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Why Copywork Doesn’t Always Work for Teaching Spelling

Why Copywork Doesn't Always Work - All About Spelling

Perhaps you’ve heard of using copywork to teach spelling. Maybe you’ve even assigned some spelling copywork to your children. Still, you may be wondering about the benefits of this popular homeschool discipline.

And more importantlydoes it really work?

What Is Copywork?

Copywork is exactly what the name implies—an exercise of copying words from a written example or model.

For younger children, copywork may consist of copying the letters of the alphabet and single words. Older children copy sentences, paragraphs, and eventually entire pages. Content often comes from Scripture, poetry, historical documents, speeches, and other writings of historical or moral value.

Copywork Doesn't Always Work - All About Spelling

The Primary Goal of Copywork

The primary goal of copywork is for a child to internalize the mechanisms of good writing—penmanship, spelling, grammar, and style—by copying a perfectly composed sample.

In theory, the more a child transcribes, the more proficient she will become in the English language. As she replicates good writing, the intent is that she will adopt the language skills found in the sample.

As a side benefit, the child is exposed to desirable character traits and virtues as she copies the chosen text.

Does Copywork Work?

Copywork is a rich and useful method of teaching many subject areas, but it isn’t always effective in achieving long-term retention in spelling. Here are a few things to consider before choosing to use copywork as part of your child’s spelling program.

Copywork Doesn't Always Work - All About Spelling

Copywork is best suited for visual learners.

Though it is often recommended as a valuable spelling exercise for all children, if your child is among the roughly 71% of children1 who are primarily kinesthetic (tactile) or auditory learners, copywork may not produce optimal results.

And even a student who is visually inclined may actually learn best when instruction comes through all three pathways to the brain—visual, auditory, and kinesthetic—instead of just one.

Copywork lacks the direct spelling instruction that many children need.

Copywork doesn’t provide the phonetics-based approach that helps children make sense of spelling. Instead, copywork depends on memory to help a child learn to spell. If your child learns quickly and easily memorizes words through repetition, copywork may work well for her. Copywork can also be a good fit for kids who naturally find patterns in related words. But most children are better off learning to spell through direct phonetic instruction and systematic review.

Copywork Doesn't Always Work - All About Spelling

Copywork isn’t ideal for distracted students.

Since copywork offers limited sensory stimulation, it can be easy for a child to “go through the motions” of copying while gaining very few of the benefits. Such a child may get to the end of a copywork exercise with little memory or understanding of what he just copied!

For some children, doing copywork switches their brains onto “auto-pilot.” It’s not unlike driving to the store and realizing that you’ve arrived safely but with no memory of the drive.

Copywork may be especially detrimental for a struggling speller.

Since copywork doesn’t provide the hands-on instruction that many children need, it can leave them floundering even while giving the impression that they’re doing well. A beautifully copied passage does not always translate into long-term learning.

The Real Goal: Long-term Learning

When I teach, my goal is long-term learning with the least amount of frustration possible. As many of you know, I tried dozens of methods for teaching spelling before creating All About Spelling. I’ve made it my life’s work to help kids learn easily and permanently. So when I created All About Spelling, I made sure that it was based on solid research and that it included:

  • Multiple ways to reach visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners, even if you don’t know which learning style your child has.
  • Strategies for actively involving your child in the lessons, so you can keep his or her attention with very little effort.
  • Techniques for getting your child to recognize and correct his or her own spelling errors.
  • And dozens of tips for the teacher to help you maximize your effectiveness on every level.

A complete and comprehensive spelling program provides children—even struggling learners—with an extremely effective method of learning that takes advantage of how the brain works. While copywork may be a part of that method, it must be combined with activities that take into consideration all the pathways to the brain.

Wouldn’t it be nice if spelling could be EASY? Our free report, “Six Ways We Make Spelling Easy,” takes you on a guided tour of All About Spelling and the elements that set it apart from other spelling programs.

Six Ways We Make Spelling Easy Report

1 Miller, P. "Learning Styles: The Multimedia of the Mind. Research Report." 2001. (ED 451 140)

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Danika

says:

Just got ours in the mail! My daughter is ADD, has anxiety and is dyslexic. I can’t wait to begin because NOTHING else has worked!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Danika,
If you have any questions or concerns as you begin, please let us know. We are here to help you help your daughter succeed!

Christina

says:

“Copywork isn’t ideal for distracted students.” So true. It didn’t take me long to figure this out with my distracted student. It was always a fight to get her to do it, and then when she did, I definitely noticed her brain switching to auto-pilot like you mentioned. She has completed the first 4 levels of AAS and is now working on level 5. While a great reader, she is NOT a great speller, but AAS has definitely helped her when other methods did not.

Merry

says: Customer Service

I’m so glad AAS is helping your daughter, Christina!

Vicki

says:

I couldn’t agree more! The curriculum that my 1st grader is using basically just uses copywork for spelling and it doesn’t seem to be very effective. I’d Love To Try AAS!

Deanne

says:

Do you have smaller spelling packets? I think an entire spelling curriculium would be too much.
My son is in 3rd grade and needs help with phonics but doesn’t like to copy his words.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Deanne,
We do not have smaller spelling packets.

However, our spelling curriculum takes just 20 minutes a day. Children that have difficulties with spelling are often missing foundational skills and because of this they often show notable progress with the first level of All About Spelling. Our blog post on using All About Spelling with Older Students may interest you.

Please let us know if you have questions.

Louise

says:

My girls do zero copy work. I find it’s too time consuming for little gain. Great read, thanks for posting!

Amanda

says:

I think my 2nd ds is a distracted learner! He cringes at copywork. Your program seems like it would be a great fit for him!

Christie

says:

Good information. My instincts steered me away from Copywork, and this articulates why. Thanks for sharing.

Melinda Roberts

says:

Very interesting these look amazing

Yolanda Stewart

says:

I honestly don’t know what I would do with AAR & AAS!! It has been a life saver for my dyslexic daughter!! Everyone has commented on much her reading has improved!! Thank you so much for giving this momma a ray of hope!!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yolanda,
We love hearing this! Thank you for letting us know your daughter is improving so much.

I am one of those “distracted students”! I love handwriting–I find it very soothing and I enjoy watching the letters form with my pen…but if I’m copying soemthing, I don’t often remember what word I am writing or what a sentence said when I get to the end. Some of my children are the same way, so I do not use copywork for spelling. It is wonderful to see my experience written so eloquently here. :-)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
How interesting! I know what you mean, as I find the same feeling when I do fancy lettering. However, if I pay too much attention to the letters I find myself making mistake. I misspelled February in very fancy letters the other day. Sigh.

Jennifer S

says:

I find that copy work does nothing more than aggravate my boys. It’s great for improving penmanship, but does nothing to with their spelling. All About Spelling is great because they focused and engaged on the spelling and not just completing an irritating assignment.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jennifer,
We have had similar experiences with copywork, although I have found it useful for helping students with memorizing passages for presentations.

margaret cardenas

says:

This is so cool

K Ballard

says:

I Live All About Spelling! So methodical and step by step mastery!

Candice Whetzel

says:

My daughter fights me on doing any copywork and this helps to explain why. Really hoping to get her on AAS for next year.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Let us know if you have any questions or need help with placement or anything, Candice.

Refreshing thoughts! There is so much information floating around out there for homeschool parents! It’s always difficult to decipher what is best for our children with the myriad of teaching options. Thanks for this info!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Melia. We try to provide the best information we can to help parents, teachers, and tutors help their students success.

Donald Knight

says:

Most interesting and useful! Thank you.

Carisue

says:

I like copywork for helping with handwriting but I see some benefits for only for two of my kids. I have one that hates to do copywork thus not helping at all. He just does it to get it done. Mindless. I also see it is not helping with spelling at all. So I am trying something new looking at All about spelling.

Maya

says:

I have often thought that the benefits of copywork are exaggerated. The only thing I would draw from it would be the part where the child is exposed to well written pieces of work, which later, he may internalize and become a better writer himself. But that may not happen, if the student goes on autopilot, as you say, and the brain is not really engaged. I prefer to dictate the sentences in each AAS lesson, review and correct mistakes together. And separately, I assign some small writing exercises, where we also review and correct mistakes. As for exposing to good pieces of literature, I hope to achieve that by reading the classics and other well written books.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great points, Maya. Thank you.

Jessica

says:

Thanks for this! My daughter is being tested for dyslexia next week and is a kinesthetic learner!

Lisa

says:

I love how All About Spelling uses multi sensory learning.

Carrie

says:

I agree copywork is not effective for spelling. I use it primarily for penmanship, punctuation and capitalization practice for my boys. My dyselxic 10yo ds only does one sentence that I know he can read. And, my 12yo ds that excels in reading does about 5 sentences, depending on length.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great point, Carrie. Copywork may not work for all students for spelling, but it can have it’s uses in other learning.

Sheila

says:

Mine just scratch their quote down quickly and call their copywork done. They’ve improved some after discussion about giving their best work. But I’m not even sure they read the words involved. AAS/AAR have been perfect for my kiddos.

EricaK

says:

I have definitely seen my distracted learner veer off course this year as we have tried a program with copy work. Here we are mid-year and I’m coming back to AAS which has worked well in the past. We attempted an all in one program this year. While it is more expensive to piece together each curricular area, it is worth it for our family to make sure our child is reaching her full potential!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Erica,
Yes, the idea of an all-in-one program does seem easier, and in some cases (but not always) less expensive. However, most children do better when allowed to work at their own pace in each subject area, which will be faster in some areas and slower in others. This allowing for each child’s unique pace in different subjects is a main reason why we teach reading and spelling separately.

Bric

says:

I’m excited to start this program! We are waiting on the first bundle to arrive. Our current curriculum does not address spelling in a way that allows for retention. The reviews of AAS give us hope!

Angela

says:

My daughter, who has dyslexia, has struggled with spelling. Copywork only gave her and I a short lived hope, as she often would forget how to spell a word just a few weeks later. It wasn’t until she began using All About Spelling that she is remembering how to spell and placing that into her long term memory. She is applying spelling rules months later into her own writing assignments! Thank you AAS!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Angela,
Thank you for sharing how copywork and All About Spelling worked with your struggling speller. It’s wonderful to know that AAS has helped her with spelling in the long term.

kathleen tate

says:

Copy work does not work for my kids but i understand it working for some.

Cheryl

says:

I have an above average child who was recently tested for some educational weaknesses. The doctors recommended a solid spelling program. I didn’t realize the lack of learning that occurs with the copy methods. Maybe this program can help.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Cheryl,
Our programs are designed to allow students to move along at their own, unique pace. It will allow your student to get the explicit instruction she may need, but still move as quickly through it as she is able. You’ll find placement information on this page, just scroll below the reading placement.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Sandi W

says:

Copywork would have worked for me when I was little but at least two of my kids are. It visual learners. Not sure about the third yet:) good information!

Sandi W

says:

Are not visual

Rachel N

says:

We plan on using both All About Spelling and using a small amount of copywork to learn.

Jessica Lei Menteer

says:

Spelling has always been a trouble spot for me and I don’t want to pass that along to my kids.

Tauni

says:

I LOVE learning the rules of spelling along with my children! When I tell my daughter that I never learned them in school she is incredulous! Thank you!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tauni,
This made me smile. Let your daughter know I wasn’t taught the rules of spelling in school either.

Marci

says:

My son is loving All About Spelling, no copy work here :)

Corrine Harris

says:

My daughter is a very distracted student. She does copy work for handwriting and even that’s a struggle. Her spelling has really improved since starting level 1

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Corrine,
It’s great to hear her spelling has improved even with level 1!

Angela

says:

Copy work definitely doesn’t work for my child. Thanks for the information.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Angela,
You’re welcome for the information. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Lacy v V

says:

I am glad to hear that copywork is not absolutely necessary for learning. While it has improved handwriting skills, my kids are less and less interested in it as they get older.

Jessica

says:

My daughter (8 yr. old) is dysgraphic. Anything using a pencil can cause a spontaneous eruption and completely wreck our school day. We wouldn’t get anything else done the rest of the day. This Spelling curriculum is the only one so far we can make it through a lesson and make progress without complete frustration. She has something that she can be proud of and feel accomplished.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
I’m so pleased that your daughter is gaining confidence! That is such an important thing, and will make a huge difference in the long run. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Jennie

says:

This was a good reminder to me not to have my child copy words she misspelles in a paragraph. I almost did that last week to make them into a spelling list. Not good!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jennie,
As this article suggests, copying words that were misspelled may not be effective. However, there are things you can do to help difficult words. This article, How to Handle Spelling Trouble Makers, has lots of ideas.

Julie

says:

Yes on the autopilot. Plus I’ve seen kids copying incorrectly and making numerous spelling errors as they copy

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, Julie, I’ve seen kids copy incorrectly as well.

Julie

says:

Yes on the autopilot. Plus I’ve seen kids copying incorrectly and making numerous spelling errors as they copy

VW

says:

Great article!

Melissa

says:

Excellent article. I’ve been doing it wrong.

Laurie Vogel

says:

I’m a literacy specialist and I often refer parents to your site because it is very parent-friendly. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wow, thank you, Laurie. That is high praise.

Laura

says:

Copy work just didn’t work for us. I wish it had.

Becki

says:

Copywork is helping my kids handwriting, but never helped their spelling. So glad we found AAS!

M Walls

says:

Interesting read. I was jut thinking of clattering copy work. Glad I read this.

Tristan

says:

Some of my kids have done great with copywork, others not. Great post.

Jaime B

says:

I don’t think copywork really helps my visual learner with spelling as she definitely needs the direct instruction, but we do use it for handwriting practice. She has recently started picking out a word that is not part of her spelling words, such as “committed” to (temporarily) memorize and recite to me.

tina

says:

we love all about spelling with the tiles and then we write the words on our giant glass patio doors with window marker and then shoot them with nerf gone. He is really getting it!!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tina,
Nerf gun spelling is super fun!

Lydia

says:

While I agree thath copy doesn’t help my daughter’s spelling, it has been good for her handwriting and scripture memorization.

Erica

says:

This post is a great reminder of the limitations of copy work. Since we classically homeschool, I am always feel like I should be adding more copy work for my older kids (ages 10 and 8). I appreciate that AAS has dictation sentences already built in to the lessons, and I use these often. I will still continue to do some copy work, even for my more kinesthetic learners, but I won’t feel as guilty for not adding more. Maybe our time is better spent doing something else!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Erica,
I’m glad this blog post was encouraging to you.

Nichole Pyle

says:

Interesting! I’m in the beginning stages of planning for homeschooling my oldest son and have been curious about the benefits and reasons for copy work. Thanks!

Holly Sweet

says:

Great tips!

Anne

says:

We are struggling with spelling, but working on it with All about Spelling.

Kate

says:

We love All About Reading and hope we will love All about Spelling just as much when we reach that point!

Shannon S

says:

This article helped me see the extreme difficulty my dsgraphic son has with copywork. Now we just have him copy one sentence instead of a paragraph, and ask him to pay close attention to how the letters are formed. He is less overwhelmed and his writing is a little easier to read.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Shannon,
I am glad you found this so helpful! You may have seen this already, but we do have a post on Dysgraphia.

Beth Naas

says:

I have found that copywork helps with handwriting and proper sentence structure, but it was not nearly as effective in consistently helping with spelling.

We will be starting with AAS1 when we begin AAR2 after the holidays. I really think it will be great! My mom has a newer masters in reading and was a reading coach and she really thinks both the programs are awesome. We are spending time working more on sight words between since his phonics is much stronger than his sight words. Which, personally, I love. I think it’s better to know how then just memorize a lot of words.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
This is great. Thank you!

Mandi

says:

I have one child that copy work has helped with reading and spelling. I also have one that it has not helped at all.

Deanna Sallee

says:

Yes! My children HATE copy work, but I hear and read all the time how it is the best thing for everything. Thank you for this.

anne perry morrighan crowe

says:

Great ideas. I often wonder about copy work.

Amanda Davis

says:

I had to learn this the hard way with my youngest. My oldest really benefitted from copywork, but my youngest (who is a very distracted learner) really just resisted copywork in general, and never retained anything he had written. I decided to stop, because I wanted him to learn to love writing and I realized that in pushing him, he was beginning to resent it!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
Thank you for sharing how the same activity can have such different results for different students. Some children do learn to spell with copywork, but for others it just doesn’t work.

Jennifer

says:

This was an interesting read.

Caroline

says:

I used copy work to help my kids for years, to no avail. Struggling spellers still struggled. I’m so grateful my younger crew is getting better help!

Sheryl

says:

Good info. My highly distractable son struggles with spelling. Even though he is older we are starting AAS level 1 with him.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sheryl,
You’ve probably seen this blog post on Using All About Spelling with Older Students, but just in case here it is.

Lesley C.

says:

This is what i love about all about learning! They think about learning styles! Not every child learns the same! This is so impirtant and a huge part of our reason for homeschooling.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, exactly, Lesley!

Yvette

says:

Very insightful

Mary Barefield

says:

This is exactly my son. He can get distracted 3 or 4 times in one word. There is always a story to tell or an analogy to be made! I would like to add copywork someday. AAR and AAS have been a Godsend. I caught little man reading to our dog the other day

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mary,
Dogs, cats, and even guinea pigs and rabbits, make great listeners for reading practice. And if you don’t have access to live furry friends, there is always Ziggy the Zebra or stuffed animals.

I’m happy to hear AAR and AAS are working so well for you and your son.

Anna Kidd

says:

This is very helpful info! It is reassuring to know all of this as I am about to begin AAS 1! Thank you for creating a wonderful, user friendly curriculum! Your company is so kind and helpful.

Shelley Mattson

says:

Very Helpful!

Betsy E

says:

This is very true for my oldest! I’m so glad we switched to AAA, it’s made life much better!

jennifer

says:

AAS is the best! Thank you so much!

In my opinion, only All About Spelling is the curriculum to use when teaching a child how to spell!! Copywork is used for handwriting practice!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Christie!

Karin

says:

We love all about spelling and how interactive it is! My 5yr old daughter has learned so much in such a small amount of time!

This confirms what I learned the hard way with my oldest. He’s a kinesthetic learner and no amount of copywork helped with sight words. AAS has been a better choice for us.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Leslie,
Thank you for sharing your experience with copywork and learning spelling. I’m glad to hear AAS is working well for you.

Sarah wensley

says:

Thanks for these tips. Starting spelling with my daughter next year and want to figure out what is best for us!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you found these helpful, Sarah. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Alexa

says:

Definitely some food for thought!

Cindu

says:

Thank you. For this article.

Audrey

says:

This is so true!! I sometimes will fall into this “trap”too.. thanks for the reminder

Ruth

says:

Very interesting article, thank you for sharing!

Natalie M

says:

Thanks for pointing this out, I never would’ve realized this – but it makes a lot of sense! I remember copying thing as a kid and it didn’t help me remember things any better. Even though I am a visual learner, I found that repeating things out loud seemed to cement them better.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Natalie,
It’s fascinating how different people learn so differently, isn’t it? I struggle to memorize passages with just repeating it aloud again and again, and find it much easier if I copy it out.

Michelle W.

says:

Good article. Very insightful.

Christine Hall

says:

Great article!

Kristi C

says:

Very interesting article. I will look into All About Spelling for my 7 yo.

Galina

says:

Really good and useful posts. Thank you!

Katie S

says:

I have assigned copy work to teach spelling but have just ordered AAS and can’t wait to give this system a try!

Jessica Y. Kirdyashev

says:

You won’t regret it and if you do (which I have never heard of) you can return it within a year, as I understand. What other company does that?!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You understand correctly, Jessica. We offer a one year “Go Ahead and Use It” guarantee.

Winnie

says:

Very informative! Did copywork with all my 4 children who were natural spellers but taking note of this for my youngest who struggled to read (until we tried “All About Spelling” and now also “All About Reading”).

Michelle Drake

says:

Copy work is not something my daughter enjoys, so we only use it very very sparingly.

Shandra

says:

I love the idea of piggybacking spelling with cursive! I think it will be helpful because they have to write slower with cursive which will help when trying to spell.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Shandra,
Great point about having to think about how to write in cursive will help your students to slow down for spelling too.

Rachael

says:

We really don’t do copy work.

robin

says:

I have 1 that likes and 1 that hates copywork.

Hannah

says:

We’ve actually stopped most copywork. My children were not paying any attention to how the words were spelt and coping most words incorrectly. Now we just use copywork for cursive handwriting practice.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Hannah,
I agree that copywork can be useful for handwriting practice. However, you may find this blog post, All About Spelling and Cursive, interesting too. In it, Linda explains how she piggybacks cursive practice into AAS lessons.

Arshia

says:

Thats a surprising new thing i read.

D Boggs

says:

I think copywork has its place but I agree not for spelling. We use copywork in a limited fashion. Having two boys the less volume it seems, the better it is for all of us. I have seen it help tremendously with retention of valuable things, such as Bible verses . I feel it should be used at a pace that matches their reading ability. Your program looks wonderful, too.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We use copywork as a tool to help with memorization of Bible passages and other things like poetry as well. It helps all of us to learn the passage more easily, and one of my students cannot memorize very well at all without copying.

Stephanie

says:

AAR is helping my son make slow but steady progress. The systematic approach is working! !! This is a good article about copywork. Goes against what I thought was true.

Allison

says:

I thought this was really interesting; my daughter is just starting to read, so as we get ready to start spelling in the near future, these are interesting points to think about.

This all sounds so interesting! It may be a program we want to try!

Kristen

says:

We love these programs

Christy Lane

says:

My daughter has severe dyslexia and we love copy work :-) we’ve been saving up for a level of all about reading and spelling !!!

Jessica Y. Kirdyashev

says:

I am so glad to hear that! It is a cool idea and we do still use it for handwriting practice and exposure to good literature. Are you using it in addition to more intentional spelling instruction, or as your primary method of spelling instruction (for the time being as you mentioned that you are saving up for All About Learning Press curriculum.) Just curious…

Ginger Wilder

says:

I have 2 boys that struggle with spelling. One in high school! Copywork just wasn’t enough to give him a phonetic awareness that would carrry him through high school. I have found that my 3rd grader still copies letter by letter rather than words at a time. It almost seems like for him, copywork is delaying the ability to see letters and blends as sounds that make up words. I wish for my boys spelling could be mastered through copywork, but have found it just wasn’t enough for them.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ginger,
I’m sorry your boys are struggling in this way. You may find our blog post on Using All About Spelling with Older Students to be helpful. We have had great reports from parents and tutors using AAS with teens and even adults!

Sherry

says:

I have found this to be true for my children

Misty

says:

I have always struggled with spelling and the fact that copywork was the biggest thing used everywhere. I am thankful for other options now with my children as I homeschool.

Rosanne

says:

Currently doing CM in our homeschool and this is exactly what I’ve been thinking about copywork and spelling. I have a highly kinesthetic and auditory learner so I was pretty sure copywork for spelling won’t cut it for her.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rosanne,
One of the beauties of homeschooling is that you can change things to be just want your child needs, and not just go with what a curriculum or educational philosophy says. There are many wonderful things in the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy. I am personally partial to nature study and lots of wonderful literature.

Monica

says:

Interesting article.

Meggan

says:

I love this article for my distracted daughter! Thank you!

Melissa

says:

This is helpful…learning spelling while focusing in beautiful language sounds so sophisticated….this helps me to think it may be too idealistic

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Melissa,
I appreciate how you phrased this. Thank you.

Charmaine

says:

I agree that copy work can easily be done while on auto pilot. It’s nice to see that you are offering something else and I look forward to trying it.

nicole

says:

I noticed having my daughter engaged in learning, versus just writing the words seems to help her learn better, a noticable difference from when she was in traditional school setting!

Christa

says:

Thank you for the helpful breakdown of potential problems with copywork as a spelling tool.

Mary Thomas

says:

This was a good confirmation for me to read…I have often wondered if I should be doing copy work only (In the same way I second guess most of the things I do in homeschooling!) so this was great information for me!

LaShon

says:

Thank you for this information. I use copywork for memory work and handwriting practice but not spelling.

SR Jacksonville, FL

says:

My older son, 12, who does NOT like reading and has had some diagnosed issues with it, surprised me by asking me if we were going to get the next level of AAR….he said he likes the activities. We started last year and managed to complete the first two levels of reading, AND the first level of spelling. It was also the first time I saw him take ANY book and go off by himself. I guess that’s Progress!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes! That’s wonderful progress. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. We are pleased to have had a part in this transformation from a student that did not like reading, to one that will wander off with a book.

Julia LaBorde

says:

I love AAS and can’t wait to try AAR!

Katie

says:

Good food for thought!

Tiffany

says:

Good read!

Jessica H

says:

Copywork does not work for my kids. It doesn’t interest them. They are much more hands-on. We love All About Spelling!

Paula

says:

I used All About Spelling with 3 out of 4 of my children. My oldest son started when he was in the 8th grade. Now he is in his first year in college and doing fantastic. My youngest (in the 8th grade now) just looked back at some of her writing and had a good laugh at how she used to spell. It works!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Paula,
It’s wonderful to hear that you started All About Spelling with an older student, and it has turned out well. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Emily

says:

I would love to use this program to help my children understand spelling.

Beatriz

says:

I really appreciate the thought that went into making these books… especially the different learning types. I feel that it really helps my child learn and enjoy learning.

Jessica Y. Kirdyashev

says:

I agree with this post, but mainly because, my struggling learners are dysgraphic, as well, and fatigue easily when writing. Copywork sounded so Charlotte Masonesque and independent. It fit the ideal homeschooling situation I had imagined….us all lounging about on a blanket under a tree, contently copying Yeats and sketching something we’d observed into our nature notebooks while, inside my pristine house, some delicious meal (that we’d grown in our very own kid-planted and maintained garden) bubbled away on the counter (which I’d cleaned earlier during my very domestic morning cleaning checklist, using the cleaning products I’d made at home with all natural and probably organic ingredients.) Enter reality…”Jesse, how did you get your iPad open and David, for the love of all that is holy and just, stop dry-firing that NERF gun! I can’t stand that plasticy Please, son, let’s just at least get a couple of pages of math done. If you write the first page, I’ll write the second page….Yes, TWO pages…one to make up for yesterday and one for today. Yes, you can use the stick you charred the end of with the magnifying glass, instead of a pencil, just so long as you do it! No, son, copying that airplane out of your library book does not constitute ‘Copywork’.” My daughter actually does school on a blanket under a tree a lot of the time, but her homeschool uniform is a gymnastics leotard or pajamas, I swear.
All of this to say— no, copywork isn’t one-size-fits-all. And don’t let the proponents of copywork make you feel like a homeschooling failure because your 9 yr old isn’t copying whole pages from the original diaries of John Bunyan. It’s okay if homeschooling involves a prepackaged curriculum if it helps your child learn most effectively and you will live, even if you have to be directly involved in instructing your child, even when having your child work quietly and independently seems like the unattainable Holy Grail. It doesn’t make you a sell-out or a failure. It makes you a real homeschooler; a parent who uses whichever method best suits the needs and learning style of each individual child.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
Thank you for the funny, heartwarming, and very real look into homeschooling. I completely understand your warm and fuzzy dream homeschool day, and I also complete understand your reality day too. I have confiscated my son’s firearms (“But Mom, what about my second amendment rights?!”) for dry firing his Nerf again and again and again. Sigh.

Lesley

says:

I always had this idea of home schooling in my head…..then we began home schooling (4 years ago) and reality set in, real fast! haha We have been using AA learning press since pre-Kindergarten and love them so very much! There are some days that are more frustrating than others. However, this system works! My kinestetic son has learned to spell and read!!!! Thank You for the materials! My daughter will be starting pre-K next year…

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing how AALP has helped in your homeschool, Lesley, even if it’s not the ideal you pictured.

janet sherry

says:

I’m interested in the AAR decodable books to use with my struggling readers—they look like just what I need to keep them motivated as readers!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Janet,
Our decodable books are really wonderful! You’ll find sample stories from each level in this blog post. Let us know if you have any questions.

Jessica Y. Kirdyashev

says:

The AAR decodable readers are one of a kind! I can’t say enough about them. The pictures are so spectacular and the stories are so much more interesting and applicable than most stories in readers; for example, Wombat Rescue about real wombat rescue programs in Australia. Even the earlier, easier stories, when kids can only read, “Jan had red jam with a big yak” are illustrated so hilariously and entertainingly that they are still set apart.
Also, (and I am fully aware of how cheesy this sounds) I feel like these are the only readers that treat my kids with respect. These stories and illustrations seem to recognize that my kids’ senses of humor and intellects surpass their reading level and somehow are able to write measured readers that are compatible with both their reading abilities and their logic/reasoning.
Lastly, these readers are also special in that the authors have meticulously labored to craft meaningful language that uses ONLY the skills and phonograms already taught in the preceding lessons. It gives the child confidence (because it is not full of words they can’t figure out yet) so they are able to succeed, but also gives them a tangible reason for learning the phonics skills. The stories give purpose to your child’s efforts to learn—an obvious cause and effect reward.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
Thank you for writing this detailed review of our Readers. This is so insightful and descriptive!

Trina

says:

I can definitely see this in my 7 year old who struggles with memorization. He is on auto pilot when doing copywork. We are using AAS and AAR and he is progressing. Thanks so much!

Renée

says:

I’m excited to move into All About Spelling as my son gets older…. he is easily frustrated, but I desperately want him to become a better speller than his father!

Jezzabella

says:

The more I read the more interested I am in the program. Still researching!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Let us know if you have any questions!

Tanya

says:

Copywork can be grueling for my bouncy son – but it helps if we do it in tactile media or on the whiteboard. We are loving the physical activity in All About Spelling!

Elisha

says:

Good info! We start spelling next year and I’m reading everything I can so I can teach it well.

Krista

says:

I am very interested in what this program could do for my child. I am feeling this may be what he needs. The program sounds straight forward and easy to use. The success stories are a sure sell for me.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Krista,
Let us know if you have any questions, or if we can help with placement or anything else.

Cheryl

says:

Thanks for the information! I have a very distracted learner and glad I chose to use All About Spelling :)

Peter

says:

Thanks for such great advice! Makes loads of sense.

Dusty L.

says:

This post was very helpful and it really makes sense! Thank you for this info :)

Juill

says:

Does not work for my easily distracted student. Thanks for the post.

Thanks for always giving such great teaching advice!

Interesting that you talk about visual/audio/kinesthetic learners. Currently “the experts” are rubbishing this idea. No matter what they say, I can think of countless times that I’ve taught a child who “doesn’t get it” until I remember that they have a particular VAK preference. Once I devise a way of teaching the topic using their preference, they get it. it’s excellent if we use all methods at once, but sometimes it just has to be tailored to their style.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sue,
The research is pretty clear that simultaneous multisensory instruction, The SMI Method, is the most effective. When students learn through all three pathways, they learn More and retain what they learn better.

I haven’t read through all the latest research suggesting that people aren’t visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners, but the little I have looked out focused on the idea that types of learning fit certain subjects better. One example was that geography taught in an auditory way was not as effective as geography taught in a visual way (i.e. lecture alone versus maps alone). This research seemed to be missing the point to me. No one thinks that an auditory learner can master complex knowledge without looking at examples (visual) or doing some equations by hand (kinesthetic). To me, the research (and again I admit I’ve only looked into a bit of it) seems to be supporting the SMI method more, not really disproving the idea of visual, auditory, kinesthetic learners.

Carla

says:

Just started using your program and so far so good. Thanks!

Laci

says:

This is my first year using your program and I have really enjoyed it so far. :)

Tiffany

says:

Thank you for creating a program that teaches all types of learners. “Different” should not translate into a learning difficulty but rather a new opportunity for teaching. You have taken that opportunity and created a program that embraces “different.”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tiffany,
You are welcome, and thank you for mentioning it.

Molly

says:

I tried copywork for my Dyslexic son to learn how to write his name. It was pretty ineffective. He does well with rhymes or songs. For example, “C-H-A-R-L-E-S” to the tune of ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ finally helped the spelling to stick. :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Molly,
Your poor guy. Cute how you made his name a song though!

Kathy Martin

says:

I am thankful for the AAS program and how it incorporates elements to support visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners.

Jill

says:

My son does copywork for writing/grammar and so far it has been pretty effective, but I totally agree with your post that it wouldn’t be a good fit for spelling. Copywork would not teach the rules and concepts that allow them to spell any word. Thank you for AAS, love it!

Kristin G

says:

Copy work is much more effective if it is used alongside dictation. In the Charlotte Mason method they go hand in hand – one not to be used without the other.

Zer Kue

says:

Thank you for the information! Every child is different and they surely learn differently too!

Sheri Matheny

says:

My son definitely doesn’t learn this way! He can write a whole page and not know what he wrote. He also has fine motor and visual issues so he uses his concentration on the physical act of writing and not on the material he is supposed to be learning.

Can’t wait to teach in a way he will understand!!!!

Danielle Hudson

says:

This was very insightful! Thanks for the post!

Katie E

says:

AAS sounds like a great program

Melissa

says:

We’re looking forward to using AAS next year :-)

Gabi

says:

What about finding patterns in words? Lake Make cake, etc. does that type of spelling list help enforce correct spelling?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gabi,
Yes, especially if such lists are given after the concept has been directly taught and demonstrated. This blog post, Spelling Lists that Make Sense (and a few that don’t), covers this further.

Julie Patterson

says:

I agree that direct spelling instruction is needed in addition to copy work.

Misty

says:

This is interesting. My daughter has a great memory, but copy work doesn’t seem to work for her either. Probably because she thinks it is kind of tedious and boring. I keep her at it more for penmanship just like other moms have said.

Brandi Brown

says:

This is very interesting and is making me rethink my son doing copy work. I really only do it for penmanship bc of his age.

Heather

says:

Thank you.

Megan

says:

Yah they made me write words 250 times in grade 3. I felt like I was big punished because I couldn’t spell. Dyslexic and they didn’t use that word back then.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Megan,
Writing words 250 times does sound like punishment!

Natalie (NJ) Kelley

says:

The only thing copywork helps my girls so is learn to sit quietly and complete a task. All about Reading and All about Spelling were the ONLY things that have mightily progressed my third grader in reading and spelling! She was tremendously behind and we had tried it all.
We will start level one with my youngest soon!

Emily Roseo

says:

We just started the Pre Reading Level with my kindergartner. I am blown away by the organization of the program and how much my son loves to do it. We are planning on doing all the levels as he progresses.

Holly

says:

Thank you. We just started AAR with two of our children and I have been thinking about using AAS very soon.

Simah

says:

Thank you for your great articles! AAS works great with my daughter.

Marty

says:

Thank you for the information! We do copywork, but thankfully we use your AAS Level 2. And my son really enjoys it.

Janet Belcher

says:

Thank you again for such sound information. I have a child that struggles with writing so copy work only frustrates him. AAS and AAR have been a Godsend for us. He is flying through the spelling lessons with great success and while it is still a bit of a struggle for him, his reading is finally taking off. We both love your programs and wished u had one for math.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Janet,
We’re happy to read that your child is doing so well with AAS and AAR.

Jessie S

says:

I didn’t realize over 70% of kids are tactile learners !!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessie,
I’m sorry for the confusion. The statement in the post is, “if your child is among the roughly 71% of children who are primarily kinesthetic (tactile) or auditory learners.” Put differently, only 29% of learners are visual learners; the rest are kinesthetic and auditory. This infographic includes a pie chart of learning styles.

clc

says:

Thank you so very much!

Amy Cobb

says:

Thank you!

Sarah

says:

Thank you for the information in this post. I will be watching my children to get a better idea of how they learn spelling (and other things too) best.

Molly

says:

I’m using AAS level 1 with my kindergartener, and he tells me that spelling is really fun! I never remember thinking that as a kid. And he’s doing a great job!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

This made me smile, Molly. It IS kind of strange to think spelling is fun, yet many All About Spelling students think just that!

Claire

says:

We LOVE All About Spelling! No more boring memorization or spelling tests. Now my kids happily work through the steps with me and learn “WHY” words are spelled how they are. No more mystery, just patterns and predicable rules. It’s helped me with my spelling! :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Claire,
Thank you for sharing this!

Karen Short

says:

What a great product! Thank you!

Julie

says:

I heartily agree as I have a non visual speller! he struggles with the copy work/dictation idea to study the word until you can see it in your mind. He insists he really can’t do that like his sister and I can. I believe him after all these years of struggling to get him to spell. I really can’t say enough how AAS has been an answer to prayer for him! I honestly have loved it for myself as well…it’s just awesome to better understand how English works! I still use copy work for handwriting and just to practice a different kind of skill but I don’t use it as our primary spelling tool. I do have to add for the sake of any parents with a struggling speller, I really have seen AAS help him so much! It really does work!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Julie,
Thank you for adding that AAS does help your struggling speller so much.

Clarissa Aldridge

says:

I believe you are so write about copywork and distracted kiddos, they do often go through the motions and don’t really think about what they are doing!

Miranda

says:

I never even considered copywork as a way to teach or reinforce spelling. Having color-grapheme synesthesia myself, spelling was always easy because the words would just look wrong if they were misspelled.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I completely understand this, Miranda. If a word is misspelled, it’s the wrong color blend.

R. Badiru

says:

Copy work never really worked for me as a child and was very frustrating so I’ve shied away from it with my kids. I’m looking forward to trying the pre reading course I just purchased for my daughter.

Shane Comeaux

says:

Thanks for this article. Our current curriculum is copy writing heavy and my 7 yr is struggling with spelling retention. May be switching to a new curriculum soon!

Cindy

says:

This has been a great program for us. We are using AAR and started AAS this year. It really helps to reinforce what is being learned and my son especially really does with with the stickers! As well as working at his pace!

Margaret

says:

This is exactly what I’m dealing with at home. My eldest, 7th grade, never had any issues with spelling. She sees a word once and knows how to spell it. Like me, words look right or wrong. My 5th grader on the other hand is not at all visual. She can spell the same word four different ways in the same paragraph and not even realize it, even after I tell her to check!

My 3rd grader is at school this year and I’m struggling with the whole weekly spelling list. They use a “look, cover, say, write” method that is utterly useless as my 5th grader uses it in school at that level. It only works for visual learners. I would help my daughter memorize the words by auditory means and she’d do wonderfully, but she always had to sound out, and spell out the word.

It’s frustrating to watch schools employing means to educate 100% of their population that research shows can only effectively reach a maximum of 33% in various subjects.

Thankfully, there are other options, such as AAS and AAR!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for this, Margaret. I’m sorry your 5th and 3rd graders are struggling with the methods used in their schools, but you are right. There are other options, such as AAS and AAR!

Michelle

says:

This program is awesome! My 3 girls love ot!

Itty

says:

It’s interesting, because growing up, I did so much reading that spelling just became second-nature to me- either a word just looked right or it didn’t. I barely needed to study for tests, and I don’t know that I gave much thought to rules- I just KNEW how to spell. Now, teaching children who have difficulty spelling, I’m learning to go about it a whole new way!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Itty,
Some children learn spelling like you did; they just sort of soak it up and it rare that a word gives them trouble. However, other children, even advanced and avid readers, just never seem to get spelling unless they are directly and explicitly taught. I was a naturally speller, as was my first child, so it was a surprise to me when my second child was years ahead in reading but years behind in spelling. All About Spelling was a life saver for her.

Sara Schuurman

says:

This is our second year using AAR and AAS and I love it. It’s perfect for my K and 2nd grade children to read and spell in a very engaging, hands-on way!

Mei

says:

Even though, copywork was successful for me growing up. I can see that my child is very good at going through the motions with common ways of learning, but she is very kinesthetic. She is really thriving with multisensory work. I think it is allowing us to bypass or make-up for the issues in her visual system.

Amy

says:

So far we are really enjoying AAS for our 2nd & 5th graders! It’s our first yr to use it & they both think it’s a game! SCORE! :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amy,
Your kids think All About Spelling is a game? That is a high level of enjoyment!

Karen

says:

I appreciate your thoughts on this topic as we tried to navigate what works best with our children!

Naomi

says:

I use our spelling words along with similar words following whatever rule she’s learning as occasional copywork or even tracework after our regular AAS initial lesson. Sometimes I find the tracework helps more than copywork, especially with cursive. Maybe she’s engaging a bit of muscle memory with that, but it would never work without AAS. I love so much that I have the answer to why a word is spelled that way. I always enjoy the blog posts here. I’d like to find more ways to make spelling fun and engaging so she’s not drifting into autopilot with copywork.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Naomi,
Thank you for taking the time to describe for us how you combine AAS and copywork. Interesting.

Marta Wood

says:

My 8 y/o (Asperger Spectrum) daughter is really enjoying the All About Spelling program. I am enjoying watching her smile as she engages. We’ve made great progress using the tools supplied with clear and simple directions. I love that her brain and body are motion with each lesson.
I can only imagine the progress implementing the All About Reading program would bring.
Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Marta,
Thank you for letting us know just how well All About Spelling is working with your daughter!

Gale

says:

Hmm…visual learners ay? Well, I may just want to do more copywork. WITH direct instruction too (I love All About Spelling and have been using it). But so far I’ve focusing on having my son work on sounding out for spelling practice, and not letting him copy. Maybe copying would help him. I didn’t think of the visual aspect! I’ve used copywork in other areas, to try to work on better letter formation mainly, but just never thought of using it for spelling.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gale,
There is a visual aspect to spelling, and it is one of the 4 Spelling Strategies that All About Spelling covers. For example, there are no rules or patterns that tell us that rain is spelled with ai instead of a silent e (rane). A student must visually know that one is correct and the other is not. This is one of the reasons why spelling is more difficult than reading.

Karen Saxton

says:

This is great! It explains why I always felt like copywork was more an art exercise for my children than learning.

Heidi waye

says:

Best programme for children with special needs.

Tiffany

says:

I’m using AAR this year with my son. I decided to give it a try after hearing rave reviews. My son has struggled with reading and is finally doing Reading with a smile on his face and increasing in his reading skills! This Mom is happy!! I highly recommend it and look forward to using more of these products!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tiffany,
Thank you for letting us know how well your son is doing with AAR! We love to hear that mom and student are happy and smiling!

Carrie Hewitt

says:

Hmm.. i do copywork for spelling. Makea me wonder if tjey go into ‘autopilot’.

Dayesie75

says:

I’m using All About Reading Level 1 this year with my first grade daughter. We both love the program, and can’t wait to use All About Spelling next year!

Brittany

says:

I think it’s important to practice writing out spelling words, but to also expand comprehension of the words through a variety of other exercises.

Joel Wester

says:

I have a son whom we adopted from Ethiopia and your tips and suggestions you send via email have helped us tremendously. I look forward to using All About Reading with him.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Joel,
We are happy to hear that we have been helpful with your son! Have you seen out blog post about using All About Reading with children learning English as a second language? Carrie’s sons also came from Ethiopia.

I never thought of this , but you are right. I homeschool a child that is 3rd grade, but reading on a 1st grade level and she can not get the words right except by copy writing. We will try the other way. Thank you for this imput.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Annette,
Let us know if you have any questions or need help with placement or anything else.

Kara

says:

Thanks for posting! Something I never thought about when teaching spelling

Nancy

says:

Thank you for AAS. My 9 year old son is finally making progress in spelling due to the program.

Summer

says:

Very True

Bianca

says:

I love All About Spelling!

Yvonne C

says:

My child hates copywork and learns nothing from it. Eager to try out these ideas!

Mindy s.

says:

Just started using all about spelling with my son and have seen so much progress in just a few weeks. Copy work based spelling was frustrating for him and he didn’t retain what he learned for very long.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mindy,
Thank you for sharing how copywork based spelling was frustration for your child.

Sylva

says:

Yes, I have found copywork helpful in some ways – mostly as a way to help my 3rd grader who dislikes writing get practice with the forms of the letters and words. And then we complement the copywork with beginning dictation, and using the letter tiles, and writing games. We are making some progress!

Tracy

says:

Yes, I have experienced this and it is true

Mary

says:

My son refused to do copywork and complained that it was boring. AAR and AAS are a perfect fit for his learning style and my teaching style. Thank you! I will add that once I stopped forcing him to write, he has grown a lot in this area. He now writes lists, notes, books, reminders, etc. on a daily basis. It’s like he is confident in himself and he is willing to try it his way. (Copywork was frustrating because he didn’t understand why words were spelled the way they were and to him, what he was copying was wrong.) I don’t force him to do copywork anymore. The coolest part is that his random writings demonstrate that he is putting to use the skills from AAS and AAR lessons! He is 6 1/2 and it’s like everything just clicked within the past month. Great programs. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mary,
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences with your son and copywork and writing. Very interesting.

Melanie Williams

says:

I’m curious to know if this applies also to studied dictation?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Melanie,
For some children, yes it would apply to studied dictation as well. Studied dictation could be very similar to the weekly spelling list approach to spelling. Our blog post on Spelling Lists that Make Sense (and a few that don’t) explains this problem further. Many children absolutely require direct, explicit instruction in spelling in order to have success with it.

Kayla

says:

Very interesting. We struggle in this area and I found this helpful for new ideas.

Sarah Roby

says:

I have experience to this problem firsthand. Totally agree.

Christine

says:

I struggled with copywork when I was teaching. I found that it just didn’t work well for my students, glad to know I’m not the only one.

Tiffany

says:

We’ve tried using copywork for spelling. Being on “auto pilot” is a good way to describe how it went.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tiffany,
Thank you for letting us know that your experience aligns with this post.

Abbi

says:

We love both copy work and AAS in out home :). I think one key to copy work is to have your child have a picture of the entire word they are copying (and not just letter for letter). That said, AAS has been a life saver for my son. Slow but steady!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Interesting thought, Abbi. Thank you.

Jackie

says:

I love this program! My kindergartener is working through AAR 1 and my 3rd grader is halfway through AAS 3.

Tonya McCurry

says:

Thank you so much for sharing this information

Susan

says:

Interesting! Copywork has greatly helped my oldest with her handwriting and memory review for our curriculum, but we use it very sparingly. I can see how using it too much could cause the to shift into autopilot.

Rebecca

says:

Good thought!

Nicole

says:

I feel better in my aversion to pushing copy work!

Tina

says:

I respectfully disagree. As the mother of kids who have dysgraphia and dyslexia, I can attest that copywork is a useful tool even for special needs kids. It isn’t intended to replace hands-on or phonics activities, but is a tool used alongside these activities.

My sincere hope is that your post doesn’t confuse those who are exploring various methods.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tina,
We are not suggesting that copywork isn’t useful. We are simply stating that for many children copywork alone isn’t effective for teaching spelling. However, the same children that do not learn spelling from copywork can learn other things from it. Many find copywork very helpful for working on handwriting, learning punctuation, and for helping with memorization, among other things.

Melanie Ware

says:

Thank you for all of your hard work! And for validating all of the little personality differences of my kiddos! We love AAR!

Brittany

says:

So interesting to learn that most students are kinesthetic learners.

Michelle

says:

Having tried copywork with two of my children, I have found this to be true. Even for my visual learner, copywork alone was not enough of a systematic approach for her to retain much new spelling information.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
Thank you for sharing your experience with copywork with your children.

Thanks that was an interesting article

Heather M

says:

I agree wholeheartedly.

Cindy

says:

Good information to consider.

Shannon P

says:

How absolutely providential that this article showed up in my email today! I was just thinking that maybe copywork would help my struggling speller. I guess I just need to be more patient with my AAS curriculum and work through it. Thank you for this article!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Shannon,
Please let us know your concerns with your student’s spelling. What level is he or she in? How is it going? We are committed to helping you help your student succeed in spelling!

Laura

says:

We love AAR and are looking forward to adding AAS to our routine!

Jessica Hanson

says:

I love this tip, its a constant struggle at my house with my older boy.

Tammy Sue Doerksen

says:

Thank you for this article

Lisa

says:

My daughter started AAS at level 1 when she was 12. Prior to that, I mostly relied on copywork for spelling, which didn’t usually stick. AAS works for her. She still does copywork, but not for the purpose of learning to spell.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
We appreciate you sharing your daughter’s story with us. Thank you.

Ann

says:

Thanks for the useful information! I definitely see how my son can go through the automatic motion of copywork and not truly register what he is copying as describe in the article.

Autym

says:

I was not impressed with AAS 1. The price is high, and there aren’t many lessons to justify the cost.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Autym,
I’m sorry it wasn’t a good fit for your family. If you ordered from our website within the last year, you are welcome to return or exchange it. See our guarantee for details.

Melanie

says:

I whole heartedly agree! My sons writing overall has benefited from copy work, but he definitely needs the extra support of a good spelling program as well.

Joy Lockwood

says:

Thanks for pointing this out.

Krissy Weiser

says:

We’ve only used copy work for handwriting. It’seems also one of our many steps to memorization. And we gladly take any other benefits that may naturally come!

But this is interesting!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Krissy,
I’m glad you found it interesting. And my family has found copywork to be very helpful when we need to memorize something, especially if it is long.

Anne J

says:

Helpful points – thanks!

Hadley Coble

says:

I can see that this fits my dyslexic dd. I have her copying a few things while I’m reading our Bible study for the day. I have her copy who our story is about, where it is found in the Bible, and a Bible verse from the account we are reading. I also know that she is likely not listening if her hands aren’t doing something (the way I am when I sit in church. . . if I’m not taking notes or doodling, my brain is not focused on the sermon), so what can I do so that she is LISTENING and HEARING what I am reading?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Hadley,
We have a whole blog post on Reading Aloud to Kids Who Can’t Sit Still. The tips and ideas in it also apply to children that can sit still be zone out when they do.

With my own children, they always are doing something while I read aloud. They color or draw, do other crafts, take stuff apart or put stuff together, play with Lego, fold towels, clean up their messes, and so on. Today my 13 year old spent read aloud time taking apart scooters, while my 11 year old helped his dad make dinner, and my 9 year old played with clay. Then I paused briefly to tell them I was almost done reading aloud, so they had to clean up while I finished. Yet, despite all that going on (and I had to read LOUD at one point as my 13 year old used a mallet to get a scooter part off), they all were able to fully discuss what I read during dinner.

Wilda

says:

Interesting and worth the attempt.

Nancy Diepenbrock

says:

Haven’t tried AAS, but certainly can comment on AAR! What a wonderful, well thought out program!!!! The progress I see with my little one is astounding! (And it’s so much fun!)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for your comments on AAR, Nancy!

Samantha S

says:

AAS looks like a great program. Looking to start AAR come Jan or next school year.

Kristen

says:

Good information. I’ve been wondering about this since we do copywork and handwriting practice faithfully.

Victoria

says:

I like short lessons of copywork. I use a highlighter to write out the verse, sentence etc. I mark a dot of where they are to start forming letters, so copywork is more about proper form(size of letters, spacing, etc.) of handwriting for us and not spelling. Luv AAS and AAR!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Victoria,
Thank for sharing how you use copywork for handwriting work. Interesting.

Jessica Lemley

says:

We’ve had difficulties with copywork in the past. This article really clarifies why.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
I’m happy that this article has helped you better understand your copywork difficulties.

Bethany

says:

Teaching my 4 year old all about reading and we’re loving it!

Kandi

says:

I love AAR and AAS!

Jen

says:

We have used and love playing the games suggested which you have on your site for free. Love the hands on ideas such as the fried egg game and feeding the puppy. Son loves flipping the eggs and “feeding” the puppy his bones!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jen,
You hit upon two of our favorite games! In case you haven’t seen them, here is a link to our of our free activities.

Danielle Barton

says:

I haven’t started AAS yet but I’m excited to try it soon!!! We are just embarking on AAR!

Morgan Graham

says:

Great read! The spelling program went so quick we are repeating it to ensure we know the rules. With the first completion I can tell my daughter is really learning and spelling is making sense.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Morgan,
It is fairly common for level 1 to go quickly, especially with older students. However, each level builds upon the last, using word analysis and dictation to review concepts and words right back to the beginning of level 1. If you review the mastered cards and find she really has mastered the vast majority of them, then go onto the next level confidently. We are here if you have questions about progressing.

Shannon

says:

I have a daughter that is behind and I love how this program works where your child’s at and builds on it.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m happy to hear that All About Spelling is helping your child where she is at, Shannon.

Michaela fuller

says:

One more reason to love aas!

Tina

says:

Yes, we have found that copy work hasn’t helped my daughter with her spelling. We love AAS!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Tina.

Amy

says:

Love this program, because it is a fun way for our boys to learn the how and why of reading.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amy,
Yes! Learning the “why” of things is so satisfying.

Amanda

says:

I love your spelling program it has helped my daughter a lot!

Evelyn Barge

says:

Great insight! This article gives something to think about. Thank you.

Karyn

says:

I never thought about using copywork for spelling. As practice for penmanship & perhaps to help remember scripture or poetry but I’d never rely on that for spelling

Maria

says:

Thank you for this article. I think I’ve read/heard more of the promotion of copywork than any of it’s pit-falls (this is probably the first time I’ve read about it).

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Maria.

Bridget Meyer

says:

This article has opened my eyes as to why my 10 year old struggles with spelling. I may need to do a placement test

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Bridget,
I’m happy to read that this article has been helpful for you.

As for spelling placement, 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 level 1 and will help you decide the appropriate starting level.

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.

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 then move on. This blog article has a good example of how you might fast track.

Stacey Randal

says:

I definitely agree. I have children who struggle with spelling and while I like copywork for some things, they need a spelling program to be successful.

Kelli Braunecker

says:

I have experienced first-hand that copywork does not produce expected results.

Laura

says:

WE Love AAS!

Brittany

says:

My son does copywork for writing practice not for spelling teaching. He loves being able to look at words and copy them.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Brittany,
One of my sons loved copying words too. One day I caught him copying everything off of a gallon of milk, which was fine except there was still milk in the gallon and it really should have been in the fridge. :D However, he never learned to spell well from all the copying; he needed the direct and explicit instruction of All About Spelling.

Tara

says:

I agree. Copywork hasn’t helped my kids with spelling at all.

Laurel

says:

Sounds true. I have a photographic as well as reading learning style. Have one child who is auditory, one dyslexic, but reads well now.
One who learns from seeing it done and the oldest one just learnt very fast from all directions.
Some of the many grandchildren are very bright and some are bright but are taking longer to learn because they are auditory.

Haley Chenevey

says:

i think copywork is more important for setting an example about sentence structure than spelling.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great point, Haley! I never fully learned how to punctuate quotations until I studied it, using copywork, with my oldest child.

Christine

says:

I think copywork is important for kids

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Christine,
I agree. Copywork can be, and often is, effective for many things. For example, my children and I have found copywork can be very useful for memorizing passages of poetry, Bible verses, historic speeches, and such.

However, for many children copywork simply isn’t effective for learning how to spell well. Many children need direct, explicit instruction with on going review in order to learn to spell well. Many families that use copywork find All About Spelling to be a needful and very helpful addition.

Jamie C.

says:

Sometimes you have to spell-it-out in more ways than just copywork! ;)

Patrick

says:

A pretty accurate description of our grandson !

Linda Clark

says:

Have you ever considered producing a product for remedial spelling for high school students? Your current product is good but not for older students. Linda

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Linda,
All About Spelling has been used with teens and even adults, with great success. It isn’t “young” or babyish, but it does start with the easiest words and progresses incrementally to more difficult ones. Older students can simple move through the beginning words more quickly.

Just recently we heard from a mom using All About Spelling with her 16 year old. She wrote:

I have a 16 year old son who has dyslexia and dysgraphia. He has never been able to learn how to spell. Now he’s learning with All About Spelling. I wasn’t sure about using a program where we had to start at level one. I thought he would be embarrassed, however, he’s having such great success that it actually has built his confidence immensely! I was also nervous to teach him with it because I had no experience with the program. It turned out to be SO easy to just follow the instructions and say what I’m told to say. We have more fun with All About Spelling than with any of our other subjects. Thank you so much for this program!

We do recommend that struggling spellers 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.

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 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.

Please let us know if you would like more information about using our spelling program with a high school student.

trisha

says:

Hi, this is totally true. I agree with everyword, I tried to teach my son spelling via copy work for 3 years, it did not work. We are now using All About Spelling. See my blog post about this very issue;
http://straightpathhomeschool.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/charlotte-mason-and-spelling.html

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Trisha,
Thank you for sharing your experience with just this. Lovely blog post.

Amanda

says:

So far, all we have done is copywork. At first, I thought it was working but, currently I’m seeing that in her independent writing, she does not know how to spell many words. Which brings me here. :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
What you described is what many of us have experienced. I have found copywork useful for many things, including learning punctuation and helping with memorization, but it just didn’t work for spelling.

Let me know if I can answer any questions or help in any way.

Alexandra

says:

Thanks for the useful information!!!!!
I choose your program to study my daughter. For her English is not native language.
And the fact , your first level – the second for us)))
Thank you.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Alexandra,
We have had a lot of great reports from families that speak English as a second language. I hope your have the same experience. Let us know if we can help in any way.

Alyssa Hammond

says:

I am so glad that I found this article. For months, I have been going back and forth among different curriculums trying to decipher which is the best among the good. I have come across several homeschool curriculums that use copywork and while I understood the thought behind it, I was nervous about how much it leaned on children learning concepts without understanding much of anything about them and why they are used. This article sort of put into words what my brain just couldn’t seem to string together into a complete thought. That, and the crucial point of the article for me was that copywork probably won’t work well for children who are easily distracted. My son is very easily distracted, and it was helpful to have the article point out that he may either go in to auto pilot mode or, more likely, get distracted as he is working and not derive from the copywork what he was meant to.

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

Hi Alyssa,

I’m glad the article has been helpful. I had some of those same confusions (even as I tried copywork) when my kids were young. Marie does such a great job of clarifying the issues!

Jaime S.

says:

When we first started spelling with our oldest we started out using AAS. It was working pretty good but my son wanted to try a different new curriculum. It uses copywork, and I can absolutely see the “autopilot” take over each day. Then at the end of the week he can’t even remember how to spell words he had mastered using AAS. I think we’re gonna have to make the switch back.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Jaime,

Sometimes a change or comparison can help us decide what’s working and what’s not! I’ve had that happen. If there are any parts of AAS that seem to bog him down or that made him want to switch, email me at support@allaboutlearningpress.com, and we can work together to adjust things a bit for him. I’d be glad to help!

Irene Neuner

says:

Hi Marie and group, We are currently using your spelling level 3 (2nd) and level 5 (4th) and have worked from Level 1. I love the magnets and the board but don’t use them to save time and I add more words to their list each week. I just want to comment that copy work is kinesthetic because the student is using his/her hand to form letters with a pencil. I know this because I memorize through writing and am primarily a kinesthetic learner. I do think all students learn best and most fully through a variety of methods. My suggestion is that we do not omit what we are not good at but rather emphasize them so that weaknesses can be improved upon.

I love copy work and use it primarily to help my students hide God’s Word in their hearts. There are so many people both in and out of the church that will stumble us and our children if we do not have a firm grasp of our Father’s Word.

Irene

Irene,
Yes! Copywork is a powerful tool for learning. It is essential for one of my students to be able to memorize almost anything, especially scripture, and it’s helpful enough to be worth the effort for my other children as well. When my high schoolers struggle to understand a difficult concept, like enthalpy in chemistry or something, copying out the textbook explanation is often all that is needed. There is something powerful about allowing the words to pass through your fingers.

Megan

says:

I appreciate this article, and I agree that copywork alone is not sufficient for spelling instruction. But copywork is meant to be paired with dictation. A student spends time (several sessions) studying and copying a passage. Then, identifying words that are still difficult and working to form a mental picture of these words. Once the student is ready, the teacher dictates the passage while the student writes it out as they remember seeing it.
This still may not be the right choice for all students, but copywork is meant to be paired with dictation.

Megan,
Yes, some programs do pair copywork and dictation, and that is just how I did it with my first two children. The oldest did well with the spelling, and rarely misspelled in his own writing. My second child, however, did not do well. She would study her copywork passage, and then write it beautifully and correctly at the end of the week. But the following week in her own writing she would misspell words with similar patterns to ones in the passage. In 4th grade she could spell make correctly, but tried spelling bake as backe, and many other things that indicated she was spelling years below her grade level.

Copywork, with dictation, does work for some children. It did for my oldest. But, it does not always work to teach spelling. It didn’t with my 2nd child.

Linda Reed

says:

I am familiar with copy work but do not think that teaching spelling is its main goal. I understand that teaching spelling is one of your company’s main goals and we have used your program at our house for many years. There are many good benefits to copy work, and “internalizing spelling” is not one of them. I have a struggling speller at home and even after using your program up through level 7, he still struggles. There is no magic formula.

Belle

says:

Linda, I agree: no magic formula. I, too, have a child who went through all levels but still has a difficult time with spelling. However, she is much better at spelling now, than with any other program I used with her. When she asks me how to spell something, I usually sound out the syllables and then say, “E, double E”, or whatever is appropriate. I can see the “light bulb” come on and she works her way through the word.
Again, I agree. There is no magic formula.

Cherie

says:

Maybe you went through the levels too fast. I review often with the kids I teach ( my grandkids and I tutor kids). If they get stuck at all, I review from a previous lesson. ll the kids I teach are dyslexic. They need the review.

Merry at AALP

says:

I agree, English spelling can be frustrating! There’s a lot to think through at once.

Like Belle, my struggling spellers are much better at spelling now than before we went through the program. They both have some words that always trip them up–but it’s common for many people to have some words that they just seem to misspell. I found it worthwhile to keep reinforcing what we learned throughout the high school years, and that my kids kept improving. The things that have been key here:

Make sure to keep up with that last step in Level 7, which helps kids transition to lifelong spelling skills.

When going through the program (and continuing afterwards), really make kids analyze the words. My kids wanted to speed through those sections. I’d let them go through the stack of word cards and find what they could, and then I’d go back through and ask questions. “What’s tricky about the spelling pattern in the 2nd syllable? Why is there a silent E in this word? How is the /er/ sound spelled? What strategy will you need to use to remember this part of the word? How do syllables help us spell this word? Does this word follow the usual syllable rule?” and so on. I really had to make my kids use those spelling strategies that they were learning.

This article on the 4 main spelling strategies really helped me crystallize in my mind how to think about every spelling pattern my kids were learning, and in turn to make THEM think about what they were learning: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/effective-spelling-strategies/

Most kids have a “favorite” strategy. Some rely on visual skills, and you’ll often find that for long words, this type of student will have the right letters but not all in the right order. Asking them to “read exactly what you wrote” can help students find many of these errors. Some rely on rules, and will struggle when there’s more than one way to spell a sound–and they just have to study some words visually. Some forget to think through morphological strategies, and you have to remind them to think of the root word first, or to think through another form of the word. (For example, knowing the word “formality” where the A sound is clearly pronounced helps us to remember that the /ul/ sound at the end of “formal” is spelled “al”–and not one of the several other ways it could be spelled.) So, it can help to think through your student’s weak spots and then encourage them to use all of the strategies, and not just one or two.

I find asking questions is key. I do tell my kids how to spell words if I see they are frustrated and just need to move on, but later we can talk it through. Most of the time we can talk it through on the spot. Asking questions makes kids analyze, synthesize what they know, and learn how to apply it. It moves them closer to internalizing and using what they have studied.

Most kids, but especially those who struggle, need a separate editing time to find their errors. Often it’s best if this can be on a separate day. Make sure to praise for any errors they can find and walk them through the others. This article on Helping Kids Achieve Automaticity in Spelling has ideas to help: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/helping-kids-achieve-automaticity-in-spelling/

Like Cherie said, kids with dyslexia (and really, kids with any spelling struggles) are going to need lots and lots of review. If a student has gone through quickly, you may need to go back through and make sure some things are really mastered. We added in a lot more review than the program officially scheduled. I loved that the review was so easy to customize. We would review mastered cards every week–I would do phonogram cards one week, key cards the next, sound cards the next (sometimes those took 2 weeks by the end), and select word cards the next. I also found for my kids that if I moved the word cards to mastered too early, they would forget them later. I learned to wait until a Monday to move them (because if my kids remembered them over the weekend, they were more likely to stay mastered). Also, I didn’t move them if it seemed like my kids were guessing. Usually they got them right several times in a row, and then I moved the card the following Monday if they got it right again. This would be overkill for some kids, but mine really needed it. It sounds like a lot, but other than a slightly longer review session on Mondays, our reviews were typically 3-5 minutes.

Hang in there!

Lori

says:

I agree with this. I kept wondering if I was doing something wrong since my kids were (are!) not great spellers. I definitely think it is easy to just go through the motions of copywork and not internalize any of it. I am so thankful for AAS!

adrienne

says:

I wish you would change your title to say “why it does not always work for spelling”. I agree with you on this post. But, I actually believe copywork is wonderful for helping non-visual learners develop and become stronger in that weakness. I also believe that copywork helps tremendously with penmanship, habit of attention, hand brain connections, and learning to contemplate. It also help with learning how to write. When you copy the work of an author, it is similar to copying the art of a famous artist. In many art classes, art teachers have the kids copy a style of art. It is a helpful lesson in learning to look closely and pay attention to details in grammar and neatness of handwriting.

Adrienne,
We agree; there are benefits of copywork in many areas for many children. Thank you for sharing the many benefits you have found.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Hi Adrienne! I changed the title of the post based on your suggestion. It now reads “Why Copywork Doesn’t Always Work for Teaching Spelling.” Thanks!

zhouya

says:

I’m glad to read this article, as I keep being told by the Charlotte Mason homeschool “powers-that-be” that Charlotte Mason-style copywork and dictation works for every.single.child.with.no.exception. If it’s not working for you, that’s because you’re doing it wrong. I implemented the full CM-style language arts method (including visualizing while doing copywork, kinesthetic word-building exercises, narration, etc.) for 6 years and by age 12, my dyslexic son could not spell CAT. It was so frustrating – much more so for my poor son, as continuing to pursue something that’s not working creates a lot of anxiety ):

I started using AAS about a year ago, and we’re a little ways into book 2. (We’re going very slowly, as seems to be necessary.) Weirdly, I’m hyperlexic, and as I’ve been using the books, I’ve realized that it would be been very difficult for me to have created these lessons for him on my own, having learned reading/spelling differently even from typical folks.

Yesterday, we sat in front of our magnet board, while my son placed the letters for SALE. I told him it was right, and he beamed ear to ear. He said, “I always wanted to know how to spell that, and I now I do.”

To say I’m pleased would be an understatement.

Zhouya,
I’m sorry you and your son had to experience so much frustration and anxiety before finally finding something that works. Copywork does have a place (for example, it is the only way my dyslexic son can memorize anything, such as the Boy Scout Pledge he is currently working on), but to suggest it will work with every child for everything without exception… Well, it doesn’t.

Keep up the great work. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Robin E.

zhouya

says:

Thanks, Robin

I continue to use copywork and dictation. Some of the reading on dyslexia I’ve been doing suggests that those with dyslexia tend toward global thinking (as opposed to fine-detail) and may be better than average at using context and making connections — which is a strong argument for using copywork!

I would just hate to see anyone discouraged from pursuing explicit teaching when it can be so beneficial.

Merry at AALP

says:

Zhouya,

I also had a child who struggled with copywork, so you are not alone! I love copywork as a tool for gently teaching all kinds of things, from grammar and mechanics to literary styles and that ineffable quality of “voice.” It’s also great for helping a child who struggles with writing to build up stamina. I think it can develop an “ear” for what’s right and wrong grammatically, but it certainly didn’t replace direct, incremental instruction in grammar or punctuation, and it actually caused more spelling problems than it fixed for one of my kids! I liken it to discovery-oriented learning–and I think that kids who enjoy and thrive on discovery-oriented learning methods will be able to pick up more from copywork, than those who need explicit teaching. It does have a strong visual component, but if you have a child who has trouble with focus or attention, or any kind of reversals, even a visual learner can struggle with copywork.

So, overall, I found copywork more helpful for teaching literary style and techniques here. And even with that–I would share the passage, we would discuss it, and I would point out exactly what I wanted them to notice (an allusion, a great description and what made it great, powerful verbs, metaphors or similes, and so on). Copywork combined with explicit teaching can be a powerful tool.

Laura Anderson

says:

We have finished all about reading level 1 and have tried to use the all about spelling level 1 with little success. I have also tried copy work, flashcards, reading reflex, hooked on phonics and more. Nothing has worked for my 8 year old son. He currently reads at a kindergarten level and is easily frustrated by any sight words (even ones he has read before) . We are now trying a new program called spelling you see with the help of a reading specialist in Ohio. It uses a studied dictation type method with a few additions like using colored pencils to color like blends in the different words in the passage. I hope she can help my son learn to read and spell. My son has been labeled many thinks from aspergers to ADHD to dyslexic, but not one label has ever truly described his struggles with learning to read and spell. All other subjects are easy for him, I just with something would work.

I am sorry to hear about your son’s struggles, Laura. Sight words are especially difficult for children with dyslexia. In the All About Reading program, we teach very few words as sight words. Instead, we teach students to decode the words. Here are two articles that you may be interested in:

– How to Teach Sight Words: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/how-to-teach-sight-words
– Teach Dolch Words (Sight Words) the Easy Way: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/dolch-sight-words/

Please let me know if there is anything we can do to help. I hope your son has great success working with the reading specialist!

Christine

says:

Laura, is it possible your child might have a vision processing disorder? Many of the symptoms you describe, we experienced with our second son who we found out has a very severe case of this. Without therapy, any program you choose will have its limitations, because it all depends on how the child’s brain is processing the information that receives. Vision therapy is not cheap, and you have to make sure that you have a truly qualified specialist, but it can make a world of difference! I hope things work out well for your child.

April Arizmendi

says:

I am currently using Abeka for Language Arts…Tons of writing, which my son hates, and he’s not learning as well as I would like him to.
I’m somewhat unsure about changing curriculum, But the Abeka isn’t working very well, is pretty expensive and tons of busywork

Robbie

says:

I’ve been homeschooling from the beginning with my 2 kids now age 9 and 10. About a year ago I stopped trying to “teach” them reading and writing and found that given real-life situations, they could communicate in writing, and have been developing their spelling skills through reading and asking when they needed. We have always communicated with them verbally using proper grammar, and they understand how sentences should be written based on their understanding of verbal communication.

roz karp

says:

I am a private tutor who is constantly asked to help with spelling.
I use a variety of ways. I let them write in shaving cream, write on my glass covered table, rainbow write.. using pen, marker, pencil, crayons, write in sand, magnetic letter scrambles and the triangle way to first write the first letter, then next .. p pl pla plan plane… This one really works for some.

Suzanne

says:

I love these ideas. I have used the shaving cream. I need to try rainbow writing. I think DD8 will love it!

Andrea

says:

I’ve never heard of someone using copywork to teach spelling. To reinforce it maybe but not to teach. We use copywork mostly for moral training and handwriting.

Yesenia

says:

Like Andrea, I never associated teaching spelling with copywork. We use it to learn scripture and improve writing skills. Spelling is taught using a different method.

Amy Collier

says:

The following post I read just before finding this thread advocates using copy work for teaching spelling:

https://simplycharlottemason.com/blog/teaching-spelling-subject-by-subject-part-5/

As a new homeschooling parent, it can be difficult to wade through so many conflicting “expert” opinions! I was glad to find this post because it sounds exactly like my 10 year old son.

Katy S.

says:

I never knew of dictation until I started homeschooling four years ago. I think it is a great tool for learning new/different passages or historical facts. However I quickly found out that my children needed more. I tried Spelling Power, which works wonderfully for my older son (then 6th grade), but my 2nd grade daughter, who likes to spell phonetically, was getting discouraged with it as she was not progressing, and in some cases was even having to go backwards. We then just focused on the spelling words that came with the language arts curriculum we used at the time. But then that didn’t work either as I found out she wasn’t grasping the “rules”. We finally came across AAS & it has made such a difference in her spelling! She still struggles, but it’s so much better now! I do still have her do the dictation from Heart of Dakota as it goes along with her history studies. That aspect has also improved. :)

Robin E.

says:

I’m a huge fan of copywork and dictation, but I’ve never given much thought to using them as a means of spelling instruction. They are about writing, the seeing and writing complete sentences with punctuation and all that goes with it. Punctuation, especially, is easily taught with copywork because it is so much what spelling isn’t, regular and consistent. Sentences end in one of three marks. Quotations are always punctuated the same. Even tricky punctuation, such as commas, can be taught with well chosen copywork and review again and again.

But spelling? With umpteen ways to spell a single sound, it just doesn’t lend itself well to anything other than a concrete, focused method. That is why my kids do All About Spelling for spelling. There is nothing else out there that teaches spelling so well. We save the copywork for starting off each week’s writing.

NANCY MULICA

says:

Until we found All About Spelling last summer things were a mess.. at 11 years old my grand daughter had been going backwards for two years and no end insight.. this situation started to reverse the very first lesson in level one and there has been no looking back.. everything has improved with her spelling skills including her memory skills, reading and willingness to try cursive writing again..She needs to learn the way All About Spelling teaches with sight, hearing and touch altogether. but there is more to why AAS works when nothing else did. the way the sounds are presented was not the way she was taught before…she has trouble hearing with her mind some of those sounds getting them mixed up with each other which are now identified and work on without the heartache that was our spelling lessons before AAS..the tools she has learned with vowel teams and syllable tags etc keeps her thinking about how the words are formed. I gave her a 30 word spelling test Friday..they were made up of new words in the latest lesson and review words.. she had 28 out of 30 right!! before AAS it would be more like 3 out of 30 along with tears of frustration for her and me.. it was fun to watch her form the sounds of the letters if she became stuck and thinking as it turned out about how the vowel teams worked.. instead of having to rely on her rather unreliable memory of the past, she had tools to help her get tings right.. the most fun though is to see her journaling every single night.. what started as just one sentence has evolved into pages sometimes.. along with that are her short stories she makes up for creative writing. she could not make up a story to save her soul before. this is all due to AAS. I believe that the prepared dictation, which she loves by the way, has been a real bonus . lately I have added prepared passages from history books we are studying for her to copy doing cursive writing.. the surprise was not that her poor writing has improved nor her spelling but that she easily memorizes what she is reading and writing.. believe it or not we have always had an issue with the “Pledge of Allegiance”. two days of reading and writing this once, not over and over again and she pops up reciting the whole thing word perfect without being asked.. I am not sure which of us was shocked more…so.. I have found that prepared dictation like everything else about AAS has made all the difference.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I am so happy to hear that the AAS program has been working for your granddaughter! Most importantly, I’m thankful to hear that she’s truly enjoying learning again. Thanks for the kind words!

Jennifer S

says:

I’m curious what you think of studied dictation, where the child studies a sentence or section first, then the selection is read aloud by the parent/teacher and the student writes it as it is read. That would be better than copywork, right? I think it would engage the student more mentally.

I’m a very happy AAS user but my alternative was Spelling Power and studied dictation, combined.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Good question! Studied dictation definitely has its place. My daughter was a natural speller, and she thrived on the sort of self-study that studied dictation requires. But many kids are not able to “prepare” a passage adequately on their own, whether due to lack of phonics background, motivation, or learning differences such as dyslexia or visual discrimination deficits.

In All About Spelling, we use prepared dictation. For more details: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/how-to-use-dictation-to-improve-spelling.

Jennifer S

says:

I am using dictation as directed in AAS but I did wonder about other methods. Thanks for your reply!

Trish

says:

We tried Spelling Power and Sequential Spelling before switching to All About Spelling. I think it is really helping my dyslexic kids, neither of whom are really visual learners. And for copywork for my two dyslexic kids, I had to get StartWrite software and make pages so what they were copying was on the line right above. They could not copy from a book onto separate paper. So, while copywork may work for some, it is not the grand solution for everyone.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you found what works for your dyslexic learners, Trish! For many dyslexics (and for kids who have eye tracking or focusing problems), it is extremely difficult to copy from a written model.

Katie H

says:

My daughter has been struggling so much in learning to read that we actually backed off to focus on letter formation. She seemed to better understand and keep track of the sounds if she wrote them. unfortunately her fine motor skills were not good enough for that to be viable. After working for most of the year on HWT, we are now able to do copy work. I use it to practice simple letter formation, word spanning, sentence formatting, and exposure to letter sounds and blending so we can get back to AAR in the next couple weeks or months. She is definitely not an auditory learner but also not an intuitive one. She needs things clearly (and repeatedly) spelled out for her to learn the task. For her, I’m certain that just copying the words would not magically impart spelling ability. I like the clear steps and rules that AAR/AAS use to teach this information.

Katie H

says:

…word ” spacing” not spanning

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