Spelling Disconnect

I have been so lucky with my 7 year old 2nd grade little boy. He is bright and he has always immediately taken to whatever curriculum I have used with him. That is until we got to spelling. He is a great reader, we are about to finish level 2 of AAR but he is a TERRIBLE speller. When he is just free writing he spells things all kind of crazy ways. But even when I am directing him things to spell he just can’t do it. Like “sit” is “sat”, “see” is “se”. But when he is reading he knows these vowel sounds and will read the word correctly. He totally gets the phonics rules because he is doing so well with AAR and truly it’s the phonics rules that he has learned that have taught him to read but he just can’t carry them over to spelling. We did AAS level 1 but I haven’t seen any improvement. I bought Spelling Workout to try but even after the first lesson he still isn’t getting words correct…

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@Lindsay My daughter taught herself to read when she was 2.5 yo, so the assumption was she’d be a great speller from all of her reading exposure. HAHAHA! NoWay! We tried AAS in first and second grade. We saw NO improvement (and honestly, neither of us liked it.) I’m a horrid speller, so I thought maybe she just got my spelling genes. In 3rd grade we dumped AAS and started using SYS and a Spelling workbook. Third grade showed little improvement, but the bonus was that we liked (or at least didn’t dislike) these two methods. Now we’re in the middle of 4th grade and suddenly spelling is clicking. I’m not sure why, but I’m not going to complain. I wouldn’t say she’s an advanced speller by any means, but she’s absolutely at grade level (finally!) I have no solutions for you, but 1- maybe a different program? 2- maybe he’ll improve as he gets older - just a little time for it all to come together. In any event, all the best to you. He sounds like a gem!


Thanks for the reassurance! I did Spelling U See with my girls and didn’t care for it. They are a little older and Phonetic Zoo was he winner with them. I will keep trying and hopefully it clicks!

I looked at Spelling Zoo quite a few times. It looks great! That was going to be my next attempt if things didn’t go better this year. If it’s any comfort, keep reminding yourself that we live in an age of dictionaries and spellcheck. Of all the subjects a student can have difficulty in, spelling is one of the least concerning. I doubt anyone was kept from college due to their spelling! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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First, 7 is very young yet. He may just not be quite ready. Good readers are not always good spellers, and there is definitely a difference between the phonics needed to read well and mastering spelling skills. That’s a big part of why AAR and AAS are taught separately.

Since you’ve used a level of AAS, use some of those skills to assess what’s going on. For example: there’s a big difference between a spelling mistake like “sat” instead of “sit” in a student’s outside writing, and a student who can’t spell “sat” if you ask him to spell “sat.” You would handle the two mistakes differently. He’s a baby writer, and baby writers are like baby speakers. Babies leave out sounds, mix up the order of sounds and do all sorts of things we think are cute as baby speakers, but suddenly when it’s spelling we freak out, LOL! When students are writing outside of spelling time, they have many more things to focus on–content, creativity, organization, punctuation, spelling, grammar, capitalization–and that’s more than most young children can effectively think through at once. Mistakes are normal, in other words.

On the other hand, if you ask him to write “sit” and he spells it “sat,” ask him to read exactly what he wrote. If he doesn’t see his mistake, then say, “You wrote sat. We want sit. What could we change to make this sit?” Or go to the letter tiles, show him that he wrote sat, and ask which tile he could change to make it sit? Use those segmenting skills from early in AAS 1 and have him pay attention to every sound in the word.

I also find that many students are not ready for much outside writing until after they have mastered how to spell about 1000 words (which is around the end of AAS 3). Before that time, they still have to think about how to represent so many words that writing is a pretty difficult task. Either they will get bogged down in spelling and lose track of their thoughts, or they’ll get the thoughts out but have some really crazy spelling! And sometimes a mix of both. I like AAS because it does a gradual progression of writing activities–dictations that progress from phrases to sentences (6 phrases and sentences per step in level 2, 12 sentences per step in level 3), the writing station activity added in level 3–it does a nice job of scaffolding the student toward more outside writing. So, if you are wanting to use something else, look for something that will do something similar in terms of helping the student and scaffolding the tasks in ways that prepares the student for that transition to more outside writing. Work towards mastery when you are working on spelling, but expect a lot of “mess” in outside writing for awhile (or do more assignments orally until you’ve built up the skills).

HTH some! Hang in there!

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Thank you for this reply. So many great points!

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