Switching from AAR to?

My Ker DS is doing AAR level 1 right now, and while I like it enough, it’s super slow approach is quite frustrating. My little man does well with the AAR stories, but he’s getting frustrated that he can’t read the books he chooses at the library (very basic beginning readers) and so am I. My oldest could read pretty much any beginning reader by this point in kindergarten, and I will say my youngest is probably more academically advanced than my oldest. I am thinking I need to switch for first grade.

My youngest DS also has receptive/expressive language delays, but has and incredible memory (especially visual) and teaches himself how to spell words, and even figures out the patterns of words so he can read ahead in his AAR readers (he hasn’t yet learned sh but figured out how to read Six Fish). Every professional that has ever evaluated him tells us he’s extremely smart. So, based on his needs I’m trying to figure out what to use for him next year. It needs to be somewhat “advanced” and needs to get him reading real books, but the language of the teaching can’t be too complicated (not too many rules he has to apply or inferences).

I’ve looked at CLE Learning to Read, but it’s so integrated with the grade 1 LA, and I think the LA would be too confusing for him (I used it with my oldest for first grade). I’m leaning towards Abeka, but have no actual experience with it. His speech therapist said since he has such a crazy good memory I should incorporate more sight reading for him.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Has anyone switched from AAR to something else? I really am feeling like I need to take a different approach but not sure what approach.

I have experience with all three programs you mentioned above. First off I switched to AAR with my Ker this year because I was using CLE LTR and at the time it was too much with the constant review and writing etc…
I found I could do CLE however without doing the Language alongside it. You could always use another language program if you wanted to do something more gentle.
If you wanted to use a sight word approach Abeka isn’t the way to go, it still teaches the rules etc… it is a rigorous program but effective.
Here are the reasons why I switched personally:

  1. I found it expensive to keep doing every year (replacing the books etc… in comparison to other programs)
  2. I found it too rigorous and repetitive (a lot of extra work, busy work etc…)
  3. I felt like we hardly used the workbook through half the year and suddenly during the second half of the year we had to finish all the books… (This was for the K program)

I switched from CLE this year only because it wasn’t working for my Ker, we were both getting frustrated.
I find that because AAR doesn’t necessarily take a school year to finish each level so you can finish it much faster and move onto the next level. If your son understands something can you take less time reviewing things he knows so you can move along faster? I find tat with that we are reading bigger words much faster than other programs because we are finishing each level faster and because of the way the concepts are introduced. The other thing to know… Beginning readers are usually all very different. Each program teaches phonics differently and each program is different in what words they consider to be in them according to how they believe phonics should be taught.
Sight reading is great to get a child reading quickly but may not give the tools necessary for them to learn to decode words on their own. But try looking online for sight word reading and you will find loads of games and free printables, maybe even free curriculum.
Also last but not least I found my Ker is reading beginning Bible stories, she reads the ones she knows well like Esther and needs little help because she knows them. Maybe doing read alouds with picture books where he reads to you and you help with words he doesn’t know will help. I have done that with all the children and it has been an effective way for them to read for themselves. Just a few suggestions.

I hope you find a solution. Please look at my message as opinion and my personal experience! :slight_smile:


Wow–can I relate! We began Logic of English (much along the lines of AAR) later in the game, into first grade rather than PreK or Kinder. It feels like it is taking SO LONG for my two youngest and for me, honestly!

I have taught all five of my kiddos to read, but it has never taken so long–this method is painstaking! They have so much more knowledge and understanding of the English language than I or any of my other kiddos had, but they still can not pick up certain beginning readers and just read, because we haven’t learned certain phonograms yet.

I have called the support people a few times and they have reassured me that, in the long run, they will be confident spellers and readers. And, I am just beginning to believe them. My 7 year old is beginning to apply the phonogram sounds and rules to words he has never seen and the light bulb is going off. My 6 year old is really not quite there yet, but she likes memorizing the sounds and we leave it at that.

I am going to stick it out in hopes that the reaping will come later–I pray!

Praying right now for you! donna


I have been looking at CLE Learn to Read. I have done AAR 1, 2, 3 with older special needs(apraxia-speech disorder) child. I have 4 kids and my kindergartener will be in 1st and want something open and go BUT solid. We started with Abeka this year. It had too many parts and books. I HATED the teacher’s manual. I just couldn’t get hang of it. I switched after a month or so to mcruffy.com. It has been great. I am even considering the doing mcruffy 1st grade language arts. Great reviews from cathy duffy. It is in her 102 picks. Affordable and reusable just need to order SM for next student. It looks to be much like Abeka BUT so much more teacher and student friendly. Love open and go. Colorful. Complete LA. I would love to hear the pros and cons to CLE learn to read.

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Thanks for all of the replies! I’m still undecided as to what to do. I did figure out that it’s not a matter of needing more sight words that is bothering me, but I think it is the weird sequence in which AAR introduces phonograms. I do like AAR, that’s why I can’t decide. My oldest is using level three. He was already a fluent reader, but I want to make sure he knows all of the decoding rules. I think I panicked when I realized that oo isn’t introduced until level three. AAR is a great program for an older kid who already reads, but I’m not sure if I like it for learning to read. I may just spend the summer teaching him more of the phonograms so he can tackle real books, but still work through AAR for the rules and foundation. That might work.

Hi @jeanna,

Pros and cons for CLE:
It includes handwriting, spelling, phonics etc…
It moves quite quickly into reading longer words using sight words as well as phonics
which makes your child feel like they are progressing faster
It uses a spiral approach so there is a lot of review as well as new concepts
The books are black and white and pretty plain, so it is not too distracting
The phonics flashcards use a little poem to help the child remember the sound
There are a couple fun activities throughout that we loved i.e jump when you hear the ‘j’ sound in a word etc…

Lessons are long. I used to try finishing a lesson a day to the detriment of myself and my children, it is better to have a time limit or to do half a lesson a day.
Quite teacher intensive, especially in the beginning- considering how long the lessons are
If you have a child who is young/doesn’t like to sit still for long periods of time or who is not workbooky this program may be a bit of a drag

Overall I would say CLE Learn to Read is a solid program. We loved it when we did it, with a few tweaks to the cons we made it work. This year with a different child/different personality we went with AAR.

Thanks a bunch! Don’t sound like what I need with 4 kids. I need doable and less stress for us both. May be using Mcruffy LA for 1st too.:slight_smile:

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Hi Jeanna,

I’m new here and seen your posts on Mcruffy. Are you still using them? Did you end up using more than k? I’m looking at grade 2.


I DID like McRuffy for kinder, but choose to go with CLE LTR and LA for 1st. I am very pleased with it. I don’t know what 2nd would be like. Just really look at samples and you will have a better idea. I like that both are a TOTAL LA/reading. AAR will be my go to if we hit a ditch with CLE. Hope this helps!

Also all are pretty much open and go… :slight_smile:

Thank you! I have looked at so many options! This is our first year homeschooling.

Old post here, but wanted to update about AAR/LOE programs. We have found that Explode the Code is working wonders with my “impatient to read” kiddos. I do still use the phonograms and rules from LOE/AAR as well as the word cards and tiles. We only use the lessons and activities IF my kids are not really getting the ETC lesson–then I reinforce with LOE/AAR. I have been very pleased with how well ETC has strengthened–and quickened–my kids reading as well as spelling.

Blessings, donna

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