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Real Dads, Real Kids: Using AAR with a Gifted Learner

Real Dads Real Kids - Using All About Reading with a Gifted Learner with Matthew Vinson

We have shared many posts about using All About Reading with children who have special needs, and we love sharing those stories. But there’s a group of special learners that we don’t hear about quite as often: gifted learners.

Gifted learners have special needs, too, but the needs of gifted learners are quite different than those of other special learners.

Generally, gifted kids need to progress faster, they need to make big leaps, they need to be able to interact with content on a deeper level, and they aren’t willing to put up with shallowness or inconsistencies. Though on the surface these may sound like “good problems” to have, they can make it very challenging to choose a curriculum for a gifted learner.

So when we heard from Mark*, the father of a gifted little boy, and he mentioned that his son had finished all four levels of the All About Reading program in just over a year, I was eager to hear more.

And when I saw his video of five-year-old Cody reading When Dinosaurs Lived: Velociraptor by Kate Riggs, I knew I had to ask Mark to share Cody’s story with our readers.

Here’s Mark…

Cody’s story begins when he was around 1 1/2 years old.

I always said that I was going to start teaching my kids at a young age so that they would have an advantage through school. We started with some animal flash cards. I would show him the pictures, say the name, and tell him a few facts about each one. It wasn’t long before he started identifying and pronouncing the names and facts clearly for animals such as rhinoceros, walrus, toucan, and more. I was amazed by how fast and easy it was for him. At the time, I didn’t know how unusual it was for a one-year-old to be able to say these things.

After the animals, I started on numbers 1–100, and within a couple of weeks, he had number recognition down. Then I moved on to letters, and within a few days, he had those down as well.

After the letters, I was starting to realize that I had a smart one on my hands. He loved it, so we ran with it. That Christmas he received an easel, and from that point on, we tackled everything—the solar system, states and capitals, presidents, money, multiplication, decimals, division, food chain, measurements—just about everything we could think of. Except for reading.

I love to read, but wasn’t too excited about teaching it. I like to fully understand something before I can teach it. Just because you know how to read, doesn’t mean you understand the rules for reading. My wife, Tami, suggested I quit stalling and start reading. We both knew he was eager to learn and that the timing was right.

Real Dads, Real Kids: Using AAR with a Gifted Learner

But like I said before, I wanted to fully understand reading before I would teach it. I began to research how to teach kids to read—every bit of information I could find, but I was disappointed in what I was finding. By this time, I was probably more confused than I had been before. The information I found seemed to contradict itself and just created a lot of confusion. Still determined, I kept searching and finally resorted to creating my own reading curriculum.

Then one day I was researching phonograms and stumbled on a company called All About Learning Press. As I researched the programs that AALP offered, it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. And the more I researched it, the more convinced I became. So I ordered All About Reading Level 1—trying not to expect too much, because it just seemed too good to be true.

A few days later I received the curriculum, and standing there flipping through pages, I was amazed. It turned out to be the godsend I was searching for. It had everything I imagined.

Cody was eager to get started, so we started immediately after receiving it. Cody loved it…from day one all the way to the end. It took him fourteen months to complete all four levels. We did every lesson. We flew through Level 1, completing about three lessons each day. In Levels 2–4, Cody was able to complete one or two lessons each day, with each lesson taking between 20–30 minutes. He was five years old when he completed Level 4.

boy holds up aar completion certificate

It was the greatest discovery. This curriculum company has all the answers for reading. Every public school should have to integrate this program into their curriculum, because what the schools offer is a joke compared to All About Reading.

Cody just turned six. He’s in kindergarten and will never have to worry about reading. He can decode pretty much any word that there is. I couldn’t have been more pleased with this program!

Thank you, Marie Rippel and team! Keep up the extraordinary work. I recommend you to everyone I know!

Here’s What I Love about Mark and Cody’s Story:

  • Mark identified his son’s gift for academic learning early on. This is so helpful for preventing frustration.
  • Mark also recognized the Curse of Knowledge—just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean that you know how to teach it.
  • Even though Cody was obviously a gifted learner, Mark didn’t leave learning to chance—he researched and sought out a reading program that met his rigorous specifications.
  • He respected his son’s unique learning timetable.

Products Mark used with Cody:

Did you enjoy Mark and Cody’s story? Read more stories from Real Moms (and Dads).

_________________________
*To preserve the privacy of the child featured in this story, we did not use the family’s real names.

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Leave a Comment

Boineelo Thokweng

says:

Hi
I have a son 18 years old, he got a problem in reading and writing. he is writing his form five exam this year , please I need help. he is good in maths and science, English and other languages is a problem. because of that he is not doing well on other subjects.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Boineelo,
I’m sorry your son is having difficulties with English reading and writing. Without knowing what kind of struggles he is having, it is hard to offer specific help. Can you get a tutor for him to work with him on strengthening these skills?

Since reading and writing are a problem for him, he should be spending extra time working on them daily. If he can read, but his difficulty is reading quickly or understanding what he reads, then reading aloud to you or a tutor daily will help. When he reads aloud, you or another helpful adult will be able to hear what his difficulties are and can start to provide specific help. For example, one common reading problem with older students like this is that they guess at long words and just keep reading even when their guess makes no sense. If there are two or three words in every sentence that you guess at, then it becomes very difficult to understand the meaning of what you are reading. When he reads aloud, someone that is listening will hear words that make no sense in the sentence and can help him practice how to break the word down so he can read it correctly.

For writing, is he having trouble with spelling or with composition writing? Sometimes older students struggle with compositions because they don’t know how to organize their thoughts well to be able to produce good writing. If that is the case, try having him outline or use graphic organizers for his writing before he begins to write. A good outline serves as a plan that helps writers know what to say and what comes next.

I hope this helps some. Please let me know if you have further questions. I hope you find a way to help your son have success with reading and writing.

Ashley fontes

says:

My son is very smart, I am not sure if he is “gifted” in reading. He understood the alphabet and sounds early on due to ASL but had no desire to read till about 2 months ago, when I ordered AAR. He just turned 5, and I homeschool him. While he enjoys the book lessons he excels in the stories and decoding words through blending is what he wants to do. So we just finished the first vol. I’m Level 1, but I am afraid he is going to miss something by not doing the book lessons. I am thinking of going back to complete what we missed, but I don’t want to slow him down, as he is excited to read every day, and can’t wait for the new book. What are your suggestions?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ashley,
I don’t want to repeat everything we discussed on Facebook, but I did want to leave at least some reply to your question so that no one thought I missed it or ignored you. Keep up the great work with your son!

Thank you. I appreciate you answering here as well. Understanding an anxious parent. :)

Anne

says:

We are in a similar situation: our son began reading at 3… he just figured it out with no instruction. I’m a certified elementary teacher and language specialist and I didn’t even realize he was reading… my grandmother is the one who noticed! When he was 5 he started Kindergarten (homeschool) and that’s when we started AAR. Because he was so young I did decide to slow him down going through the levels; I was not holding him back, exactly, but we did not race through as quickly as he could. Now, at age six and part way through the first grade, he is working on Level 3.

I found the benefit to slowing him down was it gave me more time to supplement with other things. For example, when he reads a poem in the reader he then gets out his notebook and writes his own poem using the same (or similar) meter, rhyme scheme or theme. Then types it out and emails it to his grandparents. He loves it because he has been writing for fun since he was four and I figure there’s no need to rush.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Anne,
It sounds like you have found the right balance between moving forward as fast as your son can, and holding back because he is so young. Thank you for sharing how you have made AAR work with your young, gifted learner. Keep up the amazing work!

question

says:

Why is he in Kindergarten at age six? Shouldn’t he be in 1st grade…especially consider that he was so advanced?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Cody turned 6 while in kindergarten. The vast majority of kids start kindergarten at age 5 but will have their 6th birthday sometime during the year. That is what happened to Cody.

As for why he wasn’t put into an advanced grade, I don’t know. That decision would be up to Cody’s parents and the school he is attending (if he isn’t homeschooled). I do know the decision is a complex one, and many have good reasons for choosing not to place their academically advanced young student into a higher grade.

Teresa

says:

How inspiring! My struggling reader is 10 and just starting level 2. It has taken him 3 years. Sure wish he were gifted.

Anne

says:

Please don’t wish that! I have not had to deal with my own struggling readers yet (but I have 2 more kids who haven’t started school yet so we’ll see), but I taught both elementary and high school before I had children and I saw many children who had a lot of difficulty reading.

The students I taught in high school who flew through elementary school with no difficulties sometimes didn’t have the skills they needed to handle more difficult work. They didn’t have the perseverance to work at something that wasn’t easy for them and sometimes they were so puffed up in their own minds that they wouldn’t ask for help when they needed it. Sometimes it’s in the struggle that we learn things like perseverance or how to help others who are having trouble. My husband is now a high school chemistry teacher… but he was a poor chemistry student in high school. That struggle has helped him know WHY kids have difficulty with the material and HOW to teach it in a clear way.

So be encouraged! Go through the AAR levels at his own pace. Encourage him to work hard and rejoice over small successes… because if through this difficulty he learns to be a hard worker that will serve him well all his life. Oh, and the learning doesn’t end with the student… Mom and Dad (or the teacher!) have lots to learn too!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Anne,
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this comment.

There are benefits of being a struggling learner, and there are drawbacks of being a gifted one. I, too, have seen gifted learners flounder, and all too often completely give up, the first time things are difficult. I’ve known kids that excelled right through high school and had amazing SAT scores change their majors in their freshman year of college because the classes were too hard. I have also seen kids that have always struggled continue to struggle to success in their chosen major. There is something unmeasurable learned from struggling then succeeding at reading and spelling.

Marlee

says:

I have a gifted or bright child and this post caught my attention. It’s important to me that even a child who excels still gets the basics to build upon. AAR and AAS look like they do that.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Marlee,
As this post shows, advanced students do well with AAR and AAS for the same reason struggling students do well. Both programs are designed to be used at the individual student’s pace, so you can go as fast or as slow as the student needs to master the material.

Let us know if we can answer any questions, help with placement, or anything else.

Anna

says:

My kindergartener is reading chapter books (e.g. Little House on the Prairie, Narnia, etc.) We had casually helped her learn to read at age 3 without a curriculum, and she has naturally progressed by reading voraciously and independently. She joins 1st graders at school for the AAR level 1, but it’s too easy. However, I don’t know where her gaps are because we didn’t start with a curriculum. Any suggestions? We are also doing AAS level 1 independently at home, which is going well.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Anna,
With advanced readers like your daughter, we recommend using All About Spelling to fill any gaps she might have developed. You might find aspects of the higher levels of AAR helpful to her, such as when it gets into literary analysis topics like conflict, hyperbole, and point of view, but she will be fine filling in any phonogram gaps through learning spelling.

So, my suggestion is to keep up with AAS 1 at home, and possibly see if you can get her moved up to a higher reading level at school or even just have a study period or something during that hour.

Keep up the great work!

Marie

says:

Thank-you for this post. We are strongly suspecting that our first grader is gifted. We started him out with AAS level 1 in kindergarten when he was spontaneously spelling three letter words out loud. In less than 9 months, with summer vacation in between, he has completed levels 1 &2 with about 98% retention and accuracy and is eager to move onto the next level. He also just completed AAR level 2, and is eager to move on to level 3. He is also reading books that interest him, and applying the skills learned in this program while sounding out new words. This program has been fantastic for him, as it has given him the skills to know how to both decode and encode words on his own. A question I have though, is we are getting feedback from other people to hold him back a little, and not allow him to advance to quickly due to his young age. I am doing other subjects such as history, geography and science with him, but in regards to this program, do I allow him to start level 3 in the new year, or should I give him supplementary and enrichment materials instead? I really don’t think I am going to be able to hold him back when it comes to reading, as this is something that he really enjoys and is now doing on his own, and advancing his skills the more he reads.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Marie,
We don’t recommend holding a student back in All About Reading and All About Spelling if he is ready to move forward. There really isn’t a benefit in doing so. If he is ready for level 3, move into level 3.

LA

says:

Very cool to see how this may work with a gifted child. Thanks for the article!

Amy

says:

Thanks! Looking into using AAR with my son. I think he would love it!

Cheree

says:

I am excited to be start homeschooling my children as of 2016 (two of them are currently finishing the year at their current school in Australia – one in Preschool, the other in Kindergarten). I love that I will be able to teach them at their own pace of learning, rather than being held back or struggling to keep up the pace with the schedule in the classroom!

Ellen G

says:

I’ve never tried your products, but love how this story illustrates the diversity of them. We are really considering incorporating AAS into our curriculum.

Lee Ann

says:

Thanks for sharing how AAR helps different kids.

Melissa

says:

I have been looking at AAR and AAS for my son. Would love to give them a try.

Roxy

says:

I have used these materials with both of my kids from the time they were little(er) and they work very well with those that are quick-paced learners. Mine are thriving on it!

Jo

says:

Great post
I’m really thinking of how this program might work with my wriggly learners!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jo,
All About Reading works very well with wriggly ones! The daily work is short and sweet; we recommend just 20 minutes a day, and if that is too long you could divide it into two 10 minute lesson or just one 15 minute lesson. The program contains fun, hands-on components and activities that keep students engaged. The readers are very motivating, as they are “real books” that are hardbound with beautiful illustrations. And we highly recommend making review as fun as possible. Here is a blog post full of fun and active review ideas.

Lastly, we have a one-year “Go Ahead and Use It” 100% guarantee.

Miranda

says:

I totally have the curse of knowledge! I have never thought about it like that, but it takes me a while to figure out how to teach something, even though I know it. Great points!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Miranda,
I have loved learning the term “curse of knowledge”; naming something helps you to be able think through it better.

Tara Shaver

says:

It’s great to see that this program works for many different kinds of children. My daughter is 5 and knows how to read but is easily distracted and lacks motivation to practice her skills. I wonder if this program would work for her?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tara,
All About Reading likely would work well for your daughter. The daily work is short and sweet; we recommend just 20 minutes a day, and if that is too long for her you could divide it into two 10 minute lesson or just one 15 minute lesson. The program contains fun, hands-on components and activities that keep students engaged. The readers are very motivating, as they are “real books” that are hardbound with beautiful illustrations. And we highly recommend making review as fun as possible. Here is a blog post full of fun and active review ideas.

Lastly, we have a one-year “Go Ahead and Use It” 100% guarantee.

Sharon Martin

says:

I have many friends who highly reccomended this to me!!

Sherry

says:

Thank you for sharing this story! I too have an early learner. She was reading fairly well as a two year old, and now at 5 she reads probably at a Junior High level. (It is so hard to test a 5 year old, because, well, they are still only 5. While she can read lots of words from a college text book, she still has the life experience of a 5 year old, therefore I really don’t know her reading level.) I started her on AAS when she was 4. She flew through it in a couple of months, when she probably could have completed it much more quickly. Now she is going through level 2, once again more slowly than she is capable of doing, this time being held back by circumstances outside of my control. I am so glad for this curriculum because it is giving her the reason behind what she already know to do intuitively. Thank you!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sherry,
You brought up great point. Children can read years and years ahead, but life experience and maturity still plays a part in their ability to comprehend what they are reading. Your daughter may be able to read a story about driving a car, but it’s questionable that she would get as much out of it as a 16 year old because of life experience.

Thank you for sharing.

Melissa

says:

Love this story! My son was an early learner as well and it was amazing to see.

Kelly M

says:

What a fascinating story! Thank you for posting from real moms and dads.

Nicki

says:

My oldest is in kindergarten, but is working at a first-grade level. It is nice that we can move at her own pace through homeschooling.

Rebecca Armstrong

says:

THANK YOU! I have said for years that gifted children have special needs too. Now it’s officially in print. :-) My two older gifted children have successfully used AAS and now I am using it for my 3 adopted special needs children. Again, thank you!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Rebecca,
You are welcome! :D And thank you for sharing that the same product has been successful for both your gifted children and your special needs children.

Elizabeth

says:

This looks like a good program. Would love to give it a try.

Stephanie

says:

This product looks good, and I have heard good review about it.

Susan G

says:

I’m relating a lot to this story – can’t wait to try AAR materials!

Kristin Evans

says:

Seems like a great product! Might need to give it a my with my boys!

Rebekah

says:

Wish this program was around when I taught my kids. We worked it out, but it could have been so much easier.

Rachel R

says:

This program looks like it would be great to use with my son.

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