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How Much Time Should You Spend On Reading?

“How much time should I spend teaching reading?” It’s a common question with a somewhat surprising answer.

Here’s Rachel to explain …

How Much Time Should You Spend on Reading?

All About Reading lessons are designed so that you can work at your student’s pace. Here are three simple guidelines to follow.

  1. Spend 20 minutes per day teaching reading.

    We recommend spending about 20 minutes per day, five days a week, on reading instruction, but you can adjust this for early readers or for older remedial students if necessary. Short daily lessons are much more effective than longer, less frequent lessons.

    It can be helpful to set a timer. When 20 minutes are up, mark the spot in the lesson where you stopped. When you begin teaching the next day, briefly review some of the daily review cards and then begin in the Teacher’s Manual wherever you left off.

    What if you can’t finish a whole lesson in one sitting? No worries–this next tip is for you.

  2. Lessons often take more than one day to complete.

    It’s important to note that the lessons in All About Reading are not meant to be completed in one day. In fact, some lessons may take a week or more to finish.

    A number of variables including your student’s age, attention span, prior experience, the difficulty of the concept being taught, and the length of the stories all play a part in how quickly a lesson can be completed.

    After your formal lesson time is up, it’s time for some great read-alouds!

  3. Read aloud to your student for 20 minutes per day.

    Reading aloud to your student is one of the most important things you can do to promote future reading ability. In fact, it is so important that we’ve added a reminder at the end of every lesson.

    Reading aloud for 20 minutes a day may not seem like a lot, but the cumulative effect cannot be overstated. By reading aloud for just 20 minutes a day over a five-year period, your student will have the advantage of 600 hours of read-alouds. That equates to huge gains in vocabulary, comprehension, and background information.

20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, equals 600 hours

When you combine 20 minutes of direct reading instruction with 20 minutes of read-aloud time, you are providing your student with the very best opportunity for long-term reading success.

20 minutes of reading instruction plus 20 minutes of reading aloud equals reading success

How much time do you spend on reading instruction each day? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Yura

says:

I’m new to the level 1 program. I have a son who is about to turn 5 yo next month. He was doing fine with the reading program prior to this but I wanted something more comprehensive. He did pass the assessment for this level. He can read starter books. Please, clarify the following for me.

When we do the review of the word cards before every lesson, how much time are to spend on these if he hasn’t mastered them yet?
Do we go over it once if he gets it wrong then keep it moving? I have a little wiggler or kinesthetic learner and although he can decode the words it can take some time just to get through ten word cards. I’m not sure if we will reach mastery with only doing 10 cards if we are adding about 20-30 cards or so a week.

However, the practice sheets…….. the new words which are about 50 words, 12 phrases and 9 sentences……..whew! That’s just lesson 8! ….Not to mention the 9 additional new words along with the other activities and review of the word cards6. Again, do we just go through the words once then move on if he doesn’t get it.

I am overwhelmed just looking at the lessons! I can only imagine how he feels when he ask if he has to do all that and starts to cry. He has no problem decoding and does fine with reading the stories.

I am thinking this is too too much practice for him. How can I divide this up? I know you suggested 20mins a day. But I’m not sure we would get through one lesson in 1 week with having 50+ words to practice with one lesson.

Help!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yura,
Considering your son’s young age, it is fine if he needs to take more than one week to get through a lesson. It is very important that he not be frustrated, tired, or upset while doing reading lessons. No one learns well when emotions are flowing!

While we usually recommend 20 minutes a day for reading, that is a general recommendation. For a child that is not yet 5-years-old, I would recommend no more than 10 minutes at a time, especially since he is also a wiggly learner. If he is enthusiastic about it, you could do two 10 minute sessions a day with a long active break between, but I wouldn’t stress it if he didn’t want to. Most students his age are still learning the ABCs, so he is already ahead of the curve. Taking it very slowly and keeping it lighthearted will pay off in the long run as he will associate reading with fun together time, and not something to be dreaded or make him cry.

For most students, reading the stories is the easiest part of the program, as the words are in sentences with context to help them anticipate each new word. It is like getting a hint for each word read. Reading the word cards and fluency practice sheets are more difficult because there are no context clues to help. They have to read each word with no hints. But we want students to be equally successful with reading words in context and in isolation; it ensures they have mastered all aspects of reading.

As for how to divide things up, check out this blog post A Typical Day with All About Reading. It shows how I divided up one lesson over a week or more with my daughter. It also shows how we devoted one day a week to just playing review games. It was something my child looked forward to and also gave her the extra review she very much needed for the word cards.

Students may need to read a word thirty times or more before they can read it fluently without having to sound it out! So, just know that some beginning readers do need a lot of practice and review. Here’s an article on How to Develop Reading Fluency that can help you understand the overall scope of achieving fluency. Some ideas that can help:

The Change-the-Word activities in the Teacher’s Manual are especially helpful for working on becoming faster with blending and paying attention to all sounds in a word. Change one letter at a time, starting with simple 3-sound words like: bat-sat-sit-sip-tip-top…and so on. They are also really helpful for working on consonant blends when you get to those lessons. You can do this activity for a couple of minutes every day.

The Word Cards allow you to track what has been mastered and what still needs work. Keep word cards in daily review until your student can read them easily, without needing to sound them out. Here are some fun review ideas for word cards. The Word cards will stack up as you go, so just rotate through a portion for 2-3 minutes each day and then pick up in the book wherever you left off previously. And here’s a fun little video explaining what to do when the cards stack up.

The fluency practice pages can be re-used as well. Our 16 Ways to Make Practice Sheets Fun blog post has lots of great ideas for making them more enjoyable. (And check out the comments as well–lots of fun suggestions in there!)

Students who struggle with fluency will also benefit from rereading the same story two or three days in a row to gain fluency and confidence. You mention he is reading the stories well. Do you mean fluently, not needing to sound out more than a few words per page? Buddy Reading can be very powerful in helping students who are needing to sound out most every word.

Rereading the stories will help accomplish these goals:
– Increase word rate
– Improve prosody. Prosody is “expressive reading.” It involves phrasing (grouping words into meaningful phrases), emphasis, and intonation (raising pitch at the end of questions, lowering pitch at the end of sentences)
– Improve automaticity (be able to recognize most words automatically without having to sound them out each time)

You can also do a variation of buddy reading called “echo reading.” You read a few sentences with full expression, and then your child reads the same sentences, matching your expression as closely as possible. Do this for approximately five minutes a day, or whatever is a comfortable length of time for your child. Add in lots of praise when your child shows even a bit of improvement.

The “Fun with Emojis” article gives an enjoyable way to work on reading with expression too. This can be a great way to make reading fun that also sneaks in some extra practice from the fluency pages or readers. Check out Reading with Expression for this activity and others.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you need more ideas or have further concerns. I would love to hear how things are going over the next month or so.

Carrie

says:

What a great tip! We were spending too much time and it was frustrating my K boy. Thank you!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Carrie!

G P RAJA

says:

Excellent idea. Drops make an Ocean. Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome. 😊

Rena

says:

How long does it typically take to complete each level in the all about reading program and/or all about spelling program? Is it recommend that my child complete the all about reading program prior to beginning the all about spelling program or can my child do both simultaneously?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rena,
We recommend students begin All About Spelling level 1 after they finish All About Reading level 1. Our blog post The Right Time to Start Spelling Instruction discusses this. Then, we recommend working in both programs daily.

How long it takes a child to complete a level depends on many factors. All About Reading and All About Spelling are mastery-based and students move through the lessons as quickly or as slowly as they need to master the concepts. Students that are older, have prior experience with reading and spelling, and don’t have any learning disabilities or struggles will move through levels much more quickly than younger students without prior experience and those that have learning disabilities like dyslexia.

Most children who start AAS as beginners will do about a year per level, and finish level 7, the final level, sometime between 6th and 8th grades. Older students can typically finish in 4-6 years, and occasionally a motivated older student will finish the program in 2-3 years. Generally, level 1 of All About Spelling goes faster for most students, especially older ones.

The average pace for All About Reading seems to be about a level in three-quarters of a year to a year. Some students move through a level faster and some need more time.

Does this clear things up for you? Let me know if you have more questions, need additional information, or need help with placement or anything else.

Maggie

says:

Does #1 mean that you have 20 mins of reading instruction PLUS the child reading the story or is that part of the 20 mins? Do you just stop mid-story?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Maggie,
We recommend the student working on reading for 20 minutes a day. This includes reading stories aloud to the parent or teacher as a part of the reading instruction. If a student cannot read through a story within 20 minutes, then yes, stop. Pick up where you left off the next day.

However, if a student can’t read through a story within 20 minutes, he or she might benefit from buddy reading. This approach has you spending three days on each story, but on the third day students read the story through by themselves and most find no trouble doing so within 20 minutes.

Does this help? Let me know if you have further questions or need more information.

Maggie

says:

Thank you for the response. It’s not so much that my child can’t read a story in 20 mins, but that we can’t review flashcards, teach the new material, do the activity, read the warm-up sheet, AND read the story in 20 mins. So say, all of the instruction (flashcards, new sound, the activity, and warm-up sheet) took 15 mins before it was time for the story. Would you start the story knowing it won’t be completed in 5 mins and finish it the next day, wait until the next day to start, or have them go ahead and read the whole thing as long as the story itself doesn’t take over 20 mins? Thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, sorry for the misunderstanding, Maggie.

In this situation, I would do the story the following day. With my own kids, I kept 20 minutes as the limit, but was willing to end sooner if whatever was next would take too long or if they grew tired or frustrated.

If my child was still going strong and was happy to do a bit more, but I didn’t want to start something that would take too long like reading a story, I would pull out a review game. I loved the supplemental Reading Games with Ziggy the Zebra for this and found it easy to adapt to higher levels of All About Reading or even for reviewing spelling or math as well.

But we also have lots and lots of games and activities here on the blog that you can download and print for free. It may be useful to have a couple printed and ready to go so you are immediately ready to play for a few minutes when needed. I suggest our Try Not to Moo silly game for reviewing phonograms and our Fun with Emojis activity for practicing reading with emotional expression. You’ll find other options on our recent Kids Stuck Inside? Check Out Our FREE Boredom Busters! blog post that groups 50+ activities and games into one place.

Again, I’m sorry I didn’t understand your first question. Hopefully this helps.

Amelie

says:

Since I usually read at least one hour a day and I was thinking that wasn’t enough, I was really surprised at these statistics (I’m 13).

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amelie,
It’s great to hear of a young person reading an hour a day! You are definitely reading more than is typical for your age.

The 20 minutes we recommend here is for those still learning how to read. Learning to read can be very tiring for students and tired minds don’t learn as well. So by keeping lessons short, the best learning can take place. However, as students master reading, it is reasonable and preferable to slowly build them up to more reading.

Keep it up!

Mary Reed

says:

I am Grandma and will only see my 12 year old nonreader once a week. Will i be able to help with that little time? And what is the cost of this program?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mary,
Once a week really isn’t often enough to ensure success unless someone will be willing to work with your grandchild during the week as well. When Marie, the author of All About Reading, tutored she would not guarantee success unless students came 3 times per week or the parent worked with the child at home. If someone can commit to working with your grandchild for about 20 minutes a day most days of the week between your visits, then I think you can make a big difference for him or her.

Here is a link to purchase All About Reading level 1. Please let me know if you have more questions, need more information about tutoring with All About Reading, or need anything else.

Tracy Brecheen

says:

What books do you recommend reading to an 8 year old boy?

Adedokun Folashade

says:

What is the durationof reading per day

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Adedokun,
It is recommended to spend 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, on All About Reading instruction. In addition, we recommend reading aloud to your student or students for approximately 20 minutes a day as well. This blog post explains this in detail.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great question, Tracy! We have a lot of recommendations, and 8-year-olds are often on the cusp when they still like some picture books but also are ready for chapter books.

We have numerous Picture Book Reviews to give you plenty of ideas, as well as lots and lots of Chapter Book Reviews as well. I specifically recommend The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series and the Ralph S. Mouse series. Of course, all our other recommendations are really good too.

Have fun!

Linda Cox

says:

This is a great thought to help those new to homeschooling. Parents often want to keep going and going . . . and then the child becomes frustrated. Better to teach quality in a short amount of time than to drag it out for long periods of time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Linda,
I think it’s just a human tendency to want to finish something completely before quitting; I know I’ve seen my kids beg to keep going even when they are making mistakes from obvious tiredness. Little by little, inch by inch, I remind my children!

Suzy

says:

I’m excited to share this information with parents!

Amy A

says:

My son has had speech and language delays, and was working with a speech therapist. She tested him in the spring prior to entering kindergarten, and his vocabulary was in the 93%. Their brains really does soak up words, but they need exposure to them!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It sounds like your son is going great, Amy!

Nicki

says:

My kids love read aloud time. I try to read at least 20 minutes. Some days we dont get that much read aloud time in. Other days, we have books stacked up in front of the couch and read aloud for about an hour!

Kiki

says:

We always have 3 read-alouds going… one inspiring historical biography during the school morning, one classic after lunch, and another entertaining book before bed. Our kids have asked to do more chores since we started allowing them to listen to an audio book or podcast while working.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What a great way to provide a well-rounded exposure to literature, Kiki! And I love how audiobooks are encouraging more chores in your house. 😊

Belinda Dube

says:

Informative. I like it.

Barb

says:

We love the quick lessons and great instruction found in All About Reading and All About Spelling!

Sarah

says:

So helpful! Thank you!

Melinda

says:

Thank you for confirming that it’s better to go slowly through the lessons and take longer to finish than to rush to finish a lesson every day.

Kristy

says:

Simple and true.

Katy Lineberry

says:

Happy to see that I’m not doing too little, to be effective

Christi

says:

Should there be specific “read aloud” time that is just for a book for that time…or can all reading that is done aloud count? (Bible, history, etc. )

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

All reading aloud counts, Christi! It’s even better if you read from a wide variety of books and genres, such as history, Bible, science, and such as well as novels and/or picture books. This was a great question, though. Thanks for asking.

KBB

says:

These are all great reminders!

Erika

says:

So helpful to read through. I have always heard a lot of great things about this curriculum. I’m finally looking into it!

B Kolanek

says:

Great information

Crystal

says:

Very good advice! Excited to learn more about the all about reading products!

Heather

says:

My children are early readers. We practice 10-15 minutes each day, Monday through Friday. Sometimes we even get extra practice on Saturdays or Sundays. They enjoy listening to read-alouds, and I have been reading to them regularly since they were born. We usually get much more than 20 minutes a day for read-alouds because we all enjoy it so much. One thing I appreciate most about technology is audiobooks. They are a game-changer!

Cristin

says:

Great advice! And I might add that requiring your student to complete the 20 minutes of reading instruction prior to the 20 minutes of read aloud incentivizes him or her ;-). At least it works that way for my 7-y.o. son.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes! Reading aloud, especially when it’s a continuing story like a chapter book, immediately after completing reading instruction time would be highly motivating for many students. Great idea, Cristin!

Owen

says:

Wow, this is great to introduce at home

Calay Mayo

says:

Reading is so important and the basic block for all education. This is an awesome resource!

Sage Hernandez

says:

This post is wonderfully helpful. With a busy 6-year-old boy, I can never get 20 minutes at once out of him, but I often break it down into smaller chunks. Thank you for this information.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Sage. When my youngest was little, she would get tired very quickly from reading and tiredness would lead to frustration. For the first couple years of her schooling, we did well to get 10 to 15 minutes a time. But those 10 to 15 minutes every day paid off over time!

Courtney B

says:

Good info, good reminder. Esp when one gets weary in the well doing with a struggling reader.

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