Teaching phonics pretty much always makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs with a spoon. And it seems that, for the next decade or so, I will have at least one, if not two, phonics students under my tutelage. I believe this is what is known as “refiner’s fire.”
We’re finishing up our core curriculum (Tapestry of Grace Year 3) and moving on to a lighter summer schedule with more science focus for the twins and phonics focus for Adam and Ellen. Probably because any morning that got out of hand this year, phonics was what I gleefully punted in favor of other things.
There. I said it. Confession is good for the soul, right?
If you have a better memory than I do, you may recall that I switched Sam and Ian to AAS a few years ago and it was the catalyst that made Sam a great reader today and helped me to only get the spoon as far as my eyelashes. I taught Adam to read with AAS Level 1 (my review here) but when All About Reading came out, I decided to make the switch for he and Ellen.
Clear as mud, right?
Anyway, I told you that I liked All About Reading but I never said why.
- It moves at a much slower pace and, despite my own impatience, that’s actually a good thing.
- I had no problem dividing the AAS lessons into pieces, but this breaks them down even more and reinforces each lesson better.
- There’s a section for review, a teaching section (like in AAS, it’s all scripted for you so your brain power isn’t required), but then there’s a game section, and a chance for fluency practice.
- There are more stories to read in the high-quality readers (if you have the old books, you can send them in and exchange them for new ones) and more activities and comprehension questions provided for each story (something I wish I’d had for the twins now that they are doing more reading on their own.)
- The system still relies on the letter tiles, the word and letter cards, and a progress chart but now there’s an activity book to go along with it. It holds games and activities you cut out of the book as well as extra words and sentences to practice with before you move to the actual story in a reader.
Ellen and Adam both responded well to this system. At first, Adam really got into the games and since he’s so tactile, he loved cutting out the pieces and playing with them. As he’s gotten older and we’re further into the curriculum, sometimes he’ll tell me, “Mommy, just let me read the words.”
And I do.
Ellen eats it all up. She wants to cut everything out, play every game, revel in every story. She’s been doing AAR since the Pre-K level (my review is here) and has taken to reading like a duck to water. Although I would normally never think a pre-reading program would be necessary, I will admit that Ellen was far better prepared to start stringing syllables together than the boys were. And I’ll definitely be using it with Willa soon.
If you’ve already invested in All About Spelling will your child suffer? Absolutely not. It worked great for my twins and I think it’s a fantastic method to teach reading. All About Reading is simply a bit more eye-catching and appealing to the younger set. If you’ve got an older reader who is struggling, skip AAR and go straight to AAS.
(And for the record, I want you to know how diligently I’ve worked to make sure the abbreviation for All About Spelling is indeed spelled correctly.)
It’s a relief to know that I’ve found a system that works for my kids no matter what their preferred style of learning or how their enthusiasm ebbs and flows. As always, I love the snatches of one on one time it gives me with my middle kids these days. And while I may still keep a spoon in my pocket during every lesson, I don’t feel in any danger of needing to use it.
High praise, indeed.
What else do you want to know? Did I cover all of your deepest, darkest Reading-related questions???
p.s. Opinions all my own. Affiliate links included because I really like it that much. If you decide you want to purchase, it would help a sister out if you would use that pretty link over in my sidebar. All the proceeds go back into the blog to make it a happier, healthier, safer place for all us. Or maybe they just buy me a mocha. Either way, this blog is fueled by your generous support.