Spelling is the bane of my homeschooling existence. Yes, I just said that. My daughter – bless her heart – is a terrible speller. Well, I should say she is a phonetic speller, just like my husband. (He once gave me a card in which he wrote “Happy Easter Sweetheart.” This has given me years of teasing material!) Unfortunately I’m what most people call a “living spell check,” and living with phonetic spellers is akin to fingernails on a chalkboard.

The worst part about this is I feel as though somehow it reflects poorly on me as a homeschool teacher. This may or may not be correct, but I feel as though people see my daughter spell and then instantly judge my abilities to teach her. I find myself justifying her spelling, explaining it, making excuses for it, even trying to hide it, but the fact of the matter is – it is hard.

Most likely, all of these judgments that I’m sure people are making are all in my head. Kids don’t all have excellent spelling, and there is still plenty of time to correct her spelling waywardness. I think many homeschoolers – myself included – have a tendency to be extra hard on themselves. In a way, that is very good, because the weight of our children’s education is very much on our shoulders. But we shouldn’t let that become a layer of guilt that bears down on us.

In reality, if I’m honest, the only real honest judgment has been from a few well meaning family members, who use anything they possibly can to “encourage” us to put the kids in public school. Everyone has these people in their lives, and we’ve learned to mostly ignore them. When it comes to the spelling issue, though, I have a hard time. I just don’t see the results I want to see in that area, and it makes me wonder.

My daughter has picked up on some of this, and recently started announcing to people that she is “a bad speller.” That’s what really made me realize that perhaps I’ve been approaching this the wrong way. The absolute last thing I ever wanted was for her to feel badly about herself, and I’m fairly certain negativity will not help her in our quest to improve spelling. If it takes me years, what I want out her homeschooling experience – besides a good education – is for her to have a great self image, because I feel that is a big part of how far you go in life.

I think perhaps the real problem is that I just haven’t found the correct way to teach her spelling. The whole list of spelling words on Monday, activities all week, test on Friday thing has never worked for her. But that’s just one method: there are computer programs, online learning games, printouts … I could even incorporate spelling into our daily life. That’s just another great part of homeschooling; if the educational shoe doesn’t fit, then try on another one!

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