Thursday, June 04, 2009

Resources, Timing, Readiness

A few years ago, probably when my boy would have been in about third grade and my girl in second, I bought a great spelling program: AVKO Sequential Spelling. I thought this would be the spelling program to end all spelling programs for our family. It teaches spelling in a systematic way, teaching words in "families" and building on them: in, pin, sin, spin, pins, spins... doesn't that make perfect sense?

We started enthusiastically.

Soon, my girl found it too easy and thus boring. Well, she did enjoy getting 100% correct every time. My boy found it impossible. We'd do a lesson and test every day, and it just didn't work, not at all. He couldn't remember the patterns, not even the simplest. We tried to persevere but soon everyone was frustrated.

So, we put it away. For a very long time. In fact I loaned it out to someone and promptly forgot about it.

Now as I have said before, my girl is a "natural speller" who just does not need spelling lessons or tests. She is on her own now, writing a lot and spelling well. I can ignore her in this area.

My boy is another story. We have been doing intensive phonics remediation for the past year or so, at his request. He had come to realize that he was hindering his education by not understanding phonics rules. Recently I realized he was starting to spell more words on his own. Things seemed to be getting easier. So, I thought about AVKO Sequential Spelling again.

Unfortunately I did not remember loaning it out; I searched and searched and only by accident did I come to find I had passed it on to a friend. Fortunately, she remembered it as a loan, not a gift, and returned it right away.

And now my boy is flying through it. We do a test every day - occasionally 2, one written and one oral - and he is getting it. He is spelling. He's also not complaining about it. He doesn't love doing it, but he understands the need for it.

Now someone might say well, he's in, what, 5th or 6th grade now? Of course he should be flying through a spelling book that has words like "pin" in it. What's the big deal?

As anyone with a child who has learning problems will tell you, it is indeed a big deal when a breakthrough like this happens. It is particularly a big deal to a kid who is smart enough to know he has a problem, but doesn't know how to fix it. It is a big deal when a boy who has read the word "truck" thousands of times but could not spell it finally gets the "-ck" ending rule of spelling.

Sometimes, the resource is right but the timing is not. Sometimes, something that is meant for a 3rd grader is just the ticket for a 5th grader who just wasn't ready for it at the expected time.

The moral of this story, of course is - never get rid of anything.

And that goes for games, too. Anyone up for a round of Spill and Spell? After 5 or so years of it hanging around not being played, it was headed for the church garage sale. The kids rescued it, got their visiting grandparents to play with them, and now we're playing every day.


Sandy said...

Congratulations! It is a big deal when kids have a breakthrough. Sad, though, that you could already anticipate the critcism before you even finished writing.

SmallWorld at Home said...

I hope I don't regret selling a few things that I took to the used curriculum fair today! I did linger over a couple things, thinking "Should I really sell this yet?"

Anonymous said...

I LIKE the moral of your post!!!