You know all those homeschoolers winning spelling bees? My kids are not among them. It's still too early to tell with the youngest, but spelling in general is not a strong suit in our house (not even for me -- my spelling took a nose dive when I started learning Spanish).
I researched a variety of ways to help the kids with their spelling. I could drill them. I could remain content with invented spelling. I could put them in front of several different computer programs to work on their spelling skills.
The idea that intrigued me the most, though, was to give them lots and lots of mazes to do and teach them things like the Greek alphabet.
How is there even a connection?
Well, apparently, there is -- because someone wrote about it in a very big book, The Brain That Changes Itself -- and everybody knows that big books don't lie. Plus, spin me around and call me Sally -- it is working!
That's right. It is working.
After a few weeks sans spelling instruction, but with a plethora of mazes and several art projects featuring the Greek alphabet, the overall spelling capabilities in our house have improved by leaps ad bounds.
I'll let you go ahead and read the book yourself, but the basic idea is that such exercises strengthen the part of the brain that handles memory (Would that they could also strengthen the part of the brain that prevents a person from eating a second piece of cake). The book, incidentally, does not necessarily specify exercises for spelling, but offers anecdotes regarding exercises that have worked to improve brain function overall. My voracious readers see a lot of words everyday, but don't always remember how to spell them. These exercises have been tremendously helpful in strengthening their brains.
And they are fun. My son has even gone so far as to create his own set of mazes, rather intricate ones, for us to complete. Rhubarb, for her part, absolutely loves drawing out the Greek alphabet over and over again. It soothes her.
And the little squiggly red lines don't show up nearly as much when they type out what they are writing on the computer.
I am giddy about it. Just giddy.