What if teaching a child to spell correctly could be easy? Some would probably laugh or scoff at that. What if I told you it could take less than 30 minutes a day? More laughter. Cue Spelling You See from Demme Learning, the same company that puts out Math-U-See – now has a great spelling curricula for elementary aged children or for older children who need remedial work. I was given Level B: Jack and Jill which is geared for children who are moving from the phonetic stage of learning to the development of skill-building and I used it with my 7 year old, not yet reading son but who knows his letter sounds and can write letters. There are 36 lessons divided into 5 parts, A through E, and each lesson takes place over one week – our school week runs Monday through Thursday so depending on what the lesson had in store for my son we either just skipped it or doubled up, I’ll explain more on that later.
I was given the student pack ($30.00) which includes two student workbooks, a set of erasable colored pencils and a guide to handwriting chart. Also included was the Instructor’s Handbook ($16.00) that gives you the philosophy of the program, getting started with it as well as the lesson guides on how to run each of the 36 lessons. The instructor’s manual explains that you should not try to match the child’s reading level with their developmental stage of spelling, as they can both be different, as in the case of my 7 year old. He can write both upper and lowercase letters, knows his letter sounds and even some words but is not reading yet so he was too ‘old’ for Listen and Write but too young for Wild Tales. The instructor’s manual also includes a guide to chunking, no rule day, frequently asked questions, passages for dictation, answer keys, a glossary and more – it may appear as a short, think book but it’s big on information.
As I said above, I had my son who is 7 and is not reading yet, use level B with is called Jack and Jill each week we read a new nursery rhyme – lesson 1 uses Jack and Jill, I’m a Little Teapot, Black Sheep Black Sheep, Little Miss Moffat are just some other rhymes your child will encounter in this visual memory learning system of spelling. My son is left handed which didn’t pose a problem until he started writing, and with these workbooks it isn’t a problem either as they have facing pages so they are great for both left hand writers and right hand writers! I would look ahead to see what part to not stress over so much or which one I think he’d like to double up on each week. Since we only do school four days a week and I also wanted to make sure I threw in a “no rule” day every so often, but not each week as it’s suggested – as that would mean he’d only have 3 days of instruction and this program is meant to be used each instruction day for short periods (I think our lessons only lasted 10 minutes as most, even on the days we doubled up!).
Each lesson is outlined for you, and as the instructor you should read the notes in the instructor’s manual before the lesson so you can just focus on the student’s workbook with him (or her). That is my opinion anyway – my son tends to get distracted if I have to flip back and forth between his book and my book so if I know what I’m supposed to be doing before working with him I can keep his attention longer. So the checklist will tell you what you are supposed to do each day with your child such as:
- Read the rhyme with your student. Say it together and clap in rhythm.
- Read it together slowly. Have the student point to each word as you read.
- Help your student find and circle all the commas and periods. (from lesson 9D, page 90, part 1)
The rhyme and copy work are one the left hand page, while the checklist (items to watch for as your child works), while the dictation boxes are on the right facing page. As they get into part 2 the child gets away from the boxes and will have lines to write on during the dictation phase of the lesson.
I must say that while this is a homeschool spelling program I think it also helped in some ways encourage my son in his journey to reading – by using nursery rhymes and seeing patterns in words it’s helped him see that reading and spelling aren’t as scary as he thought. I know we’ll be continuing to use this program because it is fun for him, and with short lesson times it doesn’t feel so much like work – I will say that if he begins to get frustrated we put it aside and that is okay. I will admit I haven’t been big on teaching spelling as my oldest is such a good natural speller but with Spelling You See I’ll be rethinking my stance on that and looking into which level will fit my 9 year old who isn’t as good a speller. I’m quite thankful that I’ve been able to try out Spelling You See for the purposes of this review with my son.
If you’d like to see what other parents thought of Spelling You See, this level as well as others, please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.