What does a mom do when her All About Spelling plan fails?

When Your All About Spelling Plan Fails

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Homeschool moms are busy, right? So if we can find something to save us time, we rejoice. Last school year I thought I had found the perfect way to use All About Spelling to save me time.

My younger son, 8, is a pretty good speller. I don’t know if he remembers what he reads or he’s a natural, but he seemed to be ahead of where he was in All About Spelling (affiliate link). One day I had a brilliant thought. What if I could teach both my boys the same spelling lesson? That would save me some time during the day. One of my boys had even mentioned doing school in their bedroom. This was the perfect opportunity.

I brought the white board with tiles into their bedroom, as well as the manual, and got started. One sitting in a chair and one sitting on the floor. Yes, this was going to be fantastic homeschool timesaver!


My boys have opposite sensory needs and it was pretty much a disaster. My younger son was tapping hands or feet and it drove my older son, 10, crazy. It did not go well. There went my extra twenty minutes a day, down the sensory drain.

OK, so I can’t teach them new All About Spelling dicationlessons together. But I can do dictation days together. I just tell one his word or sentence to write, then the other. One day I brought out the pipe cleaners and letter beads and had them start spelling. I’d tell a son a word to spell and he’d look for the letter beads to string on the pipe cleaner and spell the word (doubles as fine motor skills practice!). All was going well until my younger son put his head down on the bed and said he couldn’t stand it, or something dramatic to that effect.

And he proceeded to tell me how awful spelling games were because they made things too easy. I was floored! I spent lots of time thinking of ways to make learning fun and he was pretty much telling me, don’t bother.

After I calmed down and he calmed down, I told him it is my job to teach him the way he learns. If he wanted just to get down to business and not use games, so be it. I’d let go of my precious games. During the discussion he also related that his spelling words were too easy. “I should be spelling words like encyclopedia, Mom,” he informed me.

So, it was time for a change up. I told him if he could hang with me, we’d go through the rest of the words in the book and if he could spell them, we’d move on to Level 4. He got every word except two, I think, and he was simply careless.

Thus began the new system for All About Spelling in our home. Younger brother is now ahead of older brother. He’s on Level 4 and big bro is on Level 3. How do I do it?

  • I still teach spelling in my bedroom so I can close the door and shut out distractions.When All About Spelling plan fails via jennyherman.com
  • While I work with one son in the bedroom, the other is usually working on math or another assignment.
  • I don’t use hands-on review activities and games with my younger son. He wants to write in his notebook.
  • Sometimes I “pretest” my younger son. If he gets all of the words correct, we move on. Sometimes I still have him write a couple of the dictation sentences and sometimes I don’t.
  • There are days my younger son does two lessons in one day. He’s hoping to finish Level 4 before Christmas, and I think he will, maybe even before Thanksgiving. The fabulous customer service person told me Level 5 is where things get tougher and many kids who have been moving quickly slow down.
  • I still mix things up for my older son. He prefers spelling with the tiles as opposed to writing in the notebook. When I think of it I still let him practice in other ways, like writing in colored sand.
  • Both boys continue to enjoy Spelling “Battleship”. I found it on Pinterest. I usually choose the words to reinforce rules the boys need to remember.
  • I try not to have my younger son’s materials out or visible while I’m working with my older son. I don’t think it would bother him yet, but I want to be sensitive to his feelings.

The beauty of All About Spelling is moving at your child’s pace. How have YOU customized All About Spelling to fit your child’s needs? I’d love to hear in the comments!

If you’d like to see how other moms are using All About Spelling with their children, check out these posts:

Shawna shares some hands-on activities that can work with spelling and reading.

Marianne explains what to look for in a spelling curriculum for students with dyslexia.

I am an open-and-go girl, but if you want more organization, check out Gena’s notebook system for All About Reading and All About Spelling.

Amanda tells why she chose All About Spelling over another program.

Want a FREE spelling review activity for all ages? All About Spelling created a fun popcorn game. Just click the picture below (affiliate link) to get your free download activity!


Grab this fun freebie from All About Spelling!

I’ve got a FREE ebook of 75 tips you can use right away with your child who has special needs. Simply click the image below to ask me to send it to you!

Grab your FREE ebook of 75 tips! via jennyherman.com

Jenny Herman

Jenny Herman wants to live in a world where dark chocolate dispensers reside on every corner. As a homeschooling special needs mom, she’s been featured in Autism Parenting Magazine, Wit and Wisdom from the Parents of Special Needs Kids: Mostly True Stories of Life on the Spectrum, and various blogs. If she survives the onslaught of testosterone in her home, she may take a moment to blog, read a book, try a new recipe, or loom knit a gift. You can find Jenny’s book The Power of One: Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life on Amazon.

4 thoughts on “When Your All About Spelling Plan Fails

  1. Awww, Jenny, I’ve had those days. When I spent a fair amount of time planning out a writing project that would span a month and thought all three of my younger kids would love…. only to have them moan and complain and just want to write plain book reports or something. Sigh.

    But sometimes my plans do work out and they love the idea I have and want to do more of it. So I keep trying new ideas. I figure if it works out even half the time, it’s worth the effort. Right?

  2. Jenni,
    My son loves battleship. What another awesome way of breaking up the monotony of spelling. Some times we can have all these grandiose lesson plans and they don’t work. Sometimes we get caught up in the grand scheme of things. Both of my children have different learning styles. That shouldn’t surprise us or let it frustrate us. Sometimes our lesson plans work and sometimes they don’t. Does it mean that we quit? No we keep on going. Again great points Thank you for your post Jenni!

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, Janet! It makes me think of Thomas Edison the story of him saying, “I found 1,000 ways that didn’t work.” 🙂

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