Teaching my daughter to read was a challenge. We both fought hard to win that battle. But just as she was finally making strides in reading, her phonics curriculum switched from an emphasis on reading to an emphasis on spelling, and her performance plummeted while her anxieties surged. No matter what technique we tried, no matter how long we spent going over words, she couldn’t spell. Half way through her second grade year, it was clear we were dealing with dyslexia. Teaching my dyslexic daughter to read was tough; teaching spelling to my dyslexic daughter has seemed impossible on many, many days.
My daughter has a beautiful way of seeing the world that is uniquely her own. Unfortunately, this creates challenges for her when it comes to language. The spring of her second grade year, we abandoned teaching spelling with a traditional curriculum and opted for a homeschool dyslexia therapy instead. She completed Dyslexia Games level A that year, and we followed it up with Dyslexia Games level B her third grade year. My technique was constant exposure. Without a spelling curriculum, she practiced spelling on her dyslexia apps, her Dyslexia Games therapy, her keyboarding program, and some various copywork exercises.
This coming fall, we will be tackling our first spelling curriculum in a year and half. She’s still below grade level, but I’m hopeful she’ll continue to make strides with our new spelling curriculum, A Reason for Spelling.
Teaching Spelling While Homeschooling Dyslexia
A Reason for Spelling curriculum caught my attention for a number of reasons, primarily because it is not your traditional spelling curriculum. It is very visual, kinesthetic, and gentle. It provides a lot of freedom for that varied exposure that I like to maintain as we address her weak subject.
One of my favorite exercises in A Reason for Spelling is a matching exercise where she has to focus on the visual pattern of the words. The spelling words from the list are in one column, a set of squares and rectangles are in the other column—the object is to match the words to the pattern of boxes the letters would fit into.
This is an ideal exercise for my dyslexic daughter, and it is the perfect follow up to the Dyslexia Games therapy she’s been working through. It helps her to use her strength—completing patterns and noticing visual-spacial differences—to develop her weakness (language). My daughter has always excelled at patterns and logic exercises. A key to finding some measure of success in teaching spelling was to focus less on the phonetics (which she just can’t hear) and begin focusing on the patterns of letters and words. I LOVE that this activity is included with each lesson.
A Reason for Spelling provides four options each lesson for practicing the spelling words.
- Trace the words in play dough.
- Write with side walk chalk.
- Cut out the letters from a magazine and glue together to form the spelling words.
- Finger paint the spelling words.
There are lots of fun ideas throughout the book. The ideas themselves are fun, and I could easily supplement those ideas with some fun projects of our own. I intend to have her type her spelling words and practice calligraphy, write the words in oil pastel and watercolor wash, create a word collage, or make a crossword with bananagrams. I’m really looking forward to the creativity and right-brained approach of A Reason for Spelling that is ideal for my daughter’s learning style and dyslexia challenges.
Gentle Approach to Spelling and Writing
A Reason for Spelling has such a gentle approach to spelling and writing. The fact that it does not look anything like the spelling curriculums we’ve tried in the past will really help to avoid triggering her spelling anxieties. I’m looking forward to the gentle stories and follow-up writing prompts as well as the Bible verses and religious themes to encourage her and to strengthen her character as she faces her toughest challenge.
I will be starting her in Level C this next year, which is below the typical fourth grade spelling level, but still a pretty stiff challenge for her. We’ll take it at our own pace, completing all of the activities and a few additional ones of our own before moving on. I’m going for mastery, no matter how slowly we have to go to get there. What I love most of all is that she is excited about using this curriculum. She loves the bright, colorful graphics and enticing format. She loves the projects and creative activities. She’s excited and looking forward to it, rather than dreading it and in tears.
It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m so thankful for the gentle next step A Reason for Spelling has given to us.
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