All About Reading

I am thinking of switching to AAR the second half of the school year. I like that it is very hands on for my daughter. She learns best my doing and moving. If we can have different activities, games, etc. to help enhance her reading skills, I believe that would be most beneficial for her. We are currently using Abeka but it seems to be too intense for her so we do half the reading lesson per day. I saw AAR has 54 lessons. How does that last the entire year? And what is used after level 4? She would be on level 3 this year so we would only have another year of this curriculum. If we went back to Abeka after completing level 4, would she be able to jump back into the curriculum after using AAR?

The lessons usually take more than a day. The program is designed to move at your child’s pace, so you can spend as many days as needed on a lesson. Generally you work for about 20 minutes per day. Here’s a “typical day” blog post that might give you an idea:

For placement, did you use the placement tests? If not, check those out and then also have your dd read a sample story from level 2, to make sure she’s reading fluently, understands the words easily, and so on.

Level 4 takes kids up to high school level word-attack skills, so she’ll be able to read just about anything after that (obviously that’s age appropriate & of interest to her). We used a lot of Sonlight courses, and they have great readers (and read-alouds)–really you can do whatever you want after she completes the AAR series. HTH some!

We are using AAR2. Each lesson typically takes two days to complete, sometimes three. We set the clock for 20 minutes and do what we can. I also allow him to choose where we do the lesson and every 5th instruction day he can choose his book to read (outside of the program). We’ve been using this level since August and I believe we’re in lesson 28 or 29. I’ve never used Abeka so I can’t comment on your other questions.

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Thanks, Merry. I emailed you recently and you answered my questions in a very timely manner. I did the placement test and took my daughter back to level 2 because she struggled in with 2 sections on level 3. I’m assuming if they have 3 or 4 problems in 2 areas she should be at level 2?
I also ordered AAS because I didn’t care for the spelling format that Abeka uses and ordered level 1. Was that the correct level to use? I feel like we are starting clear over and it bothers me that she will be way behind where she should be. Thanks for any advice!

Most likely, yes, but you’re always welcome to email again and discuss the areas she had problems with to double check. Each word on the placement test represents many words taught in the program though, so it does usually mean there will be things to work on in the previous level. You really want your daughter to be reading the words on the placement tests and the sample stories from the previous level fluently and easily before moving on.

How old is she? She may not be as “behind” as you think. But even if she is–it’s so much better to lay a solid foundation now, while she’s young, then let her continue to struggle with gaps in her understanding.

The order of the words in AAR is not “grade-level” order. As an example, here is a very simple online assessment. After Level 1, your student would be able to read most of the words on the 1st grade list, about half of the 2nd grade list, and a third of the words on the 3rd and 4th grade lists.

A child completing AAR 2 would be able to read all of the words on the 1st grade list, all but 3 of the 2nd grade list (eat is covered in L3. City and animal are too, though some students would be able to figure those out after doing L2), all but one word on the third grade list (weather–L3), and more than half of the words on the 4.0 and 4.8 lists. There are even a couple of words on the 5th and 6th grade lists that students would have the skills to sound out, though they might not know their meaning yet. All About Reading groups words in a logical manner based on similar rules or patterns regardless of their supposed grade level, which allows students to progress quickly and confidently.

At the end of Level 4, students have the phonics and word attack skills necessary to sound out high school level words, though they may not know the meaning of all higher level words. (Word attack skills include things like dividing words into syllables, making analogies to other words, sounding out the word with the accent on different word parts, recognizing affixes, etc…)

Level 2 covers 3-letter blends; two-syllable words with open and closed syllables – hotel; vowel-consonant-E pattern words; VCE syllable combined with closed syllables – reptile; contractions; r-controlled words – her, car, and corn; soft c and g – face, page; past tense – hugged; vowel teams oi, oy, au, aw, ou, ow, oe, and ee; y in shy; wh in wheel; i and o can be long before two consonants (ex: ild, old, ost) – most; silent e after u or v – have; and the third sound of a – all. It includes two and three syllable words such as pullover, outnumber, sandpaper, saucepan, anything, because, blockbuster, buttermilk, caretaker, chipmunk, cornflower, different, globetrotter, forefinger, fanfare, grindstone, homespun, jackrabbit, killdeer, keepsake, milkweed, prepare, ringmaster, riverside, seventeen, porthole, simmered, silverware, stepladder, wildflowers, wintergreen, and invoice, etc…

Yes, that’s where I started my kids in 4th and 6th grades–she’ll probably go through it quickly though. We got through levels 1, 2, and part of 3 that first year. For older students, level 1 can go quickly because they will already know most of the words. She may just need to learn the spelling rules and concepts taught in level 1, and then can move on to level 2. We spent about a month on level 1. My oldest spent about 4 months on level 2, and got through most of level 3 that first year, while my youngest spent 7 months on level 2, and started level 3 that first year.

All About Spelling is a building block program–each level builds upon the previous one. The rules and concepts learned in Level 1 are applied in Level 2, and then those are applied in Level 3, and so on. Placement for spelling is based on the student’s knowledge of spelling rules and concepts rather than grade level, reading level, or the words a student has memorized.

For example, many students simply memorize easy words like “cat” and “kid” but have no idea why one uses a C and the other uses a K, or that the same rules that apply to these words also apply to higher level words such as “concentrate.” Other students switch letters or leave out letters entirely. This usually occurs because they don’t know how to hear each sound in the word. Level 1 has specific techniques to solve these problems.

Marie encourages parents and teachers to “fast track” if the student knows how to spell most of the words but does not understand the underlying basic spelling concepts. In this case, very quickly skim the parts that he already knows and slow down on the parts that he needs to learn. Pull out several words as examples. Make sure he understands the concept being taught, and then move on. This blog article has a good example of how you might fast track.

Sorry this got long, but I hope it helps! When she’s grown, no one will know what age she was when she did a certain level of reading or spelling, so don’t let grade level get you down. Just work to build up that solid foundation and keep lessons enjoyable. Encourage her in her efforts, and she’ll get there.

Thank you! It was very helpful. My daughter is in grade 3 so I suppose level 2 is too far behind or maybe at all. I’m excited to use this curriculum because I have searched for a long time in how to close the gaps she has and to make it hands on. With her, the more she does, the better. And since this incorporates many learning styles, I think this will be just what is needed.

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I usually split the AAR and AAS lessons in half as well so they last longer. Plus since they’re more teacher intensive it doesn’t take as long that way as well. AAR is definitely more hands on than Abeka for sure, and my kids like it. But I’ve still used Abeka readers and phonics along with it just because I like their colorful worksheets LOL!

I believe their working on AAR 5 but I don’t know when it will be out for sure, you might contact them and see. It’s a relatively new program so they’re releasing them as they’re created.

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How would you incorporate Abeka readers into the AAR curriculum? Just curious if you use the readers everyday or once a week? Thanks!

Actually, there are no plans for a level 5 right now. Level 4 takes kids up to high school level word attack skills. Examples of some of the harder words covered in Level 4 include: acquaintance, aphid, beneficial, boutique, bronchial, campaign, chameleon, chauffeur, consignment, crochet, cuisine, cylinder, deficient, delectable, distraught, entree, epilogue, etiquette, facial, ferocious, glisten, gnashed, gourmet…

After completing AAR 4, AALP’s recommendations are:

Read-read-read! Get your student hooked on an age-appropriate series. Subscribe to kid-friendly magazines, check out tons of books from the library, have them read instructions for games they want to play.

Have the student keep reading aloud a little each day, and you can use all of the strategies that they have learned to help them decode unfamiliar words.

Set a daily reading time for your student to read for 30 minutes. Choose books that interest your student, both fiction and non-fiction. You can also choose books that correlate to other things you are studying, such as historical fiction or Usborne books that cover science topics. Possible sources:

Literature-based curriculum such as Sonlight
Resource books like Honey for a Child’s Heart
The 1000 Good Books List
Books for Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day

Make and use flashcards for review (this helps quite a bit!).

The study of Greek and Latin roots can be helpful.

Complete the All About Spelling program, which supports reading.

Keep reading aloud to them.

For most kids, reading and being read to are the best ways to Build Your Child’s Vocabulary. If you need or want to provide extra vocabulary support: Marie recommends Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Isabel Beck (good for all ages).

I hope this helps!