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How Making Connections Helps Your Child’s Memory

As your child learns, he adds new information to what he already knows. His brain is continually reorganizing, adapting, and restructuring. In this post, we look at several ways you can organize information so your child is more likely to remember it later.

Let’s Start by Looking at Schemas

Knowledge is organized into elaborate networks called schemas. A schema is a model of how knowledge is organized and how new information is added. For example, a child may have the following schema for the alphabet:

Gradually this schema becomes much more complex as the child adds more information to his knowledge base: the sounds of the letters, how to print or write cursive, which letters are vowels, and how to blend letter sounds to read words.

Each letter of the alphabet will have information attached to it. For example, a schema for the letter H might look like this:

The letter H is fairly simple. The schema for vowels will be much more complex because of the wide range of sounds that a vowel can make alone and in conjunction with other letters.

Every bit of information stored in your child’s brain is connected to something else.

As your child’s brain builds a schema, new information is attached to previously stored information. Although we can’t show it through a simple drawing, the number of connections between pieces of information is unlimited since multiple ideas and concepts can be intricately interconnected. Watch this video for a 30-second demonstration.

If there is nothing to relate the new information to, there is no way for it to be stored in long-term memory. Instead, it is dropped from short-term memory and completely forgotten. If someone talks to you in Russian, and you don’t speak Russian, there is nothing for that information to connect to, and the information is dropped.

Help Your Child Build a Schema

All About Reading and All About Spelling help your child build an efficient schema or network of knowledge. Here are three important ways our programs help organize information:

  1. Make connections to things your child already knows. For example, one of the first spelling rules your child will learn is that CK is generally used for the sound of /k/ immediately after a short vowel. Example words include rock, snack, and pick. See how the CK comes right after the short vowel in those words?

    It just so happens that there are two more phonograms that come only after a short vowel: DGE and TCH. DGE spells the sound of /j/ only after a short vowel, and TCH spells /ch/ only after a short vowel. So when it comes time to teach the usage of DGE and TCH, it is helpful to make a connection to the rule they previously learned about CK. The rules are so closely related that we should tie them together in your child’s brain instead of treating them as separate ideas to be stored randomly.
  2. Use analogies. An analogy is a comparison between two things that are otherwise dissimilar. For example, when we teach syllable types, we compare an “open syllable” with an open door. An open syllable ends in a vowel; there is no consonant closing it in. The word she is an open syllable because there is no consonant closing in the vowel E. Likewise, the first syllable in the word apron is an open syllable, with no consonant closing in the vowel A. Students label these syllable types with a syllable tag representing an open door. Using analogies (like the “open door” analogy) is a powerful way to make connections in the brain.

    open syllable tag
  3. Provide content that has unifying themes. For example, our color-coded letter tiles are grouped according to themes. Ways to spell the sound of /er/ are purple, vowel teams are red, consonant teams are blue, and so on.

    letter tiles on white board

By helping your child build an organized schema, you’ll be helping her build her long-term memory. Each new bit of information will have a logical place to connect to, and your teaching will be more effective.

Additional Help for Your Child’s Memory

Download my free e-book “Help Your Child’s Memory” to learn more techniques to help strengthen your child’s memory and achieve learning that really sticks.

download help your child's memory ebook

In this e-book you will discover…

  • Why information goes right over your child’s head … and what to do about it
  • How the “Funnel Concept” can improve your teaching and result in long-term learning
  • Schemas—what they are and how they help improve memory
  • What “Simultaneous Multisensory Instruction” is, and why it is such a powerful teaching method
  • Six things you can do today to improve your child’s working memory
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Leave a Comment

Sheryl

says:

Thank you for this information. My son struggles with memory

Penny

says:

Thank you

Renae B.

says:

Thank you. I enjoy reading information about how to help my children’s memory.

Sarah

says:

This sounds like what I’m looking for – finding ways to make it stick!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
I’m glad this was helpful for you. We have a free Help Your Child’s Memory ebook you might be interested in that includes a section titled “Make Learning Stick”. Let me know if you have any questions or need more information to help.

Keri Salazar

says:

Very informative

Shakeeta W

says:

I love this! My kids (like myself) like to see things laid out like this and it really does help with retention!

Jenny

says:

Thank you so much for help with memory. It’s the exact reason I came to the blog today. Looking for help with a child that struggles with short term memory.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Jenny. Please let me know if you have questions or need more information. I’d love to help you help your child.

Mrs. C

says:

We love your program and I appreciate the extra articles like this one that are incredibly helpful!

Ross

says:

What great information. I didn’t know this myself and I’m looking forward to helping my child with this data. My son is about average in his reading abilities and his spelling needs some attention. He has the same problem as his dad and reads and writes backwards. This confuses him to no end and frustrates his teachers so we end up making up the difference at home using yours and others progress. Thank you for all help you give out.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Ross. Please let me know if you need any anything or have questions as you help your son to succeed with spelling.

Kate

says:

What great information! I’m very excited to start your reading program in the fall. My son is reading very well for his age, but he makes the same mistakes over and over. I’m realizing those mistakes are things that we never really covered in our previous phonics work so he has just been memorizing individual words. Hopefully your program will help him organize the information he knows and make sense out of it all!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kate,
It does sound like your son has a gap in his reading, reading well overall but making the same mistakes repeatedly.

Since you say he is reading very well for his age, I’m interested in hearing where he places in our All About Reading placement tests. I’m also interested in what sorts of mistakes he is making. You may consider looking toward All About Spelling to address his gaps while continuing his reading at a higher level. That is often a successful approach with this sort of difficulties.

Please let me know if you have questions or need more information.

Krista

says:

This info is so helpful! I’m continuously learning along with my kids!

CATALINA MURGUIA

says:

My ds7 has used All About Spelling. It is very easy-to-follow. I´m excited to use the next level! I had heard about this information about the “schema”, but this made it very clear! Thank you very much for the information.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Catalina,
You are welcome. I’m pleased to hear you found this information helpful.

MommaByrd

says:

This is a grace for our family… thank you!

Debbie

says:

I really enjoyed this blog. I was not taught this way back in the late 50’s early 60’s, so having this information helps me teach my granddaughter correctly.
Thank you for the all the great blogs!

Dawn Williams

says:

My 6 year old son’s memory is affected by autism and his sensory processing challenges. I find myself growinig impatient after repeating the same information for the 100th time. This idea of schemas really opened my eyes for a better understanding of his needs.

Sheila

says:

Great resources!!

Jaclyn

says:

Love all of the resources available on your blog. We have enjoyed using All About Reading and All About Spelling!

Jodi Taylor

says:

Thank you for these resources.

Nynke

says:

I’m going to read the e-book “Help Your Child’s Memory”, thanks!

Michelle Meader

says:

Love these resources, so helpful for teaching dyslexic kiddos!

Nancy

says:

This helps me understand multi sensory teaching so much!

Kelly

says:

I would love to have more example on how to use schemas. I think it will be very helpful.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great question, Kelly!

Take a look at the video in our article on How to Teach Reading Comprehension. In the video, you will see how Linda helps Oliver make connections to other things he is familiar with such as:

  • Talking about periods and exclamation points and how they are different, how we read them.
  • Talking about capital letters and when they are used (in this case, in a name).
  • Comparing ferrets (an animal he isn’t very familiar with) to cats (an animal he knows more about)–how they are both curious, playful, mischievous, that both can be pets, and how they can both get into trouble.

Any normal conversation can be an opportunity to make connections, use analogies to help a child understand something and to provide unifying content.

I’m going to pass along the idea for further examples on how to use schemas to help with memory. Thank you for the suggestion!

Rebekah

says:

Very interesting article. Thank you! We just finished AAR2, and I’m liking it a lot.

LMZ

says:

This is very helpful information. The graphics are excellent!

Jennifer You

says:

Super helpful – Thanks. It’s fun to see the connections my son is making.

Kim

says:

Thanks for the wonderful reading program. One thing I love doing to make connections when their small and first learning their sounds is having them put post it notes with the specific letter around the house that start with that sound. It’s so fun.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such a great activity, Kim! Thank you for sharing the idea.

Sherry S.

says:

Great information. Thank you!

Sherry S.

says:

Informative article. Thank you.

Lorraine

says:

Thanks for sharing valuable information.

Lydia R.

says:

Interesting. My kids just started learning Mandarin two months ago, and I’m in the process of deciding what color-coding scheme to use to help them (especially my older one) remember the four different tones better. I love the AAS blue/red color scheme, and the alphabet tiles on our fridge are also blue and red instead of multicolored =)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lydia,
It may be best to have your children decide which color to use to represent each tone. That way it will become more personal to them. Of course, with more than one kid they’ll have to agree, but the discussion alone may help cement the concept too.

Neidy

says:

So helpful! I’ve learned previous about schemes but never thought to incorporate it into my child’s learning!

Jennifer Burger

says:

I’ve learned so much from teaching my kiddos with AAS/AAR. The blog posts are amazing and this one is no exception. Again, learned something new. Thanks!!!

Stephanie knaus

says:

This was a very helpful article on memory. There are so many connections that I wasn’t even aware of until we started this program, such as the ‘ck’ relation to ‘dge’ and ‘tch’ . I LOVE that not only is my daughter making fundamental connections that will help her in the future with reading and spelling… but that I am able to make new connections as well, by simply using the cirriculum with my children. It’s such an amazing thing to see, and we absolutly love this program!!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Stephanie,
Yes! A recent quote I read applies so well, “When one teaches, two learn.” (Robert A. Heinlein). It’s so true.

Lisa

says:

Don’t rush a child. They will learn a certain thing when they are ready. As a parent you just keep trying, working on things a different way that makes it fun.

Emily

says:

Willing to give anything a shot I feel like just a failure that she got behind. She is doing an amazing job with writing the letters but can’t recongnize most of them. She is 4

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Emily,
My heart goes out to you! You are not a failure nor is your little one. Many children are not ready to learn letters as such a very young age. More than one of my kids was in kindergarten before they learned all the letters and one was even older. All can read and write well now.

Take a look at our Top 10 Activities for Letter Knowledge blog post for lots of ideas and fun activities. With teaching letters, stick to just one at a time, working with it for at least a couple of days before introducing the next one. It’s very important to keep all the previously learned letters in review going over them briefly at least 5 or so days a week. Keep it very lighthearted and fun too.

Also take a look at our Pre-reading program. It focuses on learning letters as well as the other Reading Readiness Skills. It is all laid out to be both easy to teach and fun to learn.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like more information.

Felicia McKibben

says:

My 6 yr old daughter is half way through AAR1 and my almost 4yr old son has just finished up his capital letter in AAR-Pre and the are both doing amazing and have great confidence! It’s a beautiful thing to find curriculum that you feel is sound and effective, but one thing will remain the same, we will stick with AAR/AAS! Thank you for the wonderful program, giveaways, customer support, blog posts, free resources! Such a great company :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Felicia! I’m so pleased to hear that All About Reading is working out so well for you and your child.

Sarah Brunkow

says:

I’m a special education teacher and I love using the All About Reading series. I use the phonograms app all the time and love the helpful hints in the frequent emails I receive.

Christy

says:

Thank you for information!

Krista Smith

says:

Our family loves All About Spelling! It has turned my kiddos into better spellers than their mama! Thankfully, teaching them has made me a better speller too…It’s the way I wish I’d been taught!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Krista,
I love that your family is learning together!

Louise

says:

The color-coding is a great idea, thanks!

Margaret

says:

Good lessons!

Wendy

says:

My son is a good oral reader and can easily memorize spelling words; however he struggles to recall basic information such as which letters are vowels, whether a vowel sound is long or short, and with other academic skills such as applying spelling, punctuation and grammar rules when writing. I plan to incorporate some of your “Making Connections” strategies while we practice these skills during the summer. Thanks for the free downloads.

Jen

says:

Very helpful! Thank you!

Crystal Hogan

says:

Thanks! This is so helpful!

Jenny

says:

Very interesting – like mind maps!

Erin Jones

says:

I really like how this program helps kids make connections. It has really worked well for us.

Samantha Mccullough

says:

Thanks! This is all great info

Andrea Schaeffer

says:

Great info! Thanks

Daphne Smith

says:

Thanks for sharing.

EILEEN C HAMILTON

says:

Thanks for this great info! I really appreciate what you guys do for helping homeschoolers teach their children about reading and spelling!

Roxanna Benitez

says:

This is great information! Thanks for sharing

Jennie

says:

Interesting stuff! Thanks!

Brigetté

says:

This is an interesting read.

Trish

says:

As a former classroom teacher I have seen how important building schema is to a student’s learning. Thanks for the download!

Kayla

says:

Great insights!

Leanne

says:

Good information!

Donna Cason

says:

Fascinating. I’ve definitely seen this in action. My youngest couldn’t speak until she was 2 because of having a trach. We taught her sign language, and because of the language connections already in place, when she finally was able to speak, she caught up to age level and beyond in a matter of 2 months. I’m interested to use the similar ideas to catch her up with reading now.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

So interesting, Donna! Thank you for sharing this.

Alison

says:

Thank you for this post!

Amie

says:

So true! Thanks for the great resources!

Kristall

says:

Thank you for sharing this!

Mary

says:

Reminds me of Charlotte Mason’s belief that “Education is the science of relations”. Thankful to have your comprehensive curriculum so I don’t have to figure it out myself!

Cindy Brown

says:

Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

Shana

says:

Such great information! We just withdrew our son from public kindergarten and he reads words but really doesn’t understand the phonetic rules or why certain words sound different than they look to him. I think schemas are going to be the key to address this existing gap in his reading skills. Thank you for sharing!!

Tandy Sinclair

says:

This information is very helpful! Thank you! This will be our 3rd year to use All About Reading & All About Spelling. Great Program!

Julie Peachey

says:

Enjoying AAR/AAS blogs I am considering using this curriculum for 2019-20.

Roxy

says:

I love this post – I am always looking for easy ways to incorporate memory techniques. They are so important in all aspects of life.

Jennifer

says:

Making connections makes it stick for sure. When I was a public school teacher I led my kids through reading circles and each had a role to follow our reading assignments. It was the most fun and the kids engaged the most with the role of Connector, having to relate the passage to something else. It started the best conversations and helped solidify the reading in their brains. It helps for spelling and reading rules, too, not just content. Words remind them of other words.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jennifer,
I love your idea of a “connector” during reading circles! What a great way to build deeper comprehension and thinking. Thank you for sharing this!

Kris

says:

Thank you for explaining schemas… now it makes sense why we would directly address the phonics rules.

A. Der

says:

Thank you for eBook. I like how children can build on schemas.

Erin

says:

This is so helpful! Thank you!

Christy S

says:

Thank you, this is really helpful. It can be frustrating when my child doesn’t remember something they’ve been learning, but this gives me some ideas on how to make more connections.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Christy,
Making connections is one way to help memory, but there are others. Check out our free Help Your Child’s Memory ebook. Let me know if you have questions or need anything.

Wabbit Woman

says:

This post and the post about the funnel were very helpful. I have one child who is taking longer to lean how to read than his siblings. I like when during not “school” times, he comes to me in the kitchen and asks me a question. I’m trying to be better about really listening now because I think he is trying to make a connection about something. Some of the things that we thought were connections when we were young can be quite funny: when I was little I thought there was some connection between “licorice” and whether a person was “ticklish.” It seems like my brain wanted to make connections between words that rhyme or sound similar.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Aww, licorice and ticklish is a cute connection, even if it is false. But I guess it does go to show we need to help our children make true connections.

Lindsay

says:

You always have such helpful tips! Thank you!

Sherry

says:

My son now says, “I feel good about my spelling now.” Thank you All About Spelling, for providing him with the tools to gain confidence in his spelling which has helped in so many other areas of his schooling.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, Sherry! This is so touching. I love that All About Spelling has helped your son to feel good about his spelling. Thank you for sharing this.

Juill Potts

says:

Thanks for the download.

Mary Jennissen

says:

I definitely get helping your child/student put connections together to build a Schema. Very cool that all about reading does this!

Stacy Patel

says:

I love the progress of learning new rules with students so they can make connections in reading themselves, the AHHAA! moments are priceless!

Desi

says:

I can’t wait to review this curriculum this summer at a homeschool convention!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Desi,
All About Learning Press won’t be attending any conventions this year. You might see if Rainbow Resource Center will be, as they carry our entire product line.

Another option, although I know it’s not the same as seeing things in person, is to check out our online samples.

Also, we have a one-year, 100% satisfaction guarantee when you order from our website. If you decide to try one of our products and it just doesn’t work for you and your children, you are free to return the product (even used), for a refund of your purchase price up to a full year from purchase date.

Thanks for your interest. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Mikael B

says:

All about spelling has been a joy for my family! I love all the tools it brings together to facilitate at fun teaching environment. Extra tools like the ones above enhance my teaching ability and leave me feeling more equipped as a homeschooling mom!

Meg

says:

I’ve often thought about this idea but didn’t have a formal explanation for it. Thanks for this!

Amanda

says:

We love this curriculum. It connects all of the dots!

Krista

says:

A great way to make lasting memory connections in life, other subjects and reading!

Heather Zalenski

says:

Thank you for sharing such valuable information!

Kristi Larsen

says:

Great Idea! Thank you!

Stacy Whitaker

says:

This information is so helpful. I need to remember to help my dyslexic daughter make these connections because they don’t come naturally for her.

Tara Nussbaum

says:

Always look forward to your weekly emails!

Miranda Wendler

says:

Wow! I have never heard of this but this will sure come in handy thank you!!!

Kim

says:

I learn something every time I read this blog! I love using AAS and AAR.

Renee

says:

Love this idea. Thank you!

Karen K

says:

Makes sense. I think it’s a big part of the reason we are better students as adults than as children.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such a great observation, Karen. So true. Having more general knowledge and experience does make forming connections much easier. I think that is one of the reasons reading aloud to our children is so important, as it helps build their knowledge more and if they don’t have much personal experience, they can lean on the experience of the characters in books they listen to.

Bethany

says:

I have enjoyed observing my son’s knowledge grow as his schemas for reading and writing expand. This program really does have “no gaps!”

Margarita Rice

says:

Great info!!

Dawn

says:

As always, great insights!

Sharon D.

says:

My son always complained that he couldn’t remember words and now we are almost done with our first year using Level 2 All About Reading and I see connections happening and words remembered! Thank you for this great program!!

Kendra S Mackenzie

says:

While that is a good idea

Charity H

says:

This is a great reminder! I find myself doing this with a lot of things because I guess I know it helps me to understand ew concepts when I relate to something I already know. I love the ‘ck’ relation to ‘dge’ and ‘tch’ that will be helpful in future spelling for my daughter!! Love this program!

Lisa

says:

My daughter is very visual and it definitely helped her to remember the vowels when I would tell her to remember which ones are red. :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
I had the same experience! The different colors for the letter tiles are a huge help for students.

Erin

says:

Very interesting! Making connections makes complete sense – the more ways we approach something and connect it to something we already know, the easier it is to retain.

Jenn A

says:

Thank you for showcasing all the connections – that really helps me to understand how to help my child. We love AAR & AAS!

Daisy

says:

This is amazing. I love the illustrations and the video.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thanks, Daisy!

Love the connection of the -ck to tch to dge. I can’t wait to tell my students on Monday, what I learned this weekend about this connection! Thanks

Eva

says:

I agree that we are giving our students information overload and they are loosing more than they are retaining. I also agree with buildingconnections to improve their memory. This is a great idea.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Eva.

Sandra

says:

This is what I love about these programs. It integrates all learning styles and you even “bring it home” to parents with great tips and help. I was a hands-on learner… I could only remember by doing, relating, repeating, etc. Having resources to help my kids who have similar needs makes it so much less stressful. I only wish I had found you sooner.

Kellie Duggin

says:

So thankful we came across All About Spelling. My 3rd grader (ADHD) loves it! Can’t wait to start it with our youngest.

Melissa

says:

This makes so much sense. I have been so frustrated trying to teach my 11 year old son. It seemed as if I was always teaching and he was always forgetting. I was teaching him in the way that I learn best, but I am learning to teach him in the way that he learns best, thanks to All About Learning!

DhanyaCali

says:

I had never heard of schemas before! Also cool that AAR tiles are blue and red like Montessori, I have always liked that.

Sela

says:

This approach had been working wonders for my son who has adhd. So glad I found all about spelling!

beth anne

says:

I am thankful for all the ways there are to connect what we are learning in AAR with what we are reading in other subjects. It is so encouraging to have my son see something we are working on in Reading and connect it later is what we are reading in history or science, it’s been great!

Heidi K

says:

It’s great your programs give students so many ways to make connections.

This has been a huge issue for my son! Working on it for a couple months and he is doing much better!

Abby

says:

This was a very helpful article on memory. I can see how using AAR 1 with my 5 year old has helped her to learn rules and memorize them because everything is linked to something we already learned. This is a wonderful program!!!!

Kelly

says:

Thank you!

Chantel King

says:

Great information!

Maria

says:

Great information!

Tracy S

says:

I have enjoyed following along with the series. My son likes to look over my shoulder to see pictures of other kids using “his” spelling class. Thanks for the helpful info.

kara

says:

I would love to see you make your magnetic letters in a bigger size – I find them quite fiddly and they are so helpful. I have small groups of children that I teach and they are just too small to be impactful. What do you think???

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Kara,

I don’t think I’ve heard that request before, but will certainly pass this on to our development team for consideration. We’re always looking for ways to improve our materials. Thanks for your suggestion.

Holly Baker

says:

We often say my daughter has the memory of an elephant. However, she does lack in other areas. I am so grateful to have more tricks up my sleeve!

Carrie Adkins

says:

We just did -tch today–i will need to go back tomorrow and help my daughter connect it to “ck”. :) My daughter is AMAZING about making connections on her own—maybe that is why she has such a great memory. :)

Teri P.

says:

We are currently using the AAS Level 2. I wish y’all had some posters I could display to help make the rules visual when we are not working on spelling. My kids are always asking me how to spell something…

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Teri,

Did you see this set of blog posts: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/spelling-tips-and-tricks-round-up/

Some people have found ways to print and post them. We are looking into whether we can make PDF versions of these. I’ll be sure to email you if we do, and we’ll post about it as well.

Bethany Wright

says:

I love this! My daughter gets so excited when she sees what she is learning in reading or spelling in another area (writing, extra reading, etc). I love that she is making the connections and that she is learning that these phonics rules don’t apply only to AAR time, but to all of life! She gets so excited to find all those connections!

Caroline

says:

Honestly, this information is SO useful for my own teaching, but it’s also awesome to see how you incorporate all of these things into your curriculum as well. The “why” behind the “how” is amazing! Thanks for sharing this.

Molly

says:

Very interesting. Thanks!

Jennifer

says:

Thank you for sharing!

Bethany

says:

These posts are very helpful- even for a seasoned homeschooler. Reminders and insight help with educating a reluctant reader. Thank you!

Katie

says:

Thanks for sharing!

Laura R

says:

Very insightful…thanks for sharing!

Shannon

says:

Thank You for your insight! My daughter has a hard time remembering what she has learned a week before. This post shows me how to make it more meaningful to her.

Karen

says:

I have been looking for a great program that will help my son with reading. He really struggles. The Memory Series sounds like it would be very helpful.

Joede

says:

As a Sunday school teacher, I have found it really helps the kids to see, touch, feel, and hear something before they can really relate to it. I love when we are also able to add taste to that list, because those are the special lessons that really seem to concrete into their memory. Hitting all the senses really does make a giant impact in what they are able to retain.

Tammy Hernandez

says:

Wow, so much I didn’t know.

Louise

says:

I find the Memory Series very helpful and informative.

Gennie Shelor

says:

Very informative!

Angelica

says:

These are great Strategies and insights. Shorter learning sessions have worked better for our son.

Monica

says:

This looks great. We’ll have to check it out. With dyslexia we can’t use just any old thing.

Nikki Welch

says:

Very interesting. I can see where I was always setting us up for failure in other subjects (mostly history and science) when I tried doing my own thing.
What I have loved about using AAR & AAS together, my little guy will have gotten to one concept already in one of them and remembers it for the next, and flies through it quickly. I can see the instant connection piece, and he’s got it mastered in no time, so we move on. These articles are allowing me to see why – and how I can apply the concept to the rest of the kids’ learning :)

Tammy

says:

Interesting! We are struggling with being able to recall words that my daughter can read to being able to write them.

Jessica Bush

says:

I find that with my 4 year old, I have to relate new concepts to things he is interested in, not just previous concepts such as dinosaurs. He hates singing…or at least me singing, so catchy jingles dont catch on to him.

Carlee

says:

I can’t tell you how helpful this is. My daughter makes these types of connections ALL THE TIME. Sometimes I want to interrupt her and move on, but, I listen, and now I realize she is connecting the new info to prior learning, and cementing her knowledge! Another great post!

Elizabeth Turner

says:

Thanks so much for sharing this information. It makes so much sense and I know it works. This is the first program that works well for my son and that he loves.

Taura

says:

Thank you so much for the learning/teaching support!

Stefanie

says:

Very helpful article. I’m always looking for ways to improve retention with my beginning speller.

Becky lynn

says:

Great article! Very insightful and helpful. Why I choice to try aas for my kids.

Anne D

says:

This post shows exactly why I love your spelling and reading programs so much. With a young man who seems to have trouble organizing information in his brain, this is so important. I have seen such an improvement in remembering spelling rules, and huge leaps in his reading ability. And, it is all due to consistently using AAS and AAR. He loves it when he learns something in AAR, and then it comes up in AAS. It has made all the difference for my struggling language learner!

Saph

says:

Never used AAR before and this looks like something I’d definitely like to try out with my younger daughter.

Ellen

says:

Thank you for providing this information. It is such a valuable resource.

Johnna

says:

This is such a logical approach to learning. I am anxious to dig into the program further and put it to the test. Thank you so much for putting this together for us.

Adrienne

says:

We are on level 2 AAR, and love it. My son is 9 and struggled with reading from the beginning. He loves books, stories, read alouds but had a lot of difficulty de coding the words. After several programs i discovered AAR had levels. I had dismissed it as I thought it was a pre k program with puppets and didn’t want to make my son feel like a baby. The content in the program is similar to other things we tried, but it is organized in a way that works and the color tiles work for us. We are now working on open and closed syllables and he can separate the word with the tiles. The colors assist in seeing the open or closed clue. In January he began tackling print in places other than he lesson. He has brought me food boxes, read street signs, tries to read email over my shoulder…. He is confident now that he has skills that he can rely on to attack a word. I know AAR is the reason why we were able to get to this point. We were trying before, and offered a print rich environment, read to him as soon as he had ears etc. this program was a game changer for us. We are customers for the elementary years for sure. Thanks!

Merry at AALP

says:

That’s great, Adrienne! I’m glad AAR is working so well for your son, it’s so fun when they start to take off with reading!

adeoye bukunola

says:

hello, have always loved teaching and still do though i did not study an educational course in school. i studied applied chemistry. i live in Lagos, Nigeria and will love to know more about teaching, online courses on teaching also. i need advise… thank you.

Rachael

says:

Hi,
This may seem like a strange request, but I thought I might ask in light of the “making connections” advice in this blog. I was reviewing some phonograms with my daughter today, and we both thought it would be helpful to have the phonogram cards match the tiles on the board, so for example all the vowel team cards be red, the vowels red, the consonants blue and the consonant teams blue, the sounds of “er” be purple etc. I know that would mean a lot of hard work, but when she sees yellow on the current phonogram cards she thinks “jail” or exception, and when we work with the tiles and cards it’s not as “connective” as it could be. Is this something you have thought of before? Would it be possible? The colour coded flash card option?
Just an idea. thanks, Rachael

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Rachael,

That’s an interesting idea! I’ll be sure to pass this on to Marie. I haven’t heard it shared before, so I don’t know if it’s been considered. Thanks for your suggestion!

Abi

says:

My daughter is 7 and in grade 2 and just diagnosed woth dyslexia, I would like to start using your books, but I don’t know where to start.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Abi,

You can use the placement tests for AAR to decide which level would be best: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/reading-placement/

Also, we recommend having your child read the sample stories from the previous level online as a further confirmation. You want your child to be reading fluently with good comprehension before going to a higher level. I’m guessing by her age that she would be in one of the first two levels, but let me know if you need additional samples or information on placement.

Level 1 sample story: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/reading-placement/
Level 2 sample story: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/content/samples/AAR-L2-QueenBee-2ndEd-Sample.pdf

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have additional questions. We provide lifetime support for all of our programs.

Karen

says:

I’ve read a lot of review for AAR and AAS for dyslexic learners. Is this method appropriate for early readers without developmental issues?

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Karen,

Yes it is! AAR and AAS are often used by beginning readers and spellers. The lessons are laid out in an orderly form for the teacher too, so that each day you can simply open and go. The programs are easy to do at home without prior training.

AAR and AAS are multisensory. They approach learning through sight, sound, and touch. This helps kids remember what they learn because they take in information in various ways and also interact with it in various ways.

AAR includes research-based instruction in decoding skills, fluency, automaticity, comprehension, vocabulary and lots and lots of reading practice. AAS focuses on encoding skills, spelling rules and other strategies that help children become good spellers.

Each lesson time is simple and explicit, and will include 3 simple steps: review of what was learned the day before, a simple new teaching, and a short practice of that new teaching. The program is designed for you to move at your child’s pace, so you can go as quickly or as slowly as your child needs through each step.

Lessons are logical and incremental. AAR and AAS break every teaching down into its most basic steps and then teaches the lessons in a logical order, carrying the students from one concept or skill to the next. Each step builds on the one the student has already mastered. Our sequence was very carefully tested to reduce confusion for the child.

AAR and AAS use specially color-coded letter tiles. Working with the letter tiles can make the difference between understanding or not understanding a concept.

AAS and AAR are scripted, so you can concentrate on your child. The script is very clear, without excess verbiage.

Both programs have built-in review in every lesson. Some children need lots of review in order to retain concepts, while others don’t need as much–so you are free to adjust this to your child’s need. After a concept has been taught, don’t assume that the child knows it. Quickly revisit that concept again in the next lesson. With AAR and AAS, your child will have a Review Box so you can customize the review. This way, you can concentrate on just the things that your child needs help with, with no time wasted on reviewing things that your child already knows.

Another benefit of the review is that you can practice with your child what to say–you can rehearse as many or as few times as your child needs to help her become fluent in reading the words.

-AAS includes dictation that starts out very short–Level 1 starts out with just words and then progresses to 2-word phrases. Level 2 includes phrases and shorter sentences, while Level 3 moves up to slightly longer sentences. With dictation you will say the phrase or sentence and have your child repeat it. If possible, you want to encourage your child to really focus so that you only say the phrase or sentence once, and they can repeat it and then write it. You are training them to expand their working memory a little at a time. You can always break things down more to meet your child’s needs, too. The dictation is meant to be spread over several days, so you can take as much or as little time on that part as your child needs.

-The programs are independent of each other so students can move as quickly or as slowly as they need to with each skill. Kids generally move ahead more quickly in reading, and we don’t want to hold them back with the spelling. For more information, check out this article on Why We Teach Reading and Spelling Separately: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/why-we-teach-reading-and-spelling-separately/

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have additional questions

Michele Shea

says:

We love AAR. It works great for our apraxic and dyslexic son. We are beginning AAS also.

Sarah MacKillop

says:

Hi,

My daughter is 12 and in 6 th grade. I am seeing
her spelling skills go backwards. She seems to need two
weeks to get through one list of twenty spelling words.
We need to review phonetic sounds, grammar skills
and have more vocabulary words. Would your program
help achieve these three things?

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Sarah,

Sometimes older kids will struggle because they really have gaps in their knowledge of phonograms or how our language works. Many programs focus on memorizing a lot of words, but with those gaps in understanding, kids tend to hit a saturation point where they struggle.

AAS’s main focus is on teaching kids effective spelling strategies: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/effective-spelling-strategies

Sometimes my kids did learn new vocabulary–we certainly discussed new words along the way. But that is not a focus of the program. Honestly, my kids learned most vocabulary through two means: read-alouds, and our every day speech (we have never watered down our vocabulary for our kids. Instead, we would use a word and restate the meaning as we spoke–similar to the way many books for kids will do to help kids understand new words). You might like this article: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/building-your-childs-vocabulary/

Grammar is only taught as it applies to spelling. For example, when the suffix -ed is taught, students do learn what past tense means and how some words change completely instead of simply taking on the suffix. However, the program does not discuss parts of speech, punctuation, and so on. Here’s a final article on planning language arts, which you might find helpful: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/language-arts-in-my-household/

I hope this helps as you decide how to proceed in helping your daughter. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Carrie Seibert

says:

I really appreciate how visually engaging the colored tiles are, but even more, what they represent and how they are grouped. There is a constant message being sent to the child as they use the tiles that each tile “belongs” to a particular group and I think this really helps them better understand how all the pieces of the large language puzzle begin to fit together!

Lynn Coetzee

says:

So interesting and encouraging!

Laurie

says:

My dd is 12, and is a third of the way through AAS book three. (We’ve been using the program for about 2 years) When we started, she was unable to listen to a single word and write it. I had to dictate it one letter at a time for her to be able to copy it down. Now, she can listen to a sentence of 7-10 words and write the whole thing. I love the step by step learning this program promotes, and we are both delighted in the improvements she is making.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Your daughter has made great progress, Laurie! I’m so happy for you both!

Lisa

says:

This is very helpful information! Thanks so much!

Lisa Stallings

says:

i love the AAR concept and method. After successfully homeschooling three children, I ran into a brick wall with my fourth child. AAR has helped us scale that wall! It really works-and my son and I are thankful!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I’m so happy to hear that, Lisa! Stories like that keep me going!

Kathryn

says:

It is so rewarding as our son’s teacher when he makes a comment that demonstrates that he has made the connections as described here. He is excited and more confident in his new knowledge.

Linda

says:

Thank you. I have always been a good speller, but it is so fun for me to be learning the “whys” along with my children! Really enjoying your program and seeing such progress. You are helping me be a better teacher.

Marla

says:

This is very interesting. I have always thought learning should flow from the know into the unknown, and this post explains why that is. It is only from the know to the unknown that we can build the connections.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Exactly, Marla! You explained that very well!

Brenda

says:

I have a daughter adopted from foster care. And I don’t think things in her brain work the same way. She just doesn’t make connections. It will be interesting to see if this helps.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Brenda, here’s another article may be helpful to you as you figure out the best way to reach your daughter: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/spelling-multisensory/. Multisensory instruction really helps children who learn differently.

And here’s a post on how to individualize your child’s instruction: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/spelling-individualized/.

Jason

says:

This is an interesting post. My son struggled with another reading curriculum during his first year (and he struggles with memorizing things in general too). My wife found AAR and AAS and switched this year and he has excelled at reading with AAR. I think the incorporation of memory techniques as pointed out in this post within the AAR material probably explains some of why he’s done well and why it seems like his overall memory has improved over the past few months too. I’ve worked with him on other memory tricks lately and they seem to help him as well. One memory “trick” we’ve taught him for lists and facts are the number pictures from 1-20. Candle, swan, clover, sailboat, star, elephant trunk, ax, hourglass, tennis racket, fingers, goal posts, dozen eggs, american flag, lightning bolts, elevator, car, harp, soldier, golf clubs, and shotgun. After he learned the 20 pictures, we use memory association to attach new facts/items to these 20 number pictures.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Thanks for sharing your experience with AAR, Jason! That’s wonderful that you are working with your son with various memory techniques.

Bartek

says:

Great post. I’m huge fan of mind mapping and a schema theory. You share with us very valuable knowledge and information. Thank you.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Thanks for your kind words, Bartek!

Nancy

says:

I’d love to try your program! It is so well rounded!

Stephenie

says:

Thank you for the helpful articles!

Whitney

says:

Such a great program

tammy cordery

says:

Sounds like a great program. I like the letters on the board. I wish there were more colors instead of just red and blue but I understand the why.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Hi Tammy,

The photo in the post doesn’t show it clearly, but we do have more than just red and blue letter tiles. Here’s the breakdown:

– Consonants and consonant teams are blue.
– Vowels and vowel teams are red.
– Tiles representing the sound of /er/ are purple.
– The remaining r-controlled vowels are yellow.
– Tiles representing the sound of /sh/ are green.
– The apostrophe, hyphen, and ed are orange.

In addition, we have color-coded suffix and prefix tiles. Let me know if you have any questions!

Alison Hurst

says:

Thanks. This is helpful!

Rachel

says:

Thanks for the great info! We love AAR and AAS!

Tracey

says:

This is great information -!thank you! I would love to try the curriculum!

Wendy

says:

Thanks for a great article.

Would love to try your programs. Is there a way to “sample” them before committing to the entire set?

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Hi Lisa,

You can download All About Reading samples here: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/reading-lesson-samples/ . The All About Spelling samples are here: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/spelling-lesson-samples

If you have any questions, please let us know!

Mary Hoskins

says:

I love AAR & AAS! Looking forward to starting AAR 3 soon.

Jamie

says:

I really appreciate the concepts you share about things like dge/tch. Thanks!

Rachel

says:

I love the concepts behind AAR!

Jana

says:

Love AAS and AAR!!

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