How to teach homeschool spelling

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This one is easy: Don’t.

You heard me correctly.  Don’t teach homeschool spelling.  Well, not as an independent subject at least.  All my kids are excellent writers and I gave up spelling lists within the first couple weeks of homeschooling.  There are several reasons for this:

  1. Spelling programs are, as a whole, BORING to teach.
  2. They are also boring for students
  3. Rote memorization of word lists will make most kids hate school
  4. Memorizing lists, in general, rarely leads to long term retention of information.
  5. Did I mention it’s boring?

So why are my kids good spellers?

My kids read all the time.  They read for school.  Then they read on their own.  We read to them.  They see words in their proper context and develop an eye for them.  We talk about what we read so they learn the meanings behind the words and they are occasionally asked to write about what they read so that they can internalize the words that are used to communicate what they have read. 

SO then, how do you teach homeschool spelling? 

The best way to teach spelling is by creating a language rich environment. 

  1. Speaking  Use big words with your kids even when they are young.  Ask them questions and give them time to think and speak and answer.
  2. Readings.  The more your child reads the better speller they will become. 
  3. And writing.  The more your child writes the more they will internalize language. 

If your child is raised in a language rich environment most spelling will become natural to them because they will have internalized the language from their various senses:  seeing, hearing, touching. You don’t need to teach homeschool spelling as a separate subject.

But What If My Kids Still Can’t Spell?

When they do make an error have them correct it in a spelling journal by rewriting the sentence correctly, underlining the word they misspelled and then copying it three times.  For some words they may need to do this several times, but in due course they will learn.  This basic process should continue throughout your child’s homeschool years.  Hopefully, by high school they will not make quite so many errors, but even if they do have them pull out the old journal and follow the protocol.  They will laugh and enjoy looking back at their early errors and how much they have learned. 

Pro Tip: Get a fun spelling journal that will last a long time. I love these softbound Erin Condren notebooks. Or go with a super fancy hardbound Paperblanks notebook. Just make it something special your child will appreciate.

Final Thoughts

Please remember always though while teaching homeschool spelling this way worked for my kids it might not work for you.  One of the biggest perks of homeschooling is that you can tweak a program to meet your child’s particular needs.  Some kids love spelling tests.  It gives them a great sense of satisfaction.  Those kids should use a traditional spelling book.  Other children have difficulty reading and get behind overall.  They may benefit from a phonics based approach.  Most children, however, will find reading and writing to be the best way to learn to spell.  Immerse them in great books and interesting stories and they won’t even know they are learning to spell!

Visit my Resources page for more recommendations on where to get your homeschooling supplies. 

Visit my Tips and Tricks page for more information on how to homeschool.

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About Mary

Mary Stephens is a long time homeschooling mother of four: two still at home, one in seminary and one graduated from college. Mary holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Passionate about both travel and education she offers homeschooling tips and tricks as well as free travelschooling units on her website penciltreks.com. Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

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