autumn days

Monday, December 5, 2011

Berenstain Bears and the Big Spelling Bee

Homeschooling is such an adventure.  We are all learning so much, just by attempting to learn as a family at home.  I am halfway between unschooling and structured sit-down instruction.  This means we go about our days playing with friends, seeing the sights, reading signs, working on mazes and workbooks, writing pen pal letters, and exploring the world around us.  Hannah's papa talks about work and responsibility and how to fix things.  He told me a few weeks ago that I really needed to focus on homeschooling and getting our just-turned-four daughter to read and write.  "Her (three year old) cousin's classmates are reading at a third grade level!  We've got to compete!"  Well, I know my daughter is doing just fine academically.  In my eyes, Hannah's incredible.  When her papa announced one morning she was going to have a spelling test, I did my best to step back and let him do his own thing.  He sat our daughter down for a test without ever teaching her how to spell any of the words.  And afterwards he sat her down and crossed off her words and showed her how to spell them correctly.  Not one to be entirely silent, I told him what I thought of his spelling tests.  "How do you expect her to know how to spell if you don't teach her and you just test her?"  He waited a week to give her a second spelling test.  Thankfully they had first practiced together and all the words ended with the same two letters.  Hot, spot, dot, pot, ....

When talking with a friend about spelling, she said she remembered learning to spell certain words as a child.  And I also recall learning new words.  At age 10, I practiced spelling as I sat on the curb in front of my house, waiting for my grandma to visit from Utah.  My spelling word was "neighbor."  My mom told me our old neighbor spelled this word "nerber," so spelling was indeed important to learn the skill of spelling.  I continue to learn spelling through helpful friends and spell check.  And my daughter is learning spelling in a variety of ways as well.

One of her favorite books right now is Berenstain Bears and the Big Spelling Bee.  It reminded me of my spouse's enthusiasm when he started that first spelling test for his own daughter.  In this book, Sister Bear learns spelling through reading many books.  After winning a spelling bee, Sister's papa strongly encourages her to cram for an upcoming spelling bee.  When Sister correctly spells vicarious to win the bee, Papa realizes he has been vicarious in "taking undo pleasure from the achievements of others."  And he steps back, as we all do from time to time when helping our children learn and grow.  Learning to write, like parenting, is a fine balance.  There are so many ways to learn to write.  As our children grow, we will discover new ways of balancing one another and of incorporating language into our world of home learning.

writing in her work portfolio

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