Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Improving Spelling Skills

An example of using a strength to overcome a weakness: 

Legoboy has just not been a strong speller. I think he would have been fine if he had not been thwarted in his skill development when he was younger (see this previous post)

Once he believed he could read, he has been a very strong reader - we just need to work on pronunciation here and there. Spelling has been a steep uphill battle. I have almost caved at various times into purchasing a spelling curriculum or program - several Montessori bloggers share their successes with a few. But it didn't sit right with our style - we use some curricula for a few things, modified; but I didn't feel right forking out money for a spelling program when we have the necessary tools right here with the Montessori materials and online spelling games (of which he played quite a few for a few months)

But he's not been a good speller, despite the Montessori materials and methods used and even the online spelling games - it just not clicking with him - and he highly detests my method of helping him (I say the word very slowly so he hears all the sounds; and won't give him the actual correct spelling until he gives me an honest attempt at it - which he also doesn't like to do). 

For the record, I feel that Montessori has all the tools necessary when done in its fullness - but some children just don't connect, even with the keys (thus giving them something that is not the keys won't work either). Other programs CAN work and DO work, especially in connection with Montessori, but I don't think they would have meshed well here at all. 

So we've plugged along. 

One day, he figured it out - all on his own. He started doing this: 

trying to spell the words 'when' and 'watch' 

He wrote out the words in various attempts at spelling them, then he read it to himself to see if it looked right. Knowing he has advanced reading skills, he put those skills to work for his deficit in spelling. 

So he wrote "wen" - and it didn't read right. So he wrote "when" (remembering that some w-words have wh) - that one was fine. 

Then he wrote "whath" to come up with "watch" - he immediately realized that the h needed to be dropped; he tested a sound for the vowel-sound in the middle (oa he wrote) and that wasn't right. 
Then he got the wath - before realizing it needed that c in there to change from /th/ to /tch/. 

All this so he could ask me, via a note, "When can I watch Once Upon a Time with you? And can I have a peanut butter cup?"

And I tell you what: he's not mis-spelled those words since! 

A "follow the child, observe, respond, observe" SUCCESS! 


  1. Beautiful! I love to here success stories. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I think the answer here might be a very Montessori one... the child has to CARE to learn it before he will learn it. For some people, it's hard to find the motivation to CARE about spelling. But, when he cared to he learned it and didn't forget it. Perfect.

    Of course, then there is always the to make them care about something they don't but that the rest of us DO.

    I wish my kids would care a little less lately. They are constantly asking me how to spell things. Sometimes I find myself dictating three letters to of a word to Kal-El, dictating three to Me Too while Kal-El writes them down, then switching repeatedly until they are done. And, of course, one of them invariably starts writing what I am dictating to the other.

    1. Legoboy went through that stage too - but the spelling didn't stick, which irritated me. How many times can I spell the SAME word for him and he still not LEARN it!? How many high school and college level books does he read and UNDERSTAND and he still just won't spell properly (or close enough). For example, he spelled the word "Saint" - "Stait". That's not even indicative of a Montessori "writing the sounds you hear" foundation.

      But he is also in speech therapy, and though his hearing tested well above perfect (how does that happen? well, he hears more than the typical person hears - and it interferes with sorting out the sounds....) - and I think it is all inter-related. The connections are slower to build because of it.

      He's my little experiment though, because many Montessori homeschooling parents are having this spelling issue. That classroom environment does have SOME advantages ;)