That last post wasn't the reason I sat down, this one is:
It's been almost two months since I posted about the spelling lessons that I'm doing with our soon-to-be eight year old.
They are going great. Really great.
We have gone through the first two books of the All About Spelling program and are into the 7th chapter (or "Step") in the third book. Today we worked on the second-most common spelling of the "er" sound (it's ur like in "nurse".) We've also been working on the consonant-le words (able, little, circle, ladle, etc.)
Right now, homophones are the big stumbling block. I made up a big stack of flash cards, but they really are a frustrating thing to learn. Mail/Male. Tail/Tale. It all blurs together and it's hard to keep straight. He has almost gotten the variations of right/write down. Unfortunately, he knows all four, when I wanted to keep it simple at two. He always wrote "rite", so I told him that was a religious ceremony. Then I dropped a hint that there was a fourth (wright) and he wouldn't let me get away without telling him about it. So now, he has to figure out right/write/wright/and rite.
Today, using syllables, he spelled "together" right. He finally retired "because" from our flash cards. His start-of-the-week spelling test at school was an 80%, with one really dumb typo (mumber instead of number.) He has also brought home an 85% on the much-more-extensive Friday spelling quiz. We've promised him that if he scores 90 or above, he can take a scissors to a shirt he really hates.
Interestingly, there have been a couple of times when what I'm doing with him at home was the same thing they were doing with him at school. That was really great, because it fit the two lessons together with great reinforcement.
Unfortunately, as usual, the teacher at the school isn't exactly encouraging. He's excited about what he knows (he was teaching a kid in class today the "ijuv" rule (English words don't end in i, j, u, or v)) and talks about it at school. When he mentioned breaking a word up into syllables to his teacher, he reports that she told him not to do that.
How else are you supposed to spell words if you don't break them down into the syllables? I remember clapping them out when I was in grade school too. I know they are teaching some of the rules, because some of the worksheets he has brought home have the rules at the top (when to use "tch" and when to use "ch", how to turn "carry" into "carries", etc.) It just seems strange that they aren't using syllables to teach kids when consonants double in the middle of words, at least.
So, four months into the program, and he's into the level-3 book, which seems to be at about where his class is. His spelling has improved dramatically. It's still sometimes hard to get him to sit down for his lesson, especially when he has school homework to do too. But I think the best thing is that he seems excited to know the rules of spelling and to show other people what he can do. He's gotten to the point where he is proud of his spelling abilities, and he's getting close to being a good speller for his grade.