A couple of months ago I received an email from the proprietor of SpellQuizzer software. He sent me the software for free in hopes that I would discuss it on my blog.
It's simply a program that *says* words and asks your child to spell them. Wrong answers are pointed out and corrected - and the kids get another crack at the words they missed.
BUT, the program doesn't come with a library of words. You have to compile your own lists; read them into the computer's microphone; and record them in a sentence if you desire.
As much of a pain in the butt finding my buried microphone was and recording the words is, this is an ideal program to tailor a flexible homeschool curriculum.
Not only can I enter words at the precise cusp of Prince C-Nut's ability, I can keep the quizzes current with words from other timely subjects. For example, yesterday's list had *Maine* and *camping* on it - because that's what we did last week.
The format is pretty much as one would expect. Your child hears:
"Maine.....We went to Maine for our vacation."
So not only does the parent get to choose the words, they get to put them in a sentence. This is another opportunity, like everything else in life, for edification. For example, I put *stone* in one list thusly:
"Stone.....A diamond is the hardest stone."
So maybe my kids will learn a tad more than just spelling. I have to admit I've also inserted my colorful humor a few times!
"Body.....My Mom only married my Dad for his body."
Much to my chagrin I really just started this program with my 4.6 year old the other day. I firmly believe that spelling is an integral part of what I call reverse-reading or *composition*.
My son can read fairly well, but when I ask him to spell one of the words that he's just pronounced correctly, well, he can't do that yet.
This all begs the larger question, "How important is spelling?"
Because I've seen many smart people self-deprecate with *Well, I'm a bad speller*.
Is it possible to be *intelligent* or *educated* if one can't spell?
After all, just about all of our written communication these days has a *spellcheck* functionality.
But I submit that spelling is VERY IMPORTANT.
Words are mental tools and even weapons (of self-defense only - like karate!). The more you have in your box - the more your mind can construct, destruct, and repair. So in my book one must ideally study words with great application; this would include not only precise spelling and meanings, but also origins.
I've grown to see etymology as a profoundly important subject.
In fact, note Will Durant's last line in this excerpt from Age of Faith:
By adding French and Latin to its German base, English could triply express any one of a thousand ideas (kingly, royal, regal; twofold, double, duplex; daily, journal, diurnal,...); to this it owes its wealth of discriminating synonyms and verbal nuances. He who should know the history of words would know all history.
I'll have more to say on this SpellQuizzer as we get further along with it.
[I sure hope there are no spelling errors in this post! Google's spellcheck has been malfunctioning lately.]