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Using All About Spelling with Older Students

by Marie Rippel

All About Spelling is frequently used with teens and adults. But sometimes parents and teachers aren’t sure how to get started with older students who need remedial work.

Here are four of my favorite strategies:

Adjust the First Few Levels to Your Child’s Needs

  1. Most older children should begin All About Spelling with Level 1. The words in Level 1 are easy to spell, but many students have not learned the concepts behind them, and these concepts are crucial for success throughout the program. For example, most struggling students will know how to spell cat, but they don’t know why cat is spelled with a C instead of a K. They obviously don’t need to practice spelling the word cat, but they may need to learn the concept so they can apply it to words like emergency and concentrate. The beginning levels fill in important gaps like this.

  2. Consider How You Present the Program To help older kids understand why it’s important to start with Level 1, try comparing the program to something they can relate to, like video games or swimming lessons. Your child may understand that even though the first level of a game (or of swimming lessons) may seem easy, that doesn’t mean he should jump ahead to the fifth level. But it does mean that he can go quickly through the earlier levels, learning what he needs to know so that when he does get to the higher levels, he isn’t overwhelmed by having to learn too much at once.Anna Gillingham, co-founder of the Orton-Gillingham approach, put it this way: “Go as fast as you can, but as slow as you must.”With older learners, you will probably go much faster than you would with a younger child, but be prepared to slow down if you reach a concept that your child doesn’t understand. Your goal is to achieve mastery.

  3. Have Your Child Teach a Concept Back to You Using Letter Tiles When your child can teach a spelling concept back to you, it’s a good sign that he or she has mastered a concept or group of words and is ready to move on. But if your child has to stop and think it through or seems challenged, spend more time on that particular lesson.

  4. Customize the Lessons for Your Child  Older children will need to have the program customized to meet their needs, with specific customizations determined by a child’s prior spelling knowledge. Merry Marinello, one of our customer service reps, encountered this situation with her own children. When Merry started using All About Spelling Level 1, her children were in sixth and fourth grades, well past the “typical” age for Level 1.The PDF below explains how Merry customized the first sixteen lessons of AAS Level 1 for her children. Of course, you may need to use different customizations for your children, but this may give you some ideas as you start out.

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