First of all, I will not take time to thoroughly describe the components and philosophy of this program as the information can be found in detail at the website. Working from an index card box and a Teacher's Manual this is the best spelling program I have used and after homeschooling for 16 years I've tried them all. Spelling is taught phonetically by first learning all the sounds of each letter; the majority have only one sound but many have more going up to four sounds each. The student is both taught to say the sounds of the letters and to write the letter upon hearing all the sounds. It is due to this reason that I would recommend any student starting this program to start with the initial volume. An older student will work quickly through this volume but it is the basic core that other levels are built upon. I also recommend that this spelling curriculum not be started until the child has finished a basic phonics reading program.
My son, who was 8yo as we used this book, has dyslexia and he has sailed through this book with no problems of note, plus he enjoys it very much. Of course he whines a bit when he has to write the words and phrases but I ask you "what 8yo boy likes handwriting?". We had tried a couple of traditional workbook approaches with him first and they did not succeed. We would usually took three days to complete a lesson. In the morning we would always review the cards in the index box, plus ten words of spelling review. Then in the afternoon, each lesson would be broken up into three days. Day 1: Teach the lesson from the manual. Day 2: Practise the word list with the tiles on a magnetic board. Day 3: Practice the word list on paper. This was our usual routine but we would sometimes take 4 or 5 and occasionally more days to complete a lesson if it was a longer than usual lesson or if my son did not "get" the lesson being taught, or if he was having a hard time with the word list. Besides the word list printed on index cards, there is also an extra set of words in the book for more practice when needed. About halfway through the book, spelling a few phrases is added to the routine.
What I loved about this book was the review. Everyday you review sounds, letters, rules and ten words that you've learnt so far until they have been mastered. And several times throughout the lessons time is taken to get out all the mastered cards to review and cards that have been forgotten are added back into the daily review. The phonetic approach is wonderful. After the initial 3 and 4 letter short vowel words the book moves on to rules such as whether to add a "c" or a "k" at the beginning of a word or whether to end a word with "k" or "ck". Did you know that words ending in "nk" never have a short vowel "e" proceeding it? This one was particularly helpful to my son as when he says words like "pink" and "sink", I hear him saying them correctly but he hears the vowel sound as "ee", so he would write "penk" and "senk" and then immediately remember the rule and correct.
Level one follows concrete rules that are never broken. There are several circumstances when the rule will use the word "usually" or "often" letting the student know that this may not always be the rule, but the rule is followed with all words presented in this volume. Rule breakers are not introduced until Volume 2.
What I didn't like about this book was having to cut up all the cards which arrive printed on full sheets of cardstock. This takes a lot of time and I suggest you prepare in advance by leaving the pages out on your table with some scissors and a few times a day over several days cut several pages of cards out. If you try to do it all at once you'll go crazy. This is a problem with no solution though, sometimes there just happens to be prep work for the teacher. I would not pay extra money for a precut set of cards as this would increase the price of shipping for all those cards would make for a much heavier package. I will also mention that I received this book in Canada and found the service quick, shipping reasonable (I ordered 2 levels at once to save myself paying full shipping for each level), and had no problems with international delivery.
An ideal program to start with at the beginning of your child's spelling routine and especially wonderful for children who seem to be poor spellers and you've tried "everything" with them. This program goes at your child's own pace and review is plentiful. I just wish these books had been available years ago when my currently 20yo was struggling with spelling all those years ago.
ETA: I just heard from the author and Level One now comes with micro perfed cards. A fabulous solution to my problem. And news is that the other levels are soon to follow suit!