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How to Handle Spelling Mistakes

Here’s a fact: Your child is going to make an occasional spelling mistake.

The question is: How will you handle these mistakes?

Now is the perfect time to think through the answer to this question—because the way you handle errors can make a huge difference in your child’s ability and confidence. So let’s dig in!

Right off the bat, I’d like to share my “thought filter” for dealing with spelling mistakes.

flow chart showing when to correct spelling mistakes

As you can see from the graphic above, there are really just two scenarios you need to be concerned with. First let’s zoom in on how to handle errors made during spelling lessons.

How to Handle Spelling Mistakes Made During a Lesson

When you’re in the middle of a spelling lesson, a mistake may seem like a reason for concern. But, in fact, every spelling mistake is a chance for your child to learn.

  1. Ask your student to carefully read exactly what she has written down.
    Often, she will be able to see and correct her own error.

  2. Determine the cause of the spelling mistake.
    For example, perhaps your child left out a sound or added an extra one, or perhaps she didn’t apply a rule, made a visual error, or forgot to think through syllables or root words. Talk through the reasons the word is misspelled. Doing this will help the correct spelling make more sense to her than if you simply correct the mistake without explanation. She will also be better equipped to spell the word correctly in the future. If you need to review a phonogram or a rule, now is the time to do it.

  3. Have your student spell the word again.
    First have her spell the word with the letter tiles and then once again on paper.

  4. Add the word to your child’s spelling review box.
    Leave the word in the review box until your child can spell it quickly and easily. Regular review of challenging words allows ample opportunity for the correct spelling pattern to be ingrained in your student’s mind.

If your child misspells many words during spelling lessons, that’s a sign that you should slow down the pacing of your lessons. You want to make sure she masters the current spelling patterns before you add more.

mom penguin correcting a child's spelling mistake

Outside of spelling lessons, it’s a different scenario. Read on to find out how to handle those types of spelling errors.

How to Handle Spelling Mistakes Made Outside of a Lesson

When your child is writing during free-writing time or completing assignments for other classes …

  • she isn’t working with a controlled word list but is probably using words that contain concepts she hasn’t learned yet.
  • you aren’t watching her write out each word.
  • you don’t want her to limit her word choices to avoid being corrected. Instead you want to encourage creativity and freedom.

So we need a different approach for misspellings that occur outside of spelling lessons. This two-step process will help.

  1. If you have already covered the spelling concepts related to the misspelled word, don’t rush to correct the word.
    Instead, write yourself a private note to review those concepts during your next spelling lesson.

  2. This is really hard for some parents, but once you’ve written your note, ignore the spelling mistake!
    Don’t mark up your child’s paper with spelling corrections, and don’t require her to correct it.

Note that you will be holding your student responsible for writing words correctly if they include concepts you have already taught, but at this stage, when the mistake is made outside of the spelling lessons, you won’t be stopping everything and making her rewrite. Wait until the next spelling lesson to review the related concepts.

Download the “How to Correct Spelling Mistakes” Quick Guide

You may want to download our “cheat sheet” and tuck it into your teacher’s manual for a visual reminder of the two main ways to handle misspellings.

Download our Spelling Mistakes Quick Guide

Still have questions about correcting your child’s spelling errors? Here are a few more tips!

Common Questions about Misspellings

“My child looks to me for feedback as he spells. What should I do?”

When you dictate spelling words and sentences, don’t watch your child spell the word! Wait until he says he is finished spelling before you look. Otherwise, some kids learn to watch your facial expression to see if they are on the right track.

“Will the improper spelling become imprinted?”

One school of thought suggests that children should never see an incorrectly spelled word for fear that the misspelling will get imprinted on your child’s mind. The idea is that if a child begins to choose the wrong letter, you should correct the error right away so that the child never sees or writes a word incorrectly.

But there’s a flaw in this reasoning: when your child makes a mistake, he already thinks he’s writing the correct answer, which means he already has the incorrect spelling in his mind. Simply correcting his mistake and moving on may not accomplish the learning you hope it will. Worse yet, when you rush to correct your child’s spelling, it undermines his judgment.

You want your child to learn to trust his own ability to identify and correct mistakes. But when you correct your child prematurely, he learns to doubt his own judgment instead. He also learns that he can rely on outside correction, eliminating the need to internalize rules, patterns, and other spelling strategies.

This is exactly the opposite of what you want your child to do.

“Why should students re-read what they’ve written?”

When you give your child the opportunity to recognize and correct his own errors, you’ll be able to more clearly determine what your child actually knows and understands. You may think he has mastered a rule or pattern, but when you observe that he isn’t able to correct an error involving that pattern, it reveals a gap in his understanding.

When given the chance, kids can often identify and correct their own mistakes. In fact, self-correction is much more effective than outside correction in helping kids master correct spelling for future encounters with a difficult word or pattern.

And think about it: it’s pretty annoying to be corrected for something you know but didn’t have a chance to fix on your own, isn’t it? It’s much more satisfying to be able to fix your own mistakes without being micromanaged.

“In spelling class, how long do you wait to correct a misspelling?”

When you are dictating spelling words, work with your child to correct any misspellings right after your child lets you know that he has finished spelling the word and is ready for you to look at it.

When you are dictating sentences, allow him to finish the entire sentence before correcting spelling errors. Ideally, check each sentence after it has been written. Don’t wait until the next class to check his work.


Wouldn’t it be nice if spelling wasn’t difficult? Download my free report, “6 Ways We Make Spelling Easy,” and discover how the All About Spelling program takes the struggle out of spelling.

Six Ways We Make Spelling Easy Report

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Leave a Comment

Tara

says:

I have two daughters who I am teaching with AAS. One of them is dyslexic, which is why I got this to begin with, the other isn’t and is actually a pretty good speller. A lot of the time, her sister asks her how to spell words. My main problem with the younger one is she refuses to think about how to spell words for herself. She keeps asking me, even though I know she knows how to spell the word. Do you have any advice on how to handle this? What I’ve been doing is talking her through breaking down the word the way it’s done in the lessons, which often gets her mad at me.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tara,
Outside of spelling time, especially if she is doing creative writing or something that requires a lot of focus, just give her the spelling. There are numerous things that go into coming up with your own sentences: content, creativity, organization, how letters are correctly formed, punctuation, spelling, grammar, capitalization, what kind of audience they are addressing, and more. It’s a lot to think about at once!

Occasionally, however, instead of talking her through the break down of a word, simply segment aloud for her. If she asks how to spell next (as my daughter asked me how to spell the other day even though she mastered it years ago), say, “/n/-/e/-/x/-/t/, next.” She may say, “Oh, yeah!” and start writing (as my daughter did), or she may need more and then you can give her the spelling. However, approaching it this way reinforces the spelling by sound and not spelling by letter. Still, proceed in such a way as not to frustrate her. Save spelling lessons for spelling lesson time.

Then whatever words she asks for jot yourself a note to teach those words at the beginning of the next spelling lesson time. That way she gets the teaching or review she seems to need for the word, without stopping her flow in whatever she was doing when she asked how to spell the word.

Lastly, this is fairly common for students. In fact, we even devoted a blog entry to this topic! Automaticity in Reading and Spelling.

Michelle

says:

Thank you for writing this. I am always unsure of how to handle spelling outside of a lesson.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
Knowing how to handle mistakes outside of a lesson is tricky. Hopefully this will give you a plan to follow and make it easier. As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Rose

says:

Very helpful!

Amy G

says:

I just found this spelling program and I’m hoping this will work for my daughter she has always struggled with spelling

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amy,
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns as you begin All About Spelling.

Andrea

says:

Great tips! My 6 year old makes multiple spelling errors in her journals. I let her write it all out then we go back through it and review sounds. Usually she can help correct.

KatyB

says:

Fascinating not to correct outside of spelling lessons and instead make a note to go over it during spelling lessons! I’ve heard that it’s quite a different area of the brain to open up for spelling rules than for writing concepts, which this idea matches. Better to keep the focus on the discipline at hand. Thanks!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Katy–I’m glad that helped!

Heather

says:

I love having the quick guide to refer too. This is great information.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Heather–I’m glad that’s helpful!

Nicki

says:

Ignoring can be so hard.

Carly

says:

This was so helpful. My daughter is 6 years old and loves to write stories. We were trying to decide if we should correct any of the spelling mistakes or just enjoy the stories. We typically just enjoy them ;)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Carly,
You are on the right path. Enjoy the stories. Smile over them, and put them away for future smiles. But since she is writing so much, it is time to start spelling instruction if you haven’t already. Then you will start to give her the skills to become as good with spelling as she is with story writing!

Holly

says:

Thank you for the helpful tips!

Alicia Langstraat

says:

Thanks for this! I like this common sense approach. I’ve been hearing lately that kids should be allowed to spell their own way unless and until they’ve been instructed for specific concepts. Good to see that backed up here.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Alicia,
We don’t want to see a fear of spelling become a stifle that hinders student’s writing. Spelling should be addressed, but it is enough to address it during spelling time and not during writing time.

Faye

says:

Thank you for doing the book series giveaway! Would LOVE to win!

Sally Chancellor

says:

Thank you for this post! It is super incredibly hard for me to not correct spelling outside of spelling lessons, I need to hang this in huge print everywhere in my home, lol. And I was wondering what to do about my younger student watching me for confirmation, I have now taken to looking totally absorbed in the teachers book while I wait for him to write.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sally,
I’ve gotten good at long looking while my kids write. I look at my phone, shuffle the review cards, look ahead to the next Step in the Teacher’s Manual, get up and straighten the bookshelves, anything to not see what they are writing as they write. They do better overall if I’m not watching while they work.

Elizabeth T.

says:

These are great suggestions for handling spelling mistakes. Thank you!

Carole Gage

says:

I so appreciate how All About Spelling sends me helpful suggestions on how to be a better spelling teacher. These blog post really help me.

Sara Neir

says:

I would love to read these to my children!

Nancy

says:

Love this thank you!

Lori

says:

These are some great suggestions. Thanks

Megan C

says:

Very interesting and something I’ll need to do better

D

says:

This was so helpful for me. We keep running into this and I didn’t want to continually dishearten my son when he was being creative. Thank you for showing me how to handle this.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome. We are happy to have helped.

Christy

says:

As a former teacher, I’m going to find it hard to not correct my kids spelling. We aren’t to the free write stage yet, but will be there this year. I’m going to try to be more intentional about my instruction and not slip into old habits!

Sharon

says:

I love everything about AAL! We have had so much success using your products!

Crystal Mc

says:

My daughter is struggling with spelling. I think I started her out on too high a level.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Crystal,
We recommend that most students start with level 1 to build a strong foundation in spelling.

Some students are able to start with level 2, if they have the foundation. The article Which Spelling Level Should We Start With? has more information on the concepts taught in All About Spelling 1 and will help you decide if your student can skip level 1 and go into level 2.

All About Spelling is a building block program–each level builds upon the previous one. The rules and concepts learned in Level 1 are applied in Level 2, and then those are applied in Level 3, and so on. Placement for spelling is based on the student’s knowledge of spelling rules and concepts rather than grade level, reading level, or the words a student has memorized.

For example, we find that many students simply memorize easy words like “cat” and “kid” but have no idea why one uses a C and the other uses a K, or that the same rules that apply to these words also apply to higher level words such as “concentrate.” Other students switch letters or leave out letters entirely. This usually occurs because they don’t know how to hear each sound in the word. Level 1 has specific techniques to solve these problems.

Level 2 of AAS focuses on learning the syllable types, when they are used and how they affect spelling. This information is foundational for higher levels of spelling. Three syllable rules are introduced in Level 2, and then more in Level 3 and up. For this reason, we generally don’t recommend starting higher than level 2.

Marie encourages parents and teachers to “fast track” if the student knows how to spell most of the words but does not understand the underlying basic spelling concepts. In this case, very quickly skim the parts that he already knows and slow down on the parts that he needs to learn. Pull out several words as examples. Make sure he understands the concept being taught, and then move on. This blog article has a good example of how you might fast track.

Holly

says:

Thanks for posting this!

Jacque Cialone

says:

I’ve learned a lot from my son about patience. It really is important to praise effort and correct gently.

As a homeschooling mama it is hard to not be in “teacher mode” all the time. I love this reminder to work on mistakes during lessons while letting them be creative during free time!

Elizabeth

says:

Ignoring a spelling mistake can be so difficult, but what a great reminder that sometimes we homeschooling parents need to take a break.

LIZ

says:

This is so helpful! I have 3 fledgling spellers and need all the help I can get!

Jennifer Mathesz

says:

I really like these tips. Thanks

Tara G

says:

My son loves spelling with AAS!!

Gale

says:

It is really hard to ignore spelling mistakes outside a lesson! But you’re right, it totally backfires to point them out. You do it at the expense of a child who wants to write.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gale,
Yes, I have experienced that as well.

Barbie

says:

My spelling has improved since teaching AAS! It is the best spelling program on the market, and the AAL team are all wonderful to work with.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Awww. Thank you, Barbie! We are happy to be helpful.

Kim

says:

I’m actually learning so much from AALP!

Melanie W.

says:

Thank you, these are very helpful!

Jen

says:

Great tips!

Amanda

says:

Great Information. Thank you!

Christi

says:

Good tips

Katie S

says:

Thank you for the helpful tips!

Meg

says:

These are good tips to know.

Oh my! I am so glad you wrote this post. I have been doing it completely wrong! Thanks so much for the help!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Autumn,
I’m happy you found this helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about anything.

Christina

says:

we love AAS, especially in conjunction with plenty of read alouds!

Dana

says:

always something to learn!

Georgia Stapleton

says:

My granddaughter is not ready for spelling but I can see that this can be very useful.

Kim

says:

Great ideas

Beth

says:

Thanks for the tips. This is something I need to work on.

Allison

says:

Great tips ☺️

Jen ODell

says:

These are awesome tips, thank you.

Stacey J

says:

Great tips but so hard for me not to say something when it is outside of a lesson !

Ruth

says:

We love AAR! Great spelling tips here!

C. Zahler

says:

We are interested in the program and have heard great things about it!

CabotMama

says:

Not correcting mistakes made outside of spelling lessons – SO HARD!! Yet when I’ve given in to my impulse and corrected the mistakes, I’ve noticed my kids’ desire to write greatly decreases. As a homeschooling mom, I struggle with my own pride: if my otherwise intelligent 6th grader still misspells words like “kankaroo”, what are people going to think about my ability to teach?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

CabotMama,
That is a hard one! I remember when my son was 4th grade and joined 4H. He filled out the membership form and on the line labeled “School” he wrote, in pen and messily, “homeskool”. Note that the correct spelling of the word was right there and he still misspelled it! Sigh.

I had to cringe and then remind myself that I am a good teacher and this child was doing advanced work in all areas. Also, this was the first time he had filled out a form and he was in a new, crowded, and very noisy place. I let it go, because in the end what others thought of my ability to homeschool wasn’t going to actually affect my ability to homeschool.

Besides, kankaroo is a rule breaker! It should be spelled cangaroo.

Kathryn

says:

Thanks for the great tips!

Sarah

says:

AAS has helped us so much! I’ve learned so many things right along with my daughter. Thank you!

Js

says:

Thanks for the reminders! We love AAS!

Melissa

says:

Being a perfectionist, I struggle with not making my kids feel bad about spelling errors. Thanks for the tips. Hopefully, I can do better in the future.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Melissa,
I understand. I have found it helpful to think of spelling mistakes at similar to pronunciation mistakes when our kids are toddlers and preschoolers. When they are little, we smile at “mazagine” (magazine) and packpack (backpack). Some of the mispronunciations might even become part of your family vocabulary. I still use my oldest child’s word “nucky”, a blend of nasty and yucky, and he now is 20!

Well, learning to spell progresses through much the same processes, although it takes longer as spelling is more difficult. When our preschoolers mispronounce a word, we sometimes correct them and try to get them to say it right, but many other times we just let it go because we are going about our days. It is the same will spelling. If you are giving spelling instruction focused attention most school days, then it is fine to let errors go outside of spelling lessons. They will get it, just as they got correct speaking.

Yvette

says:

I’m so thankful for AAS and AAR! These helpful tips on the blog make it even easier to use. Thank you for your great program.

Dawn

says:

This spelling post is super helpful! Thank you!

Cheryn Rene Preiss

says:

I learn a lot from these blog posts, and even more from the comments left by other AAS & AAR users. We love these programs. Having the rules really helps engage my kids into thinking for themselves. When they are stuck I love being able to reference a rule or several to help them process through a word. I have a phonetic speller. When she writes her words just like they sound I acknowledge that first, that she used her phonics to work it out, and did well. Then we discuss the any changes/corrections. When any of our children do something for fun and ask me to look at it I read it completely through, discuss the item (why, when where, how come, what next, etc…) then ask if they like it the way it is, or would they like a little help with spelling. Not every time, sometimes mom is just tired and let’s things be, and other times they ask specifically for help/correction.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Cheryn,
You have a great approach! I especially like how you leave the decision with your children, giving them the power over their writing. Thank you for sharing this.

Dana Alvarado

says:

Love the spelling and reading

Lindsey H

says:

Thank you for all that you do!!

Jenn Khurshid

says:

This is great! Thank you!

TQ. Learn a lot from this

Lacey

says:

Thank you for the continued advice and encouragement.

JoAnne

says:

I need you to live in my home during each spelling lesson! Please. This is a trial of great drama and pain here.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

JoAnne,
Oh, no! Are you using All About Spelling? If you are, trust in it. Require perfect spelling during the lessons, and try to let spelling go (or provide all the spelling help needed) outside of the spelling lessons. It will take time, but slowly your child’s spelling outside of lessons will improve more and more.

If you are not using All About Spelling, consider using it or another program that teaches spelling explicitly and incrementally. So many spelling programs rely on lists that don’t make sense and can lead to a lot of frustration.

Please let us know how we can help you help your student or students have less stress with spelling.

Edith S

says:

Thanks for the great spelling tip. 🙂

Brandi

says:

These are such helpful hits! Though not correcting is going to be a challenge. Thanks for all your helpful blogs!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Brandi,
It is very difficult at times to allow incorrect spelling to remain on school work. Honestly, I’m not always successful at letting it go, although I do try to limit myself. I help my students and myself ahead of time, however, by providing them the spelling of any word they ask for while they are writing. I don’t make them look it up or sound it out or anything. If they ask, I give them the spelling (although I do give them the spelling syllable by syllable, to reinforce that concept).

Karen

says:

Hard to not correct outside of lessons! Especially if it’s a thank you note to grandma…

Laurie

says:

For thank you notes and letters, I have my kids write a rough draft – then I correct the spelling and they write the final copy. For the ones who struggle most with spelling, they dictate the note, and then copy or type what I have written. That way they don’t have to write it twice, but still are learning that thank you notes should be a good final copy.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Karen,
Aw, yes. When my kids are writing something that will be seen, I have them write what they want to say on scrap paper first. Then I help them edit it, providing them the correct spelling as needed and usually helping them expand on what they have to say as well. Then they copy it out. It is more work, but it eliminates comments on their writing that would not be supportive. The stage when they need help like this doesn’t last forever.

Emily

says:

Answers questions I have definitely had. Thanks!

Michelle

says:

These are wonderful recommendations to help teach spelling. Thank you!

Heather

says:

These are great tips!

Colleen M.

says:

More great tips from AAS!

Cindy

says:

Thank you! I struggle in this area of feedback and now I can be more consistent with it!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Cindy,
Yes, it can be a struggle to know how to approach spelling errors in and outside of spelling lessons. We’re glad you found this helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Jennifer

says:

Great tips on spelling. I look forward to using them.

Car

says:

This is a great post. Great suggestions; thank you!

Beth

says:

I have a 10 year old who has had a really rough time with spelling…. like verging on quite illegible (with precise and beautiful handwriting)at the beginning of the last school year, before we started using your program. Then when we tried to correct her spelling we were met with anger, tears, and just all around frustration. Since starting AAS we tell her and this is true, that we do the lessons to empower her to see and fix the errors she makes. Now she will write and then bring it to me to edit it for her at her request. She is now writing paragraphs with fewer then 5 errors. And helping to fix her own mistakes!!! For us it was all about giving her the power to fix it herself!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Beth,
This is fabulous! This is exactly the point! It’s not about not making any errors because everyone makes errors. It’s about having the skills and confidence to find and correct your own errors. Thank you for sharing this.

Becky

says:

We use AAS and AAR. I appreciate your blog posts and the great advice in them.

LW

says:

I love these tips and am looking forward to trying them with my son.

Zikhona

says:

Thank you for the great advise. I have been reading up all weekend. My situation is slighty different. We are 2nd language English-speaking family. We are South African, my first language is Xhosa, and and my husband’s is Ndebele.
My husband and I never had any form of phonic instruction growing up so phonics are, pretty much, new to us. My kid have had the benefit of starting off with Letterland and have a solid foundation of phonics. My problem is my inability to pronounce the A and E with the different sounds. I have watched various videos (and practiced until I was blue in the face) and listened to the app but I guess this ol’ tongue of mine is unable to turn from its old ways. Now this causes so much frustration for my kids, as they sometimes get the words wrong, even though they have applied the rule correctly, due to specifically my pronunciation of these two letters. I really try to sound them correctly, but I end up second guessing myself for every word I am saying. We are still in Level 1, and what I have realized is that they get their words right rule-wise, but will, for an example spell “Well” like “wall”, and worse still “will”. Now, they are good with their phonics, but it’s what they hear from me that causes the confusion. Sometimes I have to sall “W-Eddy Elephant-l (well)l” or “B-Annie Apple-nd (band)”
My question is, is it ok to tell them which letter I am trying to sound? Or does that defeat the whole purpose of this instruction? With words like “well”, it is sometimes easier to say to them “just remember, there is only one way to spell “well”, so regardless of how I might pronounce it, just know that there is only one “well”” But with homonyms it is rather difficult. Do you have any suggestions for me, please? Also, note that I can sometimes sound these sounds correctly on their own but the problem is when there is an initial letter/s making it hard for me to control the tongue and jaw-drop movement that differentiate the sounds.

Sorry for a long question. I guess, in short, is it ok to tell my kids which vowel I am asking them to spell in a word, assuming that they would hear the word properly if someone else, who sounded the letters correctly was giving the word.

We are almost done with level 1 now, and looking forwards to level 2. Also just got our AAR last week, so looking forward to begin that.

Regards
Zikhona

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Zikhona,
The goal of learning spelling is to be able to spell words without help. If you must tell your children the vowel each time, you are defeating the goal.

So, instead of telling them the vowel each time, I suggestion you approach the words as homophones. Every accent and dialect of English have words that are pronounced the same and spelled differently. All About Spelling begins teaching common homophones in level 3, but you can begin earlier. I have had to do the same at times, especially with my youngest child as she mishears long A as short E and vice versa, especially in front of the letter L (for example, she’ll spell mail as mell or bell as bale).

I recommend explaining to your children that since you pronounce the sounds the same, you will be giving them the word and then a sentence using the word in context. You will say, “Well. I feel well.” Or, “Wall. Hang the picture on the wall.” From the context, your children should get a better understanding of which word you mean. You can write the sentence on the Word Card so that you remember to use it each time. Keep these words in review until your children can spell them correctly without hesitation. However, you will use a sentence (and it doesn’t always have to be the same sentence) each time.

However, this method won’t work very well if your students aren’t already comfortable with reading. They need to have read well and wall (and all the other short A and short E words) for a while before they will be able to identify which word you mean from context. It sounds like your children have a good foundation in reading, but I just want to be sure. We recommend not beginning All About Spelling 1 until the student has completed All About Reading 1 or the equivalent reading level. So, if you are looking to begin your children on AAR 1, then lay AAS 1 aside until they finish it.

I don’t mean to add to your struggles, but since you are South African you should be aware that the South African English dialect more closely resembles British English than American English. In British English, the letter A has 5 sounds, not 3. I have emailed you a copy of our suggested changes to All About Spelling for British English.

Lastly, I know you said you tried online videos for the sounds short A and short E. Just in case you have tried this one, here is a link to the Rachel’s English video for these sounds. Rachel’s English was developed specifically for non-native English speakers, and she discusses the placement of the tongue, jaw, and lips extensively to help non-native speakers understand the differences in the sounds in every way possible. If you have already tried Rachel’s English, I understand. My regional accent (western United States) doesn’t distinguish between the short O, AW, and the third sound of A (/ah/). I have watched videos and practiced, but only with a huge amount of effort can I pronounce these sounds differently and even then I am not confident.

I hope this helps. Please contact if the problem continues, or if you need anything else. We are here to help you help your children succeed with English.

Amy

says:

Great advice, thanks. I try to ask for if my daughter is happy with her sentence after EVERY sentence we do in AAS. This includes the ones with no errors. I am hoping it gives her the chance to truly self assess without the cue that something is wrong.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

This is a great practice, Amy! Being able to self-edit is an important skill, and this is the beginning of learning it. Thank you for sharing this.

Jen Spencer

says:

How obligated should I feel to check and correct spelling errors in things written just for fun, like signs on the door and signs for pretend games and so on? My son is 6 and makes mistakes in things that he has covered in AAS 1. I feel like he should know those, such as “pas” for “pass”, and that I shouldn’t let him ingrain misspellings and bad habits even in play. But it is just for fun and he does them all the time and I can’t keep on top of all of them!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jen,
He is still very young, and a brand new speller. I would recommend, in this situation, to not even comment on what he writes for play and fun (but maybe keep a few samples for nostalgia purposes!).

However, during his daily spelling time, review the concepts that you see him making errors with. You may want to jot yourself a note, or even write it on an index card and put it in his spelling review box, so you remember to review the concept. For example, since he misspelled pass, review the floss rule at the beginning of your next spelling time. This blog post might help you make the review fun too.

Also, when he does the dictation, teach him to read what he wrote and look for errors before you read it. Praise him for finding and correcting his errors without help. This will start him working on the skill of self-editing, which can take years to fully develop.

In this way, you can allow him his free play without critique, but still give him the extra review he may need on the concepts he has already learned. I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have further questions.

Jen Spencer

says:

Thank you! And yes, I keep a few for nostalgia. Today’s sign on his door says “What is the pas word? must speek the pas word before etering room. Sud to enee wun hoo etrs room. eksept the wun hoo onse it.”
Translation: What is the password? must speak the password before entering room. Said to anyone who enters room. except the one who owns it.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, no translation needed, Jen! I’ve read lots of wonderful notes like this over the years. He is very precise with his note, isn’t he? :D

Amanda

says:

Thank you. This makes a lot of sense. I usually correct right away and this helps me to understand why that may not be the best plan.

Nicole Eisenman

says:

I’ve never been able to correct my oldest’s spelling because he won’t spell a word if he’s not confident that he knows the spelling. He will either ask for a model (he narrates while I write, then he copies) or he’ll ask how to spell every word he doesn’t know. He gets very frustrated when I have him try to write words on his own. He just does not like to do inventive spelling. He’s very literal and likes things to be done perfectly. Should I encourage him to do inventive spelling? He is an excellent reader (7 years old and reading confidently at a 3-4th grade level).
We will be starting AAS 1 in a couple of weeks (I cannot wait for the package to arrive!) so I don’t know if this is addressed in there? We used a different spelling last year in 1st grade that just didn’t work for us. Thank you!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nicole,
We don’t recommend encouraging invented spelling. This article refers to when the student is writing and seems confident of words, but makes mistakes.

When you begin All About Spelling, you will see in Step 11 or so the student is asked to write short phrases from dictation. These phrases only contain words that the student has already learned, so they are review. When your son writes them, it is likely to make mistakes. Don’t be too quick to correct those mistakes. Allow him the chance to check his own writing and find his own errors then.

I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

Jennie Chatman

says:

Oh! This is good. I am going to print it off and use it. I am quick to correct. I need to do this. after reading this I think I will remember not to correct so soon.

Erika

says:

Wow!! Very insightful. I am looking to apply your suggested approach with my son

Dori

says:

I loved this article. It was right on target for me and my daughter’s needs in spelling. We love AAS and are on level 3 and almost finished with it and looking forward to level 4.

Molly

says:

Thanks for the advice.

Jennifer Shaffer

says:

I was correcting my daughter’s spelling mistakes too quickly; however, once I started waiting to go over and explain we started noticing a pattern. Now she is doing much better at going over her own work and correcting some of them on her own before they ever get to me.

Kelly

says:

We are dealing with this now…reviewing some older spelling words that we thought were mastered. I’m finding that when we wait to correct both my daughter and I are more easily able to see patterns in the mistakes, and often by correcting one word she is able to correct the others. If we corrected as we went, I don’t think I would have realized the extent of the problem.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great point, Kelly. Allowing her to immediately use what she learned to correct one word on other words can really help in cementing the knowledge.

Shawn D

says:

AAS and AAR have transformed our homeschool. Not only does the curriculum show exactly WHAT to teach, but this blog is often a wealth of information on HOW to teach. Thank you to all of you who play a role in this fantastic curriculum.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Shawn! I’ll be passing this on to the entire AALP team.

Marie

says:

This is excellent information! I’ve home schooled for a long time. I wish I’d come across this information earlier! Very helpful.

Savannah

says:

So interesting! Was wondering this! I have been trying to hold our kiddos accountable especially for words I know they have done in spelling but their mistakes are nearly always rushing to write something or excited about what they are doing and forgetting to think about how individual words may be spelled!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Savannah,
This actually is somewhat common for students; in fact, we even devoted a blog entry to this topic! Helping Kids Achieve Automaticity in Spelling.

When students are writing outside of spelling time, they have many more things to focus on: content, creativity, organization, punctuation, spelling, grammar, capitalization, what kind of audience they are addressing. It’s a lot to think about at once. In fact, even adult writers need to take time to rewrite and edit their work (and sometimes there are still mistakes!). Our students definitely need a separate editing time if the piece is going to be polished at all.

Hold them accountable for the words they have mastered in spelling after they have gone back, at a later time, and edited the piece.

Sonja

says:

I sure struggled with spelling myself. These are great tips and even I am learning. Thank you!!

Becki

says:

This has been on my mind for a while. Thank you for addressing this!

Angel S.

says:

Thank you for this advice on correcting spelling errors.

Kat

says:

I disagree with the assertion that when a child misspells a word they already have the wrong spelling imprinted in their mind. When a child is attempting to spell a word they are not sure about they are usually trying to work it out in their mind. While they will eventually operate from a familiarity with what the word should look like (an imprint) this is not the case from the beginning.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

You do have an interesting point, Kat, but before a child can write a word down he has to have worked through the word and have put that imprint in his mind, even if only for a second. Even if he is writing very slowly, sound by sound, he has to have a picture of the sound in his mind before he writes it. The imprint is there. Correcting the child before he has a chance to read the word over and decide if it needs correcting himself isn’t going to remove that newly formed imprint. Rather, if a child can read the word he wrote and see that it is misspelled and needs correcting, all by himself, it will make a much larger impact on establishing the correct spelling in his mind.

Thank you for disagreeing with us, truly. We appreciate the chance to think through our recommendations deeply.

Amanda Flick

says:

I hadn’t looked into spelling much when starting our home school journey, and remember a lot of my own spelling words as a child of copy and recite, repeat, until they were nramded in my mind. I love this was of teaching spelling though. It makes so much more sense to walk the kids through why the words sound the way they do and patterns to follow. Thank you for this post!

Tanika

says:

I have two emerging readers who spell phonetically. It brings a smile to my face to read their writings and see what words look like to them. At the early stage, I only correct spelling if asked. And many times I noticed they would ask because they’ve read the word before and knew that how they spelled it was different. Or as they’d learn more phonetic rules in reading, I would notice those rules being applied in their writing. It has been fun to watch this growth. However, as they are moving past the Kindergarten/First Grade level, I recognize that it is time to focus more closely on correct spelling. I’m excited to “hire” AAS for the job!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tanika,
You have such a great attitude about these fledgling writer errors! These beginning writing errors are much like when our babies first begin to speak, and should be celebrated much the same. I very fondly recall my son’s “toof burashes” written on my chalkboard grocery list a few years back (tooth brushes).

Flor

says:

My 9yr old has ADHD , reading and writing have been the most difficult aspects of his education. I started homeschooling him last November with our state K12 program after working closely with his charter school and
Seeing that distractions were still causing him to not progress. Until now in 3rd grade as a reward program , my son is willing to write 3- 5 word+ sentences to gain a game download on my phone. I was going to correct his spelling and held back thinking that if he felt failure and was doing it wrong he would stop doing it. Now when I least expect it , he comes to me with sentences that he’s been working on by himself and I couldn’t be happier.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Flor,
This is great progress, and it’s especially wonderful when a student starts to enjoy something he previously struggled with. Thank you for sharing!

Rosemarie

says:

Thank you for this advice. I have too quick to correct spelling errors in the past.

a

says:

I definitely find that, if I ask my child to find the error, there is a good chance that it will be found and corrected without any assistance from me. (Typically, I cue, “read aloud what you’ve actually written, not what you remember hearing.” That is generally enough to point out the error.) Sometimes, that is not the case, but then it gives me some additional insight into patterns and error-types that need more reinforcement or reteaching.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Exactly! Allowing them to find their own errors first gives us the best insight into what things they need to review the most!

Matt

says:

I have been too quick to correct in the past. I will try to remember this when working with my child.

Thank you.

Darlene

says:

Thank you for all the helpful advice in your articles!

Holly

says:

Thanks for the great reminder! If I might add: if one of my children makes a mistake in a sentence, and does not find it even after re-reading what they wrote aloud, my next step is to review the key concept card that applies to the mistake without pointing out the mistake to the child. For example, I might say “What 3 letters are doubled at the end of a single syllable word…” and usually that prompts them to find and fix the mistake without me pointing it out to them.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Holly,
That’s a really great way to approach a mistake that a student can’t find on their own. Thanks for pointing this out!

Cristina C.

says:

It’s easy to forget that we should give our kids space to self correct and give some thought to the things they are working on, whether it is spelling or other stuff. Jumping to “help” them too soon, does create an adverse reaction. I have notice that it decreases their confidence, as well as their willingness to initiate or work independently on their tasks.
Thank you for this great reminder!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Cristina,
Great point about correcting too soon can impact a child’s willingness to work independently. Thank you.

Stephanie Hamlin

says:

When we are practicing the sentences in the lesson I wait to correct until the end so we can focus on the dictation aspect. I encourage him to read them to see if he can self correct any mistakes. We discuss any spelling strategies for any ones missed & sometimes I will just have him write the word a few times. We focus on one lesson per week. We have used AAS & AAR levels 1-4 and have been so pleased with the progress.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for describing how you do dictation and handle misspelled words, Stephanie.

Bethany Bechtold

says:

Thanks for this timely reminder. My oldest can always catch her mistake but younger one can’t always do that ;especially in AAR – he’d continye reading even if it didn’t sound right). I love this entire program though and all of the rules & lessons make sense. I recommend it to everyone I encounter who asks for help in Spelling. 👍

Beth

says:

Very insightful. Thank you!

kate

says:

Thank you, this was helpful as usual!

Maranda Delatorre

says:

Good info.

Monica H.

says:

This was very helpful. Thank you!

Amy D

says:

Excellent! I have been wondering how to handle these situations!

Kathleen

says:

Very helpful!

Heidi

says:

This is something I have been struggling with how to handle correctly. I have been quick to correct because I thought my son would remember the wrong spellings, but it didn’t feel like the best way to handle it. After reading this, I see so much value in letting him find the mistakes. I love that through something as simple as a spelling lesson my son can gain confidence in himself and his abilities. Also, I like that through holding back on correction, gaps in understanding can show up. This makes assessment a constant thing and problems easy to see.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Heidi,
You bring up such great points so well put here. Thank you.

Karen

says:

This has been very helpful advice for me, and I use it now for all subjects – trying to get my son to find his own mistakes rather than have me point them out.

Melody

says:

This was very helpful and quite timely! Thanks!

Judy

says:

Thank you, very helpful!

Beth

says:

I have been surprised at how if I will just be quiet and give my daughter a minute, she finds the mistake. As a math teacher (before I had children) it is the same thing I would have taught my students to do but it was really hard for me as a mom to not want to jump in and correct my kids the minute I saw a mistake. I agree they learn so much more and it shows a greater understanding of the concepts when they can find the mistake themselves. I also appreciated what you said about how the premature correction can cause them to doubt themselves in the future, I wouldn’t have thought about that. Thank you for this encouragement.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Beth,
Thank you for sharing your perspectives on this both as a classroom teacher and a mom. Great points!

Lydia

says:

Super helpful.

Deborah L

says:

Looking forward to starting AAS once level 1 of AAR completed. This will be helpful for me to know how to react :-)

Lindsay Norton

says:

This was helpful! I’ve been wondering how to handle it.

Kristin

says:

Thank you. I have wondered how to handle spelling mistakes.

Tammy

says:

We are struggling with spelling and recently started AAS, so it’s a learning process for all of us. I tend to want to ask them to find the misspelled word and correct it, but obviously, they think it’s all correct. Thanks for the encouragement to be more patient!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tammy,
If the child doesn’t think anything is misspelled, let them know that something is misspelled. I ask my kids to read what they wrote, checking for errors, but if they don’t find them I’ll tell me how many errors they have. Usually, once they know there is an error, they can find it fairly easily. However, if they still can’t find it I tell me exactly which word is wrong and give them a chance to correct it. If they still struggle, I go over the rule or pattern they forgot and help them spell it correctly. I then make a point to give extra practice on that word.

Thank you!! Our curriculum has been having our son to do exactly this you’ve mentioned above but I didn’t know why.

Kristin G

says:

Thank you so much for this helpful advice!

Dezari

says:

Great post! Thanks so much for sharing

CabotMama

says:

Very timely. Two older children are in Level 5 and Level 3. I’ve wondered if I should hover as they write dictation or wait until they complete the sentences before prompting them to review.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

CabotMama,
I love when we are timely!

I find it best to be slightly distracted when my children do dictation. They have learned to “read” my face for clues, so if I am dusting or cutting papers or whatever while they write I won’t be tempted to watch and they won’t have any clues on my face to read.

Lydia

says:

My daughter is in first grade in public school this year (we are looking at homeschooling next year). This method of “correction” is used in her classroom and I can see the benefits. The portions about wanting a chance to fix her own mistakes and getting overwhelmed with “failure” are so true for her if corrected on spelling that she has not been taught the concepts for.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lydia,
Thank you for sharing how you have seen this in your child’s experiences.

Trish

says:

Thanks for the helpful advice! I’m glad I read this article. I won’t be so quick to correct from now on.

Stephanie Olmsted

says:

Thanks for this article because I often wonder when to correct her writing. Thanks for the advice.

Catherine

says:

Thank you for that reminder. Sometimes I am too quick to correct my daughter and she does get frustrated when I do.

Christy

says:

My son was recently diagnosed with auditory processing disorder. I’m excited to find a program that will help me help him!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Christy,
This blog post, Auditory Processing Disorder: How can I help my child?, may prove helpful for you.

Let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We’re hear to help!

Normandy Halvorson

says:

Let us not forget the efforts put forth in little cards and creative projects that are made just for moms or dads that may sometimes be missing a letter or may be a proud phonetic attempt at expressing love. I refuse to correct those at all and simply weave the word into a the next daily lesson.

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

Yes! Normandy, I handled these the same way. I love to treasure those notes! I like to remember that baby writers are like baby talkers–we always think baby talkers are adorable when they make mistakes, and we gently restate to help them learn. So, remember those baby writers are cute too, and that they’ll learn.

Taryn

says:

I’m so thankful for this program. My daughter (8years) can’t hear the difference between e and i. So if I dictate pig (the animal) she’ll write peg. This has slowed us down terribly. Every time I think she has it right, we move ahead a few lessons, then end up going back. Any advice?

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

For the e/i confusion, check out Marie’s article on this (we also have a YouTube video here).

Another thing you can do is to give a sentence if there is a near homophone (as in pig vs. peg). A sentence can help to define which word you mean.

Alicia Mitchell

says:

Thank you! My daughter is really quick to catch on but spelling is a struggle. I appreciate the advice.

Janet

says:

I am so happy to see how much my little man has improved! Thank you!

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

That’s wonderful, Janet!

Melissa

says:

I am so thankful for your tips on teaching reading and spelling. Such good thoughts and good reminders for me!!

Janet

says:

Great tips!

sandy

says:

Thank you . This is useful advice!

Kara

says:

This was very helpful. Thank you.

Lorie Ferguson

says:

This is something I was wondering about. Thank you

Jen

says:

Great blog post! This was very helpful.

Brenda

says:

I have noticed this principle in all ares of schooling. If I am too quick to correct, my son just shuts down. If I give mostly encouragement with an occasional correction or ask if he can spot an error, he will keep working for much longer periods of time and own his own mistakes. It makes sense, though. I would probably shut down too if someone were constantly critiquing me while I was trying to learn a new skill.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Brenda,
I know I dislike when someone hovers over me when I’m doing something, telling me what to fix. I think I am a better teacher for my kids when I can be slightly distracted. Not a lot, just enough that I have something to cut, dust, read, or whatever while they work. I’m available for them the moment they need me, but no hovering.

Jasmyne

says:

Thank you for this post!! This will help us during our homeschool:-)

Bette

says:

Your ideas are so practical! I have not felt comfortable smothering with correction but didn’t know how to explain why whenever it was done. I will be more likely to keep my lips closed and let the child explain first to learn better.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Bette,
Yes! I have found if I can get my child to explain to me why one spelling was wrong and the other correct, that he was much more likely to not make the same mistake again.

Alison

says:

Interesting article. Here in Denmark they go completely the other way & say you shouldn’t correct them at all. The theory being that as they read & see the word spelt correctly they will eventually learn the correct spelling. But by correcting them you will undermine their self confidence. There is therefore a big emphasis on daily reading time.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Alison,
Many students will develop a good feel for correct spelling through reading, but many others will not. My own daughter was an advanced reader, but was a very poor speller.

I am not familiar with Danish, but many languages are not nearly as difficult to spell as English. English has something like 250 ways to spell just 45 sounds. There are 9 ways to spell the single sound of long E!

Tessa White

says:

I will have to work on this.

Jeannine

says:

A great article! Thank you for the helpful tips!

Carolyn Oviatt

says:

I would love to win this. I was going to get the spelling and reading for my daughter next year.

Courtney

says:

Oops! I’m guilty of correcting right away and I can see exactly how it could be undermining his judgement. I’m thankful for this article’s correction. I’ll be making these adjustments right away.

Krystil

says:

I’m happy this exists; this is an argument I’ve had with my mother on and off for a while!

Shannon Alexander

says:

Thanks for the tips. My kids try so hard to spell something that I usually don’t correct it at the time they show it to me. It is usually at a later time. If they ask for help though I have them try sounding it out and then help them when needed.

mistie

says:

Thank you for this article. I was unsure about what and how to correct. I have a public school background and we totally did different things long ago. Now that we are homeschooling, I have enjoyed the All About Spelling material so much. It has filled in a lot of holes for me in how to correctly teach these things.

This same question came up just yesterday. I decided to let my daughter’s spelling mistakes sit for a little while before correcting because I wasn’t sure when I should correct her. I appreciate the guidelines of understanding why the word was misspelled in the first place.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Heidi,
I love that when our blog posts provide right on time help like this!

Kristin

says:

I cannot wait to try all about reading and all about spelling with my dyslexic son!

Tiffany Warman

says:

I’m excited to use AAR for the first time this year with my upcoming kindergartener. I’ve read to wait on AAS until next year so that’s the plan.

Lisa Eubanks

says:

I have loved using All About Reading with my daughter and I can’t wait to start adding in All About Spelling!

Kelly Ferreira

says:

This is a great article and I hope to try out All About Spelling soon. Thank you!

Michelle Roossinck

says:

We are using both AAS and AAR. We just started Level 4 AAR and we are getting ready to start Level 4 in AAS.

My daughter spells most of the lesson words right, she has more problems with other words in the sentence part of the spelling lessons.

I will try your suggestions above and see if once she reads the sentence out loud if that helps her to recognize which words are spelled wrong and why.

She does get upset sometimes when I say something is spelled wrong and ask her to fix it. I think she feels she has done her best the first time around. I am working with her on not being upset if something is wrong.

Do you have any other suggestions.

Michelle

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
You might consider reading this article to her, 9 Brilliant Inventions Made by Mistake. You could also enjoy this picture book, Beautiful Oops. Basically, get her thinking about how mistakes can lead to wonderful things.

Then, discuss with her that you expect her to make mistakes. Why? Because if she got everything right the first time, then you would have nothing to teach her. When she makes mistakes, both you and her then know what it is she needs to learn better. You can help with this by when she does make a mistake saying things like, “Oh, I’m glad you made that mistake so we know to review this,” before going over the rule or pattern.

The next time you make a mistake, be sure to point the mistake out to your daughter before you correct it. Also, talk about how everyone has to read what they wrote so that they can find and fix errors. In fact, professional writers have editors whose only job is to catch and fix errors.

I hope this gives you some ideas that help her daughter.

Nieves

says:

This is a great article!
I always give my son a time to go over his spelling and sound it out loud to correct the misspelled words. This is often effective to him given he is in the mood. Some days I just help him point out what he missed in a word. But most of all he loves being able to correct his own mistake. It gives him confident in his ability to spell correctly that kind of approach. My son is 8.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Nieves,
Thank you for sharing how your son gets confidence from finding and correcting his own mistakes. That’s a great way to learn!

Lauren Lambert

says:

I like this: just give them the chance, kids can often identify and correct their own mistakes. And number 2 for correcting reminds me that sometimes students don’t know the meaning of the word and therefore aren’t as invested in spelling it.

Jane Gilhooly

says:

Thanks for this input. My question is, should we always spell a word for our children when they ask how something is spelled in the course of the ordinary day? My kids probably ask me to spell three or four words for them each during our school day outside of spelling class. My mother never would spell for me but told me to go “look it up”… which I don’t recall actually following through with at all, but that was the pre-google age.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jane,
Hold your students responsible for the words, rules, and patterns they have been explicitly taught. If the word uses a rule or pattern they haven’t yet been taught, it’s fine to give them the spelling of the word.

You can also try having your children go ahead and spell words the best they can, and you will help them with any spelling help they need after they are done. Searching for the right spelling of a word, or waiting for mom to tell them the right spelling, can slow down their writing progress. With many kinds of writing it’s better to get the words out and come back and perfect it after. Writing often flows better that way.

Pati

says:

For my son I am finding he often can correct troublesome mistakes most easily if I tell him to spell it out loud to me. This is very helpful for words I know he knows how to spell. It encourages his heart and then he writes it.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Pati,
This made me smile because I have a son that struggles to spell words aloud correctly, but hardly ever misspells a word on paper. Sort of the opposite of your son.

Great work on finding a way to help your son in a way that works so well for him.

Raquel

says:

Spelling and grammar are particular passions of mine, making it all the harder for me not to correct right away when I see a mistake in my children’s writing. This is why I choose to dictate sentences from across the room. This way, I literally cannot see what my child is writing, and I do not give myself a chance to look at it until he/she has re-read it and corrected it alone. I have indeed found from experience (unfortunately) that over-correcting can lead to hesitant writers….perfectionists, who are afraid to write anything for fear of making a mistake.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Raquel,
Great idea to do dictation from across the room. It makes it impossible to jump on mistakes too quickly.

Tara

says:

My son is dyslexic and we use OG methods with great enthusiasm. I can honestly say there is value to the struggle with spelling, however there is also a point with a dyslexic mind that the struggle causes shutdown. Good educators (parents and teachers) can recognize that point and step in to assist when needed. Thank you for this post!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tara,
You are welcome for this post, and thank you for cautioning us about the risk of students shutting down. Great reminder.

Sara

says:

Good tips- Thank you!

Emily

says:

Wow thanks for this. I’ve read a lot about the Charlotte mason way, and so always corrected immediately, but this makes perfect sense. Also thanks for the steps to help us deal with difficult words. :)

Kathy

says:

I’m from the earlier days of Charlotte Mason (well about 20 years ago anyways) and I always used to have the kids re-read their copywork, narrations and dictations back to themselves before I ever looked at them. It instilled “ownership” in their work, like they had to approve it before it met my eyes. I think it helped.

Emily

says:

Great idea. I’m currently doing AAS And copy work. They both work very well each in their own way and I think there’s a place for both. Especially with someone like my son, who reads night and day, but couldn’t spell anything to save his life. :)

Jennifer S.

says:

I have made the typical mistake of correcting my son’s spelling mistake. However, since using AAS, I try to encourage him to sound out the word to determine the correct spelling.

Emma

says:

Thank you for these tips! I knew instinctively that jumping on every spelling mistake was not the best way for my 7 year old to learn, but I wasn’t sure what to do instead. A lot of her mistakes have to do with the silent “e””s – apparently that’s something we’ll need to work on more!

Susanne

says:

Very interesting post. I usually correct errors right away and then have the child rewrite the word several times.Occasionally I have had them look over all their words to see if they’re happy with the spellings or will have them read the words aloud so they can find their mistakes. Thanks for sharing these tips!

Cindy

says:

We all need to proof read our own work, so it’s good to have a kid check his own work first. If the child doesn’t see his error, first give him a hint, such as, “you did great overall, but you have two mistakes, can you find them?” or, “you have one mistake in the second sentence.” It’s good to start with a broad hint, and successively narrow it down if the child can’t find the problem. Once he finds the mistake, sometimes he’ll have an ah-ha moment and fix it, other times you need to reteach. When he’s able to find his mistakes and get a “that-a-boy” (or girl) for being a good proof reader, it makes it less discouraging to have some mess-ups to repair.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Cindy,
This is a great approach to mistakes. Learning to be a good editor is as important as learning to be a good speller! Thanks for explaining this so well.

Marilyn Fuqua

says:

I currently use AAR with my Kindergarten class, and we love it! My daughter used AAS when she home-schooled her children. It is a great program. I am also a Barton Certified Tutor and your program follows hers very closely..

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Marilyn,
It’s great to hear that AAR is working out so well in your Kindergarten class. Thanks for letting us know.

I just want to add that our programs and Barton’s are based on the same Orton-Gillingham approach, but each were developed independently. One doesn’t follow the other.

Lisa

says:

Thanks for the encouragement and reminders!

Andrea saunders

says:

So how long do you wait to tell them. After he does the words at the end if the lesson my son wants to know if he got them all right. But he has the problem that if he missed just now it devastates him and he gets really upset. But I also don’t want him thinking he is going everything perfect.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Andrea,
While you shouldn’t correct your son immediately, you should correct him before he goes on to further words. When you are doing the word cards, have him write one word. After he writes it, ask him to read it just as written. Then ask him if that was right. If he says it was right and it was then tell him so. If he says it was right but it wasn’t, tell him it is misspelled and give him a chance to correct it. Try asking him if he can tell you why the first way was wrong and the second was correct. If he sees that it is wrong and corrects it give him extra praise for finding his error and fixing it without any help!

When he is doing dictation, allow him to finish the whole phrase or sentence. Then ask him to read what he wrote, checking for errors. I use the acronym COPS with my kids: Capitalization, Organization (handwriting errors, spacing, etc.), Punctuation, and Spelling. (You can find lots of cute printables if you google “COPS editing”.) After my kids write one dictation passage, they are supposed to COPS it. After they have checked the passage for those four things, I then tell them if there are any errors they missed. Again, I allow them the chance to correct it without help first.

Maybe if your son corrects each word or each passage before going on to the next, he won’t be so devastated.

Joy

says:

My five-year-old has started spelling words on her own. I haven’t taught her any spelling yet. She writes little notes and things all over the house and always asks me “is this right? “Did I do it right? ” usually there is a mistake since she’s just beginning to learn. How do I answer her? I can see that she’s very proud and excited and I don’t want to discourage her at all.

Julie

says:

I would also like to hear a response to this as I have the same enthusiastic speller who I haven’t begun to teach (we’re still trying to work on reading). I love that she’s trying and she’s doing great phonetically! (Mole for Molly, tak for take). I haven’t even tried to correct her, but wondering if I should?

Leanne

says:

Children go through a phase called ‘inventive spelling’. They are trying to use basic abc sounds to write words and often the parent is the only one who can decipher it. I showed my child how different books have the same word spelt the same way. Explain to your child that it is important to use universal spelling so that people can understand the intended message. If everyone spelt inventively, we would be forever deciphering others’ spelling. Some sounds are made of 2 letters, other sounds 3 or 4 letters. Let your child know that they have made a great effort with their current knowledge….you can show them the correct spelling, perhaps from a book and ask them to spot the differences. Let them know that it takes many, many , many years of learning to be a good speller. Let them know it is fun learning to spell, so as not to discourage them. Hope this helps!

Kathy

says:

I like that “show don’t tell” idea!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Leanne,
Thank you for sharing this gentle approach to exploring correct spelling with a young writer! This is great.

Kim

says:

I’m not an expert but I have the same child and we do a little spelling because she is so interested. If she spells something and its not right I ususlly say something like this. “Wow, that is great! Great job! Can we spell cat like this C A T instead of C A A T. Now, that is a great way to spell “cat.” This way you are asking permission and not for a fight and you get the point across. My child is very determind and loves to learn but will shut down if pushed to hard so this technique I have found works for us. Hope this helps you in some way.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Joy,
In this case, I’d recommend going ahead and starting All About Spelling 1 with her. It will give her the instruction she needs to have a good foundation in spelling.

As for her little notes, maybe if there is a word that she uses a lot you could give her the correct spelling. However, just giving children correct spelling all the time can set a child up for thinking that spelling is completely random and arbitrary.

Rachel

says:

Usually when I notice a spelling mistake (like this – misake) I will tell my son to read slowly what he has written. First he reads what he was supposed to have written. Then I tell him read it again slowly, that is not what you wrote. Usually, he finds the mistake on his own. Sometimes I have to tell him which word in the sentence is incorrect. (Does that really say mistake? Look carefully. OH, I forgot the t!!!!) It works fairly well. My older son is dyslexic so we do spelling together even though the boys are six years apart. Sometimes, I get them to correct each others spelling. This works very well also.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great ideas on how to work through a spelling here, Rachel. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Sabrina

says:

I agree with this, having a son with LD I have learned many tips and tricks

KOri

says:

You have the best advice. I would love a chance to teach my kids with AAR.

Dayahana Martinez

says:

We are just getting to this stage and I never know if I should correct my son right away or not. He is very pleased with himself when he writes something all on his own, so I don’t want to discourage him by pointing out his mistakes right away.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Dayahana,
If he is writing outside of spelling time, I’d be inclined to have a separate time to correct misspellings or other mistakes. And don’t hold him responsible for spelling any words that use phonograms, rules, or patterns he hasn’t been explicitly taught yet. If he misspells a word he hasn’t been taught, just give him the correct spelling.

Stephanie Fussner

says:

My daughter is generally a pretty good speller, so a lot of her spelling mistakes are just laziness. She doesn’t take the time to think through and spell correctly. Often, just drawing her attention to the fact that there is a mistake is enough for her to correct it.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Stephanie,
A lot is going one when we write and there are many things to focus on: content, creativity, organization, punctuation, spelling, grammar, capitalization, what kind of audience they are addressing… It’s a lot to think about at once. That’s why even accomplished professional writers still need editors.

Having a separate time for rereading what she wrote and making corrections as necessary may be beneficial.

Lydia Joy Slater

says:

Honestly, the computer does quite a bit of the correcting, which has helped my child with her spelling more than anything else- well, likely using the keyboard has been the best thing. Most of the time she asks, then I spell a word out loud while she writes it down, but I would really like her to have another tool in her thought process so that she has a best guess when she is writing without other resources.

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