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Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Reading and Dyslexia

Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Reading and Dyslexia

All About Reading and dyslexia: have you ever wondered if AAR works for students who struggle with this learning challenge?

Marianne Sunderland is mom to eight children, seven of whom have dyslexia. She is also the author of Dyslexia 101: Truths, Myths, and What Really Works.

As a trained Orton-Gillingham practitioner, Marianne designs courses specifically for parents of dyslexic children, and is a sought-after speaker on the topic of teaching reading at homeschool conferences.

With all of her experience, you’d hardly think that Marianne would be in the market for reading curriculum, but she is an avid All About Reading user.

All About Reading and All About Spelling are structured programs with a carefully planned sequence. Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to? Having the lessons, stories, and activity sheets readily available makes the job of teaching much easier, even for an expert like Marianne.

With seven dyslexic children and one traditional learner, Marianne has a unique story to tell. I love to get these peeks into other family’s lives to see how they homeschool and what is important to them!

Here’s Marianne…

Here’s a common scene from my household:

My son (age 7): “Mom! Can we do school?”
Me: “It’s Saturday, Buddy. We don’t do school on Saturdays!”
My son (with dramatic emphasis): “Awwww. Bummer!”

How far our family has come from our early days teaching our seven kids with dyslexia to read!

Those were long, hard days before we understood that our kids’ reading struggles were caused by small differences in the wiring of their brains. What a relief to learn that our kids’ struggles didn’t mean that they were willful and lazy and that we weren’t the worst parents in the world!

I’m pretty sure that we’ve tried every method and reading program available over our past 20 years of homeschooling. If you’ve been teaching kids with dyslexia to read for any amount of time, you know that traditional methods of teaching reading don’t work.

I always knew that our kids with dyslexia were bright, even though they struggled mightily with the written word, both reading and spelling. What I didn’t know way back then was that the reason most reading programs don’t work for dyslexic kids is that they are using the wrong methods.

During those years of slow, frustrating progress teaching our kids with dyslexia to read, I began to research learning, reading, and dyslexia—anything that might point us in the right direction. We tried all kinds of programs, supplements, and exercises in the hopes that their dyslexia would be “cured.” Turns out dyslexia is genetic—dyslexic kids become dyslexic adults.

What I learned was that instead of looking for a miracle cure, I needed to look for the way in which my kids could learn to read. Enter All About Reading!

Why It Works: All About Reading and Dyslexia

Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Reading and Dyslexia with Marianne Sunderland

There is no magic in the All About Reading program, but there sure seemed to be miracles when we began using it three years ago!

Until we discovered AAR, it seemed like all of our reading instruction leaked out of our kids’ ears during the night. I would teach a reading lesson. My child would understand and apply the rule. But the next day it was as if he had never heard that lesson! My kids could read a word on one line and in the very next sentence, forget the word entirely.

The hands-on, multisensory aspect of AAR has made an amazing impact on our kids’ ability to remember what they have learned. Reading still doesn’t come as easily for my dyslexic kids as it does for my one traditional learner. But the games and hands-on activities are fun, and that helps motivate them to push through their difficulties.

Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Reading and Dyslexia with Marianne Sunderland

I cannot tell you how many tears of frustration have been shed in our home over the years as we tried one reading program after the other that just didn’t work.

First I was annoyed. “Why can’t you remember this?!” and “Pay attention!

Then the kids were upset. I had no idea that they really were trying!

No one likes to do things they aren’t good at. But having fun and being able to experience success day by day is very motivating, not to mention much more enjoyable. Kids are almost always willing and eager to do things that are fun!

Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Reading and Dyslexia with Marianne Sunderland

We started using All About Reading three years ago, and now my kids:

  • enjoy school
  • are motivated to try hard
  • don’t hate reading time
  • are learning to read!

And as for me…

  • I feel confident
  • I’m motivated to keep pressing on
  • I enjoy teaching
  • I’m thrilled to finally be able to teach my kids to read in the way that they learn!

Here’s What I Love about Marianne’s Story

Marianne’s story highlights the power of multisensory curriculum when teaching children who learn differently. After Marianne discovered curriculum that works with the way her children learn best, they remembered the concepts, they were motivated to do the lessons, and their reading ability improved dramatically.

Another thing stood out to me as well: Marianne’s tenacity! I know how hard it is to teach one child with dyslexia, and she has seven! I appreciate the fact that she shares her hard-won wisdom so freely with the homeschool community.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Marianne!

Products Marianne Has Used with Her Children:

If you are homeschooling a child with dyslexia, you may enjoy these helpful resources from Marianne:

  • Marianne’s blog Homeschooling with Dyslexia is packed with encouraging articles and resources.
  • Marianne’s training course for parents of dyslexics is available here.
  • Find out more about what Marianne says about All About Reading in her detailed review.

Did you enjoy Marianne’s story? Read stories from more Real Moms, Real Kids.

How about you? Have you tried program after program hoping to find a miracle cure for your struggling reader?

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Johanna Feris

says:

hi great ideas, just reading did not use it will come back to you.

Serena

says:

Looking forward to trying this with my eight year old who stills struggles with the alphabet and as mentioned above if she learns something one day, It isn’t retained the following day.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Serena,
I think you may find our Dyslexia Resources page helpful. Let me know if you need more information or have specific questions.

Tim McNutt

says:

My name is Tim McNutt I have struggled with dyslexia all my life, I ‘m 57 year old and I have had some training through the Ginniham. But I would to further my reading skills. If you have any books or websites that you could direct me to it I would be appreciate. thanks for all that you do I am helping with learning disabilities

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tim,
It is so wonderful that you are seeking to better yourself by working on reading skills. You may find our Dyslexia Resources helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Katie L

says:

This gives me so much hope! My 4 yo shows a lot of early signs of dyslexia, and he is getting frustrated and discouraged at not being able to understand letter ID, sounds, or rhyming. Information just seems to slide right off his brain, in the same way Marianne describes it leaking out their ears! My 8 yo has always been a breeze to teach and I started to wonder if homeschooling would work for my 4 yo. This is encouraging that finding the right curriculum is all that’s needed!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Katie,
I’m happy this post was encouraging for you!

Since you mentioned rhyming and sounds, check out our blog posts on 5 Ways to Teach Rhyming and Fun Ways to Develop Phonological Awareness. Both have free printable games and lots of tips and ideas for helping your student master these skills.

Let me know if you need anything or have any questions.

Cherie

says:

Great program for teaching kids with dyslexia!! I have taught and tutored 11 kids with dyslexia.

Meredith

says:

How can I help my 6yo son who seems to be experiencing a very specific problem; that words and letters are shifting and moving around on the page?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Meredith,
I’m sorry your son is struggling in this way! It sounds like he is experiencing a vision problem. Please note that a child that has 20/20 vision in a standard exam could still have a vision problem. I think you will find our Real Moms, Real Kids: Vision Problems blog post helpful. At the bottom of it, you will find links that will help you find a provider to evaluate his vision.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have more questions.

Angie S

says:

I don’t understand this. Marianne is nothing but a trained OG religious nut. She doesn’t seem to be qualified in the field any other way.

Is this AAR a religious based program?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Angie,
All About Reading is a secular program; it has no religious content. Both All About Reading and All About Spelling are Orton-Gillingham based, which is a proven approach for helping students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

The author of AAR and AAS, Marie Rippel, is a member of the International Dyslexia Association and has instructed graduate-level courses in Orton-Gillingham Literacy Training offered through Nicolet College in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. She is also a member of Pro Literacy, has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Literary Task Force in Wisconsin, and tutored students for more than 20 years.

Marianne, the “real mom” of this specific blog post, is a certified Orton-Gillingham tutor and author of Dyslexia 101: Truths, Myths and What Really Works. However, her most pertinent qualification for this specific blog post is that she has taught her 8 “real kids”, 7 of whom are dyslexic, to successfully read.

Heather

says:

I think my oldest may be struggling with dyslexia. She struggles with big words, and also with spelling. I’m hoping to try out AAS with her soon.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Heather,
Both All About Reading and All About Spelling are Orton-Gillingham based, which is a proven approach for helping students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. It’s also the approach that the International Dyslexia Association recommends. The author of AAR and AAS, Marie Rippel, is a member of the International Dyslexia Association and has instructed graduate level courses in Orton-Gillingham Literacy Training offered through Nicolet College in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. She is also a member of Pro Literacy, has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Literary Task Force in Wisconsin, and tutored students for more than 20 years. If you haven’t had a chance to watch their story about her son’s struggles, you may want to check that out (they were told he would never read). Quite amazing!

You might like to visit our Dyslexia Resources Page.

Here are some ways that All About Reading and All About Spelling can help kids with learning difficulties:

– Each lesson time is simple and explicit and will include 3 simple steps: the review of what was learned the day before, a simple new teaching, and a short practice of that new teaching.

– Incremental lessons. AAR and AAS break every teaching down into its most basic steps and then teach the lessons in a logical order, carrying students from one concept or skill to the next. Each step builds on what the student has already mastered.

– AAR and AAS are multisensory. Research has shown that when a child is taught through all three pathways at the same time, a method known as simultaneous multisensory instruction, he will learn significantly more than when taught only through his strongest pathway.

– 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.

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

– AAR and AAS have built-in review in every lesson. Children with learning difficulties generally need lots of review in order to retain concepts. 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.

– All About Reading has lots of fluency practice. One of the things that Marie noticed when she was researching reading programs is that few programs have enough review built in for kids who struggle to gain fluency. AAR has fluency sheets or a story to be read with every lesson, so children can practice reading smoothly with expression and confidence.

– All About Spelling has a gradual progression for increasing the student’s stamina and fluency in writing, from words and short phrases in Level 1, to phrases and short sentences in Level 2, to 12 dictation sentences per step in Level 3. Partway through Level 3, the Writing Station activity is introduced. In this exercise, students write sentences of their own that they make up using some of their spelling words. In this way students have begun to use words in a more real-world context through dictation and writing, to help them transition to longer writing assignments.

All About Reading and All About Spelling have a one-year guarantee. You can try them, and if for any reason you feel that they aren’t the right match for your child, return them for a full refund.

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

Heather

says:

Thanks for the quick reply! I’ve always shied away from AAS because I thought it looked like too much work, too many rules, etc. But the more time goes by, the more sure I am that my daughter needs something like this. i just need to save up the money now 😊

Anja

says:

Thank you for your great blog and learning material.
Through it we have finally come to understand that our son is struggling with dyslexia and is not just lazy.
A big relief and at the same time a challenge.
Thank you.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Anja,
I’m glad that our materials have helped your son and you in this way. Please let us know if you need any further help!

Kate

says:

I have an older child who has dyslexia, who is now a senior in college and hopefully! graduating next spring. When this child was in third grade, he had already been held back a year, and was really struggling. I had received training in Orton-Gillingham and decided to homeschool him at that time. Unfortunately, the AAR and AAS programs had not been developed at the time, but using the materials I had from my training, I was able to use this approach to teach him to read and spell fluently. He went from failing and needing constant help, to doing well, and has gone through college, with minimal assistance. While my younger children do not have learning disabilities, they are thriving with this program and reading at grade levels above where they are. One child was struggling with learning spelling the traditional way and after six months of using this program, spelling has now become one of our the favorite subjects here. Even though I had training in this method, this program makes it so much easier and Ziggy adds to the fun of learning every day!

roslyn harris

says:

I started the year using my Orton Gillingham training to teach my son. But he wanted his school to be “fun” like little SIS’s was and i was pregnant and due in the spring. So I started to look for a program that would be easy for me and fun for him. I am so glad we found aar he and I like it…especially if I get creative with the fluency sheets : . Why reinvent the wheel? I do have him trace the new phonographs he learns in birdseed or jell or just on the table as I was taught to do in my training and have him trace them to remind himself of them also but that is a minor addition. He decodes very well and is very slowly moving word cards to the mastered section–but he is only 4 and we are slowing down to work on fluency.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

It’s great to hear that All About Reading has provided the “fun” your son was needing! Thanks for sharing this, Roslyn.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kate,
Thank you for sharing this. Marie worked really hard to make AAS and AAR not only complete with the Orton-Gillingham method, but actually easy and fun to teach and learn from too.

Christine

says:

This was so incredibly helpful. I started crying because I can relate. I’ve been rating for an answer and I believe God has answered it clearly.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Christine,
I’m glad you found this post helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions, or if we can help you in any way. We want to help you help your child.

Kim

says:

This sounds excellent! I’m excited to give it a try in my special education classroom.

Kelli Poll

says:

It is so helpful to hear from others that are farther down the road of teaching a dyslexic child. I only have one, my youngest, and it really threw me for awhile. He was so different from the others and it has been quite a journey to learn what is normal for him (lots of repetition, slow but steady, hard work, not lazy) and how to help him progress.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kelli,
I’m glad you found this post encouraging. Most of us here at All About Learning Press have experience with dyslexia, so let us know if you ever need help. You can help your son succeed!

Reed

says:

Thank you sooo much!

Ginny H

says:

We did our first lesson of All About Reading Level 1 today. LOVED IT! I have one kiddo who is naturally good at reading, and one who won’t do more than get the sounds out..and the sounds might not be in the order they’re listed. They both seemed to really enjoy the lesson. Thank you!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ginny,
It’s great to hear your first day went so well!

Laura

says:

How does this work for kids who can already “read” but are dyslexic?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Laura,
Both All About Reading and All About Spelling are Orton-Gillingham based, which is a proven method for helping students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. It’s also the approach that the International Dyslexia Association recommends. The author of AAR and AAS, Marie Rippel, is a member of the International Dyslexia Association, and was an instructor for the graduate level courses in Orton-Gillingham Literacy Training offered through Nicolet College in Rhinelander, Wisconsin for 3 years. She is also a member of Pro Literacy, has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Literary Task Force in Wisconsin, and tutored students for more than 20 years. If you haven’t had a chance to watch their story about her son’s struggles, you may want to check that out (they were told he would never read). Quite amazing!

All About Reading has 4 levels, taking students through the phonics and word attack skills necessary to sound out high school level words. (Word attack skills include things like dividing words into syllables, making analogies to other words, sounding out the word with the accent on different word parts, recognizing affixes, etc…) However, All About Reading goes beyond just word attack skills, and also teaches comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, beginning literary analysis, and more.

In addition, All About Spelling helps students spell with confidence.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have further questions or need more clarification.

Heather

says:

Thank you so much for this encouragement. My son is only mildly dyslexic but had eye tracking issues as well. Once we figured this out and once he completed his eye therapy he began to read quite well, but he still struggles with spelling so much. I am glad to learn that AAS is helpful to struggling learners!

SHARON BAZZELL

says:

What kind of eye tracking therapy did you do? My son is dyslexic and has this issue as well.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sharon,
Just in case Heather doesn’t see this (she commented months ago), eye tracking therapy is typically prescribed by a specialist eye doctor. You can find more information at http://www.covd.org.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Heather,
I’m glad you found this post encouraging! Let us know if we can help in any way.

Shavi

says:

Have you got a similar programm for Maths?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Shavi,
We do not have a math program, but I can give you some ideas to look into.

Marie had one student who struggled with math, and one who did well. Teaching Textbooks worked well for her struggling student, so that’s one you might look into. Her student who did well in math used Aleks.

I use Math-U-See with my one student that struggles with math. To me it is the closest to AALP, in that it uses multisensory instruction. However, instead of the step-by-step teacher’s guide, it uses video instruction and the teacher’s guide is more of an overview of what the video teaches.

My other students that don’t (or didn’t) struggle with math have all used Singapore in the elementary years. It’s not so hands on, but the textbook does a great job of helping me walk my students through the concepts. The textbook uses lots of illustrations of manipulatives too, so while they aren’t assigned to be used it is easy to add them in if needed.

However, my co-worker, Merry, used Horizons in the elementary years, and Math-U-See for Pre-algebra and above. Both Marie and Merry always liked Singapore because it fit their styles, but it did not fit their kids well.

I hope this helps. Please let us know if we can help in any further way.

Amelie

says:

Can you tell me how AAR compares with the Wilson Reading Program?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amelie,
Wilson, All About Reading, and All About Spelling are all Orton-Gillingham based, which has been found to be successful for students with dyslexia and other reading struggles. Marie is a member of the International Dyslexia Association, and was an instructor for the graduate level courses in Orton-Gillingham Literacy Training offered through Nicolet College in Rhinelander, Wisconsin for 3 years. If you haven’t had a chance to watch their story about her son’s struggles, you may want to check out their story. Quite amazing!

So, the programs do have a lot of similarities in that the teaching is based on learning phonograms. However, there are a few differences:

With All About Reading (AAR) and All About Spelling (AAS), parents don’t have to go through specialized training to learn how to teach the programs. Everything you need is right there in the book as you go through the lesson, so it’s very open and go.

Another difference is that our reading and spelling 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. They will still get all the reinforcement of learning the spelling rules, but they don’t have to wait for mastery in spelling before moving on in reading. For more information, check out this article on Why We Teach Reading and Spelling Separately.

Wilson includes finger tapping, which can be difficult for kids with dysgraphia or coordination struggles. AAR and AAS use tokens, letter tiles, and syllable tags instead. Tiles can also make it easier to discuss mistakes (some kids take it more personally when a finger is wrong than if it’s a tile that is wrong).

The rules in AAR and AAS are worded so they are as easy for children to remember as possible, and we include fully illustrated kid-friendly readers. We took care to make sure that the illustrations don’t give away the words though, so students still have to sound out what they are reading.

AAR and AAS both include customizable review as well. This way, parents and teachers can easily track what students have mastered and what needs ongoing review.

I hope this answers your question. Please let us know if we can help any further.

Renae Redekopp

says:

NO one likes doing things they aren’t good at––so true! Thanks for this thoughtful post!

Christianne

says:

Wonderful and inspiring to hear about others and their success stories. Thank you for sharing!

Danielle McCammon

says:

We struggled and struggled until we got a private tutor who is trained in Orton-Gillingham approaches and she uses All About Reading as a source! My daughter went up to grade levels in reading after 4 months of this approach!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Danielle,
That is a great improvement! Thank you for sharing.

Lisa

says:

I have two quick questions.
How are the AAR and AAS interactive kits different?
Do i need a white board for marking purposes or can i just use a cookie sheet to manipulate the magnetic letters on?

Robyn Williams

says:

I feel this is an answer to prayer. I’ve asked many homeschool moms and they have recommended This curriculum over and over. Teaching my children to read seems very overwhelming, but with this program I feel it is possible. I’m a mom of 5 from ages 4 to 12. Two of my boys have ADD and dyslexia. Spelling is very challenging for them. I love the simplicity and creativity of this program. I’m extremely interested and praying I win this opportunity!!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Robyn,
Let us know if we can help you get started! These programs have helped so many ADD and dyslexic children, including my own!

Robyn Williams

says:

I feel this is an answer to prayer. I’ve asked many homeschool moms and they have recommended This curriculum over and over. Teaching my children to read seems very overwhelming, but with this program I feel it is possible. I’m a mom of 5 from ages 4 to 12. Two of my boys have ADD and dyslexia. I’m extremely interested and praying I win this opportunity!!!

Heather

says:

We used AAR level 1 for my daughter with Visual Processing Disorder last year, and it was fantastic. She loved the workbook activities!!

sheris

says:

School is not my daughters favorite and I believe its because she has a hard time remembering what she learns it doesn’t stick and as much as repetition is sometimes well boring it is truly needed for learning.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sheris,
You may find our Memory series to be helpful. The Funnel Concept is the first in the series, and the links to the other four blog articles is at the end.

Jeanne Marie Marks

says:

Always an encouraging word from the makers of an incredible program. Keep up the great work!

Kimberley Q

says:

This is very encouraging to keep persevering with our special needs!

E

says:

Very inspiring story

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