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Choosing a New Spelling Curriculum

Choosing the right curriculum is important.  It sets the tone, the goals, and the daily activities of your homeschool.  If you chose something that does not suit your child, yourself, your family circumstances, or your beliefs, you are only causing yourself grief.  In fact, I firmly believe that the curriculum you choose can make or break your homeschool.  That’s why I review curriculum:  to give moms the information they need to make a good choice.

But there’s one thing you can never predict, and that’s your child’s preference for a curriculum or a specific method.

A few weeks ago Miss 12 finished all the SpellQuizzer work we had for her.  I had three textbook options available for continuing spelling studies.  One of them, the multi-year Natural Speller that Miss 10 uses, was lost once again.  Sigh! But that was alright because Miss 12 had used it years ago, and she knew what it was like. So I took out the other two, the Rod and Staff spellers and Christian Liberty Press’s spellers, both of them excellent choices, and handed them to Miss 12.

“It’s your choice,” I said.  “Look through them, remember the Natural Speller, and choose the one you want.”

Then we discovered a problem:

Miss 12 does not want to learn spelling rules.  “They’re usually wrong anyhow.”  Hmmm, that is often true. 

She does not want to learn word lists.  “That’s a waste of time because I’ll never use those words.” It’s hard to argue with that statement; in fact, I’ve heard similar sentiments in Charlotte Mason circles.

“If I don’t know how to spell a word, there are many other ones that mean the same thing, so I will never have to use a word I can’t spell.”  Having used ‘sledding’ for ‘tobogganing’ myself for years, I cannot argue with that.

“These books won’t work,” she assured me.  Curious, I asked her what she wanted to do for spelling instead.

“I want to go through my old dictionary and learn all those words.  Those are words I’d use, and that way I can learn the meanings right along with them.  See?  It shows how to use a dictionary too.”

She held out her 60 year-old dictionary and carefully turned its yellowed pages to show me.  It was an unusual suggestion, but she was obviously excited about it.

So we agreed on about a page a day, although that has already been reduced, and now my little girl is happily reading and studying the dictionary.

Is it a traditional spelling program?  Absolutely not.

Will it work?  I expect it will, because my daughter has taken ownership of this aspect of her education by choosing the method.

While the spelling texts I mentioned are all excellent, the best curriculum is always the one that the learner is most enthusiastic about.  So Miss 12 will study an old dictionary for spelling and vocabulary.  It’s her choice, her project, her learning.  She’s taking charge of her education, and that is one of the goals of our homeschool.  And I am proud of her.


  1. Jenn says:

    What a great learner you have! We’ve gone through more than a few spelling books, too.

  2. Sandra says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your bolded sentence in the last paragraph.

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