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Literacy is made up of three blocks: reading, writing, and spelling. While reading and writing get a lot of attention in school and often at home, spelling is often left out or haphazardly thrown in there.
However, like reading, spelling rules must be explicitly taught in order for students to master the complicated concepts. It is not an intuitive ability, and difficulty with spelling can become an obstacle when it comes to reading comprehension and fluency, as well as writing composition.
We all know that English is a tough language when it comes to spelling. Our alphabet has 26 letters and 44 sounds. Spelling rules are full of exceptions and strange circumstances that make both kids and adults throw their hands up in frustration.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Spelling rules, even the more complex ones, can be learned, understood, and remembered for later use, as shown by the many spelling programs available.
You just need the right program to teach them.
For those considering All About Spelling as a choice for their student, here is a comprehensive All About Spelling review to help you make your decision.
Things to Consider When Selecting a Spelling Program
As with any curriculum, there are several things you should consider when purchasing a spelling program.
Is your child a typical learner, or do they have learning challenges? Most programs work for most children, but if your learner struggles with a challenge, such as dysgraphia, dyslexia, or ADHD, you should certainly look for a curriculum designed to meet their needs.
Your child’s learning style should also come into play here. Some students learn well through auditory exercises, while others are more visual. Kinesthetic learners need to do, as opposed to see or hear. Many programs do a great job of mixing these approaches to serve most kids, but it’s helpful to know what your child needs.
The personality and style of the intended instructor (whether it be you, your partner, or a paid tutor) should also play a factor in your choice.
Some teachers prefer a more hands-off style where instruction is minimal, and they mostly offer assistance. Others like to be involved in every step of the way. There’s no wrong approach, but you should choose a program that mirrors your expectations for the best chance of success.
Will there be a dedicated time for spelling every day or only twice a week? Will you have time to sit down with your child, or will the need to work mostly independently? What is your budget?
Ask yourself these questions to get a clearer picture of what you need out of a program before you start doing your research. That way, you can identify any perks or deal-breakers right out of the gate.
Content is the meat and potatoes of every curriculum. For spelling, you want a program that is rich in explicit instruction of phonograms, phonemic awareness, and spelling rules. These concepts will give your student a strong spelling foundation.
Many spelling curriculums are tacked onto reading lessons, as opposed to stand-alone sessions. However, the chances are high that if you’re looking for a specific spelling program, you want a little more out of your lessons.
Look for a curriculum with lessons that are structured to steer children toward concept mastery as they move from one skill to the next.
Do you want your lessons to be technology-based, or do prefer a more classic model? Will lessons take a lot of prep time? How long can your learner pay attention?
The actual implementation of lessons varies with each curriculum, so make sure to think about not just what the program is teaching, but how you will need to teach it before making a decision.
The All About Spelling curriculum is a scripted, comprehensive program designed to be implemented with little to no planning or prep required. It uses the Orton-Gillingham approach, which is sufficient for most learners, including ones who struggle with challenges such as dyslexia and ADHD.
The program is broken down into seven different levels (each sold separately). The levels build on one another, reviewing past concepts and assuring mastery before moving on. A student who has completed and mastered level 7 should be spelling at a high school level.
You can view the skill breakdown of the levels on the website to get a clear picture of what your student would be learning at each step.
The scripted lessons make it easy for instructors to present the material effectively, and each lesson consists of three parts: review, the introduction of new material, and practice.
The All About Spelling curriculum has many features and benefits that make it a standout.
Instead of being grade-level based, All About Spelling works off a mastery-based design, allowing you to personalize the curriculum to your individual child.
Students can move on once they fully master each concept, even if they haven’t completed all the activities and practice associated with it.
Similarly, if your learner is struggling, there are extra practice activities for each lesson that you can use to help bolster their understanding before moving on to the next task.
Phonetically Based Content
All About Spelling explicitly teaches each phonogram, which are letter or letter combinations that represent a sound. This focus on phonics builds skills that can be applied to spell or read any words, as opposed to learning strictly “age-appropriate” words based on grade level.
As a result, learners who use All About Spelling often take off when it comes to spelling and reading. They have the skills early on to decode and write most words, something that many other programs fail to deliver in the lower levels.
Easy to Implement
Scripted lessons allow teachers to open the manual and go. You won’t need to spend a lot of time preparing for each day, and the included practice activities are complete, meaning you won’t have to spend time looking up supplementary resources.
While you do not have to prep for these lessons, you will need to be involved with them. The explicit teaching feature of this program means that students need direct instruction, as opposed to strictly independent practice.
The level arrangement has an obvious layout, focusing on the basic concepts first to build that strong foundation, before moving onto more complicated ideas. Each level has a scope and sequence drawn out for the lessons that clarify goals and skills.
All About Spelling will give you everything you need to implement your lessons successfully.
The levels are each sold separately and have a range in prices, with the upper levels being more expensive. In addition to each level’s lessons, you will also need to make a one-time purchase of the Interactive kit used through all levels.
For those instructors and learners who prefer technology-based resources, there is a free app available that will give you similar practice options available on a tablet or phone.
The provided activities are varied to keep all types of learners engaged and excited.
Instructors model new concepts for learners with color-coded tiles, making it easy to see the phonograms and rules applied to words. Teachers will also write out new words for students and use flashcards as visual cues during review.
There is more to spelling than writing out words. Auditory learners will benefit from reviewing flashcards orally, as well as segmenting words aloud with the instructor for practice.
This program uses dictation as a way to practice new skills and hearing the words and then reproducing them will deepen understanding.
To prevent spelling practice from devolving into boredom, lessons encourage learners to practice words by “writing” with their pointer finger on a variety of surfaces: the air, the tables, in rice, anything that brings a tactile component into the mix.
Children will also manipulate magnetic tiles to build their spelling words, keeping them moving and active during lessons.
All About Spelling encourages students to say the sounds of each phonogram as they write the word, making connections with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic cues.
Already mentioned as a way to connect with auditory learners, the program’s use of dictation in every lesson allows students to build real-world skills.
Classic spelling tests help students learn words in the short-term, but the dictation activities here prepare students to take notes and listen effectively in both school and real-world situations later in life.
The materials include a tracking chart where students can mark their progress with stickers or through coloring in learned phonograms. This addition can be especially effective for younger students who are extrinsically motivated and enjoy earning stickers or seeing their progress.
The curriculum teaches each of the 44 phonograms over the seven levels and explains the logic and rules needed to figure out if you pronounce a hard or soft “c” sound at the beginning of words, or when to use “ck” instead of just “k.”
The rules are so thorough that many parents will learn the reason behind the rules they learned years ago.
In addition to the phonograms taught in the lower levels, higher-level students are introduced to Greek and Latin roots. These key concepts will increase student vocabulary in addition to strengthening their spelling skills.
Other Spelling Program Options
Of course, one size never fits all. If after reading the All About Spelling review, it doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, check out some of these other curriculums.
Spelling You See
Spelling You See teaches spelling skills in a natural, easy way that mirrors language development. You will find explicit teaching of letter patterns learned through short, daily activities that work well for little students.
There are seven levels, and they build upon one another, encouraging a strong foundation based on repetition and memorization.
Vocabulary Spelling City
Closer to the weekly spelling list-style many of us grew up with, Vocabulary Spelling City is a technology-based curriculum that teaches spelling while expanding your student’s vocabulary.
The program comes with engaging online games and is geared for more independent learning, rather than the direct instruction style options that rely heavily on instructor involvement.
There are options for repeated practice in order to ensure mastery and the program will even create reports to add to a homeschool portfolio for ease in tracking learned skills and words.
For those who prefer a more classical style of teaching, Spelling Wisdom is worth a look.
The curriculum begins with lessons for students on a third-grade level and teaches spelling through literature passages. Each level is intended to last for about two years, making it an excellent bargain.
The activities focus on exposure to literary writing that may be more complicated than what students see in their reading lessons. This allows children to encounter new words and language concepts that they might be missing.
In a Nutshell
All About Spelling scores high marks when it comes to meeting the needs of all types of learners, as well as using research-based methods to teach the complicated spelling rules of the English language explicitly.
It’s an easy to use system that requires direct instruction and parent involvement, but also comes with everything you need, making it easy to open and go.
Students who use All About Spelling will likely learn the skills needed to build a strong spelling foundation that will aid them in reading and writing as they move into more advanced schooling and the real-world.