From Spelling Bee Flops to Confident Spellers

Sep 23, 2016 | Posted by Laura

I’ll never forget the day that my children begged me to let them participate in the local fair’s spelling bee. My parents were with us enjoying the picnicking, pet show, and parade. I tried to gently remind the kids that spelling “wasn’t really our best subject.” That was the understatement of the year. I knew how it would go, but they continued to insist, and I finally relented. Grandma and Grandpa thought it was a wonderful idea. “Just wait,” I thought to myself. In a few moments, a sweet little voice was confidently spelling balloon, “b-a-l-o-n.” The rest is history and is still laughingly remembered to this day.

How did we get to that point? My children consistently got A’s on their spelling tests each week, yet when they turned in writing assignments, the errors were grievous. I called it “memorizing for the moment.” The correct spellings stuck around just long enough to be written on the test, then they were gone. My high schoolers lamented that they were embarrassed to write things down when they were with friends for fear of spelling them incorrectly.

We had tried a variety of spelling programs through the years, all with the same results—A’s on tests and errors in writing assignments. By the time my students were 9th, 11th, and 12th graders, we had all accepted the fact that there probably wasn’t anything left to try and that spell check would be a must for the rest of their lives. Of course, with all the homophones in the English language, spell check wasn’t a dependable answer. What more could I do?

I was sharing our spelling struggle with a friend who wondered why I hadn’t tried IEW’s spelling program. IEW’s writing course had dramatically impacted my children’s lives, so it seemed logical to try the spelling course. Plus, I knew that IEW’s guarantee meant there was no risk. I could simply send it back if it didn’t work. I presented the idea to my children and remember my 12th-grade son’s response. “I’m willing to try it if it will help. Just don’t tell anyone it’s called the Phonetic Zoo!”

We purchased Level B, and all three kids were responsible for completing their lesson each day. I loved that the audio CDs allowed them to work independently, and it only took them fifteen minutes a day. Using the program consistently, we began to see a change. The spelling words were actually sticking! No longer were they stored in the short term memory, here today and gone tomorrow. Now the kids could write an essay and recall the correct spelling of words we had tried to retain for years. What a relief!

If you have a student in 3rd grade or older who is struggling with spelling, I highly recommend giving the Phonetic Zoo a try! I hope you’ll see the same dramatic improvement with your students. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Laura House discovered IEW while homeschooling her three children and now enjoys helping other families transform their students' abilities by introducing them to IEW. She serves as our Hybrid Schools Manager and as an exhibitor at homeschool conventions. Laura and her husband, Gary, live in Oklahoma.

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