Andy has never taken a spelling test in his life, never been drilled on spelling words, and seldom asks me how to spell any word. He began reading at somewhere between 8 & 9 -- before that, he could read a word or two at a time, street signs, cartoon captions, that kind of thing. But during his 9th year, he took off. Along the way, he's asked me to print up math worksheets so he could 'practice' his math skills, insisting I grade them for him. But it's been probably a year or more since he asked for anything schooly.
A couple of days ago, while waiting for Gary to finish up at work, Andy asked me to give him some words to spell. He wanted to see -- and show me -- that he could spell. I threw him the odd words, those that break the 'rules' figuring that if he can spell and remember those, the ones that do spell 'right' will come easy for him. I alternated between words I figured he could get and those that would be a challenge. Hey, if I'd thrown him all easy words he'd have busted me anyway, so why not mix it up a bit?
He spelled most of them right -- building, either, another, neighbor and several others we've both forgotten now. I was really impressed -- even better, he was very pleased with himself. Not surprised, given how much he reads lately. Tonight, driving home, he asked me for more words. I threw him some harder ones -- engine, boulevard, avenue, albuquerque, however, thought, tongue -- again he got many of the less weird ones right. In all cases, he came really close, really thinking thru the words, sounding them out.
How many schooled kids would make a game of spelling words -- on summer vacation at that! I remember feeling like I didn't want to have to think about anything but reading books I chose all summer long. We've all heard the stereotype of kids who say "it's the weekend, don't make me think" -- our kids never have a day when they actively choose not to think. Then again, they don't have any days where thinking is imposed on them by adults.