I have two daughters – one who’s mainly a visual learner and one who’s mainly an auditory learner. Oddly enough, they are both good spellers. I often wondered at this, since auditory learners typically find spelling rather challenging when relying solely on visual material. This caused me to think back and ask myself what we did while learning to read and spell. I thought I’d share my findings with you.
In the beginning, we used a phonics approach to reading, using Phonics Pathways: by Delores Hiskes. This book works well with both learning styles as it can be both very auditory and very visual. Words are introduced by first learning sounds of vowels and consonants, then slowly combining vowel and consonant pairs, then finally sounding out three letter words. I used Phonics Pathways in conjunction with Bob Books – soon we were out of the reading gate. What does this have to do with spelling? Everything. One sets the foundation for the other.
We also read aloud – a lot. What was happening here was a reinforcement of words – both phonetic and visual, since both girls would sit beside me and they would occasionally both follow the text with their eyes. I also had them read aloud – daily. Short excerpts at first, then progressing to longer ones. This is a great way to catch consistent errors. What I noticed immediately was that my auditory learner would often skip lines, or insert or delete occasional words. In order to correct this, I insisted she use a bookmark to conceal the forthcoming lines. This eventually corrected the problem, but I had to help her train her eyes to stay focused on the text. One day when I noticed my auditory learner was struggling when sounding out the occasional vocabulary word, we went back and used the latter part of our phonics primer to reinforce particular digraphs and diphthongs. Again, this corrected the problem.
Another tool that is especially helpful for auditory learners is listening to a story on tape or CD while following along with the text. This helped in leaps and bounds. Lastly, I have always used the same spelling program – Spelling Workout. This program has phonics as it’s foundation and expands on all the early skills learned while reading and writing. It has also been highly effective with my visual learner. All this and more is available to you in The Well Trained Mind – which, even if you don’t follow a classical approach to homeschooling, is a tremendous resource for stuff like this.
What kind of learner do you have? What have you found helpful in order to advance or teach spelling skills?