Teaching Homeschool Spelling and Help for Struggling Spellers

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Summary: Teaching homeschool spelling, and how to help homeschoolers who struggle with spelling and 2e learners, using homeschool spelling and reading curriculum, Explode the Code, Building Spelling Skills by Evan-Moor.  Step by step tips for teaching spelling to struggling learners.  Note - This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our  own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy.

Do you have a child who struggles with spelling?  

Or do you have one, like me, who feels she should already know things, before she had learned them?

One of the hardest things my 2e daughter encountered as a young learner was having her work corrected.  If I showed her a spelling error on an essay, she was crushed.  Then that would inhibit her desire to write, which of course we wanted to avoid.

Sharing today, how we deal with her spelling struggles while not inhibiting her passion for writing.  

Let's start at the beginning...

1.  Written Work with Lots of Spelling Errors

When my child do her weekly spelling work, she did quite well. But applying that to her writing just was not happening.  When she wrote essays, stories, or whatever, she tended to fall back to spelling her words phonetically.  

At the same time she was a good writer.  

She just could not transfer the skills developed in her spelling lessons to her written work...for many years.  

She loved to write in her Hello Kitty journal and create simple reports, usually on penguins, toucans, or airplanes. She also enjoyed creative writing, and made her own fiction stories.  

Correcting her spelling left her frustrated and upset.  As a 2e kid, being corrected was such a blow to her self esteem.  She felt that she should already know things....before she had time to acquire the skills.

Can you relate?

We wanted her to feel free to express herself in writing.  So we needed to find a way to separate spelling skills from her written work.

So next, let's look at how we did that....

2.  Separating Spelling for Written Work

I didn't want to squash her creativity by correcting her misspelled work in her written work.  

Our plan was simple - We did spelling work, with spelling tests each week.  And we also did a lot of written work without correcting her spelling,.....at all.  

This freed up my daughter and then her written work flourished.  
At the same time, she was developing spelling skills through separate spelling study.  Some would say that would lead to bad habits in spelling....But it didn't.....for her.

And eventually, she learned to apply her spelling skills to her written work.  Next, here's what we used for spelling curriculum in the meanwhile...

3.  Our Favorite Resources for Spelling

--Explode the Code Primers

During the K and early elementary years, our spelling was done through the Explode the Code series.  We were using this program anyway, for phonics.  While our student was learning phonics, she was also learning spelling. 

This program is offered for kids from preschool through 6th grade.  It is research based and has been shown to improve reading skills in students who use their curricula.  It is also one of the approaches that is recommended for kids with dyslexia, although my daughter did not have that issue.

We started with their pre-K Primers.  For more information on that, feel free to check out my post on Explode the Code. 

Using these primers not only gave my daughter a good start in both phonics and spelling, but it also gave her a feeling of success, which was so important to her.  And phonics is the basis for spelling of course.  We continued with Explode the Code through elementary..

--Explode the Code - Elementary 

 This phonics program goes from preK through 6th grade.

We continued working in the Explode the Code series each year, starting in Explode the Code - Grade 1, then Grade 2 and so on, through 5th grade.  

Are you familiar with this series?  

"Following the same consistent pattern in each lesson, the series progressed to more advanced phonics, such as consonant blends and phonetic patterns, preparing the child for intermediate reading." from my review.  Click here, to read more.

The format and layout of the lessons helped make the learning easy.

Then, in second grade, we started a phonics based spelling program by Evan-Moor.

--Building Spelling Skills by Evan-Moor

We loved using this spelling program starting with Building Spelling Skills – Grade 2. 

I like this program by Evan-Moor Publishers, as it is developmentally based and is by a very well respected educational curriculum publisher.

Features of  BUILDING SPELLING SKILLS – Grade 2:

Each lesson includes 10 spelling words, with room to add ones that your child wants to learn.  The lessons are centered around common phonics rules, making them easier to learn.  Click here to read the complete review of this spelling  program.

As my daughter worked in these two resources, Explode the Code, and Building Spelling Skills, she gradually developed her spelling skills.  

The key to success was patience on my part.  And keeping the spelling lessons separate from her writing lessons.

Each week, she looked forward to her spelling tests, and did quite well on them.  Finally, let's discuss how we reinforced success  in spelling and writing, while dealing with each of those subjects separately....

4.  Reinforcing Success in Spelling & Writing Separately

Our daughter enjoyed earning points for her spelling lessons and then after earning enough, turned them in for a small toy at the store.  That was our thing at our house.

And each week, she liked to do her writing assignments.  She learned to write good sentences, paragraphs, and later, stories and essays.  She started writing easy reports in 2nd grade.  

My daughter was becoming a great spelling and a great writer.  

But these two skills did not show up together...... for many years By doing her spelling program, she learned good spelling skills that did eventually generalize to her written work.  

It can take a LOT of practice, and sometimes, years, to be able to apply newly learned spelling skills to one's actual writing.  By middle school, her spelling skills showed up regularly in her writing.  And writing issues did not come up in high school or college.

5.  College Update  

We used Oak Meadow homeschool curriculum for English and it prepared her well for college writing.  

A picture from freshman year in college.

She was also asked to write a short piece in her business school's newsletter during freshman year. 

Do you have a struggling speller?  What are your favorite ways to teach spelling? 

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


 Betsy is a former O.T, preschool teacher and published author of children's stories.  She is mom to her 2e college grad whom she homeschooled through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool about the early yearshigh schoolcollegeand is the author of "Homeschooling High School with College in Mind".  She offers homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting.

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