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8 Ways to Encourage Spelling Success (and Happy Spellers!)

What’s your favorite subject?

If your child is like most, spelling might not be at the top of his list. But what if you could create an environment that would increase the likelihood of changing that around? What if you could make spelling a subject your child looks forward to?

Let’s take a look at some tips to help you create an atmosphere that will increase your child’s chances of becoming a successful (and much happier) speller.

8 Ways to Encourage Spelling Success

  1. Set a regular schedule. It’s important to create a predictable schedule for spelling—and it’s even more important that you stick with it. Five days a week is ideal.
  2. Have a consistent work space. Creating a regular “spelling spot” means you won’t have to continually figure out the logistics and your child will always know what to expect. Plan a place at a table or counter where there is plenty of room for your teaching materials and where you and your child can sit side by side without crowding. Clear away everything you won’t be using for teaching spelling.
  3. Keep lessons short and sweet. Twenty minutes a day works really well for many kids, but you’ll definitely want to customize the length of your lessons to fit your child’s specific needs. One child may have a long attention span and high interest, while another may have low interest and be highly distractible. More lesson length guidelines can be found here, but in general, short, intense, fast-paced spelling sessions are much more effective than long drawn-out ones.
  4. Choose the best time. Consider the time of day that will work best for your child. When is he at his best, at his most teachable? First thing in the morning? While younger siblings are napping? After lunch or a snack? After activity like a walk, a bike ride, or playtime?
  5. Minimize interruptions and distractions. Don’t allow interruptions to your lesson time. Everything else can wait. No, really…it can wait! Turn off the radio, the television, and the ringer on the phone. Or better yet, turn off your cell phone completely. Who is more important—your child or the person calling? Isn’t that why we have voicemail? Right now, teaching spelling is your priority.
  6. Plan for your other children. You know that all your kids will want your attention at the same time, so you might as well plan for it before it turns into a frustrating situation. The goal is a calm teaching situation where your child can learn. If this is going to happen, you must plan for it. Just be sure that the activity you plan for the other kids isn’t a distraction to the one you’re trying to teach!
  7. Add some fun! Take advantage of the free resources available on our site for teaching spelling. Here are a few to get you started:
  8. And finally, use a program that works. Many of the frustrations kids encounter as they learn to spell are caused by using programs that don’t make sense to them. As you look for a homeschool spelling program, consider the points found in the article “How to Find a Spelling Program that Works” and download our “How to Evaluate a Spelling Program” checklist. Then find the method that fits your homeschool and make it a positive part of your child’s day.

Do you have any tips to share? Add them in the comments below! Let’s support each other in making spelling lessons something our kids can look forward!

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JenR

says:

Thanks for the great ideas!

Angela Elliott

says:

Great ideas! I have always had trouble with spelling, I wish your program existed then too. I’m just starting with my kids now :).

Nicolle

says:

Great ideas!

Morgan

says:

Wonderful ideas! I can’t wait to use AAL resources when my oldest gets started with homeschool this fall!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Morgan,
How exciting that you will be beginning homeschooling! Let me know if you have any questions or need anything.

Fiona

says:

Great suggestions – thank you!

Melissa Schappacher

says:

thank you for the excellent tips for spelling!

Kerrie

says:

Loving all of the new upgrades and additions!

Jacinda

says:

these are super tips. thanks. i am looking forward to starting our collection of all about learning tools, it looks so good

Amanda P.

says:

I am excited to try the All About Spelling program because we love the reading one so much

Erin

says:

Can’t wait to get started on AAS next year!

melissa c

says:

Thank you for the tips!

Mara

says:

I am wondering what level would be appropriate for someone who is finishing 3rd grade?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

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

All About Spelling is a building block program with each level building 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.

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.

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 don’t recommend starting higher than level 2.

However, we encourage 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 your student 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 that he can demonstrate it back to you with the tiles or app, and then move on. This blog article has a good example of how you might fast track.

Please let me know if you have further questions. My own daughter started level 1 of All About Spelling halfway through her 4th-grade year. She was able to finish that level in just a little more than a month, but she made noticeable improvement in her spelling in that month!

Carrie

says:

We’re about to start Level 6! Great curriculum!

Whit Lundquist

says:

Your resources are consistently really great; I appreciate what you guys are doing!

Elizabeth Michel

says:

We love our first experience with this learning style. Can’t wait to do more!

Teresa

says:

So encouraging to have resources available to keep the inspiration fresh. Thanks

shana

says:

great tips

Anne

says:

My son is on All About Reading Level 3, and my daughter just began AAR Level 1. We love the program! My son struggles with spelling, and I am considering All About Spelling as well.

Alyene

says:

I’m just getting ready to start AAS with my oldest child and looking forward to the “hands on” aspect of this program.

Christy

says:

The more I use All About Learning Press product the more I love it. Before using the products my son and I need in tears most days. I knew it wasn’t supposed to be this way and I needed to find us something different. After a couple friends keep suggesting I try All About Reading I gave it a try. What could it hurt to try another program when this one have a 1 year guarantee? I now have 3 children doing All About Reading and I’m so full of joy and pride as my children start to read more on their own everyday.
I love the emails and free resources that are full of encouragement and new ways to keep going in this program. ThanksMarie.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Christy,
Thank you for sharing this! It’s exciting to hear how All About Learning Press has helped you and your children have success with reading and spelling and have no more tears.

Katy

says:

So excited to have these resources when we start spelling!!

Ashley Carriere

says:

Using AAR now and looking forward to staying aas next year!!

Sherry Salter

says:

We love All About Spelling and it works for my child.

Amy

says:

Those look like really fun games for practicing phonograms and learning spelling words and rules!

Lissa

says:

I’m wondering about printing my 4 year old has taught herself how to write all the letters. She frequently writes them “backwards” like mirror images of what they are suppose to be. Should I be concerned? Should I buy a handwriting book to teach her the right way to form letters as she usually starts at the bottom instead of the top.

Vanessa

says:

Learning to form letters top to bottom and left to write is important for cursive. You want to develop good habits now rather than try to break them later. You can make worksheets for her, get a dollar store workbook, or buy a formal writing curriculum. Depends on your and her preference alone.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lissa,
I agree with Vanessa. There are benefits to learning to write from top to bottom, not only with cursive but also with neatness while writing at a fast pace.

You may want to look at Handwriting Without Tears. I like it because it was developed by an occupational therapist and takes young writers’ needs into consideration. However, there are lots of options, even free downloads, for learning handwriting.

However, don’t be concerned about writing backward. In your daughter’s whole life it didn’t matter what direction something was facing. A chair is a chair whether it is pointing left, right, up, or down. Now, for the first time with letters and possibly numbers, directionality matters. A b is a b only when the round part faces right and the pointy part is upward. Otherwise, it’s a d or a p or a q. It is very normal for young learners to get letters backward or even upside down. Gently correct her. Use her own body for directionality too. The round part of a b points to the right (touch her right shoulder it as you say the word) side of her body and the pointy part is upward (touch her head). We have a blog post on How to Solve Letter Reversals that has some idea, but with her young age keep it very playful and allow her lots of time to get it.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have further questions.

Tara

says:

I’m totally going to check out those games, things like that add fun into learning and that makes everyone in my house happy :-)

Lorraine

says:

Thanks for the game boards, always nice to add to my growing collection.

Gabriella

says:

I love teaching Orton Gillingham in my classroom but never thought they had enough resources such as apps and information about how to help with OG to reinforce the concepts! These resources are awesome for both the classroom and home!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Gabriella!

Dora

says:

My girls love the popcorn and pirate links.

Tori Tilton

says:

Thank you for all the ideas!

Patty Rivera

says:

Great information!! I think this will be great information for my spellers!

Erin

says:

These are great tips!

Jen Sharum

says:

It is so easy to teach, such a joy and peace of mind, knowing I am not missing anything. Everything is step by step, easy to follow. So thankful for this program!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Aww, you are welcome, Jen!

I love your games for spelling, they look like fun. We use Orton Gillingham every day and I find it very beneficial for teaching all the spelling rules that we can in one year. This is the second year of doing this program and it has been amazing. I just created board games with groups of sounds so the kiddos can practice (tch, dge, ck, and all), ( ch, sh, wh, at beggining and end), (floss with ll ss ff words) and ( the 3 ed ending sounds /ed/ /t/ /d/ ) so they can get regular practice at centers.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Games are a great way to review and cement learning! It sounds like your centers will be a lot of fun, Beverly.

Carrie

says:

Thanks for the tips. They were a timely encouragment as we move forward with our spelling lessons.

Elizabeth

says:

Thank you for the tips. We are about halfway through a chaotic school year and need some reminders! My kids are often eager to do their AAS or AAR lessons; they are fun and broken into pieces that make sense (not Dolch sight words with no rhyme or reason). In fact they often get ahead on the readers and already know the answers to the questions in the lessons.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Elizabeth,
I’m happy to hear that All About Reading has been a successful part of your otherwise chaotic school year. Thank you for sharing this.

Melissa

says:

This list of how to set a successful schedule is tremendously helpful. Not only has it helped me in my own homeschooling journey, but also with students I tutor.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m happy to hear this was helpful for you, Melissa!

My son is in third grade and has support for reading within the general ed curriculum (non-special ed) due to the new third grade reading law in Michigan. He is very bright and verbal but I have noticed he does not like to write and scored unexpectedly low on reading tests at school in the fall. He is lucky in a sense because I am an Occupational Therapist with more than 20 years experience mostly in the schools. So I receive many emails on educational products. I looked into this program and compared it to what they use at school. I like this approach much better. So I followed the recommendation and ordered the first book and glad I did. Taking him back to the very beginning of spelling I realized he struggles with processing the correct vowel choice, especially short /i/ and /e/. I did borrow a auditory standardized assessment from my speech therapist friend and know he has no auditory issues. We had him fully psych cognitive tested and he scored a whopping 131 on verbal components but in the low to mid 80’s on sentence composition areas. My son is not thrilled with having to do this extra work outside of school with me. But I believe it will make a difference over time and am catching an area of weakness that school seems to not be addressing. Thank you and highly recommend.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Jennifer! I enjoyed reading your thoughts on All About Spelling and how it is helping your son.

You might find our blog post on Help to Distinguish Between Short I and Short E helpful. That is a common difficulty for American children, especially in certain parts of the country.

Tami

says:

Thanks for all the resources. My son loves playing the pirate spelling game! He wants to keep doing them over and over!

Laura T

says:

Thank you for the information.

Lorna Seadore

says:

Good reminders

Brittany Hankins

says:

I’m excited to try out a different method for spelling! My daughter struggles and cries when she misses something. I hope I can change that quickly!

Amy

says:

Thanks for the tips!

Wendy

says:

Thanks for the advice. I just bought books one and two for my 7year old who may have a dyslexic problem and I have seen progress in just the first few steps! Looking forward to more!

Chere

says:

Love this program. Looking forward to using these tips with my youngest.

Cary Schulte

says:

I enjoy reading your blog. I am always looking for ways to help my struggling readers.

Making kids to like spelling is one of the major problem for kids. Most of them don’t even like the idea of learning from parent at home. But most of the 8points you listed above could be really helpful. Thanks

Ashley

says:

Love the free resources! Also looking forward to starting All About Spelling next school year.

Alana

says:

Great tips!

Jessica

says:

Short and sweet lessons are a must!

Heather h

says:

Great tips

Erin Salemi

says:

Thanks for the helpful tips

Leanne

says:

Excited to see how this helps my sons spelling.

Becca

says:

I try to keep or spelling lessons within 15 minutes.

Sally Farrelly

says:

I think I need to add more consistency to our spelling routine as this is my son’s weakest area.

Georgia Stapleton

says:

I like how they want you to remove all distractions to maximize the spelling ability.

Christine

says:

I’m going to check out the fun resources. I struggle with adding fun to spelling, and my son would probably enjoy it more if we did something fun more often!

Leah

says:

I love the printables! Thanks for including those, as I know my kiddos will enjoy changing up the spelling lessons :O)

Maya Milner

says:

I think my son would love this!!

Karen

says:

These tips are so helpful. I live the one the keep the lesson brief………makes a lot of sense.

Margarita Rice

says:

Looking forward to using the free resources. My son loves All About Reading but struggles with All About Spelling.

I do think the game suggestions sent like with Apples to Apples Jr. and Boggle are great ways for spelling practice but with fun. I think I will try sitting between my 2boys instead of in front of them and see how that works. Thank you for the tips! I am learning rules and explanations I never learned! Helps me out too!

Dee Ruiz

says:

Do you know what. My children are grown still I love reading all the articles on your website. Especially the handicapped children. It’s so exciting to see the pictures and to read the help they are receiving plus the young mothers who are always helping them and I’m here to say they have every right to. Thanks for the chance to vent. You really brighten me along the way. And thank you for your website.
Love, Dee Ruiz

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Awww, thank you, Dee!

Angela R

says:

Thank you for the tips! I didn’t know about the free resources. I’m going to print some of those out!

Sarah

says:

We are really doing well with All About Reading this year. I hope we are as successful with All About Spelling too when we add it.

Jennifer

says:

Finding a program that is easy for the teacher to fit in is key!

Kate

says:

Great suggestions! We are excited to try out your program!

Christine M

says:

I have been looking at the All about Spelling Program for quite some time! These tips are so helpful!

Ericka Mason

says:

Thank you so much!! AAS has been a life saver and a breeze to use! We love this program!

Jamie M

says:

I think a huge help for my son was Step 4: choosing the right time. I let him decide when he is ready to work on spelling during the day. He might choose to knock it out first thing some days and other days he just needs more time to psych himself up. 😉 I also watch for signs he is wearing out. I’d rather have 8 positive engaged minutes than 20 minutes where he isn’t focused. AAS is the first program that has clicked for him.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I do something very similar, Jamie. I do require my kids get to spelling before lunch (they don’t do well with it in the afternoon), but they get to choose when in the morning we do it. It works very well for us.

And I too will stop a lesson early if it is going poorly. I had to do so earlier this week, in fact. The next day we picked up where we left off and things went perfectly. It was worth it.

Amber

says:

We appreciate all of your fun printables!

Jody R.

says:

Great suggestions. I need to turn my phone off as I know half our problems with spelling is my own distraction.

Edith

says:

Where was that when i was young????? Awsome

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I know, Edith. I’ve wondered the same thing. 😊

Dawn Goodno

says:

Great tips!

Jennifer

says:

I have no tips other than to say I hated spelling and hope my children don’t!

Rena Walter

says:

These are great ideas, I’ll try them out.

Maria

says:

Love the spelling program and can’t wait to start the reading program.

JoAnna

says:

Great suggestions! Thank you.

ALogan

says:

Can’t wait to start this program

kelly

says:

very informative

JWood

says:

We love the fun free resources!

Denice Kienbaum

says:

My kids ask to do this spelling program

Lindsey Thornton

says:

We finished AAS level one and can’t wait to start level 2. It compliments the reading program so well!

Lauren M.

says:

Love this!

Kimberly

says:

I have been interested in checking out this program😊

Kaitlin

says:

Almost finished with Level 1 and it’s going great!

Julia V. Hilts

says:

Great article! Thank you!

Laura

says:

Thanks for all the helpful tips! We love your curriculum!

Very helpful information I plan on using it when I begin teaching my son spelling

Susan Eggers

says:

Great tips! Having a systematic and enjoyable spelling curriculum helps a lot, too!

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