When I taught a small classroom of fourth and fifth graders, spelling was easy. We used the Abeka curriculum which basically gets through spelling class in ten minutes flat. The children, in unison, say-spell-say each word then for homework they are required to write down the words on a sheet of paper. Younger grades have a worksheet to fill out, but that is only once a week.
Enter the homeschooling world.
Not so easy.
I am not sure if was the dynamics of the classroom that made the Abeka style so efficient but when I tried that style in our home it was an epic, fail.
At first I had to deal with attitudes.
"Do I have to do this??"
Then, once we got over that, I realized that the method itself just was not working.
I mean, my oldest could ace a test no problem but he was NOT retaining the info.
Then, I tried an online spelling program that a bunch of my friends were raving about. Now, my second oldest son was improving his test scores but still, he was not retaining. When it comes to spelling, retaining the info is what is important so they can use it in other subjects of school, in other areas of life.
Here are three ways that I have found to help children retain what they learn in spelling.
1- Stretching The Words
My kids love this. Not really. But I find that it helps if they just CANNOT get a spelling rule or word down. The way it works is, they spell out each word, one letter at a time. Therefore, the word therefore would look like this on your child's paper:
This especially helps the child that is mentally all over the place to focus and think about which letter comes next. One of my children is always switching up letters. He knows a letter is "in there somewhere" so he will just throw it in without really stopping to think about it. This is an excellent way to help your child master those really difficult words.
2- A Spelling Bee
This works great if you have several kids close to the same age. If they are only one or two grades apart, and you look through typical spelling lists, there will be MANY similar words. This is because many words are repeated year after year so combining this subject isn't that bad of an idea. This is how we use this concept in our homeschool.
Sometimes I will tell the kids how many letters are in the word and have them spell them to me, spelling bee style. If the first child gets it wrong, the next one can try.
Once I see that they are mastering the words, I might do the spelling bee concept the day before I plan on testing them to make sure they are slowing down and thinking about how the words are spelled and not rushing through them.
3- Write a Story
My kids enjoy having the freedom to write without having to worry about me coming around with a red pen and marking all their spelling errors. So I don't. I let them write, freely and only "grade" their work once a week. I will pick, or sometimes let them pick one story that they have written in the week and I will edit and have them rewrite that paper. This way, they can focus on their writing skills without fear of being wrong every time pencil is in hand.