You win some, you lose some (spelling edition)
I have a friend who is super-smart. I very recently learned that she has a daughter who can’t spell worth beans. That knowledge was strangely soothing. Good spellers can beget bad ones.
I’ve often said that I’m glad I have multiple children, because knowing each unique child — bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh — has made me learn that I can’t pat myself on the back too hard for their good qualities, nor can I kick myself too hard for their failures. Every child has their own strengths and weaknesses. Parenting certainly matters, but you can be a fabulous parent and still have a child who fails miserably in one area. Or several.
Monday was our first official school day of the year. (On the East Coast, there were just nods of assent. On the West Coast, there were just gasps of shock. Out in this neck of the woods, school usually starts the first or second week of August. By that measure, I’m a good month behind. Not that I’m truly behind, but I do prefer to keep my children’s school schedules roughly the same as their friends’.)
On our first day of school every year, I do a spelling assessment. I use the book Spelling Power, which uses a 50-word survey test of increasing difficulty to determine the grade-level-equivalent of each child’s spelling ability. For everyone in junior high and lower, I say that if they test two years above their grade level, we don’t need to do spelling as a separate subject; I just correct spelling as they go, during various writing assignments. For my oldest son, who is now a sophomore in high school, I told him that if he tested at 11th grade, he wouldn’t have to do spelling.
Here’s how they fared:
- Audrey (who is in 1st grade): 2nd grade, 7th month — 10 correct words spelled
- Wesley (who is in 6th grade): 4th grade, 7th month — 20 correct words spelled
- Grant (who is in 8th grade): 11th grade, 0 months — 48 correct words spelled
- Ethan (who is in 10th grade): 11th grade, 0 months — 48 correct words spelled
In other words, everyone is well above their official grade level, except for Wes. I blogged a while ago on the subject, but as his entire first year of life was beset by health issues (stemming from undiagnosed celiac disease), including chronically infected ears that burst FIVE TIMES before he turned one, the language processing center in his brain didn’t develop correctly — he heard everything as if underwater, and how he hears (and speaks) is a little muddy. At nearly eleven years old, he still has a hard time discerning soft vowel sounds, as well as consonant blends. If you can’t hear/process a word correctly, it’s difficult to spell it correctly. (Oddly enough, though, his actual hearing is perfectly fine.) His spelling is nearly entirely from memory; he virtually cannot sound out any words.
Audrey kind of blew me out of the water, because I have never really worked with her on spelling before. My kindergarten curriculum is extremely relaxed; as long as they finish the year knowing how to read, knowing math basics, forming letters passably well, and having a good grasp on some other basic skills, I’m content. In kindergarten, my children just kind of learn by osmosis from being in a learning-motivated environment. It worked, apparently, on Audrey.
Ethan squeaked by, just avoiding spelling as a separate subject.
I wasn’t surprised by Grant; he’s my best speller… But, Audrey just may catch up with him. 🙂