Anne, I have seven children, but we’re having trouble with spelling. I used Ruth Beechick’s books for my first 5 children successfully to teach spelling. This has not been the case with my last two boys. I feel swamped at all the choices of spelling curriculum and need to come up with a plan soon to help them be successful (especially the 13-soon-to-be-14-year-old, who still struggles with spelling when he’s writing essays, etc.).
As you know, I have spelling suggestions on my website, and I have confidence that these suggestions work for the majority of students. There are some kids, though, that really struggle with spelling. Would you believe me if I told you that I was one of those students (and that I have a daughter who struggles with phonics and spelling)?
Since my website’s recommendations are based on Ruth Beechick’s writing, I would NOT recommend them for your two boys that are struggling, especially since they are older. You’ve tried these methods before, but they are probably just a little “relaxed” for this case.
I think in this case, your boys realize that the English language has rules. They just don’t know what those rules are, so in their writing and other subjects, they’re guessing on how to spell words. They would feel much more confident if they knew exactly what the rules are.
To teach hard-and-fast spelling rules, I would highly recommend Wanda Sansari’s “Spell to Write and Read” (SWR). Her website is http://swrtraining.com/id23.html. If you scroll down the page, you’ll see an explanation of SWR with advanced students.
SWR is a little tough on mom, because it requires daily work from you. You first have to understand spelling rules yourself, before you can teach them. You would need to invest about 30 minutes a day to build a spelling notebook of your own, then the next day, you’ll take about 30 minutes with your sons (together) to teach them what you learned the night before.
However, if you can invest this time and effort, your reward will be worth it.
If you need more information about SWR, I highly recommend my friend Britta McColl and her website, http://morningstarlearning.com.
Update: I have since found All About Spelling, a great program that is very similar to SWR, yet it’s easier to use and more fun, too.