All About Spelling is frequently used with teens and adults. But sometimes parents and teachers aren’t sure how to get started with older students who need remedial work.
Most older children should begin All About Spelling with Level 1. The words in Level 1 are easy to spell, but many students have not learned the concepts behind them, and these concepts are crucial for success throughout the program. For example, most struggling students will know how to spell cat, but they don’t know why cat is spelled with a C instead of a K. They obviously don’t need to practice spelling the word cat, but they may need to learn the concept so they can apply it to words like emergency and concentrate. The beginning levels fill in important gaps like this.
Here are some other Level 1 concepts that older learners may not be familiar with, but that will be a huge help when they get to higher level words:
If you think your older student may be able to skip Level 1, take a look at our All About Spelling Placement Test for help in determining the best placement.
To help older kids understand why it’s important to start with Level 1, try comparing learning to spell to something they can relate to, like video games or swimming lessons. Your child may understand that even though the first level of a game (or of swimming lessons) may seem easy, that doesn’t mean he should jump ahead to the fifth level. But it does mean that he can go quickly through the earlier levels, learning what he needs to know so that when he does get to the higher levels, he isn’t overwhelmed by having to learn too much at once.
Anna Gillingham, co-founder of the Orton-Gillingham approach, put it this way: “Go as fast as you can, but as slow as you must.”
With older learners, you will probably go much faster than you would with a younger child, but be prepared to slow down if you reach a concept that your child doesn’t understand. Your goal is to achieve mastery.
When your child can teach a spelling concept back to you, it’s a good sign that he or she has mastered a concept or group of words and is ready to move on. But if your child has to stop and think it through or seems challenged, spend more time on that particular lesson.
Older children will need to have the program customized to meet their needs, with specific customizations determined by a child’s prior spelling knowledge. Merry Marinello, one of our customer service reps, encountered this situation with her own children. When Merry started using All About Spelling Level 1, her children were in sixth and fourth grades, well past the “typical” age for Level 1.
The PDF below explains how Merry customized the first sixteen lessons of AAS Level 1 for her children. Of course, you may need to use different customizations for your children, but this may give you some ideas as you start out.
Jamie Martin shared a blog post about teaching her teenage son with All About Spelling.
Spelling is important, of course, but never more important than the overall health and well-being of your child! Even with all the hard work we’ve put in, Jonathan is never going to call spelling his favorite subject, nor will it be his strongest one. The way I see it, that’s what spellcheck and dictation are for. 😉
I’ve asked him if, looking back, he wishes that I had pushed him to start earlier. He said, “Sometimes I do, but I think even though it might have made my spelling stronger, it would have made my love of learning weaker. And I don’t think I would be as interested in writing as I am now.”
My biggest advice, no matter what subject you’re covering with your child, is to remember to laugh! Because Jonathan chose to get serious about spelling, he was (almost) always a willing participant, which means we have had some of our best times and biggest laughs during our lessons. (Read more…)
And Bridget shared her son’s inspiring story with us via email…
I am a retired teacher, an instructional coach, and the mother of 4. My youngest son is dyslexic and has struggled with reading and spelling his whole life. He is also a reluctant writer because of his struggles with spelling. He is a smart child, but I couldn’t make sense of what he tried to write.
I was searching for a way to help him and stumbled upon your program online. We made a commitment to see it through. In two weeks we will finish Level 6 of All About Spelling. It has taken us about 7 months to advance through levels 1-6. I am so proud of my son and so thankful for this program. If you could only see where he started and where he is now. I look back at the dictation we were doing seven months ago and the dictation he is able to do now, and I am just amazed. It has taken commitment and hard work from both of us, but the reward is that he can now communicate what is in his mind onto paper.
My son will never be a perfect speller, but I would venture to say he now spells better than many adults. I would highly recommend this program to others who are desperately searching for a way to help their older child. I hope this testimonial will encourage others to take the plunge, be persistent and committed, and see how this program can open doors for your child.
Do you have questions about using All About Spelling with an older student? Post in the comments below, and we’ll be happy to help brainstorm solutions!