Some of the words Callista is mastering (she added "gingerbread men" because we made them today).
One beauty of homeschooling, is I can be certain my children never get "lost." Last Spring we began using the Spalding Method for our reading and spelling. It is also called The Writing Road to Reading.
There are so many things I love about the program.
1. I understand so much about the English language that I didn't before.
2. My articulation and pronunciation are vastly improved.
3. I can purchase everything I need, if I don't have the time to make it.
4. It has wonderful assessment tools to gauge progress.
Last Spring I bought the Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade teachers manuals ($70 a piece but they should get some good use over the years). We jumped around until I found the perfect place to begin each of the girls. I actually began Callista in the First Grade, but decided it was moving too quickly for her attention span. I adjusted her to about midway through the Kindergarten. Ellery began right in the Second Grade.
A month ago I was worried about retention. So we decided to take the last 3 or 4 weeks to master our Notebooks. Creating a spelling notebook is an integral part of this program. There are very specific marking and rule systems the children learn.
It feels a bit intense as a parent to learn, but once you get it, it is simple.
I love the flexibility of stopping for review whenever we want, catering exactly to my children's needs and learning styles. Ellery usually learns 30 new words a week, and Callista 15. However, with such a fast pace, I think the breaks for review are a great breather.
I told the girls we will continue with new words when their entire notebooks are mastered. This is a powerful method to teach reading. In fact, you don't teach to read at all, the children just start reading as they learn to spell. I have been amazed at how Callista has picked it up. She is already where Ellery was this time of year in first grade. I can't wait to start Emmett in this program in a couple years, without confusing him with other less precise phonics programs I have used in the past.
If I had a dollar for every time Ellery wrote an "r" for "er" I would be rich. "R says er." is just one example of the incorrect ways we teach (or at least I taught) our children to spell.
I alter the program to fit our needs. It is far too long and intense for a homeschool setting. I leave out the majority of the grammar I feel is nonessential until they are older. I make my own literature selections. I use the readings in McCall-Crabbs for narration. I read them once and the girls listen carefully. Then they repeat the story with names, orders, and essential details. They are nearly word perfect. Much better than I am.