I decided to start my son on a formal spelling program this year (his K4 year). Although Raisin is quite young, he is constantly asking me “how do I spell _____?” so he can write notes or type on the computer (I opened a private blog for him to post his pictures and thoughts). He loves the power of words, and since he’s reading at a third- or fourth- grade level now, he naturally wants to progress to writing his own thoughts down.
For his spelling “curriculum,” I decided to go for the multiple interactions that come from All About Spelling. This relies on learning the phonograms of English with physical magnetic tiles to manipulate and flash cards with which to practice. Because handwriting is so very difficult for him (he is deadly slow in writing his letters, but he forms them correctly), I decided to dispense with the handwriting component. So far, he’s progressing well, and we practice a few words a day, spelling with the tiles. He also sometimes spells things to me orally, or he takes a “quiz” on a spelling app I downloaded to my tablet. In general, it’s working very well for him.
All that said, the curriculum I spied that I really wanted for its prettiness factor was The Logic of English, a program that presents the main rules of spelling quickly and thereby arms people with the ability to spell just about anything. The curriculum is new and is currently geared for older kids who need a crash course in spelling (although levels for younger kids are coming in the future). I did not feel it would be a good fit for my son (and the price was not right) but I did manage to snag a copy of the book that started Ms Denise Eide’s homeschool curriculum: Uncovering the Logic of English.
Although Uncovering the Logic of English is a slim book, Ms Eide manages to convince me that I too can learn to spell. I don’t have many memories of spelling tests in school, but I have always felt like spelling is one of those annoyingly random things about English. Spelling is one of the reasons I always prefer typing something to hand writing it: where would I be without spell check?
In less than 200 pages, Ms Eide discusses the building blocks of words (consonants, vowels, and syllables) as well as the basic rules over each of those. The other rules (silent e, suffixes, plurals, etc.) all seem so easy and so practical. I’ve found myself noticing the words I type and read more carefully. “Oh, right,” I think. “Of course that word doubles the final consonant! The syllable at the end has one vowel and then one consonant.” It is strange to think that I, the firm believer in the power of spell check, a speed reader who skims for content and ignores individual letters1, am suddenly noticing words for their individual letters and thinking about why things are spelled the way they are. I’ve even found myself explaining some of the rules to my young son when he asks “How do I spell ______?” To me, that shows just how empowering it is to understand the whys behind English spelling. I applaud Ms Eide for her ability to do so in such a succinct way.
I did read Uncovering the Logic of English one chapter at a time in order to get a general feel for the rules of spelling that I have to deal with. In some respects, even this slim volume could work as a spelling program for the ambitious parent. When my son reaches a certain point in his education, I may be able to rely on this book whenever I notice a recurrence of spelling errors.
However, as useful and interesting as this book is, I will add that I think it may work best as a reference book. I certainly am glad to have it on my reference shelf. I readily enjoyed having the logic of English spelling explained to me, and I look forward to reminding myself of the rules from time to time in the future. I see Uncovering the Logic of English as a valuable part of my homeschool library.
- I can read those paragraphs with the letters out of order (you know, the ones were the first and last letters are right but everything else is scrambled) without much problem. ↩