The Lazy Homeschooler's Guide to Spelling

You know we’ve never been the school-at-home types around here, and that certainly extends into spelling.

My own personal philosophy when it comes to spelling, after having helped four kids learn to read and then master spelling, is this:

Although reading and spelling seem to go hand in hand, most children fully grasp reading long before they’re spelling well. This is normal, and is not in any way an indication that your child will be a poor speller later on.

You can both suffer through spelling programs and curricula, but it’s not necessarily something your child needs. It’s quite likely that your child will get good at spelling at about the same age whether you use those programs or not.

(You can read the rest of the article here: 12 Ways to improve your child’s spelling)

With all of the kids, I have noticed that they learn to read well and then it is still a couple of years (minimum) before they are naturally spelling well.

With my teens, I also noted that they eventually became very good spellers with very little assistance from me — as long as I was willing to be patient (and a little bit creative in working it into life).

In the elementary years, spelling was the only subject Victoria ever scored at grade level in.  She scored far above grade level in every other subject — even math, which she claimed she hated.  And even then, she only scored at  grade level one year.  That year, we did this a couple of times and by the next year she was above grade level again.

We also do a lot of this silliness, both online (and in emails) and in homeschool journals.  It’s always worked like a charm.

And then we do random spelling, such as calling out words for the kids to spell on car rides.

Right now, we’re working on spelling with Jack.  Spelling was his only grade level subject in his last standardized test (Minnesota requires them annually, though only we see the results).  So September is spelling month.  We’ll continue on into October if he still seems to need it and is enjoying it.  If he’s tired of it by then, I’ll just deploy sneakier methods.  😉

We’re already having him play some spelling games online and trying out some spelling apps on the iPad, and I’m narrating spelling words for him to spell the same way we did with Victoria.  And I’m encouraging lots more writing (wish lists, stories, anything that comes up).  He’s already improving by leaps and bounds.

I am so glad that I haven’t been tied to daily spelling work with four kids for all of these years!  I find this so much easier for all of us.

I’m still looking for the lazy homeschooler’s answer to all those laundry piles, though.

 

For more on the subject, see….

20 Fun ways to practice spelling words

Dozens of free spelling games online!

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A Plan for What's Left of September

I’m working on plans right now.  Not in the typical homeschool mama scheduling sort of way, but as a sort of crisis management plan.

My issues are:

  • This summer, I was diagnosed with another autoimmune disease and some problems with my brain (nothing fatal, but apparently some form of epilepsy that is happening quite often each day).  I was also diagnosed with some issues with my blood and stomach, and some deficiencies, but those are the two biggies.
  • I need to find a new balance for homeschooling and properly parenting five children.
  • I need to find a balance for writing four columns that I rely on increasingly more to pay the bills.
  • I need to get my house in some sort of working order.  I have never been much of a housekeeper but when I am sick or overextended I get messier, and this summer was a whole lot of both of those.
  • I desperately want to get my book (A Magical Childhood) finished and published, in one form or another.  I know it’s not the best timing but it never has been and I don’t want to die someday with it 90% finished on my computer somewhere, having spent my whole life putting it off until that “right time.”
  • We had planned to move Victoria to the attic and move Anna into her room and Jack into Anna’s room, since Victoria was going off to art school.  She’s back home but all the kids want to move things around anyway and it was half done, so we’re working really hard to finish all that relocating.  That means major work right now in clearing the rest of the attic, getting it painted and prepped, getting other rooms painted and prepped and on and on.
  • It is fall, and that means a whole lot of work around here.  In-town homesteading is part of how we get by on next to nothing, and that means some major effort in the harvest season.  It doesn’t matter if my brain is short circuiting and Fiona is hanging onto my skirt when my kitchen is full of 4 bushels of free apples, 2 bushels of wild pears and a basket of acorns all needing to be processed and my garden is exploding with stuff to harvest, freeze, dry, dig and pluck.  That’s not even getting into the elderberries to turn into flu-fighting syrup and the others that need to be picked at the county park and the walnuts and the grapes and the plums and the pumpkins….

I have been feeling overwhelmed and overextended.  Truth be told, I have also been having a little bit of a pity party for myself.  I wish that I had more friends nearby.  I wish that I had help with the kids or the house or something, outside of Daryl and the kids themselves.  I wish I had any family alive, other than some long-lost (wonderful) cousins and a grandma and aunt in Ohio.  I wish I had a tribe.

I wish I had a girlfriend who’d come over and drink wine with me.

I had paid to have someone come and help with the house and that didn’t work out.  That person isn’t in a place to help me right now, and I need to just accept that and save myself instead.

So September is my month to save myself, migraines and seizures and clingy toddlers and messy house and all.

September is my month to get back in a homeschool schedule, to knock out that fall work, to take baby steps when I need to and monster steps when I can.

My goal is just to breathe, push, breathe, push, just like having a baby.  Sometimes you just need to keep on going, cuz it’s not going to get better until you get it done.  🙂

Wish me luck!

Homeschooling Five Again

August 8

I have five kids at home again.

Victoria’s foray into the world of public schooling didn’t last long.  While P*rpich is a great school, it was not a good fit at all for my nontraditional girl or what we wanted for her.

Among the reasons:

  • There was no Wi-Fi in the dorms and cell service was iffy, so she was quite cut off from outside friends and family.  While Victoria travels away from home a lot, we always stay in touch and do lots of chatting and such, plus she uses the net to stay in contact with many of her friends and to keep up with what’s going on in the world.  She had very limited access to family, friends and the internet.  None of that is ideal for my kid (or me).
  • We were assured that her gluten allergy wouldn’t be an issue (“She’ll just have to pick the foods that don’t have gluten”) but lunch generally consisted of plain lettuce.
  • The days were LONG.  She registered in the spring for her morning (academic) classes and was told that her afternoon (media arts) classes would be assigned.  We knew that the mornings started at 8 a.m. but she found out how long the day was only after she got there.  Every day went from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. — over 8 hours.  From there, she generally needed to head to the computer lab to do homework before it closed.  Once the semester got into full swing, it would have been even longer with the level of projects and homework assigned.  I was quite surprised that the schedule was more rigorous than my college years, for sixteen and seventeen year old kids.
  • While the school specializes in the arts, it is still a very traditional high school.  For a kid who grew up with lots of autonomy and empowerment, this was major culture shock.
  • The kids were really on their own in the dorms.  While there were lots of policies in place to keep them safe and control them (curfews, rules, guards, all meds and supplements had to be locked up with the nurse….), there was very little adult support.  When Victoria had a minor crisis the first night and was trying to figure out how to get some supplies she needed by morning (without a car, a store within walking distance, or family less than 3 hours away), I suggested talking to the “dorm mother.”  I was quite surprised to hear that no adults had introduced themselves to the kids at any point as someone to come to if they needed help or support.  The kids seemed to be essentially on their own.  Since there were testimonials on the web site from parents who said they felt their children were in such great hands, I was really bothered by this, though Victoria took it in stride.
  • Victoria quite simply didn’t enjoy it the way she thought she would.  My kid loves to learn.  She loves photography.  She loves challenges and new experiences.  But it was just not the kind of educational and creative environment she expected.

Ultimately, we drove up and got her before the end of the first week.  She had already made some really wonderful friends that she’ll miss (though they’re keeping in touch online) but she was really happy to come home.  She told me afterwards that she had been sad ahead of time thinking about all of the things she was giving up by going off to P*rpich (travel with us, home, family, freedom, our homeschool adventures…), but she felt that it was going to be worth it because it was going to be such a phenomenal experience.  Then, she said, she got there and realized she was giving all of that up for something that she didn’t even enjoy.

I am not one of those parents who makes my kids finish things they start even when they hate them.  I had one of those parents, and the only thing it ever did for me was give me panic attacks by grade school.

Her childhood is too short to waste a year of it as some kind of life lesson.

I am all for canceling that wedding at the last minute when you know in your heart it’s a mistake, quitting that job that pays well but kills your soul, and having the courage to say “this is not for me” when an opportunity comes along that looks great on paper but is just not a good choice for you.

Victoria has already heard from a boy at the school who wants to go home but his mom doesn’t know how to help him finish his high school years now.  They are looking into online school.  I’m glad that Victoria had an educational life waiting for her back home that she could slip back into — one where she can learn and grow and create in ways that feed her soul.

And that means I want to plan some travel sometime soon……