I almost titled this “I Realize Again Teaching at Home is not Like Teaching in a Classroom.” Here’s why. All About Spelling is everything I couldn’t stand when I was in the classroom. I had a few experiences with scripted lessons and a few with curricula full of bits and pieces like elaborate posters and stickers you were supposed to use. I hated them. Not only did I hate them, I found them incredibly onerous to use and implement in a room full of kids. That’s why, when I considered what to do about spelling, I never seriously considered All About Spelling. At least, not until Mushroom’s spelling hit a clear low and we had tried several other things.
Imagine my surprise when it turned out that not only do I not hate it, but I kind of like it. Don’t get me wrong. For most subjects, I still would vastly prefer to have a resource book than a scripted approach. I’m much more of a pick and choose teacher and I get my own ideas when I have a quality set of activity ideas in front of me. However, All About Spelling has turned out to be fine. Sometimes you don’t need to creatively forge your way through, you just need a well-trod path. The well-trod paths never worked for me in the classroom, but at home, when you’re responsible for everything for just two kids, the dynamics are so different that having a scripted lesson feels fine sometimes. Who would have guessed!
Most importantly, All About Spelling is working for Mushroom. Since we began the program just before Christmas, his spelling has improved dramatically. Rules that I have been patiently repeating to him for years have finally sunk in. We set a timer for twenty minutes and do as much as we can. Because we’re in the early part of the program, that often means an entire lesson in a day. Other times, he takes a week to get through one lesson because it contains a sticking point for him. Either way, we move at his pace. I go through each part and am sure to focus on reviewing concepts. The short time frame is what is really working best, I think.
However, I wasn’t wrong that the tiles were a pain in the rear end. They would really be so much better if All About Spelling would just print them on magnet paper instead. I honestly don’t understand why they don’t when anyone can just buy printable magnet paper at Staples. As it is, the cheap method of pasting the plastic tile to the magnet means they fall off the white board constantly and are annoying to move around. Plus, Mushroom greatly dislikes spelling with them. We’ll probably ditch them as we start Level 3 next week and just devote a small white board to having a few of them out instead of the massive board.
Also, as we start Level 3, BalletBoy is also going to start the program. He agreed that while he is much more of a natural speller than his brother, that he could get something out of doing it too. We’re going to alternate and both boys are going to learn to type when it’s not their 20 minutes with spelling.