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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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Emily Zehr

says:

I need to do a better job sticking to the 20 minute marker. I’m always so preoccupied with getting it done that I lose sight of the real goal to make sure my daughter is retaining what she’s learning. Thanks for this reminder.

Robin

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome for the reminder, Emily. Short lessons done consistently make such a difference!

Janet Auma Otieno

says:

I’m a teacher handling pre-primary one learners age 4-5 kindly help on how to introduce 3 letter words to this age group,

Robin

says: Customer Service

Janet,
The most important thing is ensuring that the students have mastered the Reading Readiness Skills necessary for reading success. For many children, it is not enough that they know letter sounds; they also need to be able to rhyme and identify the first sounds in words and so on. Otherwise, learning to blend sounds into words is just too hard.

Once you are sure all of your students have mastered the Reading Readiness Skills, then you will find our article on Helping Kids Sound Out Words useful for teaching how to blend.

I hope these help, but let me know if you have questions or need anything else. I’m happy to help!

Janet Auma Otieno

says:

I normally takes 20 minutes or beyond just to help the slow learners

Jenny Baird

says:

Thanks for the info.
I have a grade three granddaughter who can not sound out words although she knows the individual sounds of the alphabet. She will often guess at the word which may be in the right context or not. Her mom does not worry about her reading as My granddaughter did not get any special help last year.
Suggestions?

Robin

says: Customer Service

Jenny,
I’m sorry your granddaughter is having such trouble with sounding out words.

This is a concern, since if a person cannot sound out a word, they have no way to figure out a word they don’t know except to ask someone for help or to guess. And they will have no way to check if their guess was correct, because they can’t sound out the word to see.

With younger learners, learning words by memorizing them and guessing by picture clues can work somewhat well. Or, it at least seems like it works, as a child that has memorized hundreds of words and is good at guessing by context and pictures will sound like they read well. But as children get older, they are expected to move into reading as a form of learning. A student will be expected to open a science (or history or math or whatever) textbook and understand material that is brand new to them. Since the material will be new concepts, they will have a hard time guessing by context. And such textbooks have fewer pictures, and the ones they do have are much less likely to be helpful with guessing words. It is at that point that children start to struggle, and it affects all subjects at school.

Children need to be taught how to blend sounds to form words. We discuss this in our Helping Kids Sound Out Words blog post. You will likely find our Break the “Word Guessing” Habit post helpful as well.

More than anything, however, it sounds like your granddaughter would benefit from The “No Gaps” Approach to Reading and Spelling to ensure her foundational skills and knowledge are solid, so that she will be ready for more complex reading in years to come.

I hope this helps some, but let me know if you have specific questions or need more information. I’m happy to help!

Dakota

says:

I’ve been wanting the entire kits for long time , excited to try this out soon ,

Robin

says: Customer Service

Great to hear, Dakota! Let me know if you need help with placement or have any other questions.

Stacy M.

says:

Thank you so much for providing all this information and free supplemental resources to get started. I can’t wait to try what I’ve learned on your site. This has truly given me hope for my strong daughter.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so pleased to hear that this site has been helpful and encouraging for you, Stacy! That is definitely a goal for us! Let me know if you have questions or ever need anything.

Laura Harring

says:

This was so helpful. I often find myself focusing on the lesson time, but totally forget about read aloud time. To be honest, that time is far more special to my kids than lesson time, so I need to capitalize on that portion!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I understand how easily read aloud time can be overlooked, Laura. I’ve been there myself.

What I found helpful was to make read aloud time tied to another activity that gets done every day. For example, we eat lunch every day, so I would read aloud as soon as I finished eating. Another thing I have done over the years is to make reading aloud the first thing we do, before any other subject like math or spelling, so that it was not missed if the day got busy.

Misha

says:

How important is(are) the Teacher Handbook(s)? Specifically for pre-reading at the moment but as a general whole. I love this program I’m just curious if you honestly need that portion or if you can just use the student books and the cards.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Good question, Misha.

The Teacher’s Manuals are essential. They provide all the teaching, even at the Pre-reading level. The Activity Books provide practice with what was taught, and the cards are used for customizing the review, but the teaching is in the Teacher’s Manuals.

We have multiple sample lessons in each level that you can look through to see just how the Teacher’s Manuals and other components are used.

Renee

says:

I am a reading specialist who works with striving readers. I am alloted 30 minutes to work with my students. I also co-teach in the classroom and there I do mini-lessons followed by small group work during center time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Renee.

Rachel C

says:

What do you recommend for a child who can only focus for 7 minutes of instruction/lesson at most? My 7 year old son (3rd child of 6 in the family) lasts 7 minutes on the best of days. He is only about 20 lessons into Level 1. Reading is a struggle. Continue with the 7 minutes a day or try to do three 7 minute sessions in a day? He loves listening to read alouds, so that isn’t an issue.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
Go ahead and aim for two 7-minute sessions each day. Progress will be made with consistency day in and day out. If his attention wanes at 7 minutes, do another activity that is completely different like take a recess, have a snack, or practice music. Then pick up for the next 7 minutes.

In time work up to longer periods of focused reading, but it can be a slow process to build up his stamina.

Chelsie Ashley

says:

It has taken me a little bit to understand 20 minutes of instruction is plenty. The public school teacher in me felt like I needed to spend hours on reading instruction. We are on level 3 with my older child, and the results are amazing! 20 minutes is all he ever needed. We love this program!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Chelsie! It isn’t only school teachers that feel that longer lessons must be necessary. I’m sure it will be helpful to others to read what success the 20 minutes a day has led to for your child!

Kaeli

says:

Keeping our reading lessons to 20 minutes a day is great for both me and my son! Short and sweet, not overwhelming and super manageable. I have loved seeing how much he’s progressed using this program!

Kristy

says:

Wow! That’s good to know! It’s all a learning curve :)

Cara

says:

Thank you for your encouragement and reminders to put aside the busy work and just read to my kids!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Cara. There is a lot of “work” going on when children enjoy hearing great books read aloud!

Jami Dunsford

says:

Thanks! I always beat myself up thinking my child is not reading enough – but I want her to love reading. We can do anything for 20 minutes at a time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jami! The most important thing to be doing enough for reading is doing it consistently day in and day out, not working for long periods on any one day.

Nicole Ikeda

says:

We are using All About Reading Level 1 and some days my son does 20 min and some days 30-40 min. But anything more than 20 min is a hard push for him. He has a genuine natural love and focus in math but he does not love reading (yet). But the All About Reading program is working! We have reached lesson 41 now and I can see his fluency and decoding improving. I’m so glad he is learning to read at home with me using this program. I think in a classroom he would have been struggling even more. Thank you for creating this program.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nicole,
I’m so excited to hear that you are seeing improvement in your son’s ability to decode and his reading fluency! Keep up the great work!

Lydia

says:

I love the focus on both reading aloud and reading instruction. Such a reasonable amount of time to fit into our schedule, especially when I have 2 kids I’m teaching.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Lydia!

Jonie B.

says:

We were able to do more then 20 minutes when we were on the reading part because my daughter loved reading. I will say that for spelling we definitely have to do 20 minutes a day or my daughter is not a happy person when learning how to spell.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Jonie! Yes, individual enjoyment of the subject definitely can have an affect on how long the student is able to stay engaged.

Kelly Levesque

says:

I think any amount of time a child wants to spend reading is adequate. Making them read when they don’t want to will turn them away.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for your thoughts on this, Kelly. However, many students, if given a choice from day to day, will opt to never work on learning to read. For many children, learning to read is hard and it is often human nature to want to avoid hard work when possible.

That is why we recommend working on reading each day, but keeping the time short and as enjoyable as possible. Progress will be made and a positive outlook toward reading will be maintained. And when students have mastered reading, it will no longer be hard anymore!

Carleen

says:

I’m not even sure we spend 20 minutes, I know in the beginning that would have been way too long for one of my kids. We would occasionally be able to come back to it after a break, but some days it was only 5 minutes.
I love that homeschooling let us go at my kid’s pace.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such a great approach, Carleen!

My youngest child wasn’t up to working on reading for 20 minutes a day until she was approaching 10 years old. Before then, I paid attention to her cues and fatigue. She typically grew tired a bit after 10 minutes. But since we were consistent day in and day out, she finished Level 4 before she was 11 and now, a few years later, happily reads for hours at a time!

Simo

says:

What an encouragement/ and motivational simple rule to engage in reading! Thank you!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Simo!

Tashlyn

says:

Thank you for the info!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Tashlyn!

Kelly Weber

says:

This info has been so helpful! Thanks AAL!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Kelly!

Sonya

says:

Book were important to me growing up And my parents didn’t let us watch tv often. So books were our escape. So glad that we developed a love for books early on board and that I could pass that on to my kids!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful, Sonya! One of the best predictors of a child’s love of books is the parent’s love of books!

Crystal Anderson

says:

I have notice my kids love now when I say it’s time to read a book. They actually look forward to it!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, that is so wonderful, Crystal!

Sarah Thomas

says:

This advice has helped so much! I was trying to stretch my son too far on time and it made us both miserable. This has made our time manageable and enjoyable!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so glad to hear this, Sarah! Positive experiences with reading lessons is so important not only for a child’s attitude toward reading but also for making the best progress possible!

Tara A

says:

We started out spending 20 min per day and now in AAR3 we spend closer to 30. One of our goals with this program was also building stamina and it is working great!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so pleased to hear that your student’s stamina for reading is increasing with All About Reading, Tara! Thank you for sharing.

Elizabeth Martin

says:

This is so helpful to remember not to spend too long on a lesson and to break it up into more than one day.

Kasey Werner

says:

I love how AAR makes it so doable to teach reading and read aloud with your kids in bite sized chunks!

Angela Gustafson

says:

This is so refreshing! Takes the pressure off. Thanks!