Problems with sequential spelling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 05-27-2010, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
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My daughter who is 7 is having major spelling issues(just like I did) and it just breaks my heart. We tried traditional spelling tests for kindergarten(she has been reading since age 3 and reads at a 5th grade level) and it was awful. She would miss half of them. We would review them all then dh would give the same test and hour later and she would miss the other words(the ones she originally got right). SO frustrating for everyone involved. We have tried Sequential Spelling for the last 6 months and it seemed to be an improvement but she is still having major issues with retaining the information. You ask her the patterns and she can tell you what they are but she doesn't apply it. On the first evaluation test she missed 10 of the 20 words. It isn't working for her. I understand her frustration because even though I am a very intelligent person my spelling is awful and it didn't matter how hard I tried as a child.

Any one use this program who could give me some ideas?

Any other programs that might be a better fit?

Thanks so much.

Homeschooling, midwifery mom to 4 beautiful blessings(8,6,4,1)

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#2 of 7 Old 05-27-2010, 06:45 PM
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I would look into All About Spelling. I don't care for Sequential spelling myself because you are learning word based on how they relate to other words. (At least that is what I got out of it). But, with All About Spelling, they break spelling down to individual sounds, the possible ways to make each sound, etc. It starts with basic phonemic awareness stuff, but quickly moves forward. Check it out:

ETA: I think that a lot of kids who just "learn to read" without any requirement of it being taught kinda absorb the rules but have a hard time reversing. And spelling is kinda reading in reverse. My oldest (also learned to read in a blink -- and reads several grades above level) doesn't spell well at all. She never thought about all the ways to make the long o sound--she just knows it when she sees it. And that doesn't work for spelling.


Mom to three very active girls Anna (15), Kayla (12), Maya (9).
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#3 of 7 Old 05-27-2010, 06:56 PM
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First off, slow down!!

I used Sequential spelling (and you can have my copy of year one if you pay for shipping) but I would not start it at age 7.

At age seven I would work more on phonics and phonic rules Reading Pathways can help and you can use the words as a spelling list.

Or you can modify Spelling Power also can be helpful because it teaches rules. I found using the complete method taxing on kids though.

Also, can be a fun way to practice spelling.
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#4 of 7 Old 05-27-2010, 10:00 PM
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She sounds a lot like my daughter. She was also a very early reader and extremely poor speller. We had some individual achievement testing done at age 8 and she actually had a spread of 10 grade levels from her strongest area to spelling (her weakest). LOL We have had great progress with Sequential spelling (we've finished level 5 at age 11), but didn't start it until age 9. Honestly, any spelling work we did before age 9.5 or so didn't seem to stick at all. We did Spelling Power and she would miss about 40-50% of the words no matter what practice she did with the words, and given tests over the same words would result in missing different words each time. We did a lot of other things that I think have helped tremendously over time.

We played a lot with words. Rhyming games were a big car game for several years. We studied word roots with English from the roots up and vocabulary books from starting with Caesar's English 1. After Caesar's English the series changes to Word within the Word and it includes spelling. These aren't your typical spelling words, but words like euphemism, pellucid, hemiplegia, etc. Knowing the roots taught her to put together big words and successfully spelling these types of words boosted her confidence tremendously. We made it fun and celebrated any correct words. Word list 1 had her spelling 20-25% correctly, now at list 29 she's at >95% correct.

Typing stories, emailing friends, and participating on online forums contributed to improvement as well. Spell check helped her notice her spelling as she typed. Writing to friends and on forums made spelling important to her.

Because of her spelling difficulties we really focused on playing with language. She has subsequently developed a love of language which has also contributed to improvement in spelling. She now studies Latin and Spanish and will begin linguistics in the fall. Her spelling at age 11.5 is well above grade level and commensurate with her other abilities now. She'll never be a spelling bee winner (unless under very lucky circumstances she gets all words with roots she's studied. LOL) but that is okay since she has no interest in that anyway.

My husband cannot spell to save his life. In fact I think he has a special talent for misspelling words in ways that spell check doesn't catch. We wanted our daughter to avoid some of his difficulties. However, focusing on language more than spelling seems to have been the key for our dd. Improvement wouldn't come until spelling was important to her, and that was after she really got into writing. In my opinion work on spelling before age 9 was a total waste of time for her. If I had it to do again, I'd do phonics (which we did) and play with words and study word roots until 9 or so. Once she was ready to learn, she improved quickly over about an 18 month to 2 year period.

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#5 of 7 Old 05-28-2010, 02:15 PM
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Can I gently suggest that you relax about spelling for a bit ( and if we were speaking face to face you would hear the gentleness in my voice and know that I am in no way being snarky). 7 is still really young.....

I was an early reader(4) and a terrible speller. In 7th grade I was still spelling at a 3rd grade level (reading at a college level). Spelling was so frustraiting for me I can really relate to this
She would miss half of them. We would review them all then dh would give the same test and hour later and she would miss the other words(the ones she originally got right).
I spent years "working on spelling" (like 1st through 9th grade). Focusing on spelling to the extent ppl made me, really made me feel defective. Not only did my self esteem suffer but it was totally ineffectual. As a high schooler and adult when the focus of spelling waned I found that I loved to write and that my spelling has naturally, dramatically improved. I am still not a great speller but I am a totally functional adult with a professional job that requires professional writing.

Consider revisiting spelling when your daughter has a bit more time to grow and mature. You may find that what is an uphill battle now could be a walk in the park later.

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#6 of 7 Old 05-28-2010, 03:28 PM
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Have you tried cutting the list down and focusing on only one or two patterns at at time? 20 words is a lot for a young child to memorize, especially if memorization isn't something that comes naturally. Starting small and working on memorization slowly may help her memorize the spelling words and build her ability to memorize. It sounds like right now she is just overwhelmed with the words.
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#7 of 7 Old 05-28-2010, 04:29 PM
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If she is interested in learning spelling rules, then I also recommend All About Spelling. I'm not into curriculum, but DD and I both like this program. DD loves learning the rules, and I honestly think she is a better speller than reader now!

She's almost 6 so younger than yours, but I think it's a very gentle program that you can use as much as you want, or not.

But, if she's not interested, then I would wait.

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