Then, we quit using it for awhile.
Spelling fell by the wayside near the end of my burnout year. Then, we started using Trail Guide to Learning. It includes spelling and I wanted to start out using the complete program, just like it was laid out.
I like the way that Trail Guide approaches spelling. It’s integrated with the curriculum and is presented in a way that makes sense with words grouped by concepts, such as word families or similar digraphs. It’s a very effective method of teaching spelling…for a typical learner.
I only have one of those. My other two kids are dyslexic.
When Josh was diagnosed last spring, one of the things his clinician noted in his report was that Josh needed to be taught spelling explicitly – in a very detailed, step-by-step manner.
I knew that All About Spelling was developed with dyslexic kids in mind, based on the Orton-Gillingham methods, which are highly regarded in the dyslexic community. So last July, as we prepared to begin working with Tori, our therapist from Lexercise, I asked if she would look at the two spelling programs I was considering – All About Spelling being one of them – and give me her opinion on which would be best for Josh.
After looking at All About Spelling, she told me that it looked like it was straight out of Orton-Gillingham. It was very reassuring to me to hear that from someone who is actually familiar with those methods.
After talking with Tori, I decided to start back at the beginning of Level 2 because the scope and sequence of that level meshed well with the order she was going to be introducing concepts in Josh’s therapy, which makes for great reinforcement.
(On a related note: I’ve also noticed that the phonemic awareness concepts that were taught in Level 1 are very similar to those that Josh practices in his therapy games each week.)
The letter tiles that are such a huge part of All About Spelling are part of what makes it perfect for a dyslexic kid, I think. It sounds like such a simple concept, but it’s hugely beneficial to Josh (and Megan) to be able to move the letter tiles around as he’s figuring out how to spell different words. The fact that the consonants are blue and the vowels are red is a helpful visual tool, as well. As more concepts are introduced, those tiles are also color-coded in various ways.
The syllable tags are great, too, because they’ve helped to reinforce concepts that he’s working on in therapy – open/closed syllable, r-controlled vowels, and vowel-consonant-e syllables are all concepts he’s been working on these last few months.
It’s not just Josh who’s benefiting, either. Megan is a great reader, but not the best speller. She seems to have something against vowels. She’d prefer to spell with just consonants.
(Does it bug you as much as it does me that we have to hang our white board vertically, rather than horizontally, meaning that our AAS letter tiles won’t fit across the top of the board? It’s one of the drawbacks of our home’s unique floor plan – we don’t have much wall space in our dining room.)
All About Spelling is a mastery-based program with cyclical review. You work on a concept until the student has it and move on, always reviewing previously learned concepts. They make it super-easy, too. Each level comes with a kit of perforated cards. There are four card types:
- Key (spelling rules and concepts, basically)
There is a card for each sound, phonogram, spelling rule, and spelling word that the students learn. Each card is then sorted in one of three ways:
- Review (daily practice)
- Mastered (occasional review)
- Future lessons
These can either be stored in an index file box behind the cardstock dividers that come with each level or, for long-term use and storage, you can purchase the Spelling Review Box and laminated dividers (or they come with the Deluxe Interactive Kit). The spelling box has room for each card in all seven levels of All About Spelling…and it has little foam spacers to fill up the empty spots when you’re just starting out.
It’s been slow going for us, but that’s okay. Just this week, Josh has to do a 15 minute writing sample for Tori. The first couple of times I read through it, I was a little disappointed at the spelling mistakes I saw. Then, I started noticing the words he spelled correctly. I realized that some of the concepts that Tori, All About Spelling, and I have been pounding in his head are starting to stick. It’s exciting to see those spelling concepts finally starting to become second nature to Josh.
Yes, we’ve still got some work to do and maybe reading and spelling will never be Josh’s areas of strength, but I’m starting to have confidence that he is beginning to master the concepts and learn the tools that will help him to be successful in those areas.
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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.