TATRAS Spelling.

A separate spelling program is not required when using the Saltmine & HIfwip Manual  for  beginning readers.

 "Too often, I think, children are required to write before they have anything to say. Teach them to think and read and talk without self-repression, and they will write because they cannot help it."  Anne Mansfield Sullivan. (American Teacher, b. 1866 - d. October 20, 1936. Quoted by Helen Keller)

TATRAS feels that teaching spelling in the first and second grades is not so important that a uniform heavy spelling program should be required of all students. Although the Suggested Daily Lesson Format of the Saltmine & Hifwip manual (p. 48) suggests dictation or spelling every school day,  TATRAS spelling is very gentle.

For those children who have good motor skills, writing will improve reading. But an elaborate writing/spelling program is not necessary to teach every child to read. Instructors should be able to provide alternatives when very demanding writing/spelling programs cause student dislike of reading sessions. Or if such a program imposes an unnecessary load on a home schooling parent possible facing other complications.

The primary academic need of first and second graders is to be able to decode printed words easily, to enjoy reading and to read for enjoyment on a daily basis. For some children this need may not be met if the instructor insists on a heavy spelling load coupled with memorizing abstract spelling rules.

The main writing/spelling goal of the average first and second grader should be to learn to write neatly the letters for which they know the sounds, to be able to write from sound dictation the specified letter/letter combination units of a vertical phonics system, to spell common words, to learn perhaps a few spelling rules and to strengthen his confidence in himself for whatever spelling he is doing.

Spelling is very important!  But children learn spelling rules much more efficiently after the second grade because many more words will be visually familiar to them after having studied phonics and then read many thousands of words. Quantity reading is probably the most important way in which we acquire good spelling ability.

Quantity reading is also be a powerful means of increasing comprehension which is of even greater importance than spelling. Comprehension is, of course, required, for a student to eventually start reading for pleasure.

TATRAS teaches "beginning spelling." By that we mean we directly teach the spelling of the 500 most often occurring words and the irregular words down to the 3,000th MOO word. These words will probably account for over half the words the child will spell in his lifetime and they will start him writing easily at the earliest possible time. (And writing is the best way to formally start a child "thinking"---no formal "thinking" programs required until perhaps the sixth grade for a child that is utilizing a systematic writing program. Then perhaps an introduction to reasoning or logic would be useful.)

Journals. First and second grade journal or "book" writing has been advocated by many educators for the past 15 years. This will not be a positive experience unless you have a very bright child who has learned to spell the MOO (Most Often Occurring) words and is comfortable with extended periods of handwriting. Then only if you are in a position to help him extensively.

Most first and second graders and probably most third graders should be working to become at ease with spelling, doing only as much handwriting as is comfortable for them and working at improving their sentence construction. These are the years to be spent learning to read for pleasure and absorbing new information---not anguishing over extended periods of handwriting, phonetic (invented) spelling and grammar.

TATRAS has a strong flexible, easy-to-use beginning spelling program. Here are some of its features:

1. Vertical phonics programs inherently make spelling easier by teaching phonograms in isolation and then by using phonogram dictation. Reading words in isolation is also a major aid in developing spelling ability because words then have greater impact and visual familiarity is easier to achieve.

2. The Suggested Daily Lesson Format on page 48 of the Saltmine & Hifwip manual lists spelling (dictation) as the first item in each day's lesson.

3. In each of the manual's eight chapters words are separated into groups of spelling difficulty: primary, advance and irregular.

4. TATRAS' spelling stresses optional tools instead of mandatory rules. Spelling tools found in the Saltmine & Hifwip manual are:

a. augh-, ough-word spelling (p. 21)

b. It's, its. (p. 41)

c. to, too, two (p. 40)

d. who's, whose (p. 41)

e. Homonyms. (p. 32)

f. Most TATRAS core word that have two spellings (i.e.. red, read) are marked. (p.16 for key)

g. Special chart shows where spelling problems occur in the spelling of numbers. (p. 46)

h. TATRAS provides a separate list of all the irregular words in the 3000 most often occurring words. (p. 43). Most of these will offer spelling problems!

i. There is a special section explaining what a schwa

is and describing spelling problems that schwas cause and offering help for spelling such words. (p. 42)

5. Certain words were added to the TATRAS core words on the basis of being a frequently occurring spelling problem.

6. The large TATRAS finger clock allows motor skills practice in "writing" letters. (See pp. 15 and 47, and also a card stock template included with S&H package.) The easier a student can form a letter, the more he can concentrate on the spelling of a word.

7. TATRAS reading package includes a rack for holding Penny Primer Set flash cards (when very beginning readers are spelling words or for displaying a word between lessons to enhance visual familiarity)

8. TATRAS basic reading/spelling list includes the 500 most often occurring (MOO) words and all the irregular words in the 3000 MOO words. The small number of core words, 837, allows easy repetition and teaching to mastery.

9. To graphically demonstrate why spelling is difficult, the S&H manual provides a chart showing the various spellings of speech sounds. (It shows, for example that the sound /EE/ has eight spellings.) (p. 44)

10. TATRAS recognizes and encourages three forms of spelling---written, oral and using flashcards---for students of varying motor skills ability.

11. The selection of TATRAS phonograms/rules/irregular words represent the nature of our language and the immediate needs of a beginning reader or speller probably better than that of any other phonics/spelling system currently available.

12. Phonograms on TATRAS Penny Primer Set flash cards are aligned left (not placed in the center, horizontally) to allow overlapping of cards and better displaying of a word being spelled.

Beyond Beginning Spelling

TATRAS does not offer a systematic program of spelling instruction for third-graders, or above, spelling at grade-level and the Saltmine & Hifwip program should not be purchased solely for that purpose. However, if it is available in the home because of its use with younger children in the family, older students who are experiencing spelling difficulties might profit from its spelling features and utilization of one or more of the lists below.

Spelling Word Lists. In the absence of a formal spelling program, consider reviewing the spelling of words from the following lists:

Spelling list 1.  The most often occurring (MOO) words. But generally only to the first 500th most often occurring words. From the 500th to 50,000th word there is relatively little difference in the frequency of occurrence of words. Better simply to deal with a smaller number of words in special groupings (as the S&H manual does with the augh-ough words).

Spelling list 2 . Homonyms (some and sum). These words are especially important to recognize because word-processors will often not detect misuse. (MOO homonyms are listed on page 32 of the S&H manual.)*

Spelling list 3.  Words often mispronounced. Many spelling errors can be attributed to mispronunciation. Examples are: February (feb ROO ary not feb YOU ary); library (li BRAYR ee not li BERRY); often (the t is silent) etc. A related spelling problem is with words that are similar: accepted and excepted; expensive and expansive; immigrant and emigrant. These types of these words are often listed in the English handbooks described below.

Spelling list 4.  Student’s Spelling Log. A student (or an adult working on improving his spelling) should list in his spelling log words he has misspelled or had to look up in a dictionary or asked someone how to spell. Periodically review these to review and study the correct spelling. Parents should review the list to see if frequent errors of the same type indicate the student would benefit from learning a specific spelling rule.

Spelling list 5.  The Most Often Misspelled Words. The English handbooks described below often provide a list of the most often misspelled English words.

English Handbooks & Spelling Rules

The English handbooks published by various companies are perhaps the best place to find a listing of the spelling rules of English. But in addition, they provide information on many different aspects of writing. They are, as Bob Jones University calls their handbook, a  Writer’s Toolbox.

An English handbook should be located near the older student’s dictionary and thesaurus. In fact, because individual handbooks differ on their contents and approach, each family should probably have two handbooks, each from a different publisher.

Although various home school publishing companies print handbooks designed for certain grade ranges, the most well-known and useful handbooks were designed for student use in college.

Typically these books will contain, in addition to the spelling rules a list of the most often misspelled words and a list of words misspelled because they are not pronounced correctly. They also contain some or all of the following features:

*The inside front or back covers usually display the proofreader markings (correction code) that teachers used to review written articles. Parents should start using these markings with the first written work that is done by the student and the student must learn to understand the meaning of the marks. The the number of the page that explains the fault and how to correct it is usually located near the mark

*They provide a complete description of the various terms used in English grammar with the rules of grammar and illustrations of errors.

*They provide information on correct punctuation along with many examples.

*They provide a style guide for using capitals, italics, abbreviations, numbers and word division.

*And they provide tips and instruction on how to improve one's writing in general and suggestions on preparing specific types of expository writing.

The handbooks prepared for college student or office use are usually very attractive and use multi-colored print, varying typographic fonts and white space to make it as easy as possible to go directly to the information required.

Buy on the Internet

An economical way to purchase English handbooks is on the internet. Probably the best-known of the English handbooks is the full-featured and well printed  Harbrace College Handbook which is available on-line, used, for as little as $9.00 plus postage. To get information on other English handbooks you might do internet searches on the following:

*Rod & Staff English Handbook (available new, $15.00)

*BJU Writer’s Toolbox

*Warriner’s English Composition and Grammar

*The Bedford Handbook

*The Little, Brown Compact Handbook, or simply do a general search for:  English Handbook

Do you have a left-handed student?  

Visit the web site of the Handedness Research Institute for valuable information on how to help your child.  No charge.  

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