AAR vs Abeka Phonics?

My 5 yo (with learning delays due to medical history) is ready to learn to read. She’s starting to learn some of her letter sounds. For example, she learned a,s,m. I taught her how to sound out the word “Sam”.

I need a curriculum to guide me. She is not able to write yet. Her FMS are very delayed. So I’d like the curriculum to not require writing a lot. My older dd used MFW to learn to read. It was okay, but I don’t want to use the full MFW curriculum again. I’m leaning more towards Sonlight. We’re currently working through SL Core P 4/5. I would like it to not take a ton of time each day as well. I’m also teaching 2/3 grade to older dd.

So, I’ve been considering AAR and Abeka Phonics as well as Sonlight LA. I’m open to other suggestions as well. Opinions?

Abeka requires some writing. In most lessons the kids are supposed to write dictated sounds and words. The exercises in the phonics workbook are mostly about “match, circle, and color”, but there are some about writing words and complete sentences. The lessons take about 20 minutos.
Maybe All About Reading would be a better choice for you. I’ve never used it, but I know their workbooks are hands on activities and games. I don’t know if it requires some writing.

Thank you for the info. It sounds like Abeka would not be the best choice.

Check out Alpha Phonics!

1 Like

I have done both AAR and Abeka. I personally found Abeka can push a bit hard, it’s a rigorous program in comparison to AAR. My olders used Abeka for phonics and Language and got pretty burnt out. I tried CLE Learn to read which is a great program but I have found AAR to be the one we will stick with for the long run. AAR is hands on and it can take as long as you want it to take. Some lessons would take 3 days (20 mins a day) and others we would finish in one day. You go according to your child’s pace. Another thing I LOVE is that it does not have a 180 day schedule, so that takes the pressure off that you HAVE to finish it NOW. You can take as long as you want or speed through the lessons if your child is getting it. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I have not used AAR but have used A Beka, and I agree that A Beka is sort of heavy on writing, although an excellent thorough curriculum.
Now I use Reading Readiness and Succeeding at Reading for ages 5 and 6.
Reading Readiness teaches the alphabet sounds, as you are doing, giving a couple of letters to learn/practice per lesson. A lesson is consisted of one page in which the student does write, but it is simply for enhancement of the relationship between the letter and the sound. If your child is not ready to write, she can skip tracing/writing the letters. That is it. My 5 yo is learning to read really well and it has been so simple. I also give him ABC bean bags and we make up c-v-c words and he practices/learns this way also.
The Succeeding at Reading does not require any writing and is a list of words to be read every lesson. It is arranged in a special format. So to understand the logic behind this approach I recommend reading about it on the website:


I can post a picture of what a lesson looks like for you to see it, if you have interest in this. I cannot do it now because I don’t have that option on my phone.

Check out This Reading Mama- Reading the Alphabet (free program)- very limited writing and hands on. It contains a weekly lesson outline/printables and you can see the program in action on her blog as well.
Each lesson includes activities such as:
-an emergent reader for each week which reviews letter sounds, applies them to real words, and introduces sight words
-picture cards for each letter to apply beginning letter sounds via sound sorts and other activities
-teaching of beginning sight words, introduced at a slower pace to match their development
-a rhyming cut and paste activity
-activities to work on syllables within words
-cutting practice
-making patterns activity via the letter sound of the week
-a print awareness craft activity for each letter sound
-a book/print awareness idea for each letter of the alphabet
-beginning sight word puzzles & mazes
-tracing/handwriting practice for each letter
-activities to reinforce recognizing, counting, and one-to-one correspondence for #1-20
-as the lessons progress, CVC words will also be introduced
I have found this program very beneficial and my kids LOVED it and learned a lot!
This reading mama has also completed the follow up program- Learn to Read
Check her out she has lots of resources for FREE!


I have only used AAR but I have used it with two of my children. My daughter (who is language arts oriented) I started in Kindergarten at age 5 1/2 with Level 1 and my son (who is more engineering-minded) I started in Pre-K with the same Level 1 at age 4 1/2 and both of them did wonderfully with the program. I might be remembering this wrong, but I don’t recall Level 1 even requiring any writing on their part at all. It was all letter tiles (magnetic), letter cards, and paper games on the table as well as reader books. You might also consider starting with their Pre-Reading level if you think that might suit your child’s abilities at this stage better. They have assessments you can do on their Web site to see where your child would do best to start (not sure if they have one for the Pre-Reading level though). I highly recommend AAR. I’m sure other programs are also wonderful, but I have had great success with AAR! I hope this helps! :slightly_smiling:


Yes you are correct there was no writing in level 1, there were a couple places where you could write their name but you can write that yourself if you choose to write at all.

Thank you all so much for your opinions and suggestions. I think we’ll go with AAR. It sounds like what we need.

1 Like