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Why Classical Homeschoolers Love AAR and AAS

Why Classical Homeschoolers Love AAR and AAS

Are you part of a Classical Conversations community, or do you follow the classical model as outlined in The Well-Trained Mind?

Do you have a child enrolled in a classical school or co-op? Or maybe you’re just beginning to explore the idea of using the classical approach in your homeschool.

No matter where you are on your classical homeschool journey, you don’t have to wonder about how to teach reading and spelling, because I’ve got some great news for you.

Classical homeschoolers LOVE All About Reading and All About Spelling! I can’t wait to share what we’ve heard from some of our classical friends, but first let’s take a quick look at an important question.

What Is the Classical Approach?

Why Classical Homeschoolers Love AAR and AAS - from All About Learning Press

Classical education encourages learning in three stages known as the trivium.

  • The grammar stage begins by laying a foundation. During this stage, kids focus on absorbing the facts and rules—the “who,” the “what,” and the “where.”

  • Next comes the dialectic (or logic) stage. At this stage, kids focus on developing a logical understanding of the “why” behind what they know.

  • And finally, during the rhetoric stage, kids focus on applying what they know through communication and expression.

So the next question is this:

How Do AAR and AAS Fit into the Classical Approach?

First let’s take a look at All About Reading.

All About Reading fits perfectly into the grammar stage (approximately K-4th grade). This is the stage where kids “learn to read,” so later they can “read to learn.” This systematic phonics program takes a “parts-to-whole” approach—children learn the parts of words (phonograms and affixes) and how those parts work together to make words. The program uses direct instruction, so your child is told exactly what he needs to know, with no fluff and no guessing.

All About Reading is also useful in the dialectic stage for kids who previously struggled with reading and need remedial help. The program isn’t “dumbed down,” and students can progress at a level that is comfortable for them. Levels 3 and 4, in particular, give kids the opportunity to reason and analyze through comprehension activities.

After completing Level 4, students have the technical skills to read just about anything that is within their vocabulary and comprehension level.

Now let’s look at how All About Spelling fits into the classical model.

All About Spelling also takes the parts-to-whole approach. Phonograms are introduced as the most basic unit, and instruction gradually builds to the more complex system that makes up English spelling. By the end of the program (Level 7), students are able to spell at the high school level.

All About Spelling begins in the grammar stage after students are able to read at a basic level. In a precise step-by-step manner, instruction continues through the dialectic stage. Dictation and word analysis activities encourage students to apply what they are learning and help move information into long-term memory.

At the end of Level 7, students develop their own plan for a lifetime of spelling success. With this self-guided process, students take what they’ve learned into the rhetoric stage.

Here’s What Classical Experts Say

Well-Trained Mind (4th Edition)

Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, co-authors of The Well-Trained Mind, are well-respected authorities on the classical approach. In the newly revised fourth edition of The Well-Trained Mind, they recommend both All About Reading and All About Spelling to their readers.

The Well-Trained Mind shares some general thoughts about what makes a reading or spelling program “fit” the classical approach.

Most of the curricula they recommend aren’t divided into grade levels. Like us, they believe that “you should always spend as much time on one level as you need and progress to the next level only when your child has mastered the first level, whether that comes before or after the ‘normal’ age.

The authors of The Well-Trained Mind also believe that reading and spelling should not be taught together. I like how they put it: “It’s important to allow students to progress at a natural pace in each of the language arts areas without frustrating them by limiting their progress to the speed of their worst subject.

In addition to fitting the classical model, the programs the authors selected to include in The Well-Trained Mind met four important qualifications:

In the authors’ recommendation of All About Reading, they write:

“We find this to be the most age-appropriate and parent-friendly Orton-Gillingham program on the market.”

And they had this to say about All About Spelling:

“In keeping with our approach, All About Spelling allows spelling to be studied at its own pace, rather than connecting it to other language arts areas, and does not require significant handwriting in the early years. Directions are clear, there is little busywork, and teacher preparation is minimal.”

Well-Trained Mind Badge

But for many moms, the next question may be even more important than what the “experts” think.

What Do Classical Homeschool Moms Say?

Homeschool mom and blogger Becki Malloy first read The Well-Trained Mind ten years ago and immediately became “wholly invested” in the classical approach. Here’s what Becki has to say about how our programs fit into the classical model:

becki

“When you begin to learn something—whether it be to read or how to grow a garden—you start in the grammar stage. You learn the basics and work up from there. You make sure those foundational pieces are cemented in place in order to build knowledge from that base. All About Reading and All About Spelling do exactly that.

AAS doesn’t just start with the short sound of A and lists with those words. Rather it starts with the foundational concept that letters make sounds, and sounds make words. Put that in place and you can learn to spell anything or read anything.

AAS and AAR fit into the classical approach in a somewhat unconventional, although precisely perfect way. They start reading and spelling at the grammar level, not as something to be memorized, but as something to grow in understanding with.

“Perhaps without even meaning to, AAR and AAS are the best classically-based reading and spelling programs I’ve invested in.”

Renee Seats describes how effectively AAR and AAS fit into her family’s classical homeschool:

renee-seats-family

“Both programs easily incorporate into a classical education since they are a no-nonsense approach to learning and focus on skill mastery prior to moving on to future lessons. They also incorporate multiple learning pathways so that all students—no matter their learning style—are sure to find activities that interest them and also meet their learning needs.

“I have tried a few other methods and I always quickly get frustrated with the gaps or the lack of consistency in those programs. I cannot recommend AAR and AAS highly enough for anyone using a classical approach in their children’s education.”

Classical Conversations community member Beth Hodges shared the importance of memorization:

Beth Hodges 5

“Classical education uses memorization and exposure to set up memory pegs in our kids’ minds. It sets a foundation for our kids to learn on and add new information. Then as children learn new information they are able to add to already learned information, building their foundation.

“This is exactly what All About Reading and All About Spelling do.”

So, why do classical homeschoolers love All About Reading and All About Spelling? Classical homeschooler Claire Wilkerson ties it all up into one nice, neat package.

“You could not have created a curriculum that is more compatible with classical education if you had tried.”

The Bottom Line: AAR and AAS Fit the Classical Approach in Several Ways

The experts and homeschool moms agreeAAR and AAS are the perfect choice for the classical approach. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Our programs set up “learning pegs” through the use of modeling and imitation (through letter tile demonstrations).
  2. Lessons involve memorization of the phonograms and spelling rules. Then we transition to application with real words, using phonograms as building blocks. Application occurs during dictation exercises in AAS and reading from decodable books in AAR.
  3. We ignore grade levels, and instead focus on mastery-based learning.
  4. We teach reading and spelling separately.
  5. Our programs have no gaps.

If you are exploring reading and spelling programs for your classical homeschool, you’ll want to download these free reports to find out more:

Do you use the classical approach? If not, how do you categorize your approach to education?

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Chrystal Bipes

says:

This is the only program (level 1) that my son (7yr old) doesn’t break down in tears when I pull it out! He looks forward to his readers and loves the activities! So thankful for this program!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, wonderful, Chrystal! It’s heartwarming that All About Reading is giving him something to look forward to! Thank you for sharing this.

Val

says:

We do Classical Conversations, AAR, and AAS. They work so well for our family!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great to hear, Val!

Allison Mobley

says:

Our family loves the All About Spelling program. It’s so systematic and we love the built in review. As the parent and teacher I’m constantly learning new things with this program and wish I would have been taught this way when I was growing up.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Allison! It’s great to read that All About Spelling is working so well for you!

Lindsey

says:

Great! Thanks for sharing!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Lindsey!

Melissa Carlson

says:

I am really enjoying the pre-k reading with my two oldest boys and look forward to trying level 1 and All About Spelling when it’s time!

Katie Dorey

says:

I will be interested to see how my little ones do with this. Looks like a good program!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Katie. Let me know if you have any questions.

Shayla

says:

Will be needing aas level 3!
Very hopeful about this program!0

C. Schmidt

says:

Just started AAS Level 1. It goes so well with AAR! Hoping to win Level 2!

Malia Wilson

says:

We loved AAR Level 1 and look forward to the other levels of AAR and AAS!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great to hear, Malia!

Ashley Hoopes

says:

All About Spelling and All About Reading have really helped my children. I am thankful for this program.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Ashley. It’s great to hear that All About Reading and All About Spelling have been helpful for your children!

Jerry

says:

Would love to try AAS!!

Cheryl Bomar

says:

We love this! Thanks!!

Cheryl Bomar

says:

We love this!!

Renee Jennings

says:

I am super excited to start this program this year. We are eclectic homeschoolers and I feel this would be a perfect fit for us.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful, Renee! Let me know if you need help with placement or anything else.

Megan

says:

I teach at a classical Christian school. We’ve been pretty committed to this model since my (now 22yo) was 6!

Marinella

says:

My struggling child loves this program and has made so much progress from day 1!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful to hear, Marinella!

Amber

says:

The classical approach is new to me. Thank you for this article!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Amber.

Candice Wiesner

says:

We love AAS

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Candice!

Rachel Johnson

says:

Thank you for this post!

Tara

says:

I am so excited to begin using this program with my children – can’t wait to see their growth!

Beckey

says:

My kids love this program. They ask to do it.

María S. López Pérez

says:

I met the method in a trip. Here, in Spain, we are not able to use it. We teach the language in an obvious wrong way, even our own language. I think I am a better teacher since the moment I bought the Method for using it in my free time.

Jana Anderson - 2nd Grade teacher

says:

Has anyone been successful in using these materials in class? Class sizes range from 6-12 students in our lower grades.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jana,
YES! We have many schools successfully using All About Reading and All About Spelling in their classrooms! Check out our 12 Reasons Teachers Love All About Reading and All About Spelling blog post.

Please email us at support@allaboutlearningpress.com if you have more questions about using our materials in a classroom.

Colleen

says:

This has been the ideal spelling program for us!

Sue Boswell

says:

Love what I ‘m learning about AAR and CC

Sarah

says:

I plan on using the classical approach to homeschool my boys next year. I want to base their learning on what they know, not on what they should know for a certain grade. My oldest finds math very easy to understand, but has a harder time with reading. My youngest is already showing that reading will come easy for him. No one grade level curriculum will fit their needs.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
It sounds like you are well prepared for a wonderful homeschool experience!

Christy Maloney

says:

YES! I am a classical method homeschool mom and I love AAR and AAS. IT’s great for my kiddos still in the grammar stage and who have sensory stuff! My son love to “change the word”. :):)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Christy,
My kids love “Change the Word” too. It’s a great activity. Thanks for letting us know that AAR and AAS has worked so well for your kids with Classical Homeschooling.

Raquel Barrera

says:

Thank you for sharing this article and your incredible work and dedication to equip our children, and parents, with the tools needed to learn and succeed – naturally :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Raquel. We are very happy to help parents and teachers help students succeed!

Jill

says:

We love Classical Conversations and All About Reading!!

We are considering homeschooling our four. I love learning more about this approach as it seems quite natural to me. I’ll nee to check that book out too!