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Reading: how much time should I spend?

Reading - How Much Should I Spend? - All About Reading

“How much time should I spend teaching reading to my children?”

I don’t think I could possibly count the number of times that I’ve been asked that question.

In fact, I recently answered a similar question in a blog post about how much time to spend on spelling.

And though that post cleared up questions for people concerned about the time spent teaching All About Spelling, it left many others wondering the same thing about All About Reading.

I hope this post will clear up the confusion and provide you with the answers you’re looking for.

So, how much time should you spend on reading?

Before I answer the question, I may need to clear up a potential misunderstanding. It’s fairly common for people to assume that “1 lesson = 1 day.” And in fact, many homeschool programs are written with this schedule in mind. So when people ask how much time they should spend on reading, often what they really want to know is how long it will take their child to complete an All About Reading lesson.

But the most important thing to remember is this:

You don’t have to complete an entire lesson in one day.

In fact, some lessons may even take a week or more to finish. A number of variables including your child’s age, attention span, prior experience, and the difficulty of the concept being taught all play a part in how quickly your child can complete a lesson. And some of those variables may change on an almost daily basis!

But the beauty of the All About Reading program is that it is completely flexible and customizable. You can breeze through sections that are easy for your student and spend more time on more difficult concepts. Kobe’s story below illustrates this point perfectly.

Real Dads, Real Kids: Matthew Vinson’s Story

Matthew Vinson’s story about his gifted son, Kobe, illustrates that it is best to let your child’s needs dictate the pace of your lessons. When Matthew began teaching Kobe in AAR Level 1, Kobe was just four years old. Matthew shares:

“It took Kobe fourteen months to complete all four levels. We did every lesson. We flew through Level 1, completing about three lessons every day. In Levels 2 – 4, Kobe 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.”

Click here to read the rest of Matthew and Kobe’s story.

While it’s pretty amazing that Kobe completed AAR Level 4 at such a young age, the most important take-away from Kobe’s story is that Kobe’s dad tried to keep their daily lesson time consistent, about 20-30 minutes a day.

So instead of being concerned about how much time it takes to complete a lesson, the better question to ask is …

How much time should I spend on reading each day?

The answer to this question is more straightforward. All About Reading lessons are designed so that you can work at your child’s pace. We recommend spending about 20 minutes per day on reading, but you can adjust this, if needed, for early readers or for older remedial students.

You’ll start each day by briefly reviewing some of the daily review cards, and then begin in the Teacher’s Manual wherever you left off previously. Some lessons may go quickly, and some may require more days. Work at your student’s pace and spend as many (or as few) days as necessary on each lesson.

Real Moms, Real Kids: Robin Williams’ Story

In another recent Real Moms, Real Kids blog post, Robin Williams shared what a typical day with All About Reading looks like for her daughter, Belle. In the post, Robin shared that because Belle struggles with fluency, they sometimes take as many as four days to complete a single lesson. Robin keeps the review short and sweet, adapts games to make additional review more fun, and has figured out ways to make difficult portions of the lesson more palatable for Belle. In addition, they always stick to the 20-minute time limit so that Belle doesn’t get frustrated and lose interest in reading.

In a different post, Robin shared a great idea. Click here to read about how “buddy reading” has made reading lessons easier for Belle!

But as important as the reading lessons are, there’s something else that is just as important.

I recommend reading aloud to your child for 20 minutes per day.

Reading aloud to your child is one of the most important things you can do to promote his or her future reading ability. In fact, this is such an important part of any reading program that it is actually added as a reminder at the end of every lesson in the All About Reading program.

Reading aloud for 20 minutes a day may not seem like a lot, but the cumulative effect cannot be overstated. It helps to look at the big picture to really understand just how important this is. Twenty minutes is a relatively small daily commitment, but it’s the “big picture” dividends that make it so worth the effort. Do you need more convincing? Here are 6 Great Reasons to Read Aloud to Your Kids.

So what exactly does 20 minutes per day look like in terms of long-term benefits?

Reading: how much time should I spend? - All About Reading

It’s hard to imagine, but by reading aloud for just 20 minutes every day over a five-year period, your child will have the advantage of 600 hours of read-alouds. So what does that number mean? Well, think of it like this…

600 hours of read-aloud time is the equivalent of eighty-five 7-hour school days!

That equates to huge gains in vocabulary, comprehension, and background information.

And when you combine 20 minutes of read-aloud time with 20 minutes of direct reading instruction, you can rest assured that you are providing your child with the very best chance of long-term 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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Leave a Comment

Brittany Alessio

says:

I use to read to my child here and there. My parents never, not once, read me a story. I also hated reading as a child. Once we started this program I forced myself to make time to read to my children. Seriously I hate reading that much. I bought a Shel Silverstein poem book and they were absorbed and engaged in the book. They beg me every day to read it. Now I love reading to my children. So thank you!

Laura A

says:

Thank you for this helpful post. I love the idea of setting the timer for each lesson. I think that also helps the student to see an end point to the lesson.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Laura,
Yes. Many children love working with a timer. I have found it helpful for clean up time too.

So for read aloud time I thought you meant me reading to my child for 20 min a day but in the comments it looks like you are wanting the child to read aloud 20 min a day?! Which way is it suppose to be?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

TamiJoy,
We do want you to read aloud to your students for at least 20 minutes a day. The comment where I was discussing having the student read aloud to the parent was related to a student that wasn’t using All About Reading. In addition to reading aloud to the child for 20 minutes a day, we recommend hearing the child read each day whether in the AAR lesson or by listening to him or her read another book.

So, have the child to 20 minutes of reading a day, either working for 20 minutes in AAR or if he or she isn’t using AAR doing other reading. Then, you read aloud to the child for 20 minutes.

I hope this clears everything up. Please let me know if not.

Cher Adams

says:

After having tried many different reading programs with my 5 children, I absolutely love and look forward to this one. Actually, for the last 3, I started them off with Teach Your Child to read in 100 Easy Lessons because the kids seem to pick it up so easy, but after that diving headlong into books just left us with too much too fast. That’s why I love AAR! There is always success each time they read a story because we have studied all the concepts already. My 1st grader took 2 or 3 sessions to finish a lesson when we first started level 2, but then after a couple of months, he was much more fluently reading and he was able to finish most lessons in 1 session. We have already started level 3 and I am just amazed at how fast he’s progressing. I love that you give teachers “permission” to slow down (the checklist person in me needed to hear that, to know my child was “normal”). The goal is to be able to read and enjoy it also, NOT to “get finished”. There is plenty of laughter, hugs, and high-fives to be experienced in each lesson that makes the journey so satisfying.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Cher,
This is such a great, detailed review! Thank you.

Carrie Phillips

says:

I am a former school teacher currently homeschooling my two boys. I have heard great things about the AAR program from friends so we will be trying it next year! I am excited about all the hands-on aspects of the program :) Thanks for the great advice offered in these blog posts!!
Carrie

Tara

says:

I’m using AAR with two of my kids. One of them is dyslexic and one of them is not. The non-dyslexic one tends to take much less time with a lesson than the dyslexic one. I try to make sure we take as much time with each one, with each lesson, as needed, though. I think the longest we took with a lesson was four days, 20 minutes each day.

Liz

says:

Sometimes I want to skip the read aloud portion of our lesson. After seeing the time added up like this, it makes me sure to fit it in every day. Thanks!

Julie

says:

thanks so much for your great tips and guidance!

Leah Kua

says:

That’s what I love about AAR. It’s so flexible! Sometimes we do a lesson in a day, but other times it spans over 2 or 3 days. Especially when my daughter finds the fluency sheets a little slow going.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Yes, exactly! Thanks, Leah.

Terra

says:

I do a lot of read aloud with our boys (9 and 5). Our oldest (9) can read pretty well, but just does not enjoy reading on his own or out loud. We have tried reward systems, but he just doesn’t care. I don’t know how to encourage him to read more if the reward system doesn’t work. We have checked out and bought a wide variety of books that he seems interested in, but when it comes down to it, he just won’t read. Any ideas?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Terra,
My boys were similar. I found that requiring them to read for 20 minutes a day led to them enjoying reading more and more, and now, 6+ months later, they are enjoying reading, reading harder books happily, and spending some of their free time reading. It is related to the Matthew Effect in reading.

You may consider trying something similar. Just be sure to start to allow him to choose easier books for the 20 minutes of reading, if he wishes.

Lynn

says:

Thanks for the reminder of the importance of daily read aloud time. With 4 kids, sometimes it’s hard to get everyone’s appropriate levels in in a day!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lynn,
I have 5 kids, so I understand. I have found it much easier to lump my kids together into two groups for read aloud time, even though one of the groups has a 4 year age range. I just make sure I read a variety of books, at both easier and harder levels. Not always a variety daily, but a variety over time. The importance is listening to language daily. It doesn’t always have to be on their own perfect level.

Terra-Leigh Baghurst

says:

Thank you Robin. Did you have your son read aloud to you and/or read quietly to himself and then narrate to you?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Terra-Leigh,
I started by having my boys read aloud to me for 20 minutes each. I needed to hear them read to know where their struggles were, how they were doing on the level of books they chose, and how I could help them.

I found my older son (12 at the time) was reading fluently, but with no expression at all. It was no wonder he wasn’t enjoying reading; it was impossible to understand what he was reading in the quick monotone he was using. I had him slow down and start adding expression, and his comprehension, and thus his enjoyment, increased. It took a while to break the “I must read fast” mentality, but over time I occasionally had him read silently, until now he reads silently most all the time.

My younger son, who was 10 at the time, was in the habit of just guessing at multisyllable words based on the first letter or two, so that most of what he read made no sense at all. He knew how to break words into syllables and sound them out, but he wasn’t doing it. Again, it took time but I got him in the habit of actually reading (opposed to guessing) at longer words and he has really taken off in his free time reading. (But even in his free time reading he feels this need to tell me all about what he has read. It’s kind of cute, but sometimes annoying because he has a habit of wanting to talk about his book when I’m in the middle of something that needs my focus.)

Anyway, the end goal is to have our students be able to read well, with high comprehension, on their own, but unless we hear them read occasionally we cannot discover the cause behind their reading troubles. A student doesn’t have to spend hours a day reading for pleasure, but if they dislike reading enough that they don’t want to do it even for 20 minutes a day then it is very likely they are struggling in some way.

Reward programs have only ever worked for one of my boys, so what I have done is put reading for 20 minutes on their school schedule and it has to be done in order to ride their bikes, play the Wii U, build forts, or whatever other stuff they want to do after they finish school. Over time, however, reading became more enjoyable to them and it has become one of their “fun” assignments that they save for last like a dessert.

Terra

says:

Thank you for your response! He stumbled upon a book series that he loves just within the last couple of weeks. He is volunteering to read and asking how to say words and what they mean. He has never done any of those things before. I feel like we have reached a wonderful pinnacle in his reading.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Terra,
Isn’t this a wonderful thing to experience!?! A reader is born, right there in your home before your eyes. Enjoy!

Terra

says:

Yes! I told my husband I had to hold back the urge to jump up and down and squeeze my son when he started reading these books. It has been what seems like such a long process and such a struggle. We have arrived! I hope this excitement for all parents who have struggling readers.

Alison

says:

Great post!

Jessel

says:

I can not wait to homeschool my children using your program because in a standard public and even private school children are rushed to understand a concept and I find that they need more time than what is given. When my daughter went to school last year she failed every spelling test now that she is at home with me even though she is enrolled in an public cyber (online public) school she passes every test because we can spend more time on her trouble areas and less time on subjects she has mastered. I look forward to taking her out of a public school altogether and do my own homeschooling program and schedule with her next year.

Kelly

says:

I just ordered the pre-reading for my 4 year old. He asked me to teach him to read. We started this week and he is loving it. Thanks for making such a fun program.

Charlotte

says:

This was very helpful, thank you.

Ashley Moore

says:

Glad to have confirmation that each lesson should not just take a day! I usually schedule 3-4 days per lesson to get them to fit in our yearly schedule with some breaks. I can only imagine how many levels you would have to go through if you pushed your child to go through 1 lesson a day!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ashley,
Some children are able to easily move through a lesson a day in just 20 minutes. No pushing needed. Yes, these children usually finish all four levels of All About Reading in 2 years or less. Other children need longer time to master the material of each lesson, and must spend upwards of a year or year and a half on a level. Either way, if it is the right pace for the child, it is right thing to do.

Otonya Alison

says:

My daughter (5 1/2) and I spend about 15 minutes per day in A.A.R. instruction–that’s about her limit of cheerful attention span. Then I have her do a little bit of other reading. Yesterday, for the first time, she was excited to bring me a book (above her reading level) which she had read in bed the previous night. She wanted to read it to me–she was so proud of herself–very rewarding for me, too! Most days I read aloud to the kids throughout the day, also. We have a couple of longer books going, as well as short bedtime stories each day. My older son (8 1/2) reads his school assignments and from the Bible aloud to me daily–usually about 30-45 minutes. I started A.A.R. with my daughter and very much appreciate the flexibility. Initially, it would take us 4-5 days to complete a lesson. Now we’re doing most lessons in 1-2 days.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Otonya,
Thank you for sharing how well your daughter is doing with AAR. Keep up the great work!

Stephanie

says:

That was a very good post. Thank you!

Carrie

says:

We typically read at least an hour per day. This could include newspaper articles, signs we see when we drive or when we are at the grocery store. We read books for leisure and I always have my children (ages 11 and 7) read to me so I can hear their voice and fluctuations, correct any reading skills in fluctuations and such, and help them increase their vocabulary. We frequent the public library and have an extensive library of books at home. My 11 year also uses a kindle to read and is currently reading a high school level book, his choice. If something interests them, I don’t stop them from reading about it. If it is interesting to them, they are more likely to read and enjoy reading!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Carrie. I appreciate your comment about allow your child to read what interests them. This is true also for books that are “below” them.

Julie

says:

Thanks for this! I can see how well my daughter can read but she lacks the confidence. I think this will be great to help her with that.

Audrey J.

says:

We spend less than 30 minutes a day on reading instruction, sometimes less than 15 minutes. However, we read together so much throughout the day.

Amanda

says:

I have found that it’s easy to adapt the AAS (and AAR) programs to the needs of my kids. I’m teaching 3 kids in 3 different grades and I have found the “less is more” approach to be effective–especially for the 1st grader!

Loretta

says:

I was using AAS with my first grader when my fifth grader asked if she could do that to because she didn’t know some of the things I was teaching the first grader. I think that speaks very highly of your program!

Elizabeth H

says:

Our family {{CHERISHES}} our read aloud time!

Delpha

says:

Am considering the AAS and AAR for our ERC classroom. Since we only have the children for 25 minutes each day, every minute counts and I think this might work for a small group of struggling learners.

DamitaJo Banda

says:

I have a five year old son with Apraxia. So it’s really hard to understand him. He does see a speech therapist three times a week. I really want to try the Spelling and Reading program for him this coming school year. Since it’s more of a verbally and hands on approach.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Damitajo,
We have had good reports from parents of apraxic students. Let us know if you have any questions or need help in anyway.

Beth

says:

My daughter was so discouraged with the reading program that we were doing before that I have found she is willing to spend longer amounts of time with her All About Reading because she is actually enjoying it. With our previous experience not being positive, I have found that for her personality, it is better to let her set the pace for now with smaller, more frequent sessions. She’s doing great! Thank you so much!

AbbeyW

says:

We only spend 10 minutes on formal instruction, but we read books throughout the day. The boys also love to play language games, memorize silly poems, make words with their letter tiles, play with story cubes, etc. If they’re engaged with language, I believe the formal lessons will be established along with the more playful ones. :-)

Susan Hudgins

says:

I read aloud or use audible for a huge chunk of the day as it is so needed to keep the tie into literature and other subjects. Easier way to provide reading to learn.

Debbie

says:

We are avid fans of AAS and firm believers in ending the night with reading aloud to the kids (4-12). Thanks for the recommending reading lists for my preschooler.

RL

says:

I love this program. I don’t feel bad when we don’t “finish” a lesson. I know we can pick it up the next day right where we left off and we won’t be behind. We will be right where my child is learning best!

Dawn

says:

Thank you for all you do! Your approach is fantastic!

Renee S.

says:

I’m embarrassed to say we have all but stopped reading lessons right now. We don’t use AAR, but another program and my 6 year old and I were getting to the point of tears and frustration on both sides. I suspect she has dyslexic markers, I have auditory processing problem and think she might too. I’m so discouraged right now. I liked reading how long each day’s reading practice/learning time should be and that a lesson doesn’t have to be one day. There has to be something better than what we are doing right now.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Renee,
All About Reading was specifically designed to be what students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties need for success. We have had great reports from parents of students struggling with dyslexia and auditory processing disorder. We have a blog post on auditory processing disorder, and a checklist on the symptoms of dyslexia.

Let us know if you have any questions or if we can help in any way. And don’t be embarrassed. Six years old is still very young, and taking some time off is very reasonable when things become very frustrating.

Jessica Y. Kirdyashev

says:

Maybe All About Reading would be perfect for you guys. It’s fun, super low stress and you would both know, “Hey, Sweetie, we’re only going to spend 20 minutes on this.” It will be easier to be consistent (so you know you are officially doing reading) and then she isn’t going to loathe it or fight you. Plus there’s a 1 year money back guarantee, so it’s literally win/win/win.
You guys and your situation sound like perfect candidates for AAR.
My non-struggling learner daughter often completes a lesson a day and often wants to keep working past 20 minutes. My dyslexic boys are watching the timer, counting down the seconds to 20 minutes.

Teresa

says:

We love AAR & AAS!!

Liz

says:

Thank you for this helpful blog post. It takes a lot of the pressure off to know that twenty minutes of pleasurable instruction is far better than struggling for a longer amount of time just to complete a lesson. Now I have a better idea of how to individualize AAR for my daughter when we begin the pre-reading program.

Amber Rodgers

says:

We have been using all about reading for 2 years now it has been shuch a blessing my 9and 7 year old are thriving with this curriculum.

LuisaP

says:

This is great information. Thank you for sharing. Its amazing to me how much kids love to read with us.

Marylin

says:

My husband or I try to read to our 10 year old daily. It adds up to 20 or more minutes. We also have him read at his level to us, which helps him tremondously. At times he does not like to read, but I find that if he chooses what he reads, the process goes better.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Marylin,
Great reminder. When the child is invested in the book because he has chosen it himself, it can make a world of difference in their attitude toward reading. Thank you.

Jaime

says:

Thank you for the reminder that we don’t have to spend hours doing reading every day in order to make progress. Consistent, short lessons are the key to success.

Brenda Perez

says:

We love our local library, and I let Little Miss pick out loads of books for our read-aloud time. Right now, we are enjoying The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in preparation for seeing the play next month. Listening quietly has been a struggle, so I usually let her color while I read to her. It seems to help to find something for those busy hands to work on.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Brenda,
Yes. Many children listen better when their hands are busy. My children often color, build with Lego, or even fold towels while I read aloud.

Kelley

says:

Such a needed reminder as a mom of a 1, 5 and 11 year old!!

Christine Warren

says:

Yes, very inspirational.

Christina Burns

says:

I have been using All About Spelling regularly with one of my children. I have really liked it and am thinking about starting my youngest on All About Reading. Thanks for a great program.

Kelly M

says:

This is very inspirational!

Sheri Miller

says:

We loved All About Reading Level 1!! Now we are ready for All about Spelling Level 1.

Jessica R.

says:

I love the graph showing how the hours add up when you read to your child every day! As a stay-at-home mom, I try to read to my kids for at least 10 minutes before nap and 10 minutes before bed. I have found it to be a great way to settle down for rest as well as a nice time to cuddle! This post reminds me that it’s also a valuable activity to prepare them for reading!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
Yes! That graph is eye opening. Good for you for making reading aloud a priority in your home.

Tara Johnson

says:

Thank you for the tips this blog is very helpful!!

Great tips! I was homeschooled, but am new to teaching.

Rebecca

says:

This post has been such an encouragement, I often wonder if we are doing enough especially since it feels like we are just having fun and not actually doing “school”. My children love doing AAR.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Rebecca,
This is high praise. There is a LOT of learning going on in AAR, but when it’s so much fun it doesn’t feel like work at all. Thank you for sharing this.

Karen

says:

Thank you for encouraging the readers and non-readers.

Michelle

says:

I have really enjoyed teaching my 3 girls to read with this program!

Brittany Gell

says:

I can’t wait to teach my girls to read!

Stephanie Olmsted

says:

I need to start adding a few more minutes for my youngest. Some days I think it ends up being 10 minutes. We look up word my olds daughter doesn’t know to help with vocabulary. Always try to encourage reading!

Sara K

says:

Such important info, thanks for the insight!

shirley crandall

says:

love this

Jkontrarian

says:

Great info!

Jeannie

says:

I love this All About Reading and All About Spelling and use them for all my children! I was really nervous to teach my son to read and this program has helped me build confidence that I can do it!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jeannie,
I love that we could help you become confident!

Marcia Sartin

says:

This has been the BEST program for all of my children.

Jennifer S

says:

This was very helpful!

jane

says:

Definitely nervous about teaching my daughter to read soon!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jane,
You can do it! 2/3 of kids learn to read without too much trouble. However, even if your child is in the approximately 1/3 that does struggle, you can still do it. We can help. Everyone that works in customer service at AALP is the parent of a child that struggled to learn to read, and they all learned. If you haven’t had a chance to watch Marie’s story about her son’s struggles, you may want to check that out. Quite amazing!

Dana Woodfin

says:

This has been very helpful. My second child to teach to read is very different than my first, who learned to read very easily. My second child is making me do a lot of research on learning to read.

Monique

says:

Reading is so important considering how much time kids spend on screens.

Tamara

says:

This information is fantastic. Thank you

Ashley B

says:

Wow! Great information. I need to become more consistent with reading aloud.

Lexi

says:

I love this! It’s so hard as a homeschool mom because I often doubt myself and wonder if I’m doing enough. I’ve found that it takes us about a week to cover a reading lesson (sometimes less) and that has been a good pace for us. We spend about 20-25 minutes on reading daily and I love seeing our progress!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

I’m glad we could encourage you, Lexi. It sounds like your child is doing very well!

betsy

says:

Thanks for the ideas!

Dawn B.

says:

We read every day. One or two short books in the afternoon and we have a chapter book that we read at night.

Amy Cowan

says:

I have an almost 7 year old who is learning to read and could use some more material.

Jami

says:

my daughter loves to read, so I let her choose how much time to spend reading, whether it be a couple of stories at bedtime or if she chooses to read throughout the day

Cindy N.

says:

We where able to go through level 1 quickly. One lesson a day . Before we went to level 2, which we are on now, I had my son practice reading the stories each day. We did that for about three weeks. We are able to do one lesson a day for level 2 so far, but I have gone back and just taken a few days to review concepts. It’s not a race , we will continue to go at my child’s pace.

Robin

says:

My grandsons are using this reading program and it is working so well for them.

lina

says:

GREAT SITE. I enjoy reading.

Charline

says:

My biggest struggle is knowing how much to review and practice before moving on. I also need to figure out when to get read alouds in.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Charline,
It is difficult to balance review and moving ahead. Don’t expect perfection before moving on in All About Reading, but also don’t move so fast through it that your child is frequently challenged to the point of frustration and tears. Over time with working with your child, it will become easier to judge how much is enough review and when to move on.

I have found that tying read alouds to an activity you already do to be helpful. For me that means doing read alouds after lunch every day. Others find doing them during lunch (so the children’s mouths and hands are busy) to work well. Others, of course, prefer bedtime. Find what will work best for you.

Erica

says:

I love that you emphasize the freedom to go with what fits for your child, your family and for that moment. I tend to get caught up in the “schedule” instead of letting “the now” dictate how we work our day. Thank you.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

I’m happy we are able to encourage you in this way, Erica. Someone encouraged me to “teach the child, not the curriculum” when my oldest was young and it has made a wonderful difference.

Maree

says:

I definitely need to make a better commitment in the read-aloud area. All too often I let other things interfere. Thanks for the encouraging read.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Maree,
There are times when I struggle to get reading aloud in during the day, so I started putting it on my kids’ lesson plans, along with spelling, math, and everything else. It still isn’t always done (no subject is always done for us), but it gets done much more often now. You may try something similar.

Janet

says:

In addition to the AAR lesson (which I will scale back to 20 mins. per day) and me reading aloud to my kids, should I have them read a book to me each day? They are reading words during the lesson, but not always complete sentences. Is 20 minutes of lesson equal to 20 minutes of them reading a book? OR should they be doing both?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Janet,
The 20 minutes of lesson time is enough for younger students, or older students needing remedial work in the lower levels of AAR. It’s hard and mentally exhausting work for many learners. Typically, however, as children move into the higher levels of AAR they will naturally start wanting to read more on their own, although you could assign 20 minutes of quiet reading as well.

Kimberly

says:

I’ve definitely been pushing too much in a chunk of time and my 5 yr old is struggling with it. He just doesn’t have the focus. Thank you for “giving permission” to take things slower & not do an entire lesson in one sitting. The wonderful thing about homeschooling is having the freedom to change things up and work at your own pace, but the scary thing about that is the fear that your child will fall behind if you don’t get far enough. So this blog was the grace that I needed to give myself and my kids lately – thanks!

AMBER WALLACE

says:

Thanks for the reminder! I had read this before but tend to forget and spend upwards of an hour and that just stresses everyone out.

Angela

says:

Thank you for helping me feel like a better teacher/parent with your articles. You have made the sometimes confusing subjects or topics very understandable and it is greatly appreciated.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Angela,
Thank you for such kind comments.

Angela

says:

Thank you for such encouraging articles. They always seem to come at just the right time.

Heather

says:

I can’t wait to get started with this program.

Amy C

says:

We spend about 20-30 minutes total in reading stuff. That usually means 2 lessons a week (usually the teaching spread out over 2 school days, the whole story lesson on another day, plus two half hour reading sessions on the other two days where I read to them aloud). I also have been adding in one reader per day where they read to me (about 5 minutes a day). I wanted to ask if that is included in your program at all (outside of the story lesson which seems to be about every other lesson). My mother in law keeps telling me the kids should be reading themselves for 20-30 minutes a day (and I think the public schools here require them to read 20 minutes a day) so I keep worrying I am missing something by not making them do 20+ minutes of actual reading per day…..What do you recommend about them reading to us? How often and how much should they read to us?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amy,
This depends on which level of AAR you are working on. In AAR 1, there are few options of reading material for students that don’t include phonograms and patterns the student hasn’t been taught. When a child is expected to read books that contain words that he doesn’t yet have the skills to decode, he often becomes frustrated and starts guessing at words, thereby developing poor reading strategies. Sadly, it seems a majority of “beginning-to-read” books on the market are only 50% or so decodable to student just beginning to read. The article Decodable Books: Why They’re Important explains this further.

Rather than asking a child to read alone daily in a book that may or may not encourage them to beginning guessing at words, we recommend making sure the child reads every day 4 to 5 days a week. The AAR word cards, activities, fluency sheets, and readers all count as reading. It is beneficial to reread stories and fluency sheets, and redo the activities as well. Reading a story more than once helps a child to develop smoother, more fluent, more expressive reading.

As for you reading aloud to your child, we recommend doing that daily for 20 minutes in addition to the 20 minutes of reading time, not instead of it. As the chart above shows, 20 minutes a day of reading aloud adds up to impressive amounts of language and literature going through your child over time.

As we mentioned in a recent blog post, 64% of 4th graders read below proficient levels. So, the very common public school practice of 20 minutes of silent reading a day doesn’t seem to be helping the majority of students. There will come a time when you will want to ask your child to read alone for 20 to 30 minutes, but that time is much more appropriate developmentally after they have finished learning to read and have begun reading to learn.

My 13 and 11 year olds are assigned daily reading that takes them about 25 minutes, but my 9 year old doesn’t get this assignment. The difference is that my 13 and 11 year olds are reading well, and my 9 year old is still struggling and so works one-on-one with me for 20 minutes.

I hope this helps. Please let us know any further questions or concerns you have.

Amy C

says:

Thanks. I do see your point about how it could be frustrating to a beginning reader. I didn’t bother in AAR1 (or before that) but I did start somewhere in AAR2 with simple books and it does seem to be going fairly well. We do it together (they aren’t alone) and if they have trouble with a word where they have learned a rule for it, I encourage them to break it down/use the rule, etc. If they don’t know the rules for it yet, I help them if they don’t guess the word from context . And right now we are only doing one small book a day and so far it seems to be going fairly well. But it is good to know I don’t need to push this too much at this point. I also see what you mean about them getting reading in with the word cards and fluency sheets, etc. So it seems like they may be 20 minutes short on total reading time a week (since we don’t count what I read to them) when all is said and done so I may up it a little, but it doesn’t sound like we aren’t too far off….

Elizabeth B.

says:

I’m a big fan of reading to your kids. My mom read to me when I was little in the evenings, and often chapter books like the Hobbit and the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. So whereas other kids did not enjoy reading aloud in class I volunteered for it because I liked to read and be read to.
In the 90’s there was a great PBS program called Wishbone about “a little dog with a big imagination.” He introduced me to the basic storyline of many classic books through inagining himself in the storyline. When I got older and we were assigned some of them for class I was probably the most excited. You can find some on YouTube still.
Now my kids love being read to and eagerly pick out a book when it’s reading time!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Elizabeth,
My older kids (19 and 16) LOVED Wishbone, and bemoan the fact that he is off the air and their younger siblings haven’t gotten to enjoy him. I’ll have to try and find some episodes on YouTube. Thank you.

Becca

says:

I do about 15-30 minutes for instruction (I combine reading and spelling lessons) almost daily, and we try to do at least 15 min read out-loud plus 15 min read quietly by-self as often as possible throughout the week.

Janee

says:

We started with AAR pre-reading level when my son was 5 but he wasn’t ready so we waited another year. It made all the difference! He is very active and could not sit still very long. He is now 9 and we are 2/3 of the way done with level 3. His attention span is still not very long so we usually do 2 lessons a week….one with instruction and the other with a story. This seems to be a good balance for us. My husband reads to him for at least 30 minutes before bed each evening and he likes to let his kindle read to him as well sometimes. We are also adding having him read to one of us for 10 minutes each school day when he doesn’t have a story to read in his AAR reader. He still prefers to be read to but I’m hoping by the end of level 4 next year he will like reading on his own better. My goal is for him to work up to an hour every school day once he is no longer using the reading program. After a number of years of homeschooling I’ve come to realize they learn better if we don’t push too hard and let them show us what pace works best for them. He seems to get it the first time if we go slow and don’t push too hard.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Janee,
Many students don’t become avid readers until they are older; I was 12 and my sons were 12 and 11 before we began reading for pleasure and not just because it was assigned. Also, active students may find a full hour of reading to be difficult, even if they are teens. Many do better with no more than 30 minutes or so of reading, then movement of some sort, then returning to reading. Oh, and many people that read well still prefer to listen to books. That’s why the audiobook market is thriving.

Thank you so much for sharing your son’s story. It sounds like you and he are doing very well together!

Lindsey Wyman

says:

What great ideas for helping the kids!

Rebeca Ruiz

says:

My granddaughter has about an hour and a half worth of homework, I try to keep it very short.

Rebecca

says:

Thank you for sharing! Great information!! I have just started the Read Aloud Handbook, loving it so far. We love to read to our children, my three year old is having a hard time at bed time so it is taking away from my reading time with our older 2 children, they are reading on their own in their beds. So, I am making up the read aloud time during the day. Gotta get it in-love it!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Rebecca,
Reading aloud at bedtime has never worked well with my family. So, early on we adopted reading aloud at afternoon naptime instead. As my children have grown, and outgrown naptime, we have kept the habit of afternoon read aloud times. Each day at around 1pm, my kids gather up things to do (ranges from coloring to Lego to folding towels) and I read aloud for an hour or two. On any given day I read from at least one non-fiction book, usually about a history topic but could be science or something else, and at least one chapter book. At least once or twice a week I also read some poetry or a short story (this year it’s American tale tales). We get a LOT of reading aloud done this way.

Katie Jacobsen

says:

Very interesting!

Reba

says:

I spend about 5 minutes twice a day teaching my 3 year old reading and about 30 minutes a day teaching my 5 year old reading. I started my 5 year old at 3 for the same amount of time and he reads well now. My husband and I read aloud at least a couple of hours a day to our boys.

Ana Valente

says:

Thank you so much! Just what I needed to confirm that we are in the right path.

Kim

says:

I was so glad to see this blog post. We aim for a lesson a week (occasionally two). My son can have a hard time concentrating but breaking the lessons into manageable daily chunks for him means he actually looks forward to his lessons each day.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kim,
This slow and steady method really pays off! A lesson, maybe two, a week is a great pace. Keep up the good work!

Abbi Cord

says:

Thanks for this blog post. I have struggled with this a lot the past month. One of my kids in particular hems and haws over all school lessons. so we get very little done in 20 minutes. Would you suggest just cutting g it off at 20 minutes even if we haven’t really covered any ground? Thanks!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Abbi,
This depends a lot on the child, the child’s age, and what the reasons are for his dawdling through lessons. Have you asked why he or she acts that way? Sometimes you can be surprised by how insightful and reasonable their answer is. For example, if he says he does it because he is tired or hungry, you could easily move the lesson to a different time of day to avoid those feelings. Other times, of course, the reason for this type of action isn’t something that can be acted upon, such as they don’t want to learn to read. However, even with this type of answer an open discussion can be had.

However, you may find setting a timer, in full view of the child, so that the lesson ends promptly at 20 minutes, encourages them to work harder and in a more focused manner. Also make sure that this hemming and hawing isn’t because the student is struggling with the material or having some other difficulty such as needing glasses. One thing to ask yourself is if the child acts this way in other activities during the day, or just with school. Also, consider if your child is getting enough physical activity. This can be difficult in the winter months, but many children struggle with focus if they aren’t moving all their wiggles away by running, jumping, biking, or otherwise moving.

Still, even if a lesson goes badly, end at 20 minutes. If you have had a discussion with your child, and ruled out other issues, you may consider having an additional 10 minutes of lesson later in the day if you encounter refusal to work in the first 20 minutes, but definitely separate the first 20 minutes and the additional 10 minutes by other activities and time. However, if the child is very young, such as 6 or younger, I would hesitate to do that.

Since this is a new development, looking into the root cause is really the best way to go.

Kathy

says:

Hi Abbi,

In case you missed it, would any or all of the 9 tips be helpful in Marie’s 1/18/16 blog post entitled “9 Ways to Keep Reading and Spelling Lessons Motivating”?

Just a thought!

Kara

says:

Good encouragement in it’s not the quantity but the quality of time when teaching reading. Also gets me motivated to go ahead and start All About Reading with my youngest. Thank you!

Victoria Harris-Newsham

says:

I read aloud to my daughter usually at least a cheaper of the book we’re currently reading, she loves this and would have me read all day if i would! She, however has some reading difficulty so i do review of the words as one lesson and then work through some of the other things! The thing is, she HATES the fluency stuff and I’m not sure whether i should just get her reading her review cards (i also go regularly over the mattered cards as well) or to just not move on to the next lesson until she gets the cards straight away without sounding out? It’s taking forever, but I’m not sure what we should do so that she doesn’t get bored and stock of it! (She struggles with a bit of dyslexia) any help or info on what i should do to help balance this would be greatly appreciated! :)

Erin

says:

My daughter did not enjoy reading the fluency worksheets either, so I started cutting them into strips and we play hide and seek. ( I number the papers so we can find them all!). This has definitely motivated her to read the sheets and it isn’t so overwhelming because it is in smaller reading portions. I hope this helps!

Jill

says:

I am homeschooling my granddaughter and she doesn’t like the fluency practice sheets either, so we don’t do the entire sheet. Before I have her do it, I go over the page and pick 2-3 rows of words where I know she has the most trouble. I tell her if she can say these 2-3 lines then we’ll skip the others, when she has trouble with 3 in a row we stop and I mark it to go back later and add 3 words. Sometimes during review of the not mastered cards I will make a game out of it…I spread the cards on the floor from the living room to the kitchen, she hops on one foot and reaches down to turn the card over & reads it; if she’s right she moves to the next card, if not we stop there and start again later or the next day. When she makes it through one room her prize is to bake cookies or ride her bike for 15 min. during school time or something special. Another time I review the cards with smarties candies, when she gets a word without sounding it out she gets one candy, if she misses she has to give it back. I do wonder why you go back over the mastered cards-regularly? If they are mastered then she shouldn’t need to, right? This might make her feel that even though she has supposedly MASTERED them, she has not succeeded because she continues to have to go over them; just a thought. Also, when weather permits we take a blanket outside to read (for some this would be too distracting), or we snuggle in the bed with covers and read, anything to mix it up. Hope this has helped you somewhat~we’re all in this together!

Tracy

says:

My younger son, five, likes to use the bingo dot markers to put a dot on the words after he read them. For my seven year old, sometimes we will roll a die to see how many words, phrases, or sentences he has to read on each page. We will do this for several days in a row to cover a lesson. Sometimes I will use a light colored crayon to color groups of words on the fluency sheet. Then my son will choose one of the colors and read everything in that color. I keep it to a max of three colors and often he will read the entire page but if feels a bit more fun by breaking them into color groups. The cards are great too. My boys will make race tracks out of them and read the word as their car drives over the words. Often I will hide 10-15 cards in a room of our house and the have to find the cards and read them. Sometimes we will do this in ever room in the house. I hope the ideas help. Hang in there. Teach them is worth the hard work.

Aimee

says:

On the fluency pages, which my children don’t like either, I have been rewarding them with a chocolate chip after they read each row or 3 rows, depending on the child and the difficulty of the words that day. Some days we still only do a few of the rows, but the children have stopped fighting me over the pages. In fact, some days they ask if it is time to do them yet, because they want their chocolate!

Jennifer

says:

Great idea! Fluency sheets are the hardest for my kids too!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Victoria,
Do not expect perfection before moving on. Reaching the goal of fluent reading will be a gradual process over many lessons. Students may need to read a word thirty times before they can read it fluently without having to sound it out!

The Word Cards allow you to track what has been mastered and what still needs work. Keep word cards in daily review until she 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; just rotate through a portion for 2-3 minutes each day and then pick up in the book wherever you left off previously.

The fluency pages are actually the hardest thing to read in the program, so it kind of makes sense that she dislikes them so much. They are hard.

As I mentioned before, a child may need to read a word thirty times before they can read it fluently without having to sound it out. The fluency sheets are an important component of AAR because of this. However, do feel free to modify the pages to her needs (there are some tips for using these in the Level 1 Teacher’s Manual on page 43). You might find our “Top Tips” for using the Fluency practice pages helpful as well. (And check out the comments as well–lots of fun suggestions in there!)

What I found to be the most helpful for my struggling reader was to spend 3 to 5 minutes every day on the fluency sheets. That way she knows she only has to read on it for a few minutes, and then she is done. It is much less overwhelming than knowing she has to keep reading until the entire thing is done. She likes crossing out each line after she reads it too. Here is a blog post where I explain how I spread Lessons out over a week for her.

I hope this helps. Please let me know how it goes, and if you need further support.

Christie

says:

Thank you for the ideas!!

Juli Vrotney

says:

Thank you so much for sharing strategies on time spent reading together and ways to make it more fun for our kids.

Mary

says:

I have 8 children and my oldest in leaving next year for college. I can’t say enough about spending that time reading to your children. I will always treasure the memories of reading to children both old and young. They all love it so much more than anything electronic.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Mary,
YES! And I found a benefit to reading aloud to my kids that I didn’t anticipate. I have 5, spanning 10 years, so my oldest and my youngest don’t have a lot of similar ground. But, I read aloud the same books to my younger kids that I read aloud to my older kids, and that has given them common ground, a shared family memory, even though 8 to 10 years separates the experience for each. It’s wonderful!

Jocelyn Wilmot

says:

I think 20 is plenty of time. These days people are pushing to much to young. We need to slow down, stay developmently appropriate and enoy our children’s childhood.

Megan Stephens

says:

Amen, Jocelyn!!!

Jennifer

says:

Yes!!!!!

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