Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Teach Your Child to Spell: A Review of The Natural Speller

What Do You Need to Teach Spelling?

If you are homeschooling your children, you don't need new graded workbooks every year. You need sensible teaching materials that help students at any level learn exactly what they need to know at their own pace.

For some of us, spelling came easily because we read a lot while growing up and were used to seeing words spelled properly all the time. We just knew, when proofreading, if a word looked wrong. This also worked for us on standardized multiple choice tests where we had to pick out the one word that was misspelled. If you are one of those people and are now faced with teaching a subject you almost absorbed yourself by osmosis, the book reviewed below is bound to help you plan your lessons.

If spelling was a tough subject for you, maybe you don't feel confident enough to teach your children. You may need a reference book that will bring you up to speed by helping you learn words that are especially hard for you -- the ones that never stuck after years of weekly spelling tests that simply confirmed you did not know them. One book that will help in each case above is Kathryn Stout's, The Natural Speller

Teach Your Child to Spell: A Review of The Natural Speller

About Kathryn Stout

I  first met Kathryn when we were both on the homeschool convention conference circuit. We were vendors, and during the dead times when the exhibit hall was almost empty, I walked around to try to discover new books to add to my inventory. I was impressed with Kathryn and the books she had written since they were perfect for those using a unit study approach, an approach I used when homeschooling my own children. She understood what in each subject was really important so that people could design a homeschool curriculum that did not leave out anything essential as they combined subjects in a unit study.  

Kathryn had taught in public schools for eight years before retiring to teach her own children. She already knew how many books were out there to help teachers, but she wanted to compile all that information into single subject resource to help other homeschooling parents get to the heart of their subjects. The Natural Speller is the go-to book for spelling. While many textbooks have some and gone, The Natural Speller is still popular after over twenty years. That's because it has everything people need to know about learning to spell in one handy book.

What's In The Natural Speller?

natural speller banner
This is a comprehensive tool for the spelling teacher to use for any grade level. It has word lists for all grades through eighth, and they are arranged phonetically. It teaches the teacher how to teach spelling, and suggests activities to help students practice the words, use the words to help develop dictionary and grammar skills and build vocabulary. Writing activities to go with the spelling lists are included. After all, writing is where one uses spelling.

The Natural Speller also has a section devoted to special word lists: abbreviations, calendar and number words, colors, measurements, contractions, homophones, homographs, irregular verbs, foreign words, and Latin and Greek roots. Another section contains spelling rules. Lastly, there are hints on punctuation and capitalization; models for writing letters; and activities for using prefixes and suffixes. Just about anything related to spelling is in this book.

Another great feature of this book is that it assists the teacher in designing a completely individualized spelling program for each student without buying another book. Whether your child has learning disabilities and needs to go at a slower pace or whether your child is far above average in spelling, and only needs a reference when proofreading,  get the Natural Speller. It will be all you need. Older students will probably only need it for reference unless they haven't mastered the spelling words designated to be learned by grade nine.

Don't let your children grow up to be like this person below. If you're already this person, the book will help you, too.

For more reviews of books to help homeschool families and others who want to enrich their children's education, see Books to Remember: A World of Reading Choices.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I do think spelling can be the hardest subject for anyone to teach, or to learn. I know I personally depend on my proofreaders (meaning Elf here on Review This) to catch my spelling errors and typos. I tend to spell phonetically which, as we all know, is not always accurate. It may communicate the message, but it is still not the correct spelling of a word. It is great to know that there are excellent resources to aid homeschooling mothers who cannot be experts in all subjects.

    1. I always enjoy 'helping out', Mouse. :) Your spelling errors are mostly 'typos' which are hard to catch, so proofreading by others always helps. ~Elf

    2. I was always a good speller, but I'm appalled at how my auto-complete and my own typos often make me look illiterate. I sometimes miss one or two of these when I proofread, but mostly I catch them if I see them. There are some words I still have to consult a reference for when using an adverb form -- "accidentally" and one more I can't remember. On the other one I only have to add the simple "ly," but I always seem to want to make it "ally.' As I take another look at "accidentally," I see it's not as irregular as I thought. It is simply adding "ly" to "accidental." I wonder why I've missed that for all these years. I think I will remember now.

  2. Spelling was always my best subject in school. For some reason (perhaps because I have always been a voracious reader), spelling has always come easy to me. But it's great to know there is a wonderful resource such as the "Natural Speller" for homeschooling parents (they are not just moms; I know of one Father who works at home and is homeschooling his daughter while mom works).

    1. Some people still prefer using workbooks because it saves time planning lessons. The problem is that workbooks are still "one size fits all," even if they do save time for the teacher. They often waste student learning time.

  3. I remember this book from our homeschooling days! I really appreciate resources such as this one, tools that can be adapted for each child's needs. We read a lot and wrote a lot, so my sons have always been good spellers, but I know the skill doesn't come naturally to everyone. Great to see this featured here today. Thanks, Barb!

    1. Glad to see someone else who recognize the Natural Speller. I wish I had known about or had access to it when I was homeschooling. I discovered all the good stuff when I became a vendor. Of course much of what I missed wasn't written yet when I was homeschooling.


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