I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong with spelling.

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  • 4my4kids

    I need help. I have a child who can read and narrate well. When it comes to writing narrations he can put his thoughts down just fine but 1 out of every 5 words is misspelled. I started him late on Spelling Wisdom book 1, but now it doesn’t seem to be working either. My ds is 11 and spelling is a nightmare for us. It just doesn’t seem to click.

    On Spelling Wisdom book 1, does the steps that Sonya speaks of in the video about dictation, is that to take one day? or several days? If a word is missed do we forget about it completly or do the whole passage over until he gets it?

    I’ve been doing CM methods with him since Kind. but I can’t seem to figure out what to do with the dictation and grammar. Any help? Please!


    Bumping you:)

    I’m not sure what to advise, except if a word is misspelled we don’t do the whole passage over. I just have them correct the word in the passage, plus write it two more times below. We have also used Spelling Workout in conjuction w/Spelling Wisdom. Spellling Workout may not be CM-ish, but I like that it focuses on phonetic rules and groups words accordingly…and it’s cheap and gets done quickly. We do Spelling Wisdom and Spelling Workout 2 days ea. per week. Just what works here. Hopefully you’ll get some other suggestions! Blessings, Gina


    What other methods have you tried for spelling.

    My kids needed more phonics training to learn to spell than just dictation. While I don’t doubt dication as a method to learn to spell, I think some kids need things a little bit differently.

    Writing it over and over again is not going to help him learn it, at least it didn’t for me. I was a struggling spelling growing up (still often am)Smile My mom HS’ed myself and my siblings and I did not learn spelling like my siblings. Spelling lists and having to write over and over something I did wrong was torture. My mom stopped list and just worked with me in learning phonic rules. She also started having me check my own work. If I thought it might be spelled wrong, but not sure I would mark the word. Then I would ask for her help and she did not mark it wrong. We would get out the dictionary, if needed, and she would help me understand why the word was spelled the way it was by sounding it out with me with phonics.


    I just wanted to mention that we tried Spelling Workout and it did not work for us because their list words were in cursive.

    I am trying to get my dd7 to see the whole word in her mind and do transcription, rather than copying letter for letter in her copywork.  I have found that working in word families (like phonics) has helped her some with her spelling.  We use Explode the Code, for example, for phonics and spelling.  But that my be too young to help your son.  And phonics does not always work with our language!



    My son, Delta, is dyslexic and spelling was impossible for him.  (That was the big clue for me, btw).   I tried a few different things – dictation didn’t work because he couldn’t transcribe – he can’t visualize the word at all.  I’ve heard that ‘Seeing Stars’ can work on that, but I don’t have it.   I tried some other spelling programs, including one from the 1800’s… and nothing.  Delta’s spelling mistakes were totally way out there… like you couldn’t see where he was going with a spelling at all.  (And that included basic 3 letter words!)

    We were given All About Spelling, lvl 1, and he has done that as well as over half of lvl 2.  I have been using the ANKI flashcard program with it to provide a lot more repetition.   And it has helped a lot.  That said, the words he is up to is still very basic – and I worry that he may have just memorized the specific words and may or may not be able to transfer it to other words.    And it has been mind-numbing boring…  (well, I assume for them…. it has been for me as I’ve used it with 2 kids so far…..)

    I am thinking of switching to Sequential Spelling for next year.  Instead of explicitly teaching rules, it teaches spelling through word families.  


    Suzukimom mentioned the “Seeing Stars” program. I used to be a Speech Language Pathologist (nine years ago!) and we used to use that program with some of our clients. From what I remember, you really work on helping the child learn how to visualize the letters/word. So, for example, you have them air write, they must look at the place where they are writing the word in the air. You can be fun about it, “What do you want to write with, a crayon or a paintbrush?” Then you use your finger as the pretend writing instrument, you dip it in some pretend paint, and then you have them air write the word. They say each letter aloud as the write it. then you ask them what they see. “What is the first letter you see? good, what is the second letter you see? now the last letter?” Once they get good at seeing it in order, you ask them “What is the last letter you see” first. You want them to visualize it in their minds eye, but some kids need help learning how to do that and how to hold the letters in their mind. I know there is much more to the program than that, but that is what I can remember at the moment. Here is a link to their program:



    I agree that some children need to be taught how to visualize the words.  I tutored reading for many years and found that a good way to help visualize words is to think about the shape of the letters.  Where are the tall letters?  Drop-down letters? Round letters?  With some children I would draw little boxes around the word to emphasize the shape.  So the words ‘yellow’ and ‘pillow’ have the same shape, but ‘mellow’ is different, because it doesn’t have the drop-down first letter.  If needed. you could even use colours for the different letter shapes. 

    Also discuss patterns: Double letters, familiar combinations such as “tion”, etc. 

    With practice, most kids will start being able to visualize without having to draw it.  Have them create the picture in their mind and describe it to you.  Then look away from the word and in their mind fill in the letters that belong in the shapes.  Then write.


    I’ve had a problem with spelling for my son. I’ve tried several things and I have found this to be working for now…. my son is 8 btw.

    First we discuss the words and I go through each word discussing the phonics of each and pointing out patterns and vowel chunks or blends etc. and then he copies each word correctly while I watch carefully. I have him verbally say the word and then each letter as he writes it to incorporate his audio learning with the visual and the physical of writing. 

    Second day I have him put all the words into alpha order and I make sure he writes each word correctly again using verba as he does so.

    Third day I have him use each word in a sentence correctly and write them again correctly.

    4th day I do a verbal pretest and any that he has to work on or can’t ust blurt right out, then I have him copy those words 5 times correctly saying the letters as he forms them.

    5th day he know them and can write them easily. 

    I have used spelling word lists and copywork sentences, workbooks, All about spelling, etc and my morphed up method is bits of each that I found benefitted him the most. 

    He used to cry as soon as I mentioned spelling because he would get so frustrated and it made him feel so inadequate, but now he has learned that if he does the steps each day that by the end of the week he can spell the words or write the sentence and so no more tears.

    I know that all the spelling programs I have tried are great, just not everything I needed for my son.


    I used Stevenson Spelling with my son who has dyslexia. It was helpful(Stevensonlearning.com) They use memory tricks.

    I am also looking at spelling materials from readamerica.net because I am using their reading program. It is a little different from phonics.


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