Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why are we doing Dwyer and All About Spelling?

I recently received a question from a reader who is a fellow homeschooler and a good friend, asking me why I would be going through the Dwyer Reading Scheme, when All About Spelling covers all the phonetic rules and wouldn't the same results be expected at the end of the AAS program?

The Dwyer Reading Scheme is exactly as the name implies, a Scheme for Reading.  To me, Reading  is a different skill that requires different thinking capabilities when compared to the Spelling skill.  In our house, the approach to learning is based on Montessori and it is widely believed in the Montessori world and I have found true in our case too, is that writing comes before reading.  So D has been in a sensitive period for writing for a long time. With all the exercises that we covered using the Dwyer Scheme, her spelling was purely phonetic.  Even with learning the spelling variations (Reading Folders work) in the Dwyer Scheme, I found that the child learns that a phonogram can be spelt differently, but the strategy of when to use what was missing.  I can give you two examples to explain this:

  1. Double letters that are used to spell words like "off", "dress", "smell", etc.: Reading these words need no extra knowledge other than knowing the sounds "f", "s" or "l" makes and that two "f"s, "s"s or "l"s still make the same sound.  But while writing these words, how do we know when to double and when not to? This is the key that is addressed using the AAS program.  In this  program there are various rules that the child learns and is taught when to use them.  
  2. The sound of "/k/" at the end of a word: "c", "ck" and "k" make the same sound, so while reading this does not make a difference, so nothing special is there in the Dwyer Scheme to address this.  Then again while writing and trying to spell a word which one do you use? Again AAS addresses this and teaches the rule.
There are many more examples I can give, but I think you get the point.  I personally am a fairly decent speller but my skills come from years of practice.  I don't know a lot of these rules for correct spelling and I am learning as we go along with the AAS program!  

So, since AAS seems to address all the variations and teaches all the rules, why not stick with just AAS, why go through the Dwyer scheme too? As I have mentioned before you need not know all these rules to read. It is enough if you know the phonograms, their variations and sight/puzzle words. So once you go through the Dwyer scheme, even though the child might not know all the rules to spelling, he/she can explode into the world of reading.  This is what happened in our case and D is much more open and confident in reading, now that we have gone through all the reading folders.  As for spelling, we completed, Level 1 in AAS and are now a couple of lessons into Level 2.  

Hope this explanation clears the need for use of both the Dwyer Reading Scheme as well as the AAS program.  I wanted to post my answer to the question on this blog so that it helps other parents having similar questions.  I am not paid or compensated by AAS, I bought both the levels from their site!  I just love this program for spelling as much as I love the Dwyer Scheme for reading!

I am linking this post up to Montessori Monday.


  1. I love the way you've thought out your reading and spelling activities so thoroughly! Thanks for sharing your ideas and experiences. I always love seeing your links at Montessori Monday! I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow

  2. I have a doubt: My daughter's mother language is not English. I read and sing to her in English. We speak Spanish and Catalan at home, but I want to introduce English. Do you think the Dwyer approach and AAS can also be used for a foreign language? I'm a bit lost.


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