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Raves for AVKO, Homeschool Enrichment Magazine

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, October 31, 2008
  The Homeschooler's Notebook 
  Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families 
  Vol. 9 No 86 October 31, 2008 
  ISSN: 1536-2035 
  Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net 
  Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook! 
  If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend! 
  And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible. 
  Free (chocolate) Apple for the Teacher! 
  Home School Enrichment Magazine is all about encouraging 
  and inspiring Christian homeschoolers. Each issue has what 
  you need to keep your homeschool going strong - no wonder 
  so many homeschool moms say Home School Enrichment is their 
  favorite! Subscribe now to find out for yourself. Plus, for 
  a limited time, get a free Belgian chocolate apple for the 
  teacher in YOUR homeschool! A great magazine and a tasty 
  treat - now THAT'S one sweet deal! 
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  Notes from Heather 
  -- More Family Life Changes 
  Helpful Tip 
  -- Reading and Jumping Fun 
  Resource Review 
  -- Homeschool Enrichment Magazine 
  Reader Question 
  -- Poor Speller Getting Worse 
  Additional Notes 
  -- Newsletter Archives 
  -- Sponsorship Information 
  -- Reprint Information 
  -- Subscriber Information 
  Notes from Heather 
  More Life Changes... 
  For those who may be wondering what happened to Monday's issue -- 
  well it morphed into Friday's issue! Monday's issue never 
  materialized due to some unexpected events in our extended family. 
  My dear younger sister has been some having difficulties in her 
  life, and as a result our family has grown by 2! Yes -- I now 
  have 7 children. We have our 5 sons -- and now my 2 nieces! The 
  Idoni household is very full these days... and we have much fuller 
  lives than ever before. Please keep us in your prayers (and my 
  nieces) as we embark upon a new life together. This has sure been 
  the year for life changes!!! I appreciate you all -- my Notebook 
  family -- thanks for being there for me through everything I've 
  had to walk through. I appreciate every loving email I always 
  receive when I share a little of my personal life with you. (And 
  to my local friends who subscribe, I sure do thrive on all those 
  hugs -- not to mention Melanie's homemade meatballs!) Thanks. :) 
  From Our Readers... 
  Late Answer for Stephanie (Recommendations for a Second Language) 
  "Hello, Stephanie, my fellow Canadian. We live in Quebec. Currently, 
  we are working on 'Le Francais Facile!', which was created by another 
  fellow Canadian who lives in Saskatchewan -- Marie Filion. This is 
  our first year using it, but so far it seems thorough and enjoyable. 
  I do not speak French well (even though I live in a French province!) 
  and so I needed something that could be followed without much depen- 
  dency on my knowledge. Secondly, I like her method of teaching the 
  language using phonograms, basically giving you a solid foundation 
  for learning how to read, write and speak with proper pronunciation. 
  We use 'The Writing Road to Reading' program for English because it 
  follows the same style. Wouldn't you believe that when our 'Le 
  Francais Facile' book arrived and I began reading it, the author, 
  Marie Filion, was taught English with the very same book! And her 
  curriculum is very close to the same style. No wonder I liked her 
  curriculum when I first checked it out! 
  It is designed to be a 3 year program for younger kids (elementary) 
  and a year program for independent learners, like older students and 
  adults. A lesson is done each week (she suggests every 2 weeks when 
  your younger students are in their second and third year). In each 
  lesson, you listen to the audio and vocabulary words each day as well 
  as a bible verse (a new one is taught and to be learned within 2 
  lessons = 2 weeks). You also have activities galore that will help 
  you through the 3 years of study, plus trivia about the French culture 
  and teacher helps to aid the parent. A great money saver is that it 
  comes with a disc that has all the worksheets you need for each lesson 
  so all you have to do is print up whatever you need. Reproducible 
  means money saved! I know I'm leaving out a whole bunch of stuff 
  about the program, but if you are curious about it go to their website 
  www.TheEasyFrench.com and there is a downloadable clip that you can 
  watch of Marie explaining the program to a home schooling parent. 
  I have a 12-year-old son doing the independent learning. He does 
  roll his eyes at the audio because he finds it too childish, but the 
  work involved is very appropriate and challenging for him. Following 
  the younger learner program are our 10, 9, 8, 6, and 3 year old. The 
  6 and 3 year old just follow along with the audio, participate in some 
  activities, and color some pictures, where the older ones are expected 
  to do more work. I have to say that I so far like this curriculum. 
  It is like a casserole; everything in one dish! It has age-appropriate 
  work, strong phonic foundation, Christian support, and it's affordable! 
  On a side note, I would like to share my appreciation for this home 
  school notebook; I have incorporated many suggestions that others 
  have written in and purchased items based on the recommendations and 
  curriculum reviews. I always look forward to receiving it." 
  Late Answer for Judy Regarding Dyslexia 
  "I just wanted to mention that AVKO -- at www.spelling.org -- helps 
  homeschoolers with Dyslexia. They have some helpful books and 
  give advice, etc. Your son's dyslexia may possibly be frustrating 
  to him. And does it make him feel bad that he has dyslexia when so 
  many others do not? The issue of dyslexia may be one of the causes 
  of his current behavior. 
  I may not have made a comment that is new to you, but I didn't see 
  in anyone else's advice a reference to AVKO. I hope this at least 
  helps in part. And don't forget to pray for your son regularly." 
  -- Linda L. in CA 
  Do you have comments to share? Please do! 
  Send your emails by mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net 
  Learning Through History News - It's Free! 
  Want to find great ideas for lesson plans, pointers to project 
  resources andteaching tips relating to world history study? 
  Look no further. 
  Learning Through History News is published once a month to 
  share great ideas you can use in your history program. We 
  continuously gather articles,activity ideas, and all kinds 
  of helpful information - and bring the best of those to your 
  email inbox. Best of all - it's FREE. 
  Visit the archives to check it out and sign up at: 
  After you are done browsing our newsletter save 10% on back 
  issues of Learning Through History magazine. 
  Use coupon HSNB-1008 at checkout. Coupon Expires 11/15/08 
  Helpful Tip 
  Reading and Jumping Fun 
  "My boys are 6. One thing I did (for reading) was to put words 
  on construction paper and lay them out on the living room floor. 
  I had the boys jump from word to word to get to the other side 
  of the room. They had to read the word that they wanted to jump 
  to. All four of my boys wanted in on the fun!" -- Janet 
  Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write! 
  Send mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net 
  Resource Review 
  Home School Enrichment Magazine 
  For more information or to subscribe: www.HomeSchoolEnrichment.com 
  Truly a family affair, Home School Enrichment magazine is published 
  by Frank and Kari Lewis along with their two grown sons, Matthew 
  and Jonathan. Together they produce a periodical that is both 
  inspiring, and filled with practical, encouraging articles that 
  touch on almost every area of homeschool and family life. They 
  believe that "homeschooling is the best lifestyle a Christian family 
  can have", and strive to be sure that every reader will find something 
  they can relate to, whether they are a new or veteran homeschooler. 
  Each bi-monthly issue of Home School Enrichment features articles on 
  a wide-range of topics, designed to speak to you no matter where you 
  are on your homeschool journey. In recent issues, regular columnists 
  and other writers have contributed articles on topics such as how to 
  stay inspired, tips for new homeschoolers, help for the reluctant 
  writer, tips on saving time and money in the kitchen, developing a 
  philosophy of education, handling the high-needs child, college test- 
  ing, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in our children, parenting, 
  teaching preschool, encouragement to keep going and enjoy the journey, 
  teaching art -- and so much more. In addition to the encouraging 
  articles, each issue also features a product review section, a unit 
  study, and a "Give It a Try" hands-on teaching article. At their 
  website you'll find forums, more product reviews, blogs by some of 
  the magazine's regular columnists, and more. 
  Sometimes magazines can be so overloaded with advertising that some 
  of the enjoyment is lost to the reader as they have to jump around 
  from front to back to finish reading articles. This is not the case 
  with HomeSchool Enrichment! They have struck just the right balance 
  and allow the ads to fit around the articles, not the other way around. 
  We all need support, and Home School Enrichment encourages families 
  while always reminding them to keep their eyes focused on the One Who 
  called them to this sometimes overwhelming, often exciting, and 
  extremely rewarding process called homeschooling. Packed with rich, 
  deep articles written by fellow parents on the same path, this is one 
  magazine you'll want to devour as soon as it arrives in your mailbox. 
  -- Cindy Prechtel, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com 
  Last Issue's Reader Question 
  "My ten year old daughter (5th grade) is a weak speller. Sometimes 
  I honestly think instead of getting better she gets worse. This 
  weakness is starting to affect all of her subjects. Recently, she 
  began writing answers to questions in a way that confused me. When 
  I pointed out the over-simplicity of her answer to a question, she 
  would orally answer the question perfectly. Suddenly it occurred 
  to me that the simplicity of her answers was a reflection of her 
  lack of spelling capability! When I confronted her with my observa- 
  tion, she admitted it. In the past if she would spell a word wrong 
  I always had her look it up in the dictionary and write it out five 
  times. She said she knows she can't spell these 5th grade words and 
  she fears the extra assignment. She is a smart girl and I hate to 
  see her 'fear' her school work. I would be so grateful for any ideas 
  to encourage her and for any suggestions of spelling curriculum. I 
  want to rebuild this weak foundational aspect of her schooling. 
  Thank you!" -- Kristi 
  Our Readers' Responses 
  "I would do two things. First of all, check out Spelling Power. I 
  have found it to be the most logical, helpful spelling program I've 
  looked at. There is a lot of teacher information which teaches YOU 
  how to teach spelling. The focus is on retention, not just getting 
  words right for the test. Lots of review is built in. I have tweaked 
  the program a bit for my non-speller in a way that seems to be helping 
  The second thing I would do is to encourage her to write exactly what 
  she wants to and not worry about spelling. Then go over it with her, 
  and help her to spell the words correctly, but don't make a long spel- 
  ling list for her to learn or she'll probably get even more discouraged. 
  She may retain some of the words you're helping her write, and she'll 
  feel free to write even if she doesn't know all the words." -- Debbie 
  "I too have a 5th grade daughter that is a VERY weak speller. That 
  being said, I'm not sure I'm the best person to give help with how to 
  improve their spelling, since what I'm doing apparently doesn't work. 
  However I can say to NOT let this affect the other areas of her learn- 
  ing. If she can answer orally, let her do that. Let spelling be a 
  separate area/subject. There is no need for it to impact every other 
  subject at this point. During this time, just continue to work on 
  spelling. One of the errors that I previously made was trying to jump 
  ahead to 'grade level' words when they seemed to only frustrate her. 
  This year I have taken a different approach. I have gone back and 
  covered the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade words that she apparently has not 
  mastered. As her confidence has built, so has her ability. Just be 
  patient." -- Stephani in NC 
  "Our son has dyslexia and has a really difficult time with spelling. 
  After trying all sorts of things, just by chance I came across AVKO 
  sequential spelling. It turns out AVKO is a research organization 
  for dyslexia. There are 8 samples lessons on their website at 
  The format is simple. There are 180 daily lessons per level book. 
  There are 7 levels. You start on level 1 no matter the age of the 
  child (except younger children who wouldn't be ready for it). The 
  lessons are based off the book 'The Patterns of English Spelling'. 
  So instead of learning the rules (which never worked anyway) they 
  learn patterns. Example: 
  Each lesson builds on patterns like this. You read the word to the 
  child (put it in a sentence for clarification if it is a homonym), 
  the child writes the word, then you tell them the correct spelling 
  and they correct it right then and there. Then you move on to the 
  next word. That's it. It took a while to teach my son that it was 
  no big deal if he got it wrong - you just correct it and move on to 
  the next word. He still doesn't like to spell, but it is better than 
  anything else we have tried and there are not near so many tears. 
  It can't hurt to try the sample lessons - they are free!" -- Jennifer 
  "Try www.avko.org -- Two of my kids are dyslexic and had problems 
  with spelling. This system helped a lot although it took a while. 
  All of my kids were slow readers. It clicks for them suddenly about 
  7th or 8th grade. My oldest went from 3rd grade reading level to 
  10th in one year (7th grade). Until then they struggle. Their 
  spelling improves as their reading level increases." -- Cynthia M. 
  "Kristi -- Check out Sequential Spelling by AVCO. It was designed 
  by a man who is dyslexic. It starts out EXTREMELY basic and builds. 
  One sound/word group is covered at a time and built on. For instance, 
  the first lesson in level one is: in, pin, sin, spin. Each day 
  would then build on that using other 'in' words and adding prefixes 
  and suffixes as you go. You can see a free sample at www.avko.org 
  For drilling words your daughter needs help with, try more hands-on, 
  fun type activities. Two of my daughter's favorites have been: 
  1) Locking the keypad on the cell-phone and 'dialing' the letters 
  of missed words 
  2) 'Writing' the missed words with her finger in a bowl of rice. 
  I keep a plastic container of rice with our other manipulatives for 
  this purpose. (That way you are not wasting rice, rather you use 
  the same rice over and over again.) I got these and other ideas 
  from the 'Spelling Power' program. That might not be the best 
  program for you, but they do sell a box of 'Task' cards with activi- 
  ties such as these. We have also done things like spelling words 
  out with other objects, (eg. toothpicks, raisins, yarn, just about 
  any small object around the house), hop on one foot while spelling 
  words, write out words on the sidewalk with sidewalk chalk, carve 
  the words in play-dough, etc. You get the picture. Oh, and some- 
  thing simple my daughter loves is writing them on the whiteboard. 
  I think it feels more like art than work. (Plus, she usually adds 
  some pictures... Hey, whatever works.) 
  My daughter was not a good speller when she was younger, but now 
  (at age 10) we rarely have to use these activities anymore. I 
  think they helped her to teach herself various ways of remembering 
  on her own. Sometimes if she struggles with a word I will catch 
  her doing one of these activities on her own. However, I must say, 
  now she can usually spell words verbally and get them right. I'm 
  sure some of that is natural ability, but I think some of it came 
  from using various techniques. Also, finding something she enjoys 
  reading will help... A LOT! For my daughter it was Zoobooks! 
  Seeing words in print helps." -- Kandyce 
  "We love AVKO Sequential spelling. It works well for older girls 
  (I know!) who are weak in this area. I have one daughter who has 
  a hard time writing -- spelling and handwriting included -- and I 
  allow her to do a lot of her work on a typewriter or word processor. 
  She is at the age (almost 13) where she likes to get the immediate 
  feedback of the spell checker, and it is pointless to make her copy 
  words, because she has dysgraphia. 
  I have four children; two are natural spellers, two are not. And, 
  I can admit, I have never learned to spell perfectly myself, yet I 
  communicate well. For us it is a technical issue and comes secondary 
  to true learning. Good luck!" -- Anne 
  "My daughter has been a phonetic speller since she was small. 
  She also hates rote work. Although she is extremely bright, 
  her spelling is atrocious. Spelling words just seem to seep 
  out of her brain -- and nothing I have tried has helped so far. 
  I finally found a spelling site -- www.spellingcity.com -- that 
  is helping us. This site allows you to make your own lists of 
  spelling words, and then a woman's voice will read them to the 
  child while they spell out in red on the screen -- and it will 
  also make games of the words. The site will also test on the 
  list, saying the word aloud and then using the word in a sentence. 
  What I've done is use their sample lists and start at 1st grade. 
  I have my daughter do one list and test on it. I make my own 
  list of all of the words she misses until I get a long enough 
  list of misspelled words. Then I have her work on those words 
  for however many days it takes for her to get them. I don't have 
  her spend long periods of time doing this; just a little each 
  day. The lists are saved so she can practice them again later 
  and make sure they haven't 'seeped' out of her brain. The best 
  part is that she can do it herself and it has taken away the 
  frustration factor." 
  "If she does well orally, maybe you can write down what she says, 
  then have her use that as copywork. Here's a nice website for 
  making copywork sheets where you can change the size of the lines 
  to fit the age/ability of the student: 
  Hope this helps!" -- Jennifer 
  "Hi Kristi -- I have a son who does not spell well for his age. 
  He's in 6th grade now, and he still has trouble remembering the 
  basic phonics rules. English is a difficult language to spell, 
  as we have many rules, and even then sometimes words break the 
  So far, we have made more progress through using these steps: 
  1) Reminding him repeatedly that it's okay if he misspells a word, 
  and that I would rather he write without being concerned about it. 
  We can always go back at the end of the writing assignment and 
  correct things. 
  2) As we correct a misspelled word, he puts it on his spelling 
  list for the week and I remind him of words that are similarly 
  spelled or other words that use the same rule. For example, we 
  have gone over the -tion word families quite a few times whenever 
  he misspells a word that has the -tion spelling in it. This helps 
  him understand the reasoning behind the spelling. (If you need 
  more information on word families, try googling phonics awareness 
  activities, or word family activities. Sometimes the activities 
  are geared toward children, but as teachers of our children, we 
  need to know the common consonant and vowel blends, etc. One of 
  my friends here in Virginia referred me to the activities at the 
  Virginia PALS website.) 
  3) Reading doesn't improve his spelling, so I try to make sure 
  that he journals, or works on a report or other writing assign- 
  ment daily. I tailor the amount to his writing ability. I make 
  him write enough to challenge him but not frustrate him. 
  4) I have him study his misspelled and/or vocabulary words each 
  weekday for approximately 15 minutes, encouraging him to make 
  games up or use white board and markers to maintain his interest. 
  Good luck to you and your daughter!" -- Shelly 
  "I too have a 5/6th grader that has really weak spelling. We 
  have tried spelling lists, tests, word walls. None of them 
  worked -- no improvement. My daughter hated to write because 
  her spelling was so weak. She still is a weak speller, but we 
  have found several things that have improved her confidence in 
  writing. First, we decided beforehand in what projects spelling 
  counts. Rough drafts for everything; spelling does not matter. 
  The whole idea is to get the ideas out. Second, I have taught 
  her how to use a dictionary, both a manual one and on the computer. 
  These help her with her good draft. Although she knows how to use 
  them, she still has a hard time with them as the sounds are diffi- 
  cult for her to pick up. I have found that all vowels, plus L's, 
  R's, and Y's, are her most difficult letters to spell correctly. 
  As for helping her to improve her spelling, I cannot say enough 
  good things about 'Sequential Spelling'. We have only started 
  using it this year, but the improvement is amazing. She has even 
  commented that she has found it helping her. There are no lists 
  to memorize, no rules to learn. I was very skeptical in the 
  beginning, but it works -- it really does. Start with book 1. 
  I use it with all 3 of my kids (grades 1,3,5/6). It is such a 
  blessing. The last thing I have to say is, don't worry about it. 
  If she is a poor speller, she will learn to deal with it as time 
  goes on. Just give her the tools to improve (i.e. dictionary, 
  thesaurus, and parent help). When I stopped making a big deal 
  out of it, so did she. If I can't read her work, I have her read 
  it to me. It is to the point now that we actually can laugh about 
  it sometimes (I never make fun of her). I hope this helps your 
  daughter. I do understand the frustration you feel." -- Stephanie 
  "My daughter is in 4th grade and also a terrible speller. This 
  year I started using Sequential Spelling and she loves it! It 
  starts with small words and builds on them until kids are spel- 
  ling long words with ease in no time. An example would be: all, 
  tall, stall, install, installment, installation. Every day they 
  take a 25 word 'test', but really you go word-by-word and they 
  correct their answer after each word. Start with level one. 
  My daughter, who wouldn't write at all, is now writing more and 
  walking around just spelling words for fun!" -- Erica 
  "We have had good results using AVKO with our struggling spellers. 
  You can access information at www.avko.org ." -- Mary Beth 
  "Hello Kristi -- Spelling is so important; it is the means by 
  which we communicate with others. Bad handwriting can be 
  corrected with typing, and letter writing can be substituted 
  with e-mail, but at any rate, spelling is so important in any 
  form of written communication. I am blind, and because most 
  of my school materials were read to me on tape (and because 
  Braille had abbreviated formats that contracted words in order 
  to take up less space), my spelling skills were weaker than my 
  vocabulary abilities. I have always been embarrassed by this 
  limitation. I am thankful for the spell checker function of 
  the computer era, but I have taken a particular interest in 
  improving my personal spelling and insist that my kids learn 
  to spell to the best of their ability. 
  This year we have began to use the 'Spelling Power' program. 
  At first it looked daunting to follow the steps, but in two 
  short weeks it had become second nature... and now spelling 
  is fun! In just 15 minutes per day we do our spelling lessons 
  and I cannot believe how easy it has been. Five minutes are 
  spent on a drill-like test where the child spells words from 
  pre-determined lists. He gets as many spelled and corrected 
  in 5 minutes, then he uses only the ones he misspelled as his 
  drill work. He follows a 10-step process for memorizing how 
  to spell the words. This not only teaches the word, but how 
  to study and apply it; skills that could be applied to memor- 
  izing anything. We love this program because it only has the 
  kids work on words they do not know how to spell and does not 
  waste their time on lists of words they know how to already 
  spell. There are review tests so you can check their long-term 
  retention. What I also loved about it is that it is one book 
  that will take your child and any siblings through 4-5 years 
  of spelling in a manner that is familiar and can be added to 
  other school work like grammar, writing, etc. I also love that 
  it teaches them how to study words -- not just to memorize it 
  this week and forget it next week. My very favorite part is 
  that you do initial testing and place him/her at the appropriate 
  level for that child and not a particular grade level. They 
  progress at their own pace in a very systematic and well-docu- 
  mented way. 
  I think the idea is revolutionary and I am glad we found this 
  program. My daughter is enjoying it. We use her misspelled 
  words in are creative writing, speaking, and other school sub- 
  jects so I feel confident that she really will know how to spell 
  these things for all time. 
  I hope this may help you and your daughter achieve a more 
  relaxed and easy way to improve spelling." -- Beth 
  "How about having her dictate her answers into a digital recorder 
  or tape recorder? She could read the question then state the 
  answer. Or have her simply discuss the answer with you when it 
  is convenient. My son had a similar problem and I decided that 
  unless it is a combined language arts (writing/spelling) lesson, 
  the important thing was to confirm what he understands from the 
  lesson at hand. This way it is non-confrontational; it does not 
  focus on what is difficult, creating anxiety, but rather it allows 
  him to focus on the subject and explain what he gets out of it." 
  -- Angela 
  Answer our NEW Question 
  "I am new to homeschooling and my state doesn't require any testing. 
  I have a 4th grader and a 6th grader and I can see improvement from 
  last year. However, for my own peace of mind, I wondered if anyone 
  knows of a good way to test and track how well my boys are doing 
  this year. I would prefer something free or close to. I've tried 
  searching online and end up with a lot of dead ends." -- Rachel 
  Do you have some information or experience to share with Rachel? 
  Please send your answer by mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net 
  Ask YOUR Question 
  Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer? 
  Send it by mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see 
  if we can help you out in a future issue! 
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