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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Our Daily Spelling Session

thI’m not quite sure how much time spelling takes up in regular high schools or junior high schools, but in our homeschool, it can eat up the better part of a morning.  Not so much for the students, but for me.

I need time-out for banging my head against the wall.

It’s an uphill battle with four teens who should no longer be “English Language Learners”, but let’s face it, they still are.  Their spelling is horrific, and their comprehension even worse.  And I’m the one who has to decipher their handwriting when I make them, kicking and screaming, write spelling words, or dare I say it, an essay.

Cruel and unusual punishment… usually for me.Please mountain the premicies tidy. Thank you.

I recently decided to take them into SAT words, given our long-lasting relationship with the test that everyone has learned to hate.  They need to memorize 10 words and definitions each night, writing the words three times and using at least three in their daily, one-paragraph diary entry which they write in English and in Russian, and read to us after dinner.

bad_spellingThey generally choose words they already know.  Are we surprised?

So we’ve made it as far as the As and are seguing into the Bs.  Each day is an adventure as I ask if any might know this word or that.  Rather than call on the same person, who actually does know a number of the listing, I encourage creative decoding just to see if they can figure it out.

Usually, they can’t.  Nevertheless, it’s cheap entertainment, as they say.

“Bailiff”, I toss out.leeenterance

Sashenka, age 13, gives it a whirl, raising her hand.


“It’s what you put into soup,” she declares confidently.

That’s my girl, right or wrong.

no-parking-spelling-mistake“A bailiff goes into the soup?” I try, but I can’t sound so confident myself.

“It’s a leaf,” she explains.

“Oh, a BAY leaf,” I nod in recognition.  “Close, but no cigar.”

Baleful, our list informs us, is malignant in intent or effect.  The kidsth look at me blankly.  Most of the definitions are such gems, which causes me to reject two-thirds of them, and wastes even more of my time.  I decide to go with definition #2 – harmful.

“Harmful?” I ask Benedetto.  “Do you think that baleful means harmful?  Doesn’t it often refer to a dog’s howling being baleful?”

“Yes, tell them instead to write mournful,” he instructs.

“Okay, mournful,” I tell them, their pens at the ready.

funny-indian-spellings-0The spelling tests are just as exciting.  I learn that ardent is someone burning with position rather than passion.  An arcade is a volted, not vaulted, passageway.  They don’t cross their t’s, and very often, they don’t remember many of the spelling definitions.

“You guys, what does it matter if you can spell a word when you don’t know what it means or how to use it in a sentence?” I wonder after grading the papers.

“Mama, it’s a SPELLING test,” they try to weasel out of it.1000x1000

“You know, you’re right.  The problem is, it’s a FAILED spelling test,” I hand them back, which they will need to retake later in the day. 

Try, try again, she said to herself balefully.


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