Overcoming the Challenges of the Spell to Write and Read Program

Over a decade of homeschooling means a lot of different curricula has come and gone in our home. Spell to Write and Read (SWR)  by Wanda Sanseri is one program that I can’t imagine homeschooling without.

It’s a low cost yet highly effective phonics-based program for spelling and reading. If you want to know more about SWR you can read my review or watch this video that explains the program.

The benefits of the SWR program far outweigh the challenges and that’s a good thing because there were two huge challenges for me to overcome.

Overcoming the Challenges of Spell to Write and Read

Challenges with Spell to Write and Read

My first challenge was figuring out how Spell to Write and Read worked. It is not like any phonics-based spelling program that I have seen which meant I had to invest numerous hours familiarizing myself with the new concepts and methods found in the program.

My second challenge was with the amount of time I had to devote to teaching the material to my children. With three children needing instruction in SWR, a busy preschooler, an infant and a teenager to home educate I wasn’t sure I could find the time that I needed to teach the program effectively.

However, I was convinced that this was the best program out there for my kids so I took a deep breath, prayed for wisdom and determined to overcome each of these challenges.

The Spell to Write and Read program might seem daunting to you as well. Let me first say that it can be done with great success!

Next, let me share with you how I have overcome the challenges of the Spell to Write and Read program and watched my children flourish in spelling and reading!

Overcoming the Challenges

The first thing I did was spend several months familiarizing myself with the curriculum before I began teaching it to my children. I definitely did not have it all figured out in the beginning but that was okay. I continue to learn as we move along in the program and have seen my kids advancing in their spelling and reading even when I miss some steps.

Then at the end of each school year, I make it a goal to re-read the teacher’s manual for additional information that I may have missed previously. This means that each year I am able to do a little better job at teaching the program and my kids are able to learn a little more as we progress through Spell to Write and Read.

Read the teachers manual more than once

I also joined the SWR Yahoo group where I have found helpful tips and resources for implementing SWR in my own home. The ability to ask questions and get timely responses from others using the program is invaluable. Reading what others share about the SWR program motivates me to press forward when I begin to get overwhelmed. The SWR Yahoo group is a great place to find encouragement and practical tips.

Watching instructional videos on how to properly use SWR  has also been very beneficial to me. I found the “You Can Do It” DVD, the “Hidden Secrets to Language Success” DVD and the YouTube videos online to be great resources for better understanding some of the steps in the program. I have viewed these videos over and over again, gleaning new information each time I watch.

SWR Instructional DVDs

I also choose curriculum for other subjects carefully, making sure that they require very little teacher preparation and allow me to include as many children into one lesson as possible. Minimizing the amount of time that is required of me to teach other subjects allows me more time to dedicate to SWR instruction.

Even with a little more time available for Spell to Write and Read, it can still be a challenge to dictate different spelling lists to several children each week. This is why I started staggering the dictation of new spelling words so that I am only dictating one list of words each day.

One child gets new spelling words on Monday and tests on Friday while another child receives their new spelling list on Wednesday and tests on the following Tuesday. Staggering the dictation of new spelling lists in this way allows me to focus my attention on one child and their new list of words while the other children review spelling words dictated to them days earlier.

Sample Weekly Schedule SWR

When the needs of younger siblings or outside commitments make it difficult to stay on schedule, I move from a weekly set schedule (new words on Monday, test on Friday) to a more relaxed check list where I write out the order of items we need to accomplish but don’t assign a day of the week to them. That way we just cross off what we got done on any given day and the next time we are able to get to SWR we move to the next item on the list. This method keeps us moving through the program even if it is at a slower pace. Some progress is better than no progress!

Recording videos of myself reviewing phonograms and spelling rules has allowed me to work with one child while another child watches the review video. I also purchased the SWR Companion CD  (or you can make your own) that allows each of my children to review their spelling lists on their own. A new SWR app has also been developed for android and apple devices to help with phonogram review! Finding creative ways for my children to review SWR concepts without my assistance is crucial when I have little ones to care for and other children to home educate.

And when I get overwhelmed, I just slow down, regroup and start-up again when we can. This program is so effective that I have seen results even when our instruction has been sporadic. Of course, it is always best to do a little rather than nothing at all!

Finally, the best thing I have done to overcome the challenges of Spell to Write and Read is to take one step at a time. The SWR program can be intimidating but when I focus on the few steps I need for any given day I do just fine and soon remember why the Spell to Write and Read is so amazing and well worth the effort!


  1. Bradley Johnson says:

    It is always good to be flexible – Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. You are a wonderful mother and teacher. I am proud of you.

  2. I use Spell to Write and Read too. It is the only program that helped my son, who has auditory processing disorder, learn to spell. Just excellent! Great post on how to make it work! I’ve had a similar experience. 🙂

  3. Laura Landis says:

    Is there a song that helps with teaching the Spelling Rules for SWR?

    • Hi Laura!
      No, there is not a song to go with the spelling rules. Kids learn the rules by reviewing the rule cards, building reference pages and marking their spelling words. 🙂

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