...but not one of mine.
I wrote TalkingSpellings for my 8 year old daugher.
She was falling behind in school and I didn't have the patience to help her.
TalkingSpellings has the patience of a saint. Bravo for machines and their emotional detachment!
When left to her own devices, my daughter could spell every single repetition of her look-cover-write-check exercises incorrectly, and not even notice.
She simply couldn't complete the 'check' step with any degree of accuracy.
So the whole exercise struck me as a terrible waste of time.
If you're going to spend 15 minutes sitting still and learning spellings, rather than, say, climbing trees or playing with friends, you might as well make it count.
With TalkingSpellings I tried to address everything that annoyed me about her spelling exercises.
The main objective of any spelling practice, actually learning to spell has to be top of the list.
To do that, I needed to show her exactly where she was making mistakes, so that she could learn from them.
TalkingSpellings reads out a word for her to spell. She types it into the box. If she spells it wrong, TalkingSpellings displays her attempt directly below the correct spelling, so it's immediately obvious which letters aren't the same.
It then spells out the correct spelling and the attempted spelling, so that she can hear the mistake she has trouble seeing.
Then it prompts her to type in the correct spelling, so she can practice the right version immediately.
She's an auditory learner, so she responds much better to spoken information than anything written down. Or maybe that's because she's 8 and reading still takes more effort than listening? Either way, TalkingSpellings for the win.
By using each word is a sentence, TalkingSpellings gives it context.
This is especially helpful for homophones and words that she doesn't use very much in every day life (like 'submerge').
I know schools like kids to practice their handwriting when learning their spellings, but I'd much rather my children practice their touch typing.
Seven and eight year olds are quite capable of touch typing and spellings are the ideal way to practice.
Because they're thinking about how to spell a word - going through each letter in turn - it doesn't slow them down to type it in a new way. So learning to type isn't the frustrating experience it can be when you learn later in life.
Your children will need to learn touch typing basics before practicing with spellings, but the BBC's excellent (and free!) Dance Mat Typing for 7 - 11 year olds will take care of that.
I realise this is very basic stuff.
If I had fewer nippers vying for my attention, I'm sure we could sit down together while I calmly helped her to learn anything.
But in the madness of the post-school meltdown, followed by tea and the mess that is bedtime, I rarely behave like a quiet and considerate fountain of all knowledge. I'm more like an exasperated banshee.
Might as well admit that and find a Better Way.
So now we have TalkingSpellings, and TalkingTables, and one less thing to argue about.
Better yet, her spelling has improved dramatically. Hurrah!
But the best part is, I can say things like:
"Practice your spellings while I <insert task involving one or more of her three younger siblings> and then we can <insert activity that is a million times more enjoyable than any spelling practice we've ever done>"
What parent doesn't want more of that in their life?
(Of course, there was nothing stopping me saying that before, but it would have meant putting my faith in the look-cover-write-what-was-the-next-bit-again system which felt like stealing her leisure time for no good reason.)
It could work for you too? Have a go:
If you're a UJS parent or pupil, TalkingSpellings can prep you for badge day.
I programmed in a few badge schemes to get us started. If your badge isn't listed, let me know and I'll add it. firstname.lastname@example.org
Well why not? The sythesised voice doesn't care who came up with a word list as long as it's in the right format. Email me if you're interested and we'll have a chat: email@example.com.
If you spot anything on this website that needs fixing, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org