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Questions re: Traditional Spelling I/Scheduling

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    Questions re: Traditional Spelling I/Scheduling

    Hello, my son is currently on Lesson 8 of TS 1. He's technically a second grader but this is our first year to do a formal spelling program other than Sonlight which really just had the student write out words each day. He is an excellent reader, not a huge fan of handwriting (like many children I suppose). I've always thought his spelling was pretty "creative" and in need of work. I love the way TS is laid out, and feel like the activities and exercises are useful for helping him to think about words in a different way/review phonics principles. He worked through the lessons well for several weeks but the last two weeks has really balked and asked me, "why do I have to do all of these different things? Can't I just write the words out every day to memorize them?" Am I right in thinking there is value in the exercises beyond just providing a different way to practice writing?

    Yesterday was particularly tough and he told me he "already knew how to spell all of these words anyway." So, I offered to give him a pretest and focus the rest of the week on just the words he didn't spell correctly. He spelled 9/10 correctly. My husband is worried he was just guessing and thinks we should practice the whole list. I know from experience with him that if we just keep to a routine he will settle back down. He seems to "pick" a different subject each week to complain about haha. So, next week it will be math no doubt!

    But, does anyone do this for their child--offer a pretest and only review words missed?

    Also, I am starting to wonder if his balking has more to do with the time of day the activity is introduced rather than the topic itself? We try to knock school out in the morning and then leave afternoons for read alouds, science experiments, art, play, etc as I have a kinder and second grader. I have tried offering breaks between subjects during our morning "school time" and we seem to hit diminishing returns very soon....less and less productive work gets done after each break so I tend to try and power through in one big session. But maybe that's a mistake? Anyone have good ideas for how to manage the schedule? On the one hand, I feel like my kids really benefit from a routine (Bible over breakfast, calendar, recitation, math, LA/spelling) but I also see the benefit of rotating the core subjects so that we cover each when they are freshest at some point during the week. I don't want them always doing math first and doing their best work there at the expense of LA/spelling.

    Appreciate any tips or advice. Thanks!

    #2
    Hello. You have great instincts as to your son and spelling. I don't suggest you resort to the copy and memorize plan of some spelling programs. Traditional Spelling is teaching mastery of English phonograms so you are correct in the assumption that the written work has meaning. The various activities ensure mastery of the spelling words but also help with decoding other words containing the same phonograms. Our advice is to continue completing all the sections of the lessons.

    If there is a question whether the lessons are too easy, you might consider giving a pre-test of the list words on Monday. If your son gets them all correct, skip the list. If he misses one or two, you need to complete the activities and lesson. I would not just work on the two words missed, but you could add a couple of Bonus Words to make the list more challenging. These can be words pulled from literature, science, or classical studies. They need not follow the spelling pattern but you will need to highlight spelling components of the words so they are not just added to short term memory, which is what happens with the "copy and test" technique.

    Students like predictability so keeping to the same schedule helps. While you might need to tweak a schedule at the beginning of the year until you find a pacing that best fits your family, changing the schedule too often can be counter productive. Adding short breaks or snack time to your morning will also help with keeping students fresh and attentive. Also, you could do a MWF / T Th schedule and as long as it stays the same, students will adapt and come to internalize the schedule.

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      #3
      Spelling is the subject where we definitely don’t do all the assigned work. My first and second graders are working through TS I together and both seem to be fairly natural spellers. We do day 1 as assigned on Monday. Day 2 I break up and do the first exercise on Tuesday and then we do colorful letters on Wednesday. We do dictation on Thursday and if they get everything right we’re done for the week. We don’t do the assigned day 3 work. It hasn’t happened yet, but if words were missed on Thursday, we’d do more practice and another test on Friday. I don’t make them write the list again each day other than for the assigned activity and we don’t do any of the supplemental workbook. I’m not saying there’s not value in the other work, but so far we’ve been able to meet my goals for spelling without doing everything. I only have so much time, energy, and teaching capital, and spelling is the subject where we do the minimum we need to do to get the job done.

      As for scheduling, my kids do better with a consistent schedule. I think I’d get more pushback if I switched things up frequently. I’ll share what’s been working well for us in case it’s helpful. I have a first grader, second grader, and 3yo. After breakfast and morning basket, we do always do math first when we’re fresh. Next comes cursive and copy work for a bit of a brain break. Then we do spelling together. After that, one kid does independent reading while the other does literature with me. Then we switch. I tack on grammar and Latin for my second grader at the end of literature. Then we’re done and they have a bit of free time before lunch. We don’t do any real breaks for the reasons you mentioned, but between people stopping to potty and a few minutes here and there waiting for someone to finish up before we move on to the next subject, they seem to get enough breaks to power through. If someone is super squirmy I may send them to jump on the trampoline for a few minutes.
      2021-2022
      DS1 (7) - MP2
      DD (6) - MP1
      DS2 (3) - SCA
      +5 little souls in Heaven+

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        #4
        Thank you! These comments are full of great suggestions! We had a decent week, completing about 60-70% of the activities for the spelling lesson. I think his balking is more due to fear of failure/not wanting to make a mistake so I just keep trying to encourage him and point out what he is doing right.

        Jweishaar yes I really do want to try and keep a consistent schedule b/c I think that helps all of us. It also seems like math is a natural start b/c with the calendar we review the date and our Saxon Math starts with that as well.

        As I predicted, once he settled down about spelling he got pretty spun up about practicing cursive--last year he loved it, actually asked for an extra book to learn how to write cursive!

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