Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All About Spelling and Handwriting Without Tears

I wanted to share two resources that we tried new in our house this summer: All About Spelling and Handwriting Without Tears.

Our son J, who is turning 10, has dyslexia. This means he not only struggles with decoding written word but also with encoding words. Especially hard for him is spelling. We are realistic and know that he will never be a great speller, but we do want him to be able to spell well enough for other people to understand what he has written. Traditional spelling programs that require memorizing word lists have brought endless frustration and tears at our house, but no true learning. After reading the reviews, we decided to give All About Spelling a try. We have just completed Book 1, and love it!!!

AAS is based on the Orton-Gillingham method which teaches the students the rules of spelling. J is able to understand when we give him a rule that says the "k" sound at a beginning of the word is spelled with a c except before the letters e, i and y. A concrete rule that can be applied to phonetic sounds works for him, and that is what AAS is about. It is also multi-sensory, using letter tiles initially when learning a rule before spelling on paper. Best of all, J loves to do it and has already shown great improvement in just one book! We cannot recommend All About Spelling enough in our house.

Another program we tried new this summer was Handwriting Without Tears. We were told that J might have an easier time writing in cursive than in print, and wanted to work on learning cursive letters. Certainly it is easier to mix-up a printed b or d than a cursive one. After doing some research, we decided to start with the Handwriting Without Tears' Cursive Writing program for 3rd and 4th grade students. We are about half-way through the book, and J's handwriting has made a significant improvement already. Their letters are easy to learn to write, without excessive loops and tails. The book offers enough practice on each page to get mastery but no so much that J is bored. He has started to incorporate the cursive writing into his journaling and other work he does, so I know it is sticking with him even outside the workbook.

Both All About Spelling and Handwriting Without Tears can be used with any child, not just those students who struggle with spelling or handwriting. Personally, we have liked both programs so much with J that we plan to start M with them when she gets old enough.

(Edited to add: These are products we purchased with our own money for use in our own home and are in no way a sponsored review - just my honest opinion.)

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