In our homeschool, I've decided to reject the "Whole Language" approach in favor of systematic & explicit instruction in things like phonics and grammar. So far, it seems to have worked very well. DD has made great progress in reading and her knowledge of the English language. She's been flying through First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and will probably finish it in late January or early February.
I had not planned on starting a formal spelling or written composition program until she was a bit older; instead, I've been having her dictate compositions orally and do Charlotte Mason-style copywork. The reason for this is that there is a significant lag between her ability to physically write letters and her cognitive ability. I am not concerned by this since I'm pretty confident that her fine motor skills are normal for a girl her age.
In the past week or so, I've noticed that DD has decided on her own to start writing. She'll now do things like write up a menu for her dolls' tea party, a Christmas wish list, a map for Daddy to "show" him the route to his office, labels for the doors to the rooms in our home, and so on. I'm a bit torn by this. On the one hand, I think it's fantastic that she enjoys writing and that I don't have to prompt her to do so. On the other hand, they are full of "invented spellings":
- APULL JUIS
- HART SHAPD LOLLYPOP
- VLAN (violin)
- TEDDY BARE
- SAN MATAO
I have bad memories of spelling lessons from when I was a kid and part of me is cringing at the mere thought of word lists and quizzes. However, I'm not sure how much of that is due to the fact that the lists were the same for the entire class and consequently far too easy for me. Would I have felt the same utter tedium if the words had been appropriately challenging? Obviously, with homeschooling, I can individually tailor the spelling program to DD's needs in a way impossible in a class of 20-30 students.
I wish I knew what the best course of action would be- to start a formal spelling program now to nip the "invented spelling" in the bud or whether I can hold off on that until she's a bit older.