a try. I love it and most importantly, my girls love it. It incorporates lots of hands-on activities, along with more focused, contracting experiences like writing, but also includes listening for the auditory learner.
I have been using this for several weeks now and I am already looking forward to getting the next level. I like it so much, in fact, that I have become an affiliate, and if you order through my link, I will get a percentage of the sale!
This program is not only for early readers and writers. No. It begins at level 1, good for beginning writers or those new to the English language. It continues throughout all the way to high school. This program has also received kudos for helping students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
I plan to write more about this solid, well-thought out program in the future. Keep your eyes open. If you are looking for a great curriculum that will help your children become better spellers, better readers, and better writers, look no further.