Spelling Mechanics

Homeschool Word Study


How does a word study program differ from a spelling program?

Spelling Mechanics Homeschool Word Study


Dictionary basics are introduced in the primary grades through games and activities meant to excite a love of words. At the higher levels, students learn how to read word origins and understand how the history of the word affects its modern meaning through the study of word prefixes, roots, and suffixes from Greek, Latin, and other languages.


Children don't depend on memorization of lists.  Rather, they understand how words are built and apply this knowledge in the program assessments and in their daily writing.


Can children construct knowledge about letters, patterns, and meaning?

Lessons focus on one skill or pattern at a time and progress from basic letter-sound relationships to patterns to meaning chunks. Children discover the spelling pattern or rule under the parent’s guidance and analyze and practice with a large number of words that follow the pattern.

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 How can children use a spelling notebook effectively?

In order to establish a link between word study and correct spelling in all work across the curriculum, children maintain a word study notebook.  Primary students focus on and practice high frequency words. Intermediate children and more capable primary children build a personal list from words misspelled in daily work. Children select five words from their personal list to study for each unit test.


In addition to the personal word list, the binder or notebook will also include a reference section to which students add rules and patterns they learn, loose-leaf paper for written sorts and word hunts, and other spelling projects or activities.

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Will my children apply spelling to daily writing?

In Spelling Mechanics Homeschool Word Study children analyze and focus on patterns and rules. They may still misspell words in their writing due to lack of the application of a rule or pattern they have studied. The parent can note in the margin that the “y rule” or “silent e rule” would have applied here. Gradually, children see the connection between the spelling they study in spelling class and the spelling they do in their writing. Spelling errors can be pointed out using the vocabulary of the rules and patterns. Children come to rely on their experience with the rules and patterns more and more as they make decisions about spelling, reading and writing.

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How can I encourage my children to care about spelling?

Spelling Mechanics Homeschool Word Study program encourages conversation about spelling in written work throughout the curriculum. The program teaches a vocabulary that allows students and teachers to communicate ideas about spelling in a meaningful way. Children are aware of spelling because misspellings in daily work are noted in their personal words list. They are consistently reminded of how their misspellings apply to patterns or rules already learned. All skills are brought back in review sections of units and tests throughout the year.

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Can I strengthen my own knowledge of word structure?

The parent page provides background for the parent on word structure, rules, and reasons for why words are spelled the way they are. In addition, this page gives unit objectives, common errors, teaching suggestions, and the "Launch Pad" which includes websites for student practice, games, and units from previous grade levels that teach the same skill.

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What can I test besides a memorized list?

Tests begin with a place for students to write their five word personal list. The remainder of the test applies the rule or pattern taught in the unit. For example, if children studied the silent "e" rule, the test includes entire base words ending in silent "e" plus suffixes to add correctly. The emphasis here is application of the skill rather than memorization so students can apply their knowledge to a wider range of words. Where a pattern has been taught, the remaining letters of a word may be given and the children decides which spelling is correct. With the "ou" and "ow" patterns, the test item may be "sh___er." Children write the word with the correct pattern based on their knowledge of where those patterns are found in words.


The last part of the test assesses skills taught in previous units based on the review section of the current unit. In this way, students are held accountable for past learning as well as new learning.

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What difference does word origin make?

English spelling is not as irregular and full of exceptions as we are led to believe once word histories and origins are understood. The development of language reflects the history of the people. Spelling Mechanics Homeschool Word Study  ties the history, origin, and meaning of roots to the spelling of words. Word histories are introduced in third grade. Fourth graders are introduced to Greek and Latin roots through poster projects. These connect the meaning of the root to many words that contain the root. Fifth and sixth graders study words based on these roots in more depth and are held accountable for their spelling.

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