Friday, February 8, 2013

Homeschooling: Teaching Spelling: Is It THAT Important?

There is a raging debate among homeschoolers. Weather or not to formally teach your kids spelling.
There are to sides to this debate, and both sides have very logical reasonable stats to back up their claims.
As a new homeschooler who's child absolutely hates spelling, this topic has been a very important one for me. What are the pros of formal spelling? What are the cons? So I did my research (as I always recommend you do!). Here's what I found (Please remember that my personal beliefs do not necessarily coincide with some of the beliefs here.):

Why Formal Spelling Isn't Important:
Aside from the fact that we now have technological advances such as spell check and auto correct, there are other reasons why formal instruction in spelling is not as important as you might think.
First of all, if your child is an avid reader, they will learn words through repetition. If your child loves to write, going over words that they misspelled in their writing and showing them the correct spelling of it is usually sufficient.

Why Formal Spelling IS Important
While we have special technologies now to assist us with spelling, we have to be able to be close enough to a word for spell-check to catch it. Some words are so "out there" on their spellings, that autocorrect and spell check can (and do, sometimes) turn it into an entirely different word altogether. Additionally, the time will come someday - weather it's in our lifetime or not - that technology will be obsolete. When that time comes, there will be no more spell check or autocorrect. In order to be able to get their message across clearly, people will have to know how to spell.

Here are my thoughts
Some children need formal spelling, some don't. The entire point of homeschooling our children is to step away from the cookie-cutter views society has for education. Like the TV theme song states: "What right be right for you, might not be right for some . . ." For some children, spelling comes naturally. They just "get it" without ever having to be taught how to do it. For others, no amount of training will ever get their spelling "on par". There's a t-shirt we like that says "bad spellers UNTIE!" (yes, it's supposed to say that.) It just goes to show you that sometimes, it just doesn't work.

I am an amazing speller. I can spell like no other. I can spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious without blinking an eye. My husband, on the other hand, is not an awesome speller. Here's the ironic thing - I passed very few spelling tests in my life. What does THAT tell you?

The point I'm trying to make here is this:
If YOU feel that teaching your child spelling is right for them and for your family, then you should do it!
If YOU feel that it's just "not that important" and that they will learn spelling in other ways, then you should NOT do it!
Am I taking a wishy-washy stance on this? Not at all. I am vehemently AGAINST formal spelling instruction for my children for many reasons. But I admit that I am not the majority.

For more thoughts on spelling instruction and homeschooling check out these links: