Topic | New 6th grader from piblic school with "spelling/ reading disabilities

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  • I am making a return to homeschooling after two failed attempts.  The first was in mid-kindergarten in which I found myself making my daughter cry every day because she was so bright and full of promise and so not getting it with the phonics, that I would shout at her.  I had to send her to school to keep her safe from me.  And she loved it!  (Who wouldnt? Kindergarten teachers are usually nice.)  Her first grade teacher didn’t like her though, But my sweetie loved her also because she’s just like that. Sometimes I would secretely begrudge her, her very kindness, thinking “Don’t waste your notes and flowers on her, she is not worthy of you.  How can she not like you?  The wretched cow!  Don’t cast your pearls before swine.”  And that was the year the spelling agony began.  Every night for grades 1-6, we have practised “spelling patterns” and “Elephant words”  And ” High frequency words”  Every year, except 2nd grade.  9 weeks in we both liked this teacher, and probably she should have stayed, but they put her on the title one list for remedial reading and spelling and I said no way.  I took her out and she did that year with me using leftover Bob Jones Paces, a phonics pathways book and a donated saxon math book.  It was a mix between rigorous phonics work “to correct, and catch up” and having picnics in the backyard.  Neither of us connected very well to those wonderful women in a homeschool group we participated in.  They all, like you, love to cook,  worry about  pesticides in their food,  have more than two and a half dollars to spend on cirriculum,  and invariably know how to sew, knitt, and can foods.  Aditionally, it seems, they are happily married submissive wives who study and apply the Bible to their lives on a daily basis, not emotional nightmares married to distant husbands staggering under debt and poverty, wonderng how it all came to this.  I fasted and prayed that summer, and found a wonderful charter school to put her in.  I had a baby, a nervous breakdown that lasted for three years and seemingly miraculously recovered in an almost instantaneous number of weeks after one and a half years of counseling and inner-healing in January of this year.  I am now restored to joy again.  That part is truly amazing.  And just in time it seems.  This wonderful haven of refuge where she made friends,  remained safe from the brunt of my fallout and yes, believe it somehow, always made honor roll is now closed to her.  middle school awaits.  And, incidentally, so does kindergarten.  The baby grew.  But see, the landscape is diferrent now.  This is not a wonderful school.  This is a middleschool.  It has all these horrible people in it called teenagers.  And there are these other horrible people in it called teachers.  And worst of all, there are administrators.  And they are teaching all these horrible things.  She cant go there.  I went there to see if I could stand it….Nope.  So here we are.  And I am different now.  Hallejuah.  But not completely.  I have this persistent conviction that some way, some how, my daughter can actually learn and retain the knowledge of how to spell, “any,” and “use” and “them” and “when”  and many other grammatical nuggets pertinant to literacy.   But every thing I ‘ve read,  tells me writing and reading are related, accurate orthographic skills are essential.  (Phonics)  and yes, grammer.  Above all, one should not memorise words inaccurately, because it is very hard to correct.  So you see, we really are here again.  And it’s so vitally important that I get it right this time.  I have two now, and a part time job I must work if I want to eat, and few friends.  But I have to do this.  It’s just that I have to bo it right..  Somehow fix all the damage academically, and still enjoy my children,  and “First do no harm”.  I hate that Uncle Sam is going to be checking our progress, and all the shortcommings she will have will be attributed to me.  “How can an honor roll student know nothing about the world in general?”  “How can she not write?”  “What have you done to her?”  How do I actually do this.  What cirriculum is there for me for grammer.  I love so many things about CM stuff.  But what about actual grammer?

    Sonya Shafer

    Welcome, rachel16147. It sounds like you are stepping into a transition time, and we’ll be happy to walk with you. Here is a brief overview of how to do language arts the CM way for a sixth grader.

    • Reading for Instruction and Narration: Emphasize her responsibility to read “to know” with all her lesson books. Hold her accountable for what she knows by having her narrate, both orally and some in writing. But make sure she is comfortable telling you everything she remembers orally first, before you ask her to put it in writing sometimes. 
    • Dictation for spelling: It’s never too late to start using this method of prepared dictation to help her develop the habit of looking at how words are spelled as she is reading. You can include Copywork as part of her preparation/study of the passage if you want to have her practice her handwriting.
    • Grammar: I like Junior Analytical Grammar because it is concise and written to the student. It covers the parts of speech and sentence structure clearly. (Technically, you could jump into the full-blown Analytical Grammar course in sixth grade if you want to, but Junior would give you a little gentler approach for this year.)
    • Poetry: Charlotte read poetry every day so the children could hear the beautiful words and enjoy them. 

    Remember that you can phase in these different aspects. You don’t have to do everything all at once. You might start with focusing on reading for instruction and narrating orally for a month or so. Then add in dictation once or twice a week. After that feels comfortable, add Junior Analytical Grammar. And later in the year, once you are both feeling settled, add in poetry.


    Hi rachel16147,

    I have a struggling speller.  A friend recently shared with me some information on Right Brain Learners.  You can find more about this on the HSLDA website ( under the Homeschooling your Struggling Learner section or google Dianne Craft & you’ll get alot of information.  I was a bit skeptical at first, but started using her suggestions for spelling.  When my son misspells a word, I write it on an index card.  I write the letters that he spelled correctly in black & use another color like red, blue, etc. for the letters that he is having difficulty remembering.  He sees things in the BIG picture & is very detailed.  He tells me that the colors really help him to remember how to spell it correctly.  He sometimes DREADS writing because he has struggled with the spelling.  Now he is much more optimistic about it.  He even told me that he was going to become a great speller.  We are early on in this, but just seeing him more excited has really been a blessing.  Hope this helps.   

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