Colorful student texts and Bible-based material make Purposeful Design Spelling appealing to kids and parents alike. This is half-way between a student-directed and teacher-intensive course. While students will definitely need some instruction, the teacher editions with their extensive lesson plans aren't necessary, especially for each grade. Though we do carry teacher editions for each grade level, a more economical approach might be to simply buy one teacher edition and use the instructional philosophy as your guide for teaching all levels. (If you're going to do this, the third grade teacher edition is recommended.)
There is one student worktext and a teacher edition for each of grades 1-6. Thirty-six weekly units to be taught 5 days a week and about 15 minutes per day cover an entire schoolyear. While the teacher editions aren't necessary, since your child will need some instruction throughout the course, having one definitely cuts back on prep time. The student books are colorful and engaging, while remaining uncluttered.
The first and second grade books emphasize phonetics and spelling rules. Those aren't forgotten altogether in the following levels, but the focus becomes visual memory. A lot of the exercises involve students identifying words that are spelled wrong and then re-writing them correctly. This helps kids get a feel for what "looks right" on the page.
There aren't a bunch of long word-family lists for students to memorize. Words are grouped according to meaning (a lot of attention is paid to root words, suffixes and prefixes), and kids master most-frequently-used words before trying to learn how to spell less familiar ones. This reinforces the use of spelling rules, rather than confusing kids with lots of rote memorization.
Extra words can be integrated into each lesson at the teacher's discretion. These are included in the teacher editions, or the instructor can come up with her own. Composition is an important element of this course, as kids learn how to spell correctly within a realistic context (as opposed to just writing random words all by themselves). Many of the composition activities relate to a specific Bible verse or character virtue, and there is a strong Christian element in all the books.
The student texts and teacher editions for grades 1-3 were recently revised. The worktexts are even more colorful and fun-looking than before, and the teacher editions are also now in full-color. The teacher editions contain much more material than in the older versions; each student worktext page is reprinted in reduced form and there are notes on each one to help the teacher present the material. While you don't actually need the teacher editions, if you lack any confidence in your ability to teach spelling, they may prove exactly what you need.
This is a pretty solid course. It will keep most kids interested and engaged, and the clear layout make it easy to teach. This would probably be a good choice if your child hasn't learned to read exclusively through phonics instruction. It would also be a good choice if you don't want to take a lot of time preparing a lesson each day. While the teacher editions do provide lesson plans and suggestions for presentation, you could just as easily tell your kids how to finish each exercise and then grade their work after they finish.