Why We Switched to Dictation Spelling

You may wonder why we switched to dictation spelling. I’m not overstating when I say the concept transformed our spelling process. Dictation spelling is the most logical way of teaching spelling I have found and it is also free!

To me it never made sense to have a whole curriculum for learning to spell. Plus as a homeschool teacher gets complicated when you have Bible, Hymn, Literature, History, Geography, Science, Math, Language Arts, Art, Composer Study, Handicraft, and Nature Studies for each child. As much as possible I try to combine subjects to work on two skills at once, or to combine studies so kids can learn subjects at the same time.

Every summer I do some continuing education as a homeschool teacher. I know I have a lot to learn. It’s so easy as a mom to get stuck in a box doing the same habits over and over. Sometimes things that used to work aren’t serving me anymore. It’s valuable to me to try to reassess each year what’s working and what isn’t so I can keep growing. I enroll in a class every year to help me continue to grow. In one of those classes, they taught us the method of dictation spelling. It just seemed so logical that it stuck for us.

How does it work?

On day one, take a diverse sentence from the age-appropriate book your child is reading and identify the words that could be challenging, circle them, and allow your child to write them correctly a couple of times. The goal is for your child to observe the words carefully.

On all subsequent days, you will allow the student to look over the passage, and recall how to correctly write the words. Then phrase by phrase read the passage to the child and allow them to write it out. Identify words spelled incorrectly and copy them properly a couple of times.

In the weekly lay out of the curriculum I wrote, you will notice I prompt you to pick a new sentence every week. If your child can’t spell all the words from the week before, please don’t move on, but keep repeating the second step.

Note: if it takes more than 5 practice sessions, it may indicate you need to choose a simpler sentence!

How I’ve chosen sentences.

For our fourth grader, I started by choosing a sentence from a book he was reading for free time. Over time I realized that he memorizes whatever he’s learning to spell for the week. We had him enrolled in a catechism class at the same time and he needed to memorize those lines every week. To keep that from being two separate tasks I started having him copy one question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Our first grader is still working through the American Language Series. It is marked as Kindergarten, but based on the assessment of my friend who is a public school it’s common core Kindergarten to second grade. We go back on the reader to get a spelling sentence. This keeps it from feeling overwhelming since he is still working on letter formation as well as learning how to spell.

Why We Switched to Dictation Spelling

That’s why we switched to dictation spelling. It’s simpler. It doesn’t add the weight of a bunch of extra time. It doesn’t require buying another book. It’s just simple and effective. The benefit is my kids have realized why spelling is important because the sentences come from their everyday life.

If you want to study the ancient world as a family

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