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Spelling: How Much Time Should I Spend?

Child writing from spelling Sound Card

If you’re wondering how much time you should spend on spelling lessons, you aren’t alone! This is one of the most frequently asked questions about the All About Spelling program.

Fortunately, there is a really simple answer that works in most situations.

How Much Time Should I Spend?

I generally recommend spending 20 minutes a day, five days a week on spelling lessons.

Of course, this general recommendation may not fit your family’s situation perfectly. You may need to customize the length of your lessons to fit your child’s specific needs.

But that’s the great thing about All About Spelling—it’s easy to customize. Here are a few more things to think about as you plan your day:

  1. Take your child’s age and attention span into consideration. If your child is young, has a hard time sitting still, or is just starting out in spelling, you may want to start with as little as ten minutes per day. You can gradually build up the time as your child matures and his attention span grows.
  2. Child writing on whiteboard
  3. Short lessons every day are more effective than longer, less-frequent lessons. In a short lesson, your child’s attention is less likely to wander, and you’ll find that you can accomplish more when your student is actively engaged in the lesson. Keep the lessons upbeat and fast-paced to hold the child’s interest. Even if you are working with an older child who can focus for a longer period of time, 20 minutes is all you need to review old material, teach the new concept, and write several sentences from dictation. Students can only absorb so much new information at once, and then the rest isn’t retained.

    Sometimes we hear from moms whose kids balk at spelling lesson time, only to find out that the mom is trying to push through multiple lessons in one sitting, or is spending an hour on extra lessons in order to “catch up.” Even if they were just as effective as short lessons, long lessons make spelling seem like drudgery. As much as possible, we want to keep lessons light and fun.

  4. Remember that you don’t need to complete an entire Step in a day. In fact, sometimes a student will need a whole week to complete a Step. The speed at which your child masters a Step depends on the student’s age, attention span, prior experience, and the concepts being taught. The All About Spelling program is completely flexible and customizable so you can breeze through sections that are easy for your student and spend more time on difficult concepts.

    If you’re new to All About Spelling and are wondering what a “Step” is, download this free lesson sample from Level 2, Step 16. Each Step teaches one new concept, and in this Step, students learn words with the sound of /ar/ as in farm.

    Lessons samples from All About Spelling Level 2

    There are three main sections in each Step: Review, New Teaching, and Reinforcement. If you can’t get through the entire Step in a day, simply mark the page to hold your spot. The next day, start with a quick review of the flashcards (Phonogram Cards, Sound Cards, Key Cards, and Word Cards), and then pick up where you left off the previous day.

  5. Use a timer. After you’ve determined the best length of time for your situation, set a timer at the beginning of the lesson. This will help you stay on track and not make the lesson go on too long. Your child will be encouraged to stay focused because he knows that the lesson will end, and you won’t be tempted to keep pushing past the time you agreed upon.

The Bottom Line

The most important thing to remember when planning spelling lessons is to keep them “short, sweet, and consistent.” Your child’s brain is like a muscle, and consistent exercise does much more to develop muscle than occasional big bursts of energy. And shorter lessons keep your child coming back for more!

Short, effective lessons are just one of the ways we make spelling easy! Download my free e-book, “Six Ways We Make Spelling Easy,” to discover six powerful features of All About Spelling that will revolutionize your teaching!

Six Ways We Make Spelling Easy Report

Photo credit: Jamie at The Unlikely Homeschool and Michelle at Delightful Learning

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Andria Gipson

says:

I didn’t realize I had questions until I read so many of the comments. So maybe you’ve already answered this in the comments below but I don’t have the time to read all of them. I’m hoping you can take the time to help me even though I’m not taking the time to read through the comments. Sorry about the consumerism nature of that.

At any rate my daughter has severe dyslexia it took us over 3 years to complete level one of AAR she’s 8 now and we are chugging along through level 2 and plan to start AAS after the New Year. She is improving a lot in handwriting but because of her dyslexia it’s still fairly laborious for her. I usually do 20 minutes a day of AAR and she is usually assigned a small writing assignment each day (work book, copy work, or a complete the thought type of assignment that should easily be able to be done in under 10 minutes) I planned to do AAS for about 15 minutes a day. What should I add next and at what point do you know it’s time to add more (LA related obviously :) )

I also have a 6 year old without dyslexia who is doing great she is about to complete level 1 of AAR and will start AAS and her handwriting is the same as her sisters at this point as well as her time frame spent on each topic.

Thank you so much for your help!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Andria, great questions! I think you have a good plan laid out for both of your girls–adding a little at a time instead of changing too much at once. This article on Lanugage Arts can help you think through your priorities each year and what you want to focus on: https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/language-arts-in-my-household/

All About Spelling has a gradual progression for increasing the student’s stamina and fluency in writing that’s very helpful for beginning and struggling writers. It starts with just words and short phrases in Level 1, bumps up to phrases and short sentences in Level 2, and progresses to 12 dictation sentences per step in Level 3.  Partway through this level, the Writing Station 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.

Dictation and the Writing Station both serve as an important bridge between spelling words in the context of lists (where the patterns are similar), and more “real world” writing.  By the end of Level 3, students have mastered about 1000 words from the regular and reinforcement lists, and they have developed stamina and some beginning editing skills that will help them when they start a formal writing program.

I would also encourage you to check out our Dyslexia Resources page if you haven’t already: https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/category/dyslexia/

Good for you and your daughter for persevering with reading! I know that’s hard work, but it will pay off. I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have additional questions. Happy New Year!

Danielle

says:

I’m just starting AAS 1 with my daughter who just finished AAR 1. My question is…Is it possible to get too far ahead in the spelling steps, to where you overtake what they have learned in reading? As in, would it be a problem if she was one day working in AAR 2 but already up to AAS 3? I don’t know if this will end up happening, but just am wondering if I need to KEEP it from happening by accident, if it would cause problems with her not having enough background knowedledge to complete the spelling lessons?

Thanks so much!!

P.S. I used to teach in public school with Spalding and was also briefly trained in Orton-Gillingham methods…I LOVE your materials and how user-friendly they are, to the point where I can easily recommend them to friends without a teaching background – I coudn’t say that about Spalding, with its more complex learning curve. I’m so thankful I found your program!!

Nicole L Schofield

says:

I commented on this thread a year ago, but I’ll address your question now. We have been using AAR and AAS for seven years with five kids, now. I have found that usually, the child has a reading “leap” somewhere between ages 6 and 7 and finishes the reading program years before the spelling program. Just to give you an idea: Our oldest son, age 13, finished AAS 7 a few months ago; he took 7 years for Levels 1-7 in spelling. I didn’t do AAR with him, as he was reading at an advanced level prior to my knowing about AAL Press. Our 5th grade daughter finished AAR 4 at age 8 and now, at age 11, she is eight steps into AAS 6. Our 2nd grade son is gifted in language, so he finished AAR 4 at age 7 and is blasting through spelling–he is nearly done with AAS 4 already and will likely finish AAS 5 before June. Our 1st grade son, age 6.5, is in AAR 3 and AAS 1. I do teach letter sounds starting at age 3.5-4 and do the AAR pre-reading book at age 4; we start AAR Level 1 at age 5. But even if you start later and start AAR and AAS at the same time, at some point the child will get ahead in reading, at least in my experience. The AAR practice sheets become a lot shorter in late Level 2 and Levels 3-4, and the child’s fluency builds, so it doesn’t take them as long to complete steps and read stories. But there’s no reason to worry. If spelling is overtaking reading, just back off until the child’s reading catches up. Also, spelling is really easy in Level 1. It gets more complicated in Level 2 and on, especially when learning rules for things like adding suffixes and the various ways to spell the same sound. So slowing down will likely be needed, unless the child is just naturally good at spelling (like my third child). My oldest two are NOT naturally good at spelling, so they need(ed) more time. You mentioned below that you need to stop planning ahead so much. YES! I am a planner too and like to know when kids will accomplish certain things. BUT in these kinds of programs, it is less stressful to work consistently through the programs, adjusting the pace as needed, and trust that you will make good progress and that you have the freedom to hold off on one program to accommodate their progress in the other.

Danielle

says:

Thanks so much, I appreciate hearing the varied experiences of all your kids. Also the info on how the AAR practice sheets progress in Levels 2-4. And it’s nice to know that AAS Level 2 gets more difficult…skimming Level 1, it looked so easy – thus my question! It’s so interesting how this method uses phonics/reading to inform their learning of spelling, where as a method I used previously (in public school) used their phonics/spelling work as the basis for beginning their reading. Either way, the basic foundation is the phonograms, which I love. And the way each child learns differently can be so different from child to child…amazing! It’s such a neat process, watching them learn and progress, and I love how we’re blessed to see that over the course of 13+ years, if we choose to!! Yes, I’m sure as you say I can trust they’ll make good progress and just keep going with it! Thanks!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Danielle,
My youngest child got ahead in spelling when she was in All About Reading 2. It was fine!

As she continued in All About Spelling, she naturally started slowing down. The concepts and many ways of spelling one sound required us to review more and in time she got a little ahead in reading again. When finished AAR 4, she was in the second half of AAS 4.

This is not all that common, but it does happen occasionally. Kids usually don’t stay ahead for long though. Remember that there are 7 spelling levels but 4 reading levels because spelling is more difficult. That’s one reason Why We Teach Reading and Spelling Separately. AAS Level 1 tends to be pretty easy for kids, at least until the last 8-9 lessons. The dictations gradually get longer in subsequent levels, and sometimes that will help to slow a child down too. You can spread a lesson over as many days as needed so that the writing is not too overwhelming.

One thing I noticed was that since my daughter didn’t have the visual reinforcement of reading, sometimes it took longer for her to really solidify certain spelling patterns. For example, when to use the AI phonogram such as rain versus when to use the A-consonant-E pattern, such as bake. At that point, I had my daughter read a word bank every day, no matter if they are scheduled or not (word banks are introduced in AAS 2). I also required her to always read what she wrote (and I had to remind her to do it each time). It was weird, as sometimes she would have to slowly sound out the word she just wrote quickly without hesitation.

I also spent more days on each step as the different patterns and ways of spelling sounds were introduced. With your training, you know to slow down as needed for your student. But if your daughter doesn’t need you to slow down, it is more than fine for her to keep going forward with spelling!

Thank you for your kind words about our materials. Let me know if you have any questions or need anything else.

Danielle

says:

Thank you so much, that’s really helpful information! It’s nice the program can flex to the kids’ needs…I just need to let go of the feeling that I want to plan out all the coming years and just take one week at a time!! :)

Beth

says:

I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If one program starts to feel a bit difficult, you can back off and focus more on the other for awhile.

Danielle

says:

Thanks!!

Amberly

says:

I started doing AAR with my 8yo dyslexic son last March and it has made a world of difference! We did level 2 and part of 3 and then we took the summer off (traveled for 8 weeks, and couldn’t take everything with us). I think I’m going to review a few lessons and pick up AAR for 20 minutes a day. We are going to homeschool this year, and I want to start AAS, as well as do cursive and another ELA program (Moving Beyond the Page). I’m thinking I might only have time for 10-15 min a day if I try to do all of this. How long will it take us to get through a level if we do 10-15 min a day?

One thing I am concerned about is that he is a very reluctant writer, mostly because he freezes up when he doesn’t know how to spell a word (which is most of the time). I’m concerned that his writing will be impaired if I don’t move quickly through the spelling so that he has a strong base of words that he can spell. Does that make sense? I’ve heard that sometimes, students dictate their ideas to the parent so that they can focus on the concepts on the writing, but I don’t want to help “too” much. How should I handle this?

By the way, I’m excited about all of the good things you have to say about IEW. I’m going to keep my 12 yo home this year too, and have chosen to do IEW (along with MBTP) with him. I’m hoping to do it with my 8 yo in a year or so, once his reading and writing are a bit stronger.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It sounds like you have a great, strong year planned out, Amberly! I’m very happy to hear that All About Reading helped to make such a difference for your son and after such a long break, I agree beginning with review is a good idea.

I think you will find our blog post Language Arts in My Household helpful. In it Merry discusses the progression from the beginning of learning to read through higher level writing and grammar. The foundations of Language Arts need to be solid before a child is ready to learn the higher things, but the good news is that even if your child is older by the time they are ready for the higher level things, they will be able to catch up without too much trouble if the foundations are in place.

In order to find more time in your day, however, you may consider limiting how much of the Language Arts portion of Moving Beyond the Page that you do. I’m not familiar enough with that curriculum to know how necessary the LA parts are to the rest of the program, but if you could leave out the LA parts while doing the rest, you may find a few more minutes in your day to focus on your son’s progress in All About Reading, All About Spelling, and cursive.

However, I think your son may be able do well with 10 to 15 minutes a day of All About Spelling, if that is all you can fit in. In fact, it is more important to do consistently do a shorter time daily than spending longer time fewer days a week. This blog post discusses how a mom spends 35 minutes daily divided between All About Reading and All About Spelling. It has been very effective for her active boys.

I cannot tell you how long it will take your unique student to get through levels of All About Spelling. Like All About Reading, it is designed to be used at each child’s individual pace and I cannot foresee how quickly he will master the material. However, it is common for level 1 to take students well under a year to complete and even at just 10 to 15 minutes a day I think that is a possibility for your son. Higher levels tend to take longer but depending on how much your son struggles they could still be under a year each.

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. The dictation is meant to be spread over several days so you can take as much or as little time on that part as your child needs.

You can have your son dictate writing assignments to you, but it isn’t necessary. Once he has a good foundation in spelling (typically around level 3, although if he struggles a lot with spelling it may be best to wait until after level 3), then begin IEW. IEW is designed that it repeats the instruction each year, so students can start wherever they are and not miss anything. One of my students was almost 13 before he started IEW and yet was on grade level for writing within a year. However, one tenet of IEW is that it is impossible to help too much. If you attempt to help too much, your student will show you in one way or another that it was unneeded, such as working ahead of your help or just telling you that he doesn’t need help.

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

Nicole Lynn Schofield

says:

To add to this, when my daughter was 8, in addition to reading (she had finished AAR 4, so she was reading independently and then narrating what she read back to me) and AAS, we did Well Trained Mind Press’s First Language Lessons Levels 1-2, grammar sections only (skipping narration and picture study, as we cover these elsewhere). That took about 5-10 min per lesson. The next year, she started Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Fix It Grammar Level 1, about 10-15 min per day. For writing at age 8, we did IEW. Writing takes longer, about 30-40 min per day. In general, each day she either wrote an outline, wrote a paragraph based on the outline, or recopied an edited paragraph; for longer reports/essays, she worked on a paragraph at a time and then put them together at the end. At age 8, she did the IEW Bible Heroes book; this year (age 9) she did the Myths and Fairy Tales book. I did the IEW parent training for an older child, so I am very familiar with the method. I highly recommend IEW as well as their parent training DVDs or streaming videos.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nicole,
IEW is one of the few writing programs we recommend when asked as it does a great job of breaking writing down into incremental and explicit steps. I personally switched to it a few years back and I’m loving the results I’m seeing in my kids’ writing!

Thanks for the recommendation.

Nicole Lynn Schofield

says:

AAL Press recommends 20 minutes on spelling and 20 minutes on reading per day. With two kids doing AAR and three kids doing AAS, all at different levels, I find that I cannot do that. Instead, I spend 10-15 with each child per lesson. We make great progress with this and I am not frazzled. For AAR, that might look like this: Level 1 (young child), read half the story, I read a sentence, he reads a sentence. Or we read two sections on one side of the fluency sheets, then a few of the sentence sections on the other side, I read one, he reads one. Level 4 (older child who just had a leap in reading) introduce the concept and have him read the green cards and the fluency sheet (they are much shorter in L4) to ensure he can read the words with that pattern, then he reads half the story in the next lesson that reinforces the new words. Next day, he reads the other half of the story. At this point, he reads aloud while I do dishes, with me helping him with a word or two but usually not more than that. For AAS, my Level 2 kid does the review box for about five minutes, then new spelling words for about five minutes, then he writes 2-3 phrases or sentences. Level 4 daughter does review box, new spelling words, 3 sentences. Same with Level 5 son. At this rate, we do an AAS step in about 3-4 school days; I slow down when we need to and spend more days, but always just 10-15 minutes per lesson per day.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What an excellent break down of how to make multiple levels of All About Reading and All About Spelling work, Nicole! Thank you so much for sharing this. We do recommend 20 minutes a day, but the most important part is the consistent day after day. It sounds like your kids are doing very well and you are a mastering of making it work!

We have a blog post on “Tips for Teaching Multiple Kids Together”. I think your comment would be really helpful there, so I am going to copy it and link back to this as well. Here is the link to the comment I posted.

Again, thank you.

Wendy

says:

How much time do you recommend for my 8 year old for phonics, reading, composition, grammer, and spelling?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Good question, Wendy.

We recommend spending 20 minutes a day on reading and 20 minutes a day on spelling. If your child still needs work with handwriting, 10 minutes a day on that is often a good amount. If your child is struggling with reading, spelling, or both, then it may be best to only focus on these things for a while. However, if he or she is doing well in reading, spelling, and handwriting, then it might be time to add in writing and/or grammar for about 20 minutes a day. At 8 years of age, about 60 minutes a day total devoted to Language Arts subjects may be a good amount.

I think you will find our blog post titled Language Arts in My Household helpful. It discusses the progress of Language Arts from the earliest phonics and handwriting through formal writing and grammar study and how much time to focus on each aspect.

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

Wendy Zamorano

says:

Thank you so much. I went through the blog post and it answered all my questions. :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad that Language Arts blog post was helpful for you, Wendy. However, if you have any further questions, just ask.

Lynn Schofield

says:

Question: How many of you fast track by skipping some of the dictation sentences, writing station, etc.? And if you do that, what does it look like?
Background: We have been using AAS for four years. I have always had the student write out all the new words, more words, phrases, sentences, and writing station over the course of a week or ten days per step. My oldest, a 5th grader, is now nine steps into Level 5. He spells most of the words right after the first dictation. I am trying to figure out a way to fast track him so that we can finish his mom-intensive spelling lessons before we add a fourth child to AAS in the 2019-20 school year. He has an advanced vocabulary, so the words in AAS Levels 6-7 are those he already uses in speech and writing; his challenge is sitting down and manually writing sentences. In addition to AAS, in his IEW grammar program, he copies an advanced sentence every day; he also writes outlines or paragraphs daily in the IEW writing program. For AAS, he’s not going to write all twelve sentences in one sitting, nor do we have time for that—it takes him a long time to write. Thus, I only ask him to write four of the sentences at a time in our daily spelling lesson (and one session per day is all I can fit in with my five kids). At this rate, takes us three days to do the sentences, and 4-5 days to complete each step. I think we can fast track in terms of his grasping spelling, but all the writing is slowing us down. What approaches do others have to a situation such as this? Thanks.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lynn,
I understand being worried about time with a new speller coming up behind. I use Fix It, Grammar and IEW as well, so I am familiar with them.

When your son does the dictation sentences and Writing Station, how much does he get incorrect? How often do you have to remind him to check for errors in spelling, capitalization, homophone use, or punctuation? If he is still making regular errors in the dictation, then it is still beneficial for him. Even if he averages just one error per sentence, he is still learning from the dictation.

However, if he is averaging less than an error per sentence, especially if he averages maybe only one error per every four sentences or so, then I would be inclined to think that all twelve dictation sentences aren’t as necessary for him. If that is the case, you could try picking out just four of the hardest sentences from each Step and then move on. However, be on the lookout for needing to slow down as he moves forward.

One approach you could try that would allow him to continue at the same pace but make spelling more, but not completely, independent for him would be to teach a lesson on one day, and then record (using an app on your phone or other means) the 10 words, the More Words, and the Dictations. Then your son would listen and write those words and dictations. You would still be needed to correct and reteach the words that he may struggle with, but it would free up some of your time. This can sometimes work for students who don’t have a lot of spelling struggles. Students who do struggle, however, need immediate feedback so that they aren’t reinforcing misspellings.

I hope this helps some. Let me know if you have questions.

Nanker

says:

We are just starting homeschool this year with our 6 year old daughter. Scheduling is a big thing right because we are kind of winging it (hopefully scheduling next year will fall into place better). We are planning a 36 week school year, and I wonder, if we get through 1 Ste in AAS per week (on average) and finish up after ~24 weeks, is it advisable to continue onto Level 2 for the remaining ~12 weeks, leave off and finish Level at the start of next school year?

Gosh I hope that makes sense.

Lynn Schofield

says:

One of my children usually ends the school year in May about half-way through an AAS Level. This is because she completed Level 1 in a semester, but then needed more time for Levels 2-3. She’s on 4 now. Two strategies work for us to keep spelling in the memory (and this goes for all kids using AAS—I currently have three): 1. Summer review, and 2. Review Box. In the summer, we never just take those three months completely off. We might take a total of 3-4 weeks completely off for camps and travel, but the rest of the time, we do some maintenance. Otherwise, they’d forget so much. For spelling, 2-3 x per week, we do 2 yellow, 2 red, and 2 blue cards, and about 20 green word cards from the Mastered deck of the level the child is on and the previous level. If they miss one, it goes in Review and we add it into the next session. This keeps the concepts fresh in the mind so we can pick up where we left off when we start the regular school year schedule. During the school year, I starting using Robin’s strategy for the Review Box and it has really helped us get through levels faster with good retention. At the beginning of each session, we do all the yellow, red, and blue cards behind the Review tab, and 2 each from Mastered, cycling through those. If one is missed, it goes back behind Review. Then we spell 5-10 green word cards from the Mastered section, then 5-10 from the Review section (for younger kids, it’ll be less). Cards remain in Review until they are spelled correctly 2-3x, then I put them in the front of the Mastered section and keep re-filing them toward the front so that we get to them more often than the older cards, to ensure they remain fresh in the mind. After that, we do the New Teaching one day, 4 sentences each day after that with the writing station either separate or added into the last day we are doing sentences (it depends on how well the student understood the material in the step). This only works if kids spell the new words correctly relatively consistently; if not, we slow down. Using this Review Box method, my 11-year-old in Level 5 is finishing a step in about 4 sessions, my 9-year-old in Level 4 is finishing a step in 4-5 sessions, and my 6-year-old in Level 2 is finishing a step in 4-5 sessions, mainly because I only have him write three sentences in a session, given his age, and the “More Words” section is longer in Level 2 than later levels. This said, if a kid has trouble with a concept, we slow down and take more time with it. When my 11-year-old was seven and in Level 1, he needed a lot more time when we got into concepts such as doubling F, L, and S, C or K at the beginning of a word, and -CK after a short vowel. He needed more time in Levels 2-3 when we came to different ways to spell the same sound. Doubling consonants in Level 3 was hard for him. He’s a much better speller now, and spells New Words correctly the first time for the most part, except a few sticky areas, such as which phonogram to use for a vowel sound and doubled consonants. I explain all this to illustrate that use of this program is easily adjusted as needed, speeding up when concepts are easy and slowing down when they are a challenge.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lynn,
Thank you for sharing, in detail, how you use All About Spelling to help your children toward spelling mastering! I’m sure this is going to be very helpful for everyone that sees this.

Lynn Schofield

says:

I recall from your post that your daughter is 6. For a child that young, I wouldn’t do 20 words at one time in a summer review. My six year old can handle 10, but it depends on the kid. Maybe just do 5. The idea is to do periodic review so that the child doesn’t forget. I agree with Robin; if you take the whole summer off, then you’ll need to do review before starting again with the next step. Kids forget things they aren’t reviewing regularly. This is why any subject that requires all prior learning be remembered before preceding (such as Spelling, Math or Latin), is best done with consistent review.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nanker,
This makes clear sense. It’s a good question.

It’s fine to get part way through a level and then take a break. You will just need to start with review when you start back up again. In fact, even if you left off between books, it is still important to start back with reviewing. You want to make sure your daughter remembers all the concepts before starting new teaching.

The good thing is that the spelling review cards make reviewing easy. When you start back up, start with a Master Review going through all the Phonogram (yellow), Sound (red), and Key (blue) that the student has learned up to that point, even from previous levels. Also review all the Word (green) cards that your daughter has learned so far from the level you are on. This may take a few days or even a week or more, but here are some Great Ways to Review Spelling that can make it more fun. You can also redo a few dictation phrases or sentences a day as further review.

Any cards that your daughter has trouble with or even has to really think about should be put behind the Review tab. After reviewing all the cards, go through the ones that need more review. Do you see a pattern? Is there a specific concept or concepts she needs to be retaught? Spend as much time as your daughter needs reviewing before starting up again where you left off.

For many students, this review after a long break will take a week or maybe two. Children that struggle, however, may need a longer period of review before they are ready to move forward again. After our last long break, two of my children needed a month of review before being ready to move onto new learning. But it’s okay. Remember that there are only 7 levels of All About Spelling and level 7 covers through high school level. We have plenty of time to review as much as our students need!

Do this answer your question? I hope it was helpful.

Bethany

says:

We are starting spelling soon. This is helpful!

Jenn

says:

I’m wondering if you offer an alternate spelling list option if your going through AAS with older kids? You see we’ve started with your program this year with my 8th grader and 5th grader and we’re in level two and I was wondering if you offer more age appropriate words? I’m not sure if they are spelling them correctly because they already know the words or because they understand the concepts. I hope this makes sense. Thank you for your time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jenn,
Jenn,
We don’t have an alternative list, but we do encourage you to “fast track” since your students know how to spell most of the words but may not understand the underlying basic spelling concepts. In this case, very quickly skim the parts that your students already know and slow down on the parts that they need to learn. Pull out several words as examples. Make sure they understand the concept being taught and then move on. An excellent way to do this is to have them teach the concept back to you. This blog article has good examples of how you might fast track.

Then, you will be moving into higher and harder words quickly while ensuring they have the foundational concepts mastered. The problem with trying to find harder words for these concepts is that so many harder words also include harder concepts as well as the level 2 foundational concepts. It is best to move through the lower levels as quickly as your students can master the concepts so that they get to the harder concepts and harder words more quickly.

I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have further questions.
Robin E.

Sandi

says:

My daughter will be entering 4th grade this year at a university model school and I will be in charge of teaching her spelling. AAS is one of the choices we have. Previously she was using Words Their Way. I am struggling with trying to decide what level of AAS she would be using. Can you advise what level a rising 4th grade should begin using?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sandi,
All About Spelling is a building block program with each level building upon the previous one. The rules and concepts learned in Level 1 are applied in Level 2, and then those are applied in Level 3, and so on. Placement for spelling is based on the student’s knowledge of spelling rules and concepts rather than grade level, reading level, or the words a student has memorized.

For example, we find that many students simply memorize easy words like “cat” and “kid” but have no idea why one uses a C and the other uses a K, or that the same rules that apply to these words also apply to higher level words such as “concentrate.” Other students switch letters or leave out letters entirely. This usually occurs because they don’t know how to hear each sound in the word. Level 1 has specific techniques to solve these problems.

The article Which Spelling Level Should We Start With? has more information on the concepts taught in All About Spelling 1 and will help you decide if your student can skip level 1 and go into level 2.

Level 2 of AAS focuses on learning the syllable types, when they are used and how they affect spelling. This information is foundational for higher levels of spelling. Three syllable rules are introduced in Level 2, and then more in Level 3 and up. For this reason, we don’t recommend starting higher than level 2.

However, we encourage you to “fast track” if your daughter knows how to spell most of the words but does not understand the underlying basic spelling concepts. In this case, very quickly skim the parts that she already knows and slow down on the parts that she needs to learn. Pull out several words as examples. Make sure she understands the concept being taught, and then move on. This blog article has a good example of how you might fast track.

I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have further questions.

Dee

says:

My daughter is entering 6th grade. When I pulled her from public school at the end of 4th grade we began AAS. In the past year we have completed the first 4 books. However, after reading the comments of others I’m wondering if I’m moving too fast. We do one lesson daily for 4-5 days a week. She has not had any trouble with the lessons so far and she’s mastered the cards pretty quickly. Should I be doing something differently?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Dee,
You would know if you were moving too fast for your student. She would be having trouble with the words and especially with the dictation.

However, All About Spelling 5, 6, and 7 are more difficult, so she may need to slow down slightly as you progress. Keep in mind that AAS 7 take students through high school level spelling, so she has plenty of time to master these three levels.

emily

says:

awesome job these have really helped me to be a better student

Justin's Roth

says:

What about grading? Is this program geared away from “test”.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

All About Spelling is a mastery based program. If the student has anything less than mastery, then that means the student needs more focused review or further teaching. After mastery is reached, there is continued review through dictation passages and periodic review of mastered word cards. There is also continuing word analysis as a form of review, discussing why a word is spelled the way it.

Since mastery is the goal, the only possible grade is an A. I hope this helps you to understand, but please let me know if you have any further questions.

Beth

says:

We are in AAS 1 and I still don’t understand how to use the green cards. Is the student supposed to read them, or spell them orally? I don’t remember seeing anything about them in the book, but maybe I missed something.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Beth,
Each of the cards are explained on page 8 of the AAS 1 Teacher’s Manual. This is additional information about the green cards when they are first used in Step 6.

The green Word Cards match up with the Word Lists near the end of each Step starting in Step 6. The student needs to spell them with tiles first. Then, maybe on the next day, he (or she) spells the words on paper. The Word Cards are kept in the Spelling Review Box behind the green “Review” tab until the student has mastered them, being able to spell them correctly without hesitation. Once mastered, the card is moved behind the green “Mastered” tab. The Teacher’s Manual will instruct you to review the mastered cards three times in AAS 1.

Each day you should begin your spelling time with a review of the the cards behind the review tabs. If you get to the first scheduled master review (Step 11) and find your student is struggling with a lot of mastered cards, you could opt to review 1 or 2 yellow, red, and blue cards and 3 to 5 green cards each day from the mastered sections. I have found that my children do better with long term mastery when we review a bit from the mastered sections daily.

As for spelling orally, that depends on the student. Some spell fine orally, and it can be quicker and easier for review. However, some students struggle with oral spelling, making mistakes that they do not make with the tiles or on paper, such getting letters in the wrong order or saying the wrong letter. Just last week my 11 year old, in AAS 5, kept making the same mistake orally while we were reviewing. He would spell d-e-s-t-o-r-w. However, when I asked him to write the word, he could easily spell destroy correctly without hesitation. That is why I do not use oral spelling with him. (We hadn’t done it orally for a year, so when he asked to spell orally again I said we’ll try, but last week’s experience shows us both that he needs to spell on paper.)

I hope this clears things up for you. Please let us know if you have questions at any time!

Anyway, even if your child does well with oral spelling for review, have him spell each word with the tiles and by writing (paper, whiteboard, whatever) at least once. Then, any word he struggles with should built with the tiles a few times (on different days, as a part of your daily review) and then spelled by writing a few times.

Jill Morris

says:

Thank you so much for AAS!!! My 5 year old (who started reading just before 3) went from not being able to spell anything to being able to spell every word in every lesson of AAS and we’re only 1/2 way through AAS L1. I do break the lessons up into 10 words a day which he could easily finish in 5 minutes if he focused, but he plays around, asks me to repeat the word multiple times and it ends up taking 30 minutes to spell out 10 little words. The issue is that he doesn’t like to spell and so he dawdles. He does much better when the lesson calls for using tiles verse writing them, but he still dawdles. A friend suggested letting him spell the words out loud, but I can’t stop thinking about the post you wrote about how our brain records the information so much more efficiently when we say the word, see the word, write the word, sound out the letters all at the same time. Any advice on how to help my child enjoy spelling more and not dread it? Thank you!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jill,
5 years old is still very young for writing. Many children that are advanced academically, such as your son reading at 2 years old, are still more average in skills that are more physical in nature, such as writing.

Feel free to work only with tiles, since he does better with that. You can also try having him write the words on the whiteboard, as some children find that easier. And, if your son is doing well with spelling, oral spelling occasionally is fine too.

Lastly, aim for short lessons even if he dawdles, no more than 20 minutes and even shorter is appropriate for his age. Just stop, even if he has only spelled 6 words. Pick up where you left off the next day. Over time, he will settle down and begin to spell more words in that same time frame. Focus is hard for very young learners, and he is already working at an advanced level.

Kristin

says:

We’ve been struggling with school in general lately, but I love how easy it is to quickly “fit in” a spelling lesson (or reading with AAR!) for each of my kids. I have four using both AAR and AAS (plus two older students), so quick and easy is a life saver for me!

Lindsay

says:

I would love to hear how more of how you do this? Do you have multiple sets of tiles? I have one using level 1 of AAR and I want to go back and do AAS from the beginning with my 2 older and struggling spellers.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lindsay,
Hopefully Kristin will see this and answer as well, but I can let you know what I do. I have three students using AAS at three different levels (AAS 6, AAS 4, and AAS 2) and one student using AAR 2.

I have one board set up for the for the student at the highest level. The younger students know to ignore the tiles they haven’t been taught yet. When I go to the board with a younger student, I just pull the tiles they know toward the middle of the board. I don’t put them all the way in the middle, just on the edge of the middle working space to make it easier for them to find the tiles they know. I also hang my board vertically because I lack a lot of wall space, so I kind of have to do this for my shorter students to reach some of the tiles anyway.

This blog post includes a photo of my youngest working on our board. She was at the beginning of AAR 2 when this photo was taken, but you can see all the tiles that we were using for my son that was in AAS 5 at that time.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kristin,
Thank you for sharing this. Many customers ask if it is even possible to use AAS and AAR with multiple students each at their own level. It’s encouraging to hear you are doing just that!

Melanie Bishop

says:

Thank you for this!

Amy C

says:

We do a little bit of spelling each day but it is usually less than 20 minutes. Sometimes just 5 minutes, other times 10 or more….We usually do a one step a week, but that still keeps us on a pretty good pace it seems. From what I can calculate, it seems that we will still probably be done with all 7 levels in about 4 years I think….Hopefully I am not missing something….

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amy,
Many students finish all 7 levels is about 4 years or so, but not all. The difficulty increases with each level, so that students tend to spend a lot more time on level 5, for example, than they did on level 1 or 2. Also, if you start AAS with a young child, they tend to take longer to complete all 7 levels than those that start older.

Keep in mind that in AAS Level 7, students are spelling high school level words (we use all of the modern Ayers list words which ranks up to 12th grade, and other various lists that rank words between 9th and 12th grade). So as long as students finish during high school or earlier, they are doing very well.

Melissa

says:

Thank you so much for this post, I have had trouble determining the time that we spend on each step. This helps a lot, Thank You!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Melissa. We strive to be helpful. :D

Karina W

says:

I’m excited at the possibilities this program offers. I’m not a homeschool mom, but would like to find a way to support my kids at home so they understand the rules of spelling, and not just memorization. 20″ a day after school sounds doable.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Karina,
We do have more than a few customers that use our products with their children that attend traditional school. It’s called “afterschooling”. Let us know if we can help you with placement or anything else.

stephanie

says:

In 2009 my family moved to Central America, none of us spoke Spanish, but within one year all 4 of my children were proficient. My youngest was struggling with reading at 6, so we thought it was from adding a new culture and language. As time went on we realized it was more than this and began identifying a more definable reason. Dyslexia. I was in rural central America, no tutors, no English schools only the computer. I found All About Spelling from a blogger and went ahead and ordered the program, months later some friends brought it to us and we began working with my son. It worked! He began to read. He had prayed at 6 to be able to read on his own and it took a LONG journey…(10y.o) before he could! What a trooper! He is still struggling with spelling and writing but passed his state test with above grade level reading! Thank you for your direct but simple program. I now share it with other mothers who have struggling readers and spellers.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Stephanie,
Thank you so much for sharing your son’s journey through struggles to reading success! Keep up the great work, both of you.

Madelyn Keegan

says:

A systematic spelling program helps children become successful, not only in spelling, but reading and now math.

Loucrecia Hollingsworth

says:

Thank you so much for this blog post. It’s just what I needed. I went through the 1st & 2nd levels with my older daughter, & I love the structure. But I think I went too fast for her & it didn’t all sink in. The unit study curriculum we use this year has spelling lists, but there’s no lesson to teach the rules of spelling, so it’s rote memorization. I want to go back through AAS Levels 1&2, & eventually Level 3. She reads extremely well, but has trouble with spelling, though she has improved.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Loucrecia,
Since Level 2 starts with a solid review of Level 1, you could probably restart with Level 2. Also, regular review is very important so that mastered words and concepts stay mastered, so maybe plan to incorporate ongoing review of mastered cards. One way is to review 2 of each of the mastered colored cards, yellow, red, and blue, each day and 5 of the green cards. I use this for additional review and am having great success with it with my struggling spellers.

Anne

says:

We are on Level 4. We worked through Level 3 twice because my daughter just wasn’t grasping the concepts. The second time went faster and stuck. I can’t imagine trying to finish a Step in just one day! We usually stretch it out over a full week so there is time to practice the new teaching, patterns, and dictation. Twenty minutes per day sounds about right.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Anne,
I had to something similar with Level 5 with my son, and the second time through made all the difference.

Erica

says:

I am using level 3 with my oldest daughter and level 1 with my oldest son. While they both love doing spelling, I am overwhelmed by the amount of “one-on-one” time needed for each child. I have another daughter that will be starting soon and I do not know how I will find enough time to teach spelling everyday, in addition to all the other subjects. Are the upper levels of AAS as teacher intensive?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Erica,
All About Spelling does not become independent as the levels increase. We recommend the 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week through all the levels.

I have five kids, three of them still in AAS and one still in AAR, so I understand. I have found I need to make keeping transition times down a priority. I suggest stacking everyone’s spelling and reading things up at your spot at the table (or your desk, or wherever you work with the children) and have each one come to you. Explain that you won’t be waiting for them to finish what they are doing when it is their spelling or reading time, but that when you call they need to stop and come (if you have a kid who struggles with transitions you could give them a 5 minute warning while you are finishing up with the previous child). You will have to decide which order to work with your kids, as you know them. Some little ones cause less disruption if they work with mom first, others do better if they get to play until mom is ready for them. That sort of thing.

While you are working with your children on spelling (and possibly other things, I have a couple that need a lot of help with math too), they need to have things they need to be doing when it is not their turn. They could be doing school things, like handwriting and math. If you have to teach a lesson for math before they do it, you could try teaching the math lesson the day before. Some kids will be fine with this, some will not. Another option would be to start the day with a math lesson for those kids that need it the same day as the work, and then move into your spelling and reading time.

You may need to get a bit creative with your younger children who may not be able to do school work independently. Some ideas include “projects” like cutting up magazines, assigning an older child to help them with a subject or read to them, have chores assigned, allow them to play as long as they are quiet, and so on.

I am doing school of some sort or other from 10 am to 4pm, with an hour so break for lunch, and sometimes I’m answering math questions or listening to a child read aloud while cooking dinner. This is an improvement for me, actually, as my oldest graduated and is away at college, and I’m doing less with my 16 year old as she is taking some college classes.

Jodie C.

says:

Looking forward to starting All About Spelling soon. I just love how you are able to adapt the amount of time you can spend on a lesson or words. It has been a great help with my daughter who happens to have Down syndrome.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jodie,
Thank you for letting us know how your daughter is doing. We occasionally get questions about if our programs will work with Down syndrome children, and I’m happy to say that all reports back have been great so far!

Brooke

says:

We are currently using AAS 1 and loving it! I love how this program makes learning to spell fun. We are almost done with the first level and can’t wait to start level 2. Thank you for creating such an awesome program!

Emma

says:

I’m so glad to have come across your site! My daughter isn’t homeschooled, but I’m trying to supplement what she learns in school with a more multi-sensory approach at home – and spelling is a big one we struggle with! We practice spelling words about 10 minutes a night, at most. But our “practice” involves active-learning and lots of moving around – nothing like she does at school! lol!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Emma,
Good for you to help her learn in the way she needs. Movement is such a missing component in so many people’s ideas of what learning should look like.

johnie

says:

My daughter has had trouble with phonics and memorizing. so spelling has been hard for her.

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