Blog

My kids are still making spelling mistakes!

One day we received an email from Heather, a homeschool mom using Logic of English®️ Essentials (1st edition) with her six- and eight-year-olds. Though they were using the phonograms and rules successfully in isolation, her children were struggling to apply what they were learning while writing.

Things tend to fall apart when they come to the Dictation section of the lesson (in Part 3, or parts 3 and 4 in the 2nd edition), in which the teacher dictates phrases and sentences for the students to write. She explains:

...Our phonics and reading levels have drastically increased. I am thrilled. However, I need some help and information regarding the Dictation part of this curriculum. My children, both different ages and academic levels, are struggling every time when we get to the dictation section of the lessons.

It's as though they are comprehending and wonderfully memorizing the phonograms as well as the grammar and spelling rules on the cards and even while I break a word down according to syllables. However, when they are asked to write this information down, they are not successful. Can you give me any advice?

Hi Heather,

First: I am assuming you are following the steps for the process of spelling dictation or spelling analysis - guiding them in breaking the word down into syllables, having them segment it, having them write it themselves from the sounds (without seeing it), and cuing them on which phonogram to choose when there is more than one choice, then analyzing and marking the spelling together.

If you think you may be skipping any parts of this, I would start here. Reread those pages of the intro, and watch one or more of our videos with Denise discussing and modeling this process (such as the Spelling Dictation video here or these spelling list videos - try List 3 for a great illustration of distinguisting between multiple spellings of a sound). Doing spelling analysis well strengthens students' knowledge of the phonograms and rules, phonemic awareness, encoding and decoding skills, and critical thinking about language, as well as teaching them how individual words are spelled. It is very powerful!

Now, on to other tips on dictation, and on developing spelling mastery in general.

When students learn the the phonograms and rules, they understand why English words are spelled the way they are. The possible ways to spell a word are greatly simplified, leaving much less rote memory work. With this knowledge in place, it is only the sounds that can be spelled multiple ways that require memorization. Learning about morphology further clarifies which spelling is used in many words. However, the process still takes practice and time, especially for students who have weaker visual memory. It's fine for kids to need reminders and clarifications for quite awhile. Keep practicing, keep it fun, and provide the support they need along the way.

I hope this helps!

Best,

Liz

2020 Note: This response was written about the 1st edition of Essentials. The tips apply to the new Essentials 2nd edition as well, with the following changes: Dictation is found in Part 3 and Part 4 of the lessons. Games are included in the Teacher's Guide and incorporated into the lessons, so the Game Book no longer needs to be purchased separately. Also, while it is technically possible to use Essentials with a six-year-old, and people did so when that was the only curriculum we had, we would now recommend the more age-appropriate Foundations.