You may have noticed that language arts programs can be divided into two types: all-in-one programs and single-subject programs.
You may be wondering why we don’t combine our programs into a single All About® program. After all, wouldn’t it be more efficient to teach multiple subjects in the same program?
That’s a great question! Read on to discover the two main reasons we teach these subjects separately.
Simply put, reading is easier than spelling.
In reading, a child decodes the written word. Phonogram AY always says long A, so once a child learns that, reading words like stay and display is a straightforward task.
Even with a more complex phonogram—such as phonogram EA, which can say three sounds (/ē/, /ĕ/, or /ā/)—students can try out each of the three sounds to see which forms a real word. And the fact that students learn to recite the phonogram sounds in order of frequency is also helpful. In a word like thread, the student who tries out the first, most common sound of EA quickly realizes that /thrēd/ isn’t a real word, so she tries the second sound of EA, resulting in the real word /thrĕd/.
But in spelling, a child encodes the word. Ideally, there would be just one way to write each sound, but the reality is that there are many ways to write each sound. If a child wants to write the word great or neighbor, for example, he has to decide how the sound of long A should be written. Choices include A, AI, A-consonant-E, EIGH, EI, EY, or AY. There are some generalizations that can help narrow down the options, but the fact is that there are approximately 250 ways to spell the 45 speech sounds of the English language.
So even though reading and spelling are flip sides of the same coin, reading is easier.
Let’s do a quick demonstration. Read the words below.
You didn’t have any trouble reading them, did you?
But what if I asked you to spell them? (Without looking first, of course!) How would you do?
If you think you would have spelled all these words correctly, congratulations! You’re probably a better speller than most adults. Though most adults can easily read these words, many would misspell them.
With a basic understanding of phonics, a child should be able to read the word special without much trouble. But spelling the word special is a greater challenge because of that tricky /sh/ sound in the middle of the word.
See what I mean? Is it any wonder that so many children struggle with spelling? And that leads to the second reason we teach reading and spelling separately.
When you try to teach your child to read and spell the same words at the same time, you guarantee only one thing: one of these critically important subjects will fall by the wayside. That’s because there are two possible scenarios with programs that combine reading and spelling:
Scenario #1. Your child learns to read the words in the lesson, but he can’t move on to the next lesson because he’s still learning to spell those words. Without knowing it, you have chosen to focus on spelling at the expense of reading.
Scenario #2. Your child learns to read the words in the lesson, but although he’s still learning to spell the words, you decide to allow him to move on to the next lesson. You’ve chosen to focus on reading, so your child’s spelling suffers.
As you can see, it’s a no-win situation. All-in-one programs force you to choose one subject to the detriment of the other. But I don’t believe you should have to sacrifice your child’s learning in any subject.
With our single-subject approach, your child can succeed at both subjects. He can progress as quickly as possible in reading …
… and he can take as much time as he needs in spelling.
With this approach, your child can more easily achieve mastery in both reading and spelling, without sacrificing learning in either subject.
Do you think that teaching reading and spelling separately would make a difference for your kids?