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Does Your Child’s Spelling List Make Sense?

Spelling lists are the foundation of many spelling programs. In fact, most of us learned to spell—or at least we attempted to learn to spell—with some type of spelling list method.

But when you stop to think about it, you’ll realize that most spelling lists really aren’t designed to help a child learn to spell.

The fact is that most spelling lists don’t make sense to the student. That’s because there are two major flaws inherent in the spelling list method that can actually keep students from learning to spell. Let’s take a closer look.

Spelling List Method Flaw #1: The “List on Monday, Test on Friday” Approach

Calendar showing tests on each Friday

You’re probably familiar with the “list on Monday, test on Friday” approach, which is the most common way to teach spelling. With this method, children receive a list of words at the beginning of the week and practice writing them three to five times. The children are tested on the words at the end of the week, and teacher involvement is minimal.

A popular variation of this method is “look, cover, write, and check.” The student looks at the word, covers it, and tries to write it from memory. Then he compares what he wrote to the original word.

For many children, these methods simply don’t work because the spelling lists being used are developmentally inappropriate for the students. And that brings us to the second major flaw in most spelling lists.

Spelling List Method Flaw #2: Using Lists that Aren’t Developmentally Appropriate

Child writing a developmentally inappropriate spelling list with a question mark

When the structure of a spelling list isn’t developmentally appropriate, it can lead to confusion, frustration, and a lack of motivation for students. Spelling lists that don’t make sense can result in a lot of unnecessary struggles.

Here are a few examples of spelling lists that are developmentally inappropriate:

List Type #1: Words taken from a book the student is reading

The words on these lists are usually unrelated both in terms of content and phonetic structure. For example, this 3rd grade spelling list from Trumpet of the Swan includes words such as catastrophe, reveille, and plumage.

Spelling List 1 - words taken from a book a child is reading

List Type #2: Words showing all the different ways that a single sound can be spelled

These lists can contain words with as many as six or seven different ways to spell the same sound. For example, the following list features the long I sound and includes words such as item, timed, pie, cry, light, and kindness.

Spelling List 2 - different ways to spell the same sound

List Type #3: Words taken from the Dolch or Fry lists (in frequency order)

The words on these lists have no context and are completely unrelated to each other. A list may contain the words found, wash, slow, hot, because, far, live, and draw, which are related to each other only because they are in frequency order on the Dolch list.

Besides the problem of the underlying organization of the lists, the related phonograms and spelling rules generally aren’t explicitly or systematically taught, leaving students to figure out the code on their own. Rote memorization of the words on the list is difficult (and boring). And the words are easily forgotten because there is nothing for the learner’s mind to “attach” the words to. The video below sheds a little light on the shortcomings of the Dolch list approach.

Even students who easily memorize spelling lists may have problems. When students learn to spell this way, they can become confused as soon as they encounter new or more difficult words. They resort to guessing at the correct spelling of unfamiliar words and often spell them wrong a week or two after the test. For many students, this leads to a lifetime of poor spelling.

Download our free guide to learn how to sort the Dolch Sight Word list phonetically.

So What Does Work?

Here’s the good news! There is a fourth type of list that does make sense.

List Type #4: Word lists that are centered on a single, well-organized spelling concept

This is the type of list we use in the All About Spelling program.

Our list is different. We don’t just hand the student a list on Monday and expect him to have it memorized for a test on Friday. In fact, we don’t even have tests! Instead, we teach students why words are spelled the way they are, and demonstrate how all the words on the list are related to each other.

Phonogram card 'IGH'

For example, when we teach the IGH phonogram (which says /ī/ as in high), we teach multiple words that contain IGH, such as:

Words that contain the phonogram 'IGH'

Can you see how the words on this list reinforce the phonogram the child has learned and provides the opportunity to practice it?

Unlike the Long I list shown in list type #2, our list has reason and logic behind it and will therefore be easy for a student to remember and use for encoding new words later on.

An Emphasis on Review

After the student learns the words that contain the IGH phonogram, we review that newly learned concept in many ways.

In all, we incorporate four major spelling strategies (phonetic, rule-based, visual, and morphemic), as well as five minor strategies. Check out this article on effective spelling strategies to learn more.

We do whatever it takes to make learning stick, which is the exact opposite of what happens with the “list on Monday, test on Friday” approach. When you use spelling lists that make sense, it’s a win-win. Your child gets the type of teaching he deserves, and you get the satisfaction of watching him flourish.

Has your child ever been given a spelling list that didn’t make sense? Please share in the comments below.

Six Ways We Make Spelling Easy Report

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Leave a Comment

Maureen J.

says:

Love how spelling lists make more sense now.

Melissa Holka

says:

I’m giving AAS another try with my struggling speller. I really hope that we can make it work!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Melissa,
If your student has trouble with spelling in this second attempt at All About Spelling, please let us know. We are committed to helping you help your student succeed!

Emma

says:

My 7 year old son used a phonics programme where he had to memorise 10 spellings a week. It became obvious that, although he would get 10/10, within a couple of weeks the spellings were forgotten. A friend told me about AAR and AAS and we decided to give it a go. So glad we did. He looks forward to his lessons and is progressing well and retaining all the information. Can’t praise the programme enough. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Emma,
Thank you for letting us know that All About Reading and All About Spelling are working so well for your son! I, too, have had experience with a child that could get all the words correct on a spelling list but not be able to spell the words just a few weeks later. All About Spelling’s focus on long-term mastery is much more effective.

Sarah

says:

I really like having lists organized by phonogram!

Yuna Park

says:

No wonder I hated spelling growing up. I’ve been taught in all of the flaw types!

Ana Silva

says:

Hi everyone.
I’ve been using AAR with my son and we are planning on using the AAS as soon as he finishes his first level of AAR.
He has improved a lot in reading and I’m sure AAS will help him even more.
Thanks for such a wonderful material.

Amy Jo Adams

says:

We are still searching for the right program for our soon to be 1st grader. AAS is at the top of our list.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amy,
Please let us know if you have any questions as you make your decision.

Alicia

says:

This makes so much sense.

Michelle

says:

This make a lot of sense. I am hoping that AAS will work well for my son next year.

Jen

says:

I want to add spelling to my homeschool curriculum and your program fits the bill! I am glad I came across it!

Anna

says:

This makes very good sense.

Carole

says:

After a year and a half of school spelling lists that didn’t work for my daughter I decided to start teaching her phonics myself, using All About Spelling. It has made a huge difference! I love how the lessons build on each other in such a gradual way, and the review is built right in to insure that the phonics rules become ingrained in her long term memory.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Carole,
Thank you for sharing how All About Spelling has helped your student have success with spelling where typical spelling lists have not helped her.

Sarah Gentry

says:

This seems like a much better way!

Brandi

says:

This really makes a lot of sense.

Renee

says:

Here I go again with “gee whiz!” I need to review how I present spelling to my students! And I already use “All About Spelling”! Better start paying closer attention to what I’m doing!

lissa

says:

this is good

Amanda S.

says:

I look forward to using these ideas and others like them with my daughter.

Corrie Andrews

says:

Sooo helpful!…especially since I’m the “routine mama”. I fell into the introduction on Monday test on Friday routine. thank you 😊

Beth

says:

So helpful the way AAS lays out material. Makes it so memorable and easy for kids to learn.

Lisa Dorsett

says:

Very informative information. I have one that struggles with spelling and this truly makes sense. Thanks so much for this information! This was very helpful! 😊

Charissa

says:

Thanks so much for all these great tools. I am not only using it for my own children, but helping others as well!

Katie

says:

Interesting. I haven’t added spelling to our homeschool program yet but am looking at options for next year.

Kim

says:

Love this concept! It actually relieves the guilt I have felt because I have not made spelling lists from our literature even though people praise the idea as THE way to teach “organically.”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kim,
Some things are better learned “organically”. I think geography is one of them, making maps and reading about a country when it comes up in the news or in a book you are enjoying together. However, some subjects are better learned incrementally and explicitly, and for many learners spelling is one of them.

Laura

says:

As someone who has struggled with spelling for a long time due to being given random spelling words and told to write them 10 times each, I am so glad to see there is a better way to help my kids.

Patsy Foy

says:

When my daughter was in public school, she would receive spelling lists that seemed completely random. She almost always did poorly on the tests no matter how much we practiced & studied with her. Now, using AAS, she is actually learning how to spell words & the rules behind the spelling.

Dori

says:

This is so true! My daughter has always had issues with spelling and since diagnosed with dysgraphia and dyscalculia we have found that lists are not helpful in her learning process. Having reminders on the wall is a great idea. I love AAS and it has made a great difference in her ability to spell.

Betsy E

says:

I’ve loved using AAS with my strugling speller. It finally makes sense!

Amy

says:

Thank you! This post confirms my trust in your program. I’ve never tested on spelling because it never seemed logical to me.

Jennie Smith

says:

Yes! This is so upsetting. My 2 older boys, now in high school, learned whole word/Dolch system in public school & my youngest of the 2 (dyslexic) has struggled so much! I’ve tried so many spelling programs, none have worked for him. Just a few weeks ago we had an argument over whether “tube” had an “e” on the end. We have just started on AAS, bless his 14 yo ♡, and we have high hopes! He reads on level now, through much hard work, but I’m hoping he’ll gain speed, oral fluency & confidence as his spelling improves!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jennie,
We have had a lot of reports of students’ reading improving as they progress through All About Spelling. Please keep us informed with how things go with your son and let us know if you have any questions or need help in any way.

Jessica

says:

So is this the same as the word family concept? There is another popular spelling program that uses the word family or concept approach, then starts adding prefixes and suffixes to make many words in a list. I like the idea of just one concept at a time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
This approach is similar to the word family concept but goes beyond it. Words families are typically seen as words that are spelled the same in some way, such as hat, sat, that, and mat would be in the at word family. However, our spelling list that includes the words sat and hat also includes the words ran and map. The focus of the lesson (from All About Spelling level 1 Step 6) is the short A vowel, not word families with the same ending.

The problem with focusing too heavily on word families is that children can just quickly pick up the pattern and don’t truly master the words. The result is once the student moves on from that list they struggle with the words that were easy when they focused on the pattern.

This blog article on Word Families discusses some of the disadvantages of focusing on word families and some of the benefits as well.

Tracey

says:

Our daughter just finished first grade. While she did well memorizing words for the test she did not retain the skill.

Josie Iverson

says:

This makes way more sense than the way I was taught in public school growing up…

Sarah

says:

Would love to try AAS. AAR has been hugely successful in our house!

Pam

says:

I have seen tremendous spelling success with AAS in my home school. We’re about to launch level 5. Best spelling program ever….and I have tried many!

Stephanie

says:

We’re working through AAS with my dyslexic daughter. She’s halfway through level 2, and doing well, other than those tricky vowels in multi syllable words. “pilgrum” and “magnit”, anyone? I think review will be our friend.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Stephanie,
Vowels in unaccented syllables are often tricky because unaccented syllables can get muffled in so many ways. Occasionally, an unaccented middle syllable will get so muffled that we skip it altogether, such as the middle syllables in the words chocolate, different, and interest!

Our blog article on How to Teach Schwas can help. The “say it like a robot” tip can be a helpful reminder to pronounce words for spelling so as to hear the vowel sounds more clearly.

Megan McNeal

says:

I’m hoping this will help my little guy figure out spelling. This makes sense

Diane Behm

says:

Great spelling ideas. Thank you.

Lisa E.

says:

I love using All About Spelling with my now third-grade daughter. I have seen a lot of improvement in her spelling since we began the program.

Tiffany

says:

I am looking forward to helping my child learn to spell and these tips make sense.

grace

says:

spelling is sometimes difficult in the English language, would love to try this program

Lindsey

says:

Yes! My twin boys just finished 1st grade in public school. Their spelling lists given were exactly all the mistakes you listed. It was so rough for all three of us. I am excited to get started with the All About Spelling program we just got.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lindsey,
I’m sorry to her your boys struggled with these kinds of spelling lists this year. After such lists, All About Spelling will seem like a breath of fresh air!

Jennifer

says:

Thank you for pointing out the flaws with the spelling tests to which I was accustomed as a kid. I started homeschooling by preparing similar lists for my kids, but we then switched to All About Spelling, and it has worked so much better for us.

Ashley

says:

As a kid I always hated spelling lists and now as a parent I have no interest in incorporating a traditional spelling list/test into our homeschool routine. I do like the tips that you have listed in this article though, and I think it makes a lot of sense to work on words that are related in their phonograms.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ashley,
You may wish to look into All About Spelling. Our program only introduces a list of words after the student has been taught all the skills, rules, phonograms, and patterns necessary in order to spell those words successfully. It truly is a different approach to spelling.

Sabrina

says:

My oldest son now 10 yr, struggled with the list on Monday, test on Friday approach, even though his list model the type 4 list following a single spelling rule. He would spell all of his words on his test correctly, but later that week he would spell those same words incorrectly in his writing. I could give him a second test after seeing the mistakes and once again he could spell the words correctly on the test. I realized the list method wasn’t working and went on a search for a better method that focused on the rules more than a list. I found it in AAS!!! He was nine and we started at level 1 to build a foundation. Now the correct spelling of words corresponding to the rules he has learned shows up in his writing. When we edit his writing and a word is wrong, he can recall the rule and correct his own work. I LOVE ALL ABOUT SPELLING! PS It has made me a better speller too!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sabrina,
Thank you for sharing your son’s experience with the test-on-Friday approach, even if the list makes sense. I had a similar experience with my daughter. All About Spelling focus on using words in context (the dictation) and ongoing review really makes a difference!

Amanda

says:

I had a question. I see how the words could be sorted the way that you recommend but that does not mean that all of them are readily (SP?) decoded. What about a word like “shall”? Sure you can use that to teach “sh” but “all” as in ALL? Any young student would read that as the word SHAWL since phonetically is would be sounded out “sh-all”. A student who needed to spell “shall” (as opposed to reading it) would logically think that it should be spelled SHAL, since it is comprised of “sh” as in Ship & “al” as in Pal.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
Actually, shall is an easier word for students than other all words such as fall and ball. Shall uses the first sound of A, it’s short sound, and the word is straight forward to read and spell to any child that has learned the sounds of the alphabet plus the SH phonogram. We teach the Floss Rule, that the letters F, L, and S are usually doubled at the end of a one syllable word. Pal is an exception to that rule.

All About Reading and All About Spelling only teach the third sound of A, the /ah/ sound that A often has before an L or after a W, after students have mastered A’s short and long sounds. Our students can easily read shall mid-way through AAR 1 and spell it mid-way through AAS 1. We don’t teach the third sound of A until near the end of AAR 2 and AAS 2, so it isn’t until then that students would learn to read and spell words like all, fall, want, and water.

In short, we are not advocating that spelling lists should be sorted by how words look. Many words look similar but sound quite different (hear/heard, word/sword, wind(as in breeze)/bind). Rather, we are suggesting that spelling lists should be sorted by the rules, phonograms, and patterns that words use. In All About Spelling, the word shall is taught with the words tell, doll, hill, miss, off, and many others. By that time in AAS 1, children have been working with the short vowel sounds for a while, and the lesson that uses the word shall is about the Floss Rule.

I hope this helps you to better understand what we are suggesting by spelling lists that make sense. Also, you may find our sample lessons of All About Spelling helpful to see how we group words. Thank you for this thoughtful question. Please let me know if you have more!

Jennifer

says:

This post was very eye opening for me.

Miranda

says:

Thank you for this article! My son is in grade 3 and is highly frustrated with the weekly spelling list (Words on Monday, test on Friday approach). It’s turned him off reading and writing.

Heather

says:

My daughter has thrived with AAR. Hoping to start All About Spelling next year!

Amanda

says:

My daughter and I switched to AAS this year, and she is flying through it! We need to order the next several orders for her, since I can hardly keep up with how quickly she is progressing; it’s a wonderful problem to have!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
Yes, that is a wonderful problem to have! Thank you for letting us know your daughter is doing so well with All About Spelling.

Jessica

says:

Good stuff! As a former teacher, I totally agree. It isimportant to teach the rule than memorization.

Mandy

says:

Can’t wait to begin using Level 1

Mandy

says:

I’ve heard such great reviews about AAS! Can’t wait to try it this year with my 4th grader!

Allison B.

says:

We are just getting into level 1 of all about spelling. It makes so much sense to me. I always struggled with spelling in school for the reasons mentioned above. So far, this seems to make sense to my son as well.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Allison,
We’re happy to know that All About Spelling 1 is making sense to you and your son. Thank you.

LaCota Overton

says:

I love both All Abput Spelling and All Abput Reading. My children do not do well with lists and tests and this curriculum does a much better job than any I have found. My children remember and retain all the words and skills. Thank you ABR & ABS

LaCota Overton

says:

Also, I have dyslexia, so I feel that both programs have given me a solid base that I missed growing up in the list/test environments. I never understood the rules until I started teaching these curriculums.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

LaCota,
It’s wonderful to hear that All About Spelling and All About Reading are working so well for your children AND you!

Tabitha Moon

says:

Great information! I knew the list on Monday test on Friday method wasn’t working for my son but I didn’t know what else to do! So grateful for AAS and blog posts like this.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tabitha,
It was the lack of “list on Monday, test on Friday” that initially brought me to All About Spelling a decade ago. It made all the difference!

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

Michelle C.

says:

I remember when my oldest daughter was in elementary school and the teachers were really trying to encourage writing so they really didn’t put too much emphasis in correcting spelling errors. The thought process was that kids would focus too much on their spelling rather than proper writing techniques and sentence structure.

Debbie

says:

My oldest son struggles with reading and spelling. This program comes so highly recommended. I am looking forward to giving it a try.

AYatz

says:

Thank you!

Rhiannan Lahue

says:

We need this program! My two eldest children would definitely benefit from the way AAS is taught. I’m sure my youngest will too when he’s old enough for spelling. Need this on our homeschool bookshelf!

Betsy Birulkin

says:

My children have been loving the all about reading program!

Christy

says:

Great educational approach!

Sherri O.

says:

AAS sounds like an awesome curriculum.

Kimberlee Royea

says:

I have fumbled through so many spelling programs, truly love All About Spelling!

Kim

says:

I think we’ve tried or been exposed to every approach mentioned and can absolutely vouch for the superiority and efficacy of the All About Spelling program!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Kim!

Sarah M

says:

Thanks, can always use solid advice on how to help my two dyslexics!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
You might find our Dyslexia Resources Page helpful. Please let us know if you have any specific questions or need help with anything.

Jessica

says:

All about Spelling sounds like an awesome curriculum.

Brittany

says:

I would love to give AAS a try!

Nance

says:

My daughter is on L3 of AAR and it is great! We would love to try AAS soon.

Ginger G

says:

Would love a better way to teach spelling. Would really like to give All About Spelling a try.

Rebecca Nickerson

says:

This looks very interesting and like it will work well. My sons could learn well from this program. We will be looking into this!

Joann Triplett

says:

I like the concept.Ive never used this program but we are learning what works with each of my homeschool students and it looks like a good option.

Samantha Shoemaker

says:

This is absolutely accurate! My son was horrible at spelling and then we started All about Spelling and he is amazing now and we are only on Level 1!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Samantha,
It’s wonderful that your son has been able to improve his spelling so much with just level 1 of All About Spelling! Thank you for letting us know how well he is doing.

Sandi W

says:

I love the idea of concept lists for my kids cause they don’t learn like me. At all. I was one of the Maybe 2% of the world that can look at a word and remember how to spell it. Those list Monday/ test Friday things actually worked on me. But not on my kids for sure. I love all about spelling for that reason. It make sense.

tiffany

says:

the curriculum that is offered is hands down the best I’ve come across

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Tiffany!

Kristin

says:

I’ve heard lots of great things about this curriculum and would love to try the spelling with my kids.

Rachelle

says:

We have used level 1 and level 2 of all about reading and have loved it. Have never tried all about spelling. I would like to someday.

Lindsay

says:

Homeschooling next year, and can’t wait to use AAR. I’ve heard great things about it!

Autumn

says:

Wow I would love to continue this curriculum next year . We love aas

Gina Franklin

says:

I’ve heard that this is a good program for dyslexics. Any advice?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gina,
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.

Autumn

says:

Wow I would love to continue this curriculum next year .

Autumn

says:

Wow I would love to continue this curriculum next year

E. Renee Sortore

says:

I plan on purchasing this program for my daughter next year and I’m excited to give it a try. She does a great job of spelling words on her tests in school this year, but doesn’t transfer what she learns on the spelling lists to reading. So I really hope this makes a positive difference for her!

Lori

says:

I love AAS! As an adult how we spell words is making more sense! I am learning right along with the kids!

Tina Gower

says:

We just got level one spelling. Can’t wit to give it a try.

Dawn

says:

I’m excited to learn more about this program, spelling is tough for my child.

Deb

says:

I’ve gotten so many great ideas from this blog. Thank you!

Julie Knopp

says:

My son does so well with All About Spelling. And I have “learned” all the spelling rules I either forgot or were never taught when I was in school.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Julie,
Thank you for letting us know that your son is doing so well with All About Spelling! I have learned all the rules I never knew too.

Lauren

says:

I love all about reading and spelling thank you!

Edda Vargas

says:

I’d never thought about this! I have certainly noticed the difficulty my children have with spelling though.

It does make a lot of sense to use the all about spelling system.

Jean Brown

says:

Great for my older kids!

Jean Brown

says:

Thanks for all the ideas!

Tara Garrison

says:

We are finishing up level 3 and love it!

Dana

says:

Seems like such a great curriculum! We will definitely be trying this next year.

Jacky

says:

My son has done Level 1-2 and is a great speller so far. 😊 It’s logical, which we both appreciate.

Peggy K.

says:

I’m realizing more and more that we need this curriculum!

Elizabeth Henriott

says:

I think this helps out s lot of kids! Learning until they know it! I’ve noticed with Abeka you go on to the next lesson without being able to emphasize everything the child needs to know and learn!

Leigh

says:

Sounds like a great idea!

Emily D

says:

I have been wanting to try the Spelling for all three of my kids. Especially my kindergartner who won’t write unless he spells everything correctly.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Emily,
I, too, have a perfectionist child. If your kindergartner is anything like my child, he will love All About Spelling.

Jessica Kristjanson

says:

I want this for my 1st grader! I’ve heard good things.

Lisa

says:

We love AAS and AAR! Makes so much sense!

Catherine

says:

Looks like a great curriculum

Melissa

says:

I have heard so many nice comments about this curriculum!

Rhiannan

says:

Love AAR and AAS approach to learning. I’m looking forward to getting these for our kiddos!

carolina simmons

says:

I have read so many great things about your approach! I can’t wait to use in our Homescool with my kindergarten! Thanks for making such an amazing resource.

Anita

says:

I love All about Spelling! My son has done so much better with spelling since we started!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Anita,
We are happy to hear that All About Spelling has made a difference for your son. Thank you.

Anna

says:

This is excellent article. It does make sense to explicitly teach the spelling rule and then practice it through out the week and review the rule with flashcards for many weeks. Such approach insures the transfer of material from a working memory, 3 days worth of remembering, to a long term memory, remembering for a lifetime. Thank you Marie and “All About Spelling” program.

Merry

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome! I’m glad the article was helpful.

Stephanie

says:

Interesting! I believe it. I witnessed this problem with one of my older children (now 18). I vow not to repeat that teaching spelling approach again with my younger children.

I have heard great things about your curriculum and plan on using it when we start homeschooling. Am glad I read this post so we won’t make these mistakes.
Excellent post!

Josie Iverson

says:

Haven’t started spelling yet but I’m glad you all provide resources and articles to help! Looking forward to adding AAS when we are ready for it!

Laurel

says:

Great video! I really am interested in your curriculum.

Brenda R.

says:

We love the AAS approach. My 3 children have become great spellers because of it.

Saph

says:

AAS’s method makes so much more sense! Just started AAS with my youngest and am having my older do it with her so she can learn the reasoning and methods behind it to catch her up since I went the tradtional way of spelling lists.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Great approach, Saph! My kids were older when they went through AAS as well.

Laura

says:

This was very helpful for my daughter

Nancy

says:

I started using All About Spelling for my nine year old last year and it has made a huge difference! The curriculum is wonderful!

Paula

says:

This looks like a great concept. I hate that my kids get words on Monday test on Friday. There almost always non relevant words.

Mindy

says:

I’ve heard so many great things about this program. I decided to give it a try and now we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our box!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Enjoy your new materials, Mindy! Please let us know if you have questions along the way.

Tamara

says:

I have learned so much right along with my kids through this program. It’s given me the tools to explain to them rather than just tell them how to spell things.

Marcee

says:

I love how this actually makes sense for kids. Thanks for a great program!

aCog

says:

The reason and logic behind this program gives me confidence that I am providing a strong foundation for my child!

Dulce Rodriguez

says:

I am so eager to try this program out with my 4 ans 6 year old. I feel like i would learn so much as l.

Sally

says:

We do both. Our second grader learned to read on her own, all at once, so she never learned phonics. We are using All About Spelling to help her out – right now her spelling is so bad, we can’t even ‘sound out’ what she is trying to write! But it is definitely getting better because of this program. She also has a great memory though, so we are taking advantage of that and using it to memorize some high frequency words at the same time as working through AAS. It’s not frustrating for her, because we just do a few a week, and the main part of her spelling is still AAS.

Heather Lucas

says:

Wow this was a great and very informative article! Can’t wait to get started with AAS1 I just ordered it last week!

Carrie P

says:

I love how you have combined the rules with the spelling list and use the rules during review too! Everything stuck with my kids all year long!

Merry

says: Customer Service

That’s great, Carrie!

Olivia

says:

It’s great that AAS teaches all the ways to spell each vowel sound one at a time, rather than all at once like list type 2! This helps the student retain the many ways of spelling each sound.

Ellen

says:

AAS/AAR truly works! My oldest, 5th grader, is half way through AAS Level 6 (begun at AAS Level 1 years ago) and is learning how to spell. AAS teaches spelling in such a logical, understandable way, and my children enjoy and ask for their spelling lessons. This is so different from the experiences I was having with their ‘list on Monday – test of Friday’ approach to spelling whilst they were in school and the teachers telling me not to worry for children learn to spell from reading, so it’s not really necessary to teach spelling. I never saw that method work for us, but AAS sure does!

Merry

says: Customer Service

I’m so glad that AAS is working for you, Ellen! There is a visual aspect to spelling, so I can understand why people sometimes say that we learn spelling from reading. But there are many good readers who are poor spellers, so there is obviously a lot more to it! We find that effective spellers typically use at least 4 main strategies: phonetic, rules-based, visual, and morphemic, and we teach these and other methods throughout AAS.

Your 5th grader is doing great to be in AAS 6 already!

Jennifer Tilleman

says:

I love this idea. I could see how this will help my students grow in spelling and reading. I wish more teachers could have this knowledge.

I am using your decodable readers and then composing their spelling lists to match the same words they are reading. It reinforces the reading and they are able to pass the spelling tests.

Tara Bailey

says:

this makes so much sense

Debra Beckley

says:

I am so enjoying your spelling program. Thank you. My list do make sense now.

Ashley

says:

No! The workbook we were using didn’t group words together logically. Thank you for aas! It has helped my son tremendously!

Jessica Goff

says:

I can’t wait until I begin to homeschool my four children! Excited about our new adventure!!!

Merry

says: Customer Service

That’s great, Jessica! There’s so much to learn and explore together–I’ve loved growing closer to my kids throughout these years. Enjoy!

Sheila

says:

We love AAR and AAS! They are such well organized programs. Thank you for these effective spelling strategies!

Jessica J

says:

This makes so much sense! Thank you for this article.

Katie

says:

Helpful while looking at spelling curriculum. Thank you!

Stephanie

says:

I’ve learned so much from this post. Thank you.

Katie

says:

Thank you for the great information!

Sharon m

says:

Loved AAS 1 cant wait ro move up to AAS2

Vrushali

says:

This is a very novel and logical approach to the difficult question of teaching young readers how to spell. As an English teacher working with students for whom English is a foreign language, I have always faced this difficulty. I tried different methods with limited success but with your help I see myself making definitell progress.
Thanks. Keep posting, keep guiding us.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Vrushali,

I’m glad this helped! AAR and AAS are used in ESL classes around the world. Let us know if you ever have any questions.

Ariel

says:

I appreciate how the dolce sight words are organized.

Savannah

says:

We have done AAR 1-4 and spelling 1-3 so far and love them! Really helps build a foundation!

Gretchen Sundberg

says:

Yes! This makes so much sense. I am a speech pathologist and I think it is so important to focus on the phonemes, plus providing spelling rules for students to understand. I am getting ready to purchase All About Spelling for my own daughter and am very excited to use it with her. I think it will make spelling much more understandable for her!

Sara Branch

says:

My 2nd grade nephew struggles with the List on Monday/Test on Friday method. His lists are made up of related words, but they have no basis in why the words are spelled the way they are. He doesn’t remember the words even with multiple repetitions. A friend in early childhood education sent me the AAS Level One complete set and he leaves each lesson with a smile on his face because it makes sense and he doesn’t have to memorize each word. (I sold him on the concept of doing extra spelling with me by explaining that AAS is like the video game “cheat codes” but for spelling). Unfortunately, he receives so much regular homework from school that we often do not have the option to fit in AAS on a regular basis.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Sara,

What a great explanation to encourage your nephew to work on AAS with you! I’m sure you are a blessing to him.

Ericca T

says:

We are finishing AAR level one and have already decided that we will be introducing the AAS level one upon its completion as well as moving on to level two of AAR. Reading this blog makes me even more excited about our decision for my 6 year old son. Minimizing frustration in any learning process is always a plus .

Merry

says: Customer Service

I hope you both enjoy AAS–let us know if any questions come up along the way.

Arielle

says:

This is really not something that ever occurred to me. Thankfully, we are finishing our first year of homeschooling and my daughter has done very well with the AAS approach.

Felicia B

says:

Can’t wait to start AAS and AAR! Thanks!!

Kristina

says:

My third grade daughter is a pro at memorizing her spelling list for the week to ace the test, but ask her the next week to spell a word from that list and forget it! Something is definitely wrong with how they teach spelling in school. I’m looking forward to having her go through this program. It just makes sense. Thank you!

Heather

says:

We have not started AAS yet, but are using AAR with my 9 yr old. I’ve always been pretty good at reading & spelling, but I’m enjoying learning the actual rules behind so many of our words. It’s amazing how much more sense it makes that way & my boy is just soaking it up. His progress is amazing! Thank you for both of these programs, they are making a huge difference in our lives!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Heather,

I’m so glad AAR is helping your son and that you are enjoying the program together!

Morgan Graham

says:

AAS has changed my teaching and my child gets spelling now!! We love it!

Amanda

says:

My 4th grader finally gets spelling after using AAS. The random word lists and copy word list approach weren’t working. It’s fun to watch him actually work out the correct spelling than watch him guess and get frustrated.

Kim

says:

I’m really looking forward to using AAR and AAS with my son.

Misty

says:

I would love to win a gift certificate to purchase All About Spelling! My 6 year old loves to write letters and spelling is our current struggle.

Deanna Boggs

says:

Good insight. Thank you.

Sarah Edstrom

says:

I would be very interested in trying this spelling curriculum!

Gem

says:

I can’t believe we’ve been using the wrong methods to teach our children how to spell/read! I hope we will be able to get the All About Spelling program soon, I feel confident it will help our children.

Christy

says:

I just started homeschooling my second grader. She has had spelling tests in kinder (if I remember correctly), 1st grade, and the part of 2nd she attended. Although she typically scored 100s on her spelling tests, her spelling when she wrote was horrendous. It showed me her capacity to memorize was decent, but she learned no basis for carrying over actual spelling knowledge when she actually needed it!! She had many lists that would test many sounds spelled differently so I grouped them according to the same spellings in hopes that she would do fine for her test. It was frustrating because it all seemed in vain as we were just trying to get a good grade and it was evident it didn’t aide her in correcting spelling when she wrote for fun.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Christy,

I hope you have a great first year of homeschooling your daughter. It sounds like you already had an inkling of what would help your daughter!

Daneille

says:

We use both AAR and AAS and love them so much! My son catches right on to the spelling words each lesson. It just seems to make sense to him. These programs are amazing!!

Miranda

says:

I learned to spell with the list on Monday-test on Friday method as a child which led to lots of memorization (I never really felt like a good speller). I am really enjoying teaching this program to my son as I believe I am also becoming a much better speller.

Holly

says:

I’ve also noticed that using the AAR program sets kids up to think about spelling correctly. My almost Five year old keeps spelling to me, ” I Love you so much!” :)

Merry

says: Customer Service

Aww, that’s so sweet, Holly!

Andee

says:

Very refreshing to read a research-based evidence approach to spelling and not just doing what has always been done, without regard to whether it benefits the students or not.

Zorah F.

says:

Very insightful article! Will definitely use this spelling approach on my sons.

Lisa S

says:

My son has really benefitted from using All About Spelling this year. He is in 3rd grade and we started with level 1 because his spelling was awful. Now it is improving and he is enjoying spelling.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Congratulations on your son’s progress, Lisa! I’m glad he’s enjoying spelling :-)

I just started using AAS with my son who has some speech issues. I wish I had started sooner! I’ll definitely be purchasing more levels in the future.

Jill

says:

We just started AAS and my son loves it! As a former teacher, AAS makes perfect sense!

Donald Knight

says:

Thank you…most informative and eye-opening. A much better way…

Moana Latimer

says:

i am so glad to read this right now. I will definitely be purchading the all about spelling 😀

Merry

says: Customer Service

I hope you enjoy the program! Let us know if you have questions along the way.

Dawn

says:

I couldn’t agree more! This article is spot on. Learning should be a fun, desirable task, not one of frustration and drudgery. Glad you shared the insight for others to follow.

Cesilie

says:

This does seem like a better way to learn how to spell. Thanks!

Melissa T

says:

We are currently using AAR 1 and it has been a HUGE success. My son has been enjoying it so much and has gained so much confidence from your program that he begs to read another decodable story. We are looking forward to AAS as soon as we complete the first level in AAR.

Your article makes perfect sense. I was fortunate enough to have been a struggling reader in 1st grade. This awarded me the privilege of a reading specialist who taught me to read phonetically. As a result spelling was a breeze. My husband had the opposite experience and as a result relies on spell check We are excited to help our children off right.

If I could make one request, true decidable books are few and far between. I’ve been on the hunt for them and would love if you had more stories available for purchase as a bonus to the current books that a child could elect to read.

Thank you!!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Melissa,

I’m so glad that AAR has been a huge success for your son! I’ll be sure to pass your suggestion on to Marie–thanks!

Margaret

says:

My 3rd grader attends a British school and came home with her list last week. Thankfully, they are attempting to focus on a particular sound of a phonogram. It still isn’t as effective as AAS, which I’ve used with my homeschoolers, because the school isn’t focused on teaching concepts in class, but rather hand out the list to memorize. As I’m familiar with AAS, I’m able to teach the concept and decode the words.
Last week was c followed by an i makes the sound /s/…….. except that “special” was on the list. I emailed the teacher to ask if British people pronounce special with a /s/ or /sh/. She immediately “got it” and apologized for any confusion created.
It’s been fun to understand spelling and how it is best taught, and share with other teachers about AAS.

Susannah Amezquita

says:

Such great advice. I’ve seenu don’s spelling and reading improve sine we have started this approach. He used to use a Friday rest approach and I quickly saw what he could memorize for Friday tests were quickly forgotten weeks later. So happy to have found AAS and AAR!

C Jimenez

says:

We absolutely love our All About Reading curriculum and I cannot wait to begin our journey through All About Spelling. My son has blossomed this year in reading!

Heather

says:

Yes! I was always a good speller but hated the way it was taught in school because it was so boring for me and frustrating for many of my peers. I hope to save my children those headaches.

lindsey

says:

this is so true and so helpful.

Megan

says:

Looking forward to trying the All About Spelling.

Rebecca P.

says:

My daughter uses phonics to read and it makes sense to have her learn to spell phonetically too!

Sarah

says:

I love your way of teaching “spelling lists!” When I first cracked open my son’s Level 1 Lesson Manual, I thought, “Wow! Why didn’t I learn this way?” I am currently re-training my own spelling techniques based on what I taught my son a couple weeks ago!

christina braxmeyer

says:

I never like how schools teach spelling. I agree with everything this article says about spelling lists.

Sybil

says:

So true! We were using a well-known curriculum before AAS and I looked at the words one week and thought, “This word doesn’t even match the rule the book says it’s teaching!” So we put them away and started the search for a new one, landing on AAS. I even use AAR with my daughter and she is making amazing progress!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Sybil,

I’m so glad your daughter is making good progress. Enjoy!

Susan E Grant

says:

Yes my sons spelling word list are crazy for his grade. I’m looking forward to using All about Spelling with him.

Samantha M

says:

I taught 6th grade for 7 years and wish I would have done my spelling lists like you suggest! We did them topically and by the novel or content at the time, but you’ve taken it a whole step more and I see why your way is even better! Thanks!

Bridget

says:

All of your material just makes so much sense!

Debra

says:

I’m still not sure how to help spelling stuck with my 2nd grader, but AAS is definitely helping him decode more words and apply the rules he learns along the way

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Debra,

You might want to read our article, “Making It Stick,” as well as the other 4 articles in Marie’s “Memory Series,” linked at the bottom of that article. Also, feel free to email any time if your son just doesn’t seem to be retaining a certain concept–I’m always glad to help. support@allaboutlearningpress.com One of my children especially needed lots of review and tile work to retain concepts and apply them, so I know it can take time and patience. Hang in there!

Jennifer

says:

We have been enjoying using AAS this year! I wish I was taught spelling this way and not by traditional lists.

Angela Bumgarner

says:

Thankfully, we have not had to use the, “list on Monday test on Friday approach”. I’m looking forward to AAS being my child’s first approach to spelling next fall.

Erin

says:

We struggled through unrelated spelling lists for years and are glad to finally be using spelling lists that make sense!

Angelica Adams

says:

I have loved seeing my children finally “get spelling” with AAS — now they can see the reason behind how words are spelled instead of just memorizing.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Angelica,

It’s exciting to see that light-bulb turn on! So glad your children are enjoying AAS!

Anna

says:

My grandchild has been struggling with spelling too. We’ve been dying to try your program, but sadly can’t afford it. Crossing fingers (and toes) we can win it. Thank you! :-)

Desiree Nelson

says:

Brilliant concept!!! The other “lists” seem to be setting the students up for failure!

Jill Morris

says:

I’m so relieved to have found a curriculum that does not use random lists of spelling words. Thank you!

Brittany Alessio

says:

With my oldest having a learning disability and just add a newborn to the mix (now I have 4) it’s been really hard on him and I. This program would give us hope that it’s not him but the programs . Thank you

Launa

says:

Yes! As a previous one-room school teacher, spelling lists drove me nuts! There wasn’t really a way to teach them except to try to help the students memorize them. Having them centered around a common phonogram or root is so much better.

Jala smith

says:

Thank you for this! Great information!

Vivian

says:

We’ve been using All About Spelling for the past 3 years and both of my young spellers appreciate the review cards. My older son especially loves the writing station in Level 3. It makes me happy when he actually wants to make up his own sentences without any complaining!

Merry

says: Customer Service

That’s awesome! I remember being concerned about how my reluctant writer would handle the Writing Station–and then when we got to that point, he was very willing! The program prepared him bit by bit to take that next step.

Britnee Harrop

says:

I’m always so frustrated with my children’s public school spelling lists. I get so agrivated at the list that is confusing and doesn’t make sense. I homeschool my 11 year old, and we use All About Spelling, which I am beyond grateful for. I just wish I knew how to help my other children through their spelling words.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Britnee,

A lot of families use AAS for after-schooling and over the summer to help fill in the gaps. As students progress in the levels, they’ll learn more concepts and how to apply them to the lists they get from school.

Karen

says:

Makes sense but then when the student encounters a word outside of the context of the list of similar words, the are just as likely to get confused.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Karen,

AAS has a number of built-in strategies to help kids master various spelling concepts outside the lists as well. Students learn the concepts and practice with the letter tiles from the beginning so that they really understand how the phonograms work in the words. After learning a list, they get mixed practice through dictation and shuffled review cards (so that they can’t just memorize a list in order but really have to master the concept). In higher levels they work on word-analysis skills so that they can further apply what they’ve learned. The program helps them progress, step-by-step to high-school level words and then to life-long learning (which is the final lesson in level 7). If you ever need extra help or support with any of the lessons, let us know. We’re here to help!

Christine Mayfield

says:

This is great! I need to do more review with the kids when we are doing their AAS lesson plans.

Hannah

says:

I really love your programs!

Christy

says:

I’m excited to use All About Spelling. I’ve lived the weekly spelling tests as a teacher and never liked them, for many of the reasons you listed. Hoping to create strong spellers, and improve my skills too!

Kerry

says:

This makes sense!

Nicole K Southcott

says:

We are thinking about changing out reading program to this…

Natalie S

says:

All About Reading got my kids excited about learning to read, I pray we can use and love All About Spelling just as much!

Pauline

says:

Good to know! I have always wondered why the dolch words that are phonetic are not always taught like that. Thank you for the list matching them with the rule.

kara

says:

Just purchased AAR Level 2 for my son. Excited to use this program.

Lauren P.

says:

I’m so thankful that I found your reading and spelling program! It has been a user friendly but highly effective way to teach reading and spelling to my son with severe learning disabilities. I recommend your programs to all my homeschool friends!

Tami

says:

Thanks for all the help with spelling!

Courtney Boyce

says:

I am so happy that our homeschool store (Rainbow Resource) recommend this program to me as one of their top choices for ELA. I am just finishing up All About Reading and All About Spelling with my daughter after taking her out of public school last year. The route method is driven home hard. She greatly struggled in ELA due to relocating with the military. Each state followed their own variations of the 3 methods you mentioned and it caused a lot of stress for her going from one state to another and going from DODEA to public schools. All the changes were hard. While is always met their standards and preformed well she didn’t have a solid ELA foundation so we turned to this in our first year of homeschooling. What a blessing it has been. I appreciate that there is a strong phonetical awareness built into this program. The sound cards are what I believe have made my daughter a stronger reader. I am not just expecting her to memorize a list of 60 distrcit sight words by the end of a semester but instead I am teaching her how to actually decode what she is reading. It is odd to me that we teach this to students in pre-k and kinder when we focus on word sounds but when students move into higher level grades such as 1st-3rd we stop teaching blends, vowel sounds and ending sound and instead just focus on memorization, memorization, memorization. So grateful for this program. We are so excited to begin it again next year and add it on for another child as well .

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Courtney,

I’m so glad AAR and AAS are helping your daughter! It sounds like you are doing a great job with her!

Tara N.

says:

This program is amazing! As a former public school teacher, now homeschool mom, it feels good to have a program that doesn’t leave the gaps that they have to “try” to fill on their own. Thank you so much.

Lynn ONeal

says:

all of them and they are all developmentally inappropriate

My 11 year old needs this program. We are making progress slowly, but he should really have better resources for instruction, which I cannot afford to purchase.

Heidi Jellison

says:

Love this program!

I really appreciated the list type# 3 info. I can’t wait to view the video

Jems

says:

I like the teach, learn, practice & review method with no tests!

Christine S

says:

We love All About Spelling! It just makes sense.

Cecilia

says:

Neat! My older child is an intuitively good speller but I will need a program for my others. AAS looks great and I’ll be looking into it for my first grader for the fall.

Alisha

says:

I love this and totally agree!

Anita

says:

Great job of offering a better way to teach spelling to all kids! I would like to suggest 2 corrections to your chart: ‘give’ belongs in the
“other jobs of silent e [v never ends a word in English] and “little” is the word in the consonant-l-e syllable type.
Thanks.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Thanks for your note, Anita! Good eye!

Tracy

says:

AAS makes much more sense than the spelling lists that come with our Language Arts curriculum. I also would like to praise your customer support staff. Every time I’ve had a question, they’ve provided prompt and very thorough help, with genuine concern for my children’s education. That level of care is unusual these days and so refreshing and encouraging. Thank you!!!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Thanks for your kind note, Tracy! We’re always glad to help :-).

TMichelle

says:

I’m just glad you all have done the figurin’ for this!

Dena

says:

I like that the spelling is tied directly to what my daughter is learning.

Dawn

says:

We love All About Spelling! Saved us from the never ending frustration of attempting to learn to spell using lists. I found AAS after trying many other curriculums. Now I also use All about Reading with my daughter. Love it!

Ave

says:

My son is less frustrated and has improved fluency when reading after using all about reading.

Juill Potts

says:

Loving this program!

Bree Chamberlain

says:

I’m excited to learn more about AAS.

MamaKerr

says:

My son and I are blasting through this program. He loves it!!!

Jenn Khurshid

says:

This is so helpful! Thank you!

Regina

says:

This makes sooooo much sense! I missed so much in school growing up and I am learning along with my children using this wonderful program- thank you for putting this great resource together!

Merry

says: Customer Service

It’s fun that we can learn alongside our children!

Carrie S.

says:

I have struggled to find a spelling program that made sense, was thorough enough, and directed the parent/teacher specifically as to what to do/say each lesson. For us, All About Spelling has been the answer. I love the multi-sensory, logical approach to word construction and word decoding.

Heather F

says:

I’ve tried some of the unhelpful method listed above, and they are just that-UNHELPFUL! So thank you for this article. I felt this article helped me understand these methods didn’t work for my kids.

Carissa

says:

I couldn’t agree more and have been struggling to find a balance between the curriculum and what students need for years!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Carissa,

Some schools use our curriculum as well–maybe your school would be willing to change? You might like to read our article, 12 Reasons Teachers Love All About Reading and All About Spelling.

Kristen Lyons

says:

I love the AAS spelling approach. Thank you!!

Nicole

says:

I think my daughter would do much better with a rules based approach….her public school spelling lists, with apparently no explanation . . . just instructions to learn and remember, are not working for her!!

Jennie

says:

I use this with all of my children. We love it!

Candace Doriety

says:

This drove me crazy last year when we let our first grader go to public school! Why do “curl” and “girl” have the same sound in the middle but spelled differently, with no explanation the same week!? The sound of “ER” was done in a week.😁

Merry

says: Customer Service

The sounds of ER can be so tricky–that’s a lot of ground to cover in just one week!

Janet Wilde

says:

This is a fabulous post!! Phonics beats whole-word hands down. Thanks for your video on the Dolch words. My 3rd and 4th graders now know almost all the Dolch words, simply from your programs! Spelling and reading take time, and I lament that schools force kids before they’re ready. I’m grateful to have All About Spelling and All About Reading…thank you!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Janet,

I’m so glad your kids are doing well with the program! Kids all learn on their own timetables, and it’s great to be able to adjust to their needs.

Kay Moyers

says:

Great spelling program. Used it with my daughter and she loved it!!!!

Pamela Duke

says:

We have only tried the traditional way of learning spelling words — list on Monday, test in Friday. This approach has not been very successful with my oldest child. I would love to try all about spelling to see if another approach would click for her.

Ashley

says:

I am a Spec Ed teacher. I am currently using AAS Level 3 and I love it. so do my students.

Debbie C.

says:

We already use (and LOVE) All About Reading. Definitely checking into the spelling program.

Judi

says:

My daughter is in 4th grade this year and has really taken to the All About Spelling program! Thank you!

Jennifer

says:

I have definitely seen that my son DOES NOT find the AAS level one “lists” boring. He seems to find it exciting to use the new rules to encode the sounds he hears into spelled words. It is fun to watch and a world away from how I felt about spelling in school.

Merry

says: Customer Service

That’s great, Jennifer! I’m glad your son is enjoying the program.

Lauren

says:

I’m looking forward to using your spelling program for next year!

Jeana

says:

My son enjoys All about spelling.

Donna Mauney

says:

Very helpful article!

Heather

says:

I have also struggled with trying to find coherence with getting together the right words for my boys. We are going through a lot financially and I have to work and am back in school so homeschooling is really hard this year…. I want to do what’s right for my boys and really don’t want to stop homeschooling them(16,14,12,7,4). Have been wanting to get this for a very long time. Love the blog thank you

I am experiencing problems with using the Monday- Friday approach with one of my students that I tutor. It is hard because you want to help them master what their teacher gives, but I don’t believe that I see her frequently enough to do all about spelling with her.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Tatana,

A lot of tutors use our programs. When Marie tutored her students, she did not guarantee success unless they came 3 times per week or the parent worked with the child at home. Homework consisted of reviewing the four types of flashcards. If you would like more information about tutoring with AAS and AAR, email me at support@allaboutlearningpress.com and I can send you a document that answers some FAQs.

Julieanne

says:

I love this all about spelling and the way they teach struggling spellers as well as non struggling learners.

Rachel N

says:

We are half way through all about spelling level 1 and I really appreciate the way the spelling lists concentrate on one new idea.

Becki

says:

Our first homeschool spelling was build like example list #2. The kids were confused and frustrated and I didn’t know how to help them. We all hated it. Then we found AAS. Now I hear comments like “this makes so much sense” and “now I get it.’

Merry

says: Customer Service

That’s great, Becki!

Lindsey

says:

I can’t wait to try out AAS.

Julie Anne

says:

I’m looking forward to using these resources to tutor my students in reading.

Julie

says:

YES, THIS IS exactly what we had encountered when I started homeschooling! I pulled my daughter out of public school at the end of 2nd grade. She had so many holes in her learning of phonics, spelling, and reading. I had to go back and patch them all up after I discovered them that first year. We started out with a very well know traditional curriculum the first year only to find it was poorly organized for my children when it came to teaching phonics and reading. It had spelling lists that you introduce on Monday and test on Friday. I realized I had to go back and re-teach her phonics she should have learned in first grade.

Our second year, I bought a popular spelling curriculum only to use it once because I realized the lists didn’t share any kind of phonetic element at all. I thought it made no sense to teach to my children, who were struggling with phonetic concepts, to spell using this method. I had bought a book to use with my son called Classical Phonics, which already organized the phonetic concepts from beginner level reading to hardest, that had lists of words for each concept. I used this to make spelling lists as I taught her the phonetic concept for that week or two. I used a variety of resources, beginner readers, hooked on phonics and other tapes to get the concept into her. I basically created my own reading & spelling curriculum pulling from various resources. The spelling list was the writing assignment to go along with the reading and phonics for the week. She had to re-write the list in alphabetical order, and write five sentences using at least five spelling words. I would dictate sentences to her at the end the week.

All About spelling curriculum sounds just perfect and I wish I knew about it back then. Thankfully, I can use it with my son now who is a struggling learner.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Julie,
I appreciate you taking the time to tell us your daughter’s story and how you found a way to teach her spelling in a way that makes sense. Your method has a lot in common with All About Spelling, although with AAS we have done the planning work for you.

Julie

says:

Yes, your curriculum All About Spelling did the work for us! Like I said, If only I knew about it 4 years ago when I first began homeschooling her. I definitely would have used this for my daughter. I’m actually considering using it now for her, although she is 12. She is great at writing stories, papers, plays but her spelling is still a big problem. I think I may begin AAS with her and my son at the same time once my son is through Level one of AAR. I was reading some of the information on your website about how to use AAS for older students. I think it will be good for her. She of course will progress faster than my son. I’m trying to decide whether to start with her now or wait to do with with both of them at the same time. My son can get real upset when he feels inferior to others in his ability. He is frustrated by his struggle to learn things. Comparison is a killer!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Julie,

I would probably start her separately. It sounds like your son is a lot younger and a beginning reader–if so, they really wouldn’t be able to do lessons together. She may need only a few weeks or a month on level 1, whereas he might spend most of the year on it. Separate lessons might keep him from comparing himself to her in this subject too!

Gale

says:

Hmmm….makes a lot of sense. It does seem though that there are times where a topical based spelling list makes sense, not as the best way to teaching spelling in general, but as a good way to reinforce other concepts you are teaching. Like, teaching older kids to spell “observe, research, question, hypothesize, analyze” as part of teaching them the scientific method, because you expect them to be able to use these words when you do science experiments throughout the year.

What about rule breakers? Do you teach words that break rules along with, right after, or separately from the rule-keepers?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gale,
We teach rule breakers in All About Spelling along with the other words. However, many words listed by other sources as “sight words” do follow the rules and don’t need to be taught as rule breakers. This video on how we handle the Dolch Sight Word List explains this very well.

I understand your point about a topical based spelling list if you want students to use those words in their writing, but if the student hasn’t had the foundation to be able to spell words then it might not be appropriate to ask them to write at that level. If they are ready to write at that level, but find some of the words tricky, then putting them on a Tricky Word List (introduced in the higher levels of AAS) is appropriate. In addition, having a list of words in the context of a science assignment is more vocabulary than spelling, and we do strongly recommend teaching vocabulary in context.

I hope this gives you a better idea of how we approach spelling. Please let us know if you have further questions.

Gale

says:

Thanks! This was very helpful, especially the word list.

Gale

says:

This is a question/suggest related to the page you suggested on how you teach Dolch words, and another list that someone from your site gave me on the facebook page of all the “rule-breakers” covered in All About Spelling. I compared that to the rule-breakers on the Dolch list and found several Dolch rule-breakers that were not covered in AAS:

a
the
of
where
walk
there
very
laugh

Though actually whether “a” is a rule breaker depends on pronunciation, doesn’t it? I thought there was a rule that when a vowel is all by itself (a, I, the poetic O, and capital letters in acronyms) it say it’s name…which is only broken when people pronounce “a” like “uh.”

But my question: At what level of AAS would you suggest teaching how to spell these words (as a supplement)? Do you teach them along with the rule they break (or shortly thereafter)? Do you want to make sure a child has mastered a rule before introducing these? (Some of those I’m not sure which rule they break…we only finished AAS 1, and I’ve internalized some of the rules so don’t know them offhand. )

I wish there was a whole book of rule-breakers, not just common ones, I could consult when my child encounters a word they haven’t learned yet…because then I would know whether there WILL be a rule for this that we’ll learn later, or whether this is just a rule-breaker they will need to memorize. But these at least will be a start.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gale,
The words a and the are taught in the last Step of AAS 1, Step 24. They are taught before the jail is introduced in AAS 2, so they aren’t “thrown in jail” as a rule breaker. Also, it is extremely rare that students have trouble with these words, as they are so common.

Where is taught in Step 14 of AAS 3. The idea that where is a rule breaker is a regional pronunciation difference. In many regions, where does rhyme with here. However, in many other regions the long E sound slides to long A. This is covered in Step 14 when where, and the other question words, are taught. The words there and very have the same regional pronunciation thing going on as where. There and very are taught in Step 23 of AAS 3.

Walk is taught at the same time as talk, in Step 7 of AAS 4. It is one of the “More Words” in that Step.

The back of each AAS book has an index that lists all the words covered in that level and the Step they are introduced.

Laugh is the only word on this list not specifically taught in AAS. Interestingly, laugh and laughter are the only words in English where au says the short A sound. Also, the only other words that gh makes the f sound use the phonogram ough. Ough is taught in AAS 5. The sound /awt/ spelled aught, as in taught, naught, daughter, is taught toward the end of AAS 6. It would probably be best to teach laugh sometime after that.

I don’t know of a book that is only about rule breakers, but I think you might find the book The ABC’s and All Their Tricks by Margaret M. Bishop very helpful. It covers all the phonograms, plus exceptions and other unusual spellings. It was from this book that I found that that laugh and laughter are the only words that spell short A with au.

Gale

says:

PS: Just a note, the science words (hypothesize, research, etc.) I gave as an example were for my 6th grader, who briefly homeschooled with us and is now back in public school. I did consider teaching number and color words as a set with my younger student, who is on AAS2 this year. Seeing several of the number words on AAS 3 I think I will wait to cover that we’re at least to that point. Really the reason I wanted to do it is that I thought if he wrote the word twelve along with writing 12 a lot than maybe that would help him stop confusing the words 12 and 20 in math….which is just a thing that won’t go away. And I thought I’d teach the other numbers at the same time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gale,
Twelve is covered in Step 4 of AAS 3 and twenty is covered in Step 17 of AAS 4. However, a student completing Step 8 of AAS 3 would have all the skills necessary to spell twenty, as that is when long E at the end of a two syllable word spelled y is taught.

Is your son confusing twelve and twenty when writing or when reading the words? If it is with reading the words, that is likely a word guessing habit, where he is seeing the beginning and just guessing at the word, instead of reading the entire thing. If it is with writing the words, then he is trying to spell from memory and not spelling sound by sound. Reminding him to segment the words will help with that.

Writing the words with the numeral multiple times isn’t likely to help him stop confusing the words. Rather, asking him to slow down and hear each sound in the word will go a much longer way.

Gale

says:

Thanks again for all your help. My son was neither reading or writing the word twelve wrong…he was SAYING it wrong. For example, if I would ask him, orally, to answer the math problem 6+6 he often says 20 in stead of 12 (and this has just stuck around…I’d think I’d get it nipped and it would pop back up again). If I have him write the problem 6×6 out he always writes the answer 12 so the problem is that it’s stuck in his mind that the number 12 is said twenty. It’s a vocabulary/math comprehension problem I’m trying to solve, not really a spelling problem. But I found some worksheets that have you trace the spelled out form of the number twelve several times, and then trace the number 12 several times, and then circle the number 12 out of a jumbled up list of numbers (it had all the numbers). So last year I thought I’d just do all the numbers and teach him to spell all of them in stead of just twelve, and I started with one through five, doing the sheets and then memory stuff like removing one letter or looking at the word and then covering and writing. But it went very slow and I could see it was taking time from other things and I knew some of these concepts would be taught later so after five we quit. I’m still thinking about doing 12 that way though soon just to nip this 20/12 confusion in the butt. The point on twelve isn’t the spelling OR even reading, it’s to use spelling memorization to try to to get the fact that 12 is twelve not twenty stuck in his brain. I should have just done that number and not bothered with the others.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wow, Gale, that is an unusual problem! I think your use of spelling twelve and twenty might help. It probably won’t hurt to try.

Also, be sure to point out to him the pattern with twenty (if you haven’t already). It ends in -ty and so does thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, and ninety. Twenty must go with 20, to follow the pattern. You could also point that twelve follows eleven and they both have Vs.

Choose just one of the two to work on at first, as working on both at once can reinforce the confusion instead of correct it. Since this is an ongoing problem that seems to get fixed then comes back, it would be worthwhile to put reviewing this on your calendar for all of this year. Work for just a few minutes a day, every day, until he gets it perfectly without hesitation, and then do another week or two more of daily review. At that point you could start daily work on the other one, but keep reviewing the first one for a few minutes at least once a week for a while, then once every other week for a while, then monthly for a few months.

Hopefully, the ongoing, long term review will reinforce the correct pattern before it can pop up again. If he reverts to the incorrect word for a number at any time between reviews, go back to daily immediately and keep it in daily review for good while. The idea is to over teach, to form neuro pathways between the word and the number that are much stronger than the incorrect pathways he has established.

I think this will work. My co-worker Merry had to do something similar with her daughter with letter reversals that were a problem well beyond the early years of learning to read and spell. It took ongoing review like this for most of a year when her daughter was 4th grade for her to finally conquer the problem. You son can do it too!

Suzy

says:

If a school has no adopted spelling program, where would you suggest looking? I have used Words Their Way in the past and it aligns with what you suggest.

Tips for someone going to a place where there’s no set “spelling” agenda?!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Suzy,
I’m not sure what you are asking. All About Spelling is being used successfully in classroom settings. It sounds like maybe you would be the only class using this method? What ages? Would it be a special needs classroom? A gifted one?

Please email the details of what you are asking for to support@allaboutlearningpress.com. We can send you a pdf document that details the options with using All About Spelling in a classroom setting, and we can help you come up with a plan for implementing it even if the rest of the school is not doing so.

sara

says:

I am having a terrible time teaching my child, in 3rd grade nonetheless which is why I’m so terrified, how to spell long vowel sounds. Is it GOAT or GOTE? Any tips? It seems like the simplest thing holds her up.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sara,
Over time, All About Spelling teaches 4 main effective spelling strategies: phonetic, rules-based, visual, and morphemic. In this case, a visual approach really is needed.

AAS focuses on one way to spell a sound at a time, providing lots of time to master that way before introducing the next. In your example, long /o/ spelled O-consonant-E is introduced in AAS 2 but long /o/ spelled OA isn’t introduced until AAS 3. As both are taught and then reviewed, students periodically read Word Banks to help build their visual memory for pattern. One way to get more mileage out of the word banks is to have your daughter first note, “How is the long /o/ sound spelled in each of these words?” O_E. “That’s right.”

The multiple ways to spell one sound isn’t really a simple thing. It’s a real problem for many trying to lean to spell. English has 250 ways to spell 45 sounds!

Louise

says:

Sounds refreshing!

Mary husman

says:

Before we changed to homeschooling, we had a big move from Ohio to the mountains of North Carolina. My son’s spelling list in the first days of 1st grade convinced him school was broken. The list: hen, pen, ten, etc. He came home with his dictated test of wrong answers: hin, pin, tin, etc. He had learned to read a bit in Ohio but the diphthong and different vowel pronunciations of a southern drawl broke all of the phonic sound rules he had learned. To him, spelling made no sense (since). It only took me a few seconds with the teacher to understand what had happened.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ah, yes, Mary, the Pen/Pin Merger. This is a tricky problem for many Americans in certain parts of the country. It’s even trickier because many adults forget their own troubles to know when to use short i or short e, and because of their “curse of knowledge” they think the problem lies with the young learner. Good for you for taking the time to find the problem wasn’t on your son’s shoulders!

Gale

says:

I had a similar problem with the word Idea. I thought for years it was spelled “idear” because that’s the way my mom said it.

Stephanie

says:

Love the program! This method works as proven by my 11 yo who never did well with any spelling program until I found yours! Spelling has become understandable through the reinforcement of single rules at a time and reinforcing previous learned rules. Thanks!

Leanne

says:

This just simply makes sense…I love this approach to learning!

Holly

says:

Absolutely love both AAR and AAS! My son is 5-1/2 and flew through AAS level 1. We are now on level two. I have a question about teaching him to spell words with muted vowel sounds (eg, broken, human, etc). The text says to pronounce for spelling. I am unclear as to whether I should pronounce for spelling when I dictate the word to him or whether I should dictate the word how it is regularly spoken and ask him to pronounce for spelling (something I’m not sure he is able to do, since he obviously is just learning how to spell the word correctly). Thanks in advance for your help!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Holly,
Good question.

Start by saying the word as you normally say it, then pronouncing it for spelling. Then let your son know that he will need to start pronouncing the word for spelling himself. Your goal is to work toward you saying the word normally, and then he pronounces it for spelling and spells it. The word isn’t considered mastered until he can do that. Some students pick up on this quickly and easily, and are pronouncing the words for spelling on the very first day you work on the concepts. Many will take longer, needing a lot of practice until they master this.

For further information, here is a blog post on Making Sense of Schwas and how to deal with them.

Holly

says:

Thank you, Robin! Both your response and the blog post were very helpful!

Sharon

says:

Why do you not recommend using a Sight Word based approach in addition to your All About Spelling program? My child is trying to use these most common words (Dolce or Fry list) in her writing but is misspelling them. And she knows she is misspelling them, so she gets frustrated and instead of focusing on content and developing ideas, she gets tripped up on these words. Not all English words follow a rule as in All About Spelling. I am just trying to bridge your program with what I was taught on how to teach spelling in 1st and 2nd grade; I know that my daughter needs to not only be able to spell in isolation but in her writing as well for maximum retention. I would love your insights and help in this matter. I taught 8th grade LA for six years, not elementary, so any recommendations would be helpful and much appreciated. :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sharon,
You brought up some excellent questions!

First, 90% of the Dolch List words are phonetic and follow the rules and patterns that All About Spelling focuses on. This article analyzes the Dolch List. Instead of asking students to memorize hundreds of words in isolation, we can teach the rules and patterns of English so that they can tackle these words. However, you are correct, not all words in English follow the rules. Starting in Level 2 of All About Spelling, students are periodically taught rule breakers, including the 21 words from the Dolch List that aren’t phonetic. The way we approach rule breakers is discussed as Problem #4 of this blog post on How to Handle Spelling Troublemakers.

All About Spelling teaches words from the Dolch, Fry, and Ayres lists, with the exception of a few words that aren’t in common usage anymore. Plus, AAS teaches many words beyond these lists.

Developing Automaticity in spelling is a common concern. We address it by having the student write phrases from dictation, then sentences, then Writing Station assignments where students are given 5 or 6 words and have to write their own unique sentences using them. As the the student moves up through the levels, the dictation and Writing Station assignments with each Step become progressively harder.

I hope this helps clears things up for you, but please let me know if you have further questions or concerns.

Sharon

says:

This is so good! Thank you so much!!! I guess my frustration lies in my impatience and desire for her to spell common, easier words first before moving on to others-yet I do see the logic behind teaching the within-word pattern words or grouping the words in order. Humor me, though: my daughter can spell the words from level 1 and we just moved onto level 2, but frustrate me is that she is not spelling easy and frequently used words like “have” or “some” because we have not hit that lesson yet. However, she can spell other words like compound words or any other word taught in level 1. It just seems perplexing to me to wait to spell those words as opposed to “blackjack” or “floss.” Does that make sense? :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sharon,
I can see you are really thinking about this and asking excellent questions.

Recall that All About Spelling was designed with struggling learners in mind; those students that need more explicit, more incremental instruction. Many (most?) spelling programs teach high frequency words early on, but so many of these high frequency words are rule breakers or have advanced patterns or sounds. Many children are okay with that, and just learn to spell those words then later learn to spell more simple but less common words (blackjack and floss are less common but they are very simple to spell).

The problem for other students, however, is that they take the patterns they learned in those high frequency words and try to apply them to other words. Some of the patterns they learn may not even be true patterns. I used a more traditional spelling curriculum with my older daughter and she experienced exactly this problem. She treated silent e’s as if they were random decorations. She used c, k, and ck interchangeably. She spelled the short /u/ sound with an a half the time, because of words like was and what. She was in the forth grade and still misspelling simple words, such as trying to spell bake as backe.

My daughter was not unique in this. Approximately a third of children struggle to learn to spell from traditional high frequency word focused lists.

I disagree with you that words like have and some are easy. Yes they are high frequency, but they use much less common patterns. Have ends in a silent e, but it is the third job of silent e. It keeps the word from ending in a v, but it doesn’t make the a say it’s long sound. The idea that silent e has 7 distinct jobs surprises many adults, and can be confusing to students if you expect them to be responsible for the third job before the first job of silent e is even introduced, let alone mastered.

Some is taught as a rule breaker, a word where the job of the silent e isn’t readily apparent. Also, some uses the 4th sound of o. These are advanced sounds and patterns that are not very commonly used, even though the word is common.

I’m not sure if this will be a consolation to you, but many students find they have enough knowledge of words after AAS 2, or even during it, that they become much more comfortable and confident in their writing. A few students, usually those that struggle a lot more, do better after AAS 3, as by the end of the AAS 3 students have learned to spell over 1000 words and AAS 3 introduces the Writing Station activity that has students writing their own, unique sentences using words they are given.

We freely admit that All About Spelling may not be the best option for every student and family. If your daughter doesn’t struggle with spelling, maybe she would do fine with a program that taught the high frequency words first. All About Spelling does get there; we just take a bit longer to ensure the foundation for spelling all words is well laid first.

Sharon

says:

Hi there!

Your reply is excellent. I must admit I did not know all of the jobs of the silent “e.” I merely learned lists while in school and in my undergrad and postgrad work, I was introduced to Words Their Way and teach high frequency words. Now I see the confusion in this method. And I feel more confident to continue on with AAS. Thank you so much for being thorough in your replies to me. I have been pleasantly impressed with the level of feedback and availability of both the operators on the phone as well as your reply. It makes sense to me now why you do what you do. When I wrote “easy” I meant easy for me or “easy” because they are smaller words than “blackjack” or “floss.” I wish I was taught like this with all the rules. I love it!! And the repetition and slowly building from words to word phrases and then sentences from dictation is helpful. I can see a difference in her writing of late, particularly her confidence in transferring what she has learned to her writing–not so much in her journal but regular, spontaneous writing such as a card or silly note explaining to me why her brother upset her while playing grocery store!!!! Lol. Thank you again. 💜

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sharon,
I’m glad our conversation has been helpful to you. I know I’ve enjoyed it. Also, you asked many thoughtful questions and I think this public discussion may be helpful to others with similar concerns.

And I got a nice smile at your daughter writing you a note explaining why she was upset at her brother. I love when my kids write me notes like that.

Dorothy

says:

Robin’s answer is great, but I wanted to add just one comment to it. If your daughter likes to write and she comes up with sentences that include words with spellings you haven’t covered yet, you should just tell her the correct spelling so that 1) she doesn’t get frustrated and 2) she doesn’t practice misspelling these words. If you know the pattern or rule, share that with her too. She may not memorize it yet, or have a full list of words to practice the pattern, but there’s no harm telling her why that common word is spelled the way it is or that it is a rule-breaker.

One of the things I love about AAS is that it does not teach random sight words. All the common words that follow the rules will be learned with the rules they follow, and those that break the rules can be taught with the rules they break. This makes much more sense than teaching sight words completely unrelated to pattern of the rest of the words on a list as many other phonics approaches do.

Sharon

says:

Dorthy,

Great idea! Thank you for the reply. I will most certainly try that in her writing. The only problem is I don’t know the rules such how to teach “wait” not “wate” (she’s using what she already knows about silent “e”.,at least the first rule) or she spells “says” like “ses.” I can tell that she is thinking and just using but confusing because dear ol’ mom has not taught that lesson in AAS 2 as of yet. :) If I don’t know the rule as of yet myself, how do I teach her? I guess just give grave to her and myself and we will eventually get there. :)
Thanks again!

Blessings,
Sharon

Debbie

says:

I like this approach! My 4th grader hates spelling and having to write the words over and over so this might be just what we need.

Donna

says:

I am a believer in All About Spelling after using it in my home. I have discussed it with a local private school because it is far superior to the weekly list, just go home and learn it, approach. I don’t expect any changes though because educators can be very set in their ways and tend to miss the point of education.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

If they ever want more information Donna, refer them to support@allaboutlearningpress.com. Lots of public and private schools are using our programs. Thank you for sharing All About Spelling with others; word of mouth is the highest praise!

Hanna Erickson

says:

My 2nd grader struggles with spelling I have been looking for something to help with out having weekly spelling tests. I am so glad I stumbled upon this post.

Renae B.

says:

After reading this post, I clicked to read “the curse of knowledge” post. Both were helpful. The curse of knowledge concept is often in my head as a reminder when teaching my preschooler.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Renae,
You are welcome. Keep the “curse of knowledge” in my mind has helped my teaching in many ways.

rebekah

says:

I am interested in both your AAS & AAR programs for my 4th grader. She reads at grade level, but I want to make sure she has a solid comprehension. Her spelling is getting better, but there is no rhyme or reason to our current spelling curriculum. What levels should I start her with in AAS & AAR? I don’t want to start her in too simple of curriculum, but if level 1 really is appropriate for AAS, then I will try it. What about the level for AAR?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Rebekah,
For All About Reading, you can use the placement tests to decide which level would be best. Also, we recommend having your child read the sample stories from the previous level online as a further confirmation. You want her to be reading fluently with good comprehension before going to a higher level.

Level 1 sample story
Level 2 sample story
Level 3 sample story
Level 4 sample story

Evaluate (without correcting your daughter) for the following…

Her ability to decode the words in the story.
Her ability to comprehend the story.
Could she fluently read the story with expression?
Did she understand the words from a vocabulary standpoint?

For All About Spelling, we do recommend that most students start with level 1 to build a strong foundation in spelling.

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 Should We Start in Level 1 or Level 2? has more information on the concepts taught in level 1 and will help you decide the appropriate starting level.

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 generally recommend starting higher than level 2.

Marie encourages parents and teachers to “fast track” if the student 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, but if you have further placement questions or concerns please let us know.

Jennifer

says:

I have been looking for a spelling program for the past two weeks and I came across your blog posts which have been very helpful. I am interested in seeing how my son does with AAS. He is a very wiggly little boy and hands on are always better for him than sitting and writing out of a workbook the whole time. We have never used AAR so I wonder how he will do. Cathy Duffy’s review says that AAS is both a spelling and reading program. I am curious to find out if this is really the case.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jennifer,
The good news is that our spelling and reading programs are perfect for wiggly learners! Hands on learning is scheduled right into every lesson.

All About Spelling isn’t a reading curriculum. Still, many students experience improvement in their reading as they use AAS because it’s work with syllable division rules and other things. However, All About Spelling doesn’t work on decoding skills, fluency practice, reading stamina, comprehension, or other skills needed to be strong readers.

We don’t recommend starting AAS until the student is already reading. We recommend starting AAS 1 after completing All About Reading Level 1, or the equivalent reading level. You can use the placement tests to confirm if your child is reading well enough to be ready to start spelling.

I hope this helps, but if you have further questions or concerns please let us know.

Melissa

says:

We are planning to start AAS Level 1 after the holidays. My 3rd grader really struggles with spelling so we are very hopeful this program will work. AAR has helped us already! Thanks for developing such a wonderful program.

Kelly

says:

We are using AAS Level 1 with our second-grader this year, and I really enjoy how it is organized. We’ve gotten a little behind in the past month or so…..we need to jump back in after the holiday craziness!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kelly,
The holiday craziness gets to us all and messes a lot of routines up. I’ll be with you next week, jumping back into things.

Amanda

says:

Wow, this is really true for my oldest daughter! When she was at international school, she was given these random lists based on that week’s theme. I remember she always got poor scores on her Friday spelling test. She would come home in tears. One day, she even said “Mommy,” tears, tears and more tears, “I don’t think I will ever be a spelling teacher!” Then, we had a good laugh. The next year, I homeschooled her and found she has no problem spelling when I focus on teaching the phonograms and why words are spelled the way they are.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
Thank you for sharing the very different experiences your daughter had with between theme-based spelling lists and phonogram-based spelling lists. Very interesting.

Jessica

says:

Studying phonograms is how we started learning phonics and spelling. I would like to continue, but our basic phonics curriculum is too easy now. Would love to check out your spelling lists in more detail.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
We teach 72 basic phonograms. These basic phonograms allows us to spell 97% of English words. We also teach some advanced phonograms such as rh, eu, gu, and others. All About Spelling Level 7 (the final level), 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.

Let me know if you have further questions!

Cindy

says:

I’ve been searching for a program to help my struggling learner get on track without tears and frustration. Every program we’ve tried thus far has been very stressful for him. I love the sounds of the All About Spelling program and pray that we will have better results with it.

Leanne H

says:

This is how my daughter’s 3rd grade public school spelling tests are designed, which is good. However, it’s becoming obvious that she needs the rules and the “why” reinforced at a slower pace.

Alisha

says:

This makes so much sense, especially for a dyslexic child like my son!

Yes, my girls were given some very strange spelling lists when we were still involved in Wisconsin Virtual Academy online. Frustration was a daily factor while with WIVA.

Maya

says:

Totally agree. The lists #1 to #3 do not make any sense, when intended to teach spelling. I especially love the lists in AAS, because they not only present words from the new concept that is being taught, but review words from previous lessons seemlessly, in the phrases and sentences part. My child loved doing “dictation with AAS”. Thank you!

Kim

says:

My son struggles with lists, we will be starting All About Spelling when we start school again after the first of the year.

Betsy

says:

We have only done a few spelling lists. It seemed crazy that spelling is SO hard when she reads many years beyond her chronological age, seems there is more to it than I thought!

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

Spelling is a lot harder than reading, so even many excellent readers will struggle with spelling. This is one reason why we teach the subjects separately. For more information, check out this article on Why We Teach Reading and Spelling Separately.

Heather

says:

What a great program. I also love this site and the emails we get, helping me be a better teacher for my child!

Sarah

says:

I like teaching my children patterns that take the guess work out of spelling. I find it hard for them to spell correctly even though they read fluently, and AAS takes the guesswork out as soon as they learn a pattern.

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

I’m so glad AAS is helping. Most kids do find spelling to be harder to learn than reading–that’s one reason why we teach these skills separately.

Rachel

says:

this is great info! Thanks! We love all about reading and spelling!!!

Racheal

says:

I’ve been looking at this for some time now. I can’t wait to try it out.

Sybil

says:

Been looking at this for a while, I look forward to using it with my son.

Cyndy

says:

Thanks for the info about spelling lists! We love AAR and AAS!

Danielle

says:

I’ve heard nothing but good things about all about spelling and all about reading.
I can’t wait to try this with my 6 year old!

Amy

says:

I love this spelling g program! It has made it so easy to teach my 6 & 7 year old and has helped them so much with learning to spell!

Sara S.

says:

This is what I love about AAR and AAS. Love that we get to know the how and why instead of just rote memorization. I know that doesn’t work for most because I grew up with it and it was just frustrating and stressful.

Amy Shannon

says:

List type 2 is what brought us to AAS. My son was struggling and the spelling book we had just didn’t make sense to me. When I found AAS, the methods made complete sense to me, and my son likes that it gets done quickly without meaningless repetitive copying of spelling words.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amy,
Thank you for sharing your son’s experiences with lists that didn’t make sense and with AAS.

Lacy

says:

These lists are a great idea! It does make a lot more sense to teach spelling this way!

Susan Deacon

says:

Thank you for this important information!

Amy Maze

says:

This is why I love AAS!

kerri

says:

I, as teacher, am constantly amazed at just how much sense All About Spelling makes! I am thrilled to have found this program.

sherri

says:

Thanks for all your helpful information.

charlene clough

says:

My two children have had a terrible time learning to spell. They have improved some by using visualization
methods and memory tricks, but I think they need more help so that it is easier.
I am sooo looking forward to trying AAS!!

J Nelson

says:

Totally agree that your approach to spelling makes more sense for long-term application and understanding.

Anne

says:

Our daughter is in a 6th grade classroom outside the home this year. The spelling book they use at this private school is merely a weekly list with words that have the same sound but are spelled differently, just like you said. There are no rules taught. It relies only on memorization. She can practice them enough to get a good grade on the test but cannot retain them for very long. Somehow she is getting a A in the class, but this does not reflect her spelling ability at all. It’s very frustrating to me. When we homeschooled her, we used AAS, and she still struggled but was at least hearing the rules. It’s an excellent program. The silly book she has at her school even has ugly pictures in it….an alien facon an early page. It’s just so unappealing.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Anne, I’m sorry your daughter is having to experience such a confusing approach to spelling and it isn’t even an attractive book either. How sad.

Michelle J

says:

There is no rule that says you cannot continue to use AAS at home, to supplement what is taught at school. It would give your daughter the solid foundation she needs. And the bonus: no need to worry about what her grade will be on her report card. Instead, offering a reward (such as going out for an ice cream treat, choosing a new book from the bookstore, etc.) for finishing the level – or a certain specified number of steps within the level – would be a bond-forming incentive.

Marie Rippel

says:

Thanks for chiming in, Michelle! This is excellent advice!

Amy Marshall

says:

We love all about spelling and reading! Thank you so much for writing this- it has truly been a blessing! I only wish I had this when my 15 yr old was learning to read!

Sarah

says:

I had to teach those lists as a third grade teacher and I so glad to do things differently as I homeschool my daughters. Planning to use your programs and can’t wait!

Lynn

says:

Yep. That is how I was taught. Probably why spelling was my worst subject. I am thankful I found a better way for my kids.

Ann

says:

How do you know where to start? I am using another program called Abeka. We are in second grade and doing fine in spelling but not so much in reading. She is very slow reading on the page and yet can fly through flashcards like nobody’s business. We are aware of SPD and in therapy for helping with that for a couple of years now. There is possible ADHD down the road, we are trying to intervene for that now. I guess I am wondering if switching programs is hard on the child or not.
Thanks for any help.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ann,
We have placement tests you can use for All About Reading to decide which level would be best. Also, we recommend having your child read the sample stories from the previous level online as a further confirmation. You want her to be reading fluently with good comprehension before going to a higher level.

Level 1 sample story
Level 2 sample story
Level 3 sample story
Level 4 sample story

Evaluate (without correcting your student) for the following…

Her ability to decode the words in the story.
Her ability to comprehend the story.
Could she fluently read the story with expression?
Did she understand the words from a vocabulary standpoint?

As for whether switching programs is hard on a child, well if the child is struggling with the subject switching programs can be the best thing possible. Switching programs multiple times for the same subject in a short period of time can be hard or harmful for a student, but switching once in order to find a program that will help them be successful with a subject is very helpful.

What you described, that your daughter can go through flashcards very quickly but struggles with reading on the page, indicates that she is struggling to gain fluency in reading. Marie noticed when she was first developing All About Reading that many programs do not contain enough fluency practice for many students. All About Reading has either a story or fluency pages to be read with every Lessons, so that there is constant fluency practice throughout.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Beth

says:

Dear Ann,

I have been homeschooling my children since my oldest daughter was in 2nd grade. She is now 16. I have always used Abeka with both my children. I never had a problem with it for my oldest child. My youngest daughter is 10 and has been struggling with Dislexia. Reading was a struggle every day. I am talking blood, sweat, and tears struggle. I Recently purchased and started using All About Spelling and All About Reading. My daughter LOVES it! I LOVE it! There are no more tears. We started at Level 1 with their spelling and reading program. After just 3 weeks my daughter is reading and spelling better than ever. My daughter’s confidience level has soared. It is well worth the money. The people that I spoke with on the phone were caring and helpful. I would recommend these programs to anyone and I have been. Good luck with your decision.

Erin Phair

says:

This makes much more sense and I will definitely be changing my approach to storming with my children!

Alyssa Gibbs

says:

I homeschool my two children, 8 and 6. We LOVE All About Reading and All About Spelling!

Dina

says:

Seems like a great program! My grandson is still pretty young but I will definitely check this out when we begin!

christy

says:

Tried AAS but didnt continue with it but my 9yo son loved it.

Laura

says:

Christy, I saw your post and was a little dumbfounded. If your 9 yr. old loved it, why wouldn’t you continue? It is a gift you can give him for the rest of his life. My 82 year old mom (former school teacher) actually apologized to me as an adult for not helping me enough with my spelling and reading issues. She didn’t know how to help, but you can make a difference in you son’s life. I have struggled my whole life and I am doing everything I can so my kids don’t have to. I encourage you to not give up! I know you will be so happy you didn’t.
Sincerely,
Laura

Carrie

says:

This is a great post! I completely agree with your thoughts on lists. Although I thought my 4th and 6th graders were great spellers, I started to see that the rules were missing from their list based curriculum. We have just started aas this year and are quickly filling in the gaps. My 4 year old who is not doing official school enjoys spelling as well and easily participates! I can’t wait to start all about reading with him next year! Thanks for such a wonderful program to learn AND teach from!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Carrie,
Thank you for sharing how AAS is working with your older students that were already good spellers.

Camille

says:

My 10-year-son has dyslexia. Spelling has been a progressively worsening struggle ever since kindergarten. We started homeschooling a couple months using the All About Spelling and All About Reading programs. The progress he had made is amazing. He is spelling words on his own that surprise me every day. Thank you!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Camille,
This is GREAT! We love to be able to have a part in success stories like this! Thank you for sharing.

Melissa

says:

I have worked about half way through AAS Level 1 with my 11 year old son. I feel so good about the systematic approach to teaching new concepts and the built-in review process. Thank you for your helpful suggestions from staff at All About Learning.

Natalia

says:

Great Thanks to Marie for teaching us and our babbies!

Melissa

says:

Love this program! Both my kids are excelling in spelling now!

Tori

says:

I had just thought about this the other day while looking at a spelling list! I had never thought about how confusing it must be!

Carol-Anne

says:

my 10yr old daughter has Asperger’s syndrome and central auditory processing disorder and although she is a good reader, she failed spelling. Since we started homeschooling 3 months ago, using AAS, she is 1/2 way through level 1 and loving it. She is now asking how to spell words and I remind her to think about “pulling down the tiles”, and this works :)
I would highly recommend AAS as it encourages and empowers the child ( and parent) to learn more.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Carol-Anne,
It’s wonderful to hear how AAS has helped your daughter already, and she’s only 1/2 of the way through Level 1! Keep up the great work!

Marsena

says:

I have been feeling like this was my sons problem. Thanks for this blog! I will look into buying AAS.

Christine Nadolny

says:

Since we have always homeschooled, I didn’t know the way spelling lists were taught. So glad AAS helps us the best way to learn how to spell.

lisa

says:

I’m teaching my five year old to read, but haven’t really tackled spelling yet. Good info to ponder. Thanks!

Amy B

says:

We love AAS and AAR so much that we are already looking into purchasing the levels needed for the two newest additions to our family. We are so excited about this chapter of our lives but adding two new children who haven’t learned the way our own have and are heartily discontent with the idea of school is a bit terrifying at times. It has certainly been made so much less daunting and scary with the knowledge that they will at least love their reading and spelling instruction!! :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Congratulations on the additions to your family, Amy!

Annie Bleuer

says:

We are finishing level 1 of AAS and my daughter is doing great! I love this system!

Carie Faulkner

says:

I love the spelling lists used in All About Spelling. I am a good speller, but I am good at memorizing. The way All About Spelling teaches has taught me so much as I’ve taught my daughter. It makes so much more sense to me now.

Rachelle

says:

My daughter struggles with spelling and reading. I found this article very helpful! Thank you!

Amber

says:

This makes a lot of sense to me. I just recieved level 1 in the mail yesterday, can’t wait to get started!

TwinMom

says:

My children have lists of words taken from a master list from the county and integrated with the reading assignments for the week. I discussed this with the teacher and she finds it to be a cumbersome process. but she has no choice. Thankfully they are also teaching the spelling rules. I have set up your program to use at home. I haven’t started yet, but I am looking forward to doing so.

Christie

says:

I’ve tried teaching with spelling word lists, with no success! My daughter tries, I try, but the words just don’t stick. Eventually, we’ve seen some improvement, but with SO very much effort. Trying now the All About Spelling method, she is excited that there are rules she can learn that will help her.

Ruth Graves

says:

All About Reading and Spelling are the only reading/spelling programs we’ve used. I did a ton of research before buying, and this was the best program for ease of use, both for the teacher and student. AAR & AAS have the approach I was looking for. We started out with level A and we’re almost through level B. It is a great program, we’re loving it!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for the great review, Ruth!

Jody

says:

Enjoying this program.

Kristi Lay

says:

My daughter has been struggling. I homeschooled for 1st grade and put her in a Christian school at the beginning of 2nd b/c I wanted to make sure I wasn’t soing something wrong! They labeled her with mild dyslexia & mild learning disability -phew – it wasn’t all my “fault”… But I saw her slowly start getting discouraged and her attitude change to an “I can’t do it” and “that’s just the best I can do” and give up! I have hee back homeschooling again & just bought this AAS program and hoping it will help!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kristi,
I’m sorry your daughter had to experience that sort of defeated attitude. I do hope that AAS can make a difference. We are committed to helping parents like you help their children, so if you need help along the way we are here for you by email or phone.

Kristen

says:

I haven’t had too much trouble with spelling. When my kids were in school, they were in a classical charter school.

Ginger

says:

I love the AAS approach and it worked great for my first child, but for my second child (who is dyslexic) it isn’t doing the trick. We’ve been using the program 4 days a week for 4.5 years and we just finished going through the first two books a second time. He’s able to spell about half of the words that have been covered correctly. He does great with the word lists when they are first introduced and the whole list is on the same concept, but he is unable to retain that skill, apply it in other situations, or have other review words mixed in. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ginger,
I’m sorry to hear your son is struggling in this way.

I’m not sure, but I suspect your son my need more regular review of words before they are moved to the mastered section. All About Spelling schedules a review of the mastered cards twice each level; once mid-way through each level and once after finishing/before beginning each level. For some children, two days of reviewing the mastered cards in each level isn’t enough. It sounds like your son may be one of them. I understand. I have a couple kids that need much more regular review.

There are a few ways you can give him the more regular review he seems to need:

One way is simply to do a mastered review once a month. Once a month, one (or two or more if it takes more than 15 minutes or so) day’s spelling will be nothing but reviewing all the mastered cards. Any cards your son gets wrong, or has to hesitate and really think to know the answer, get put into the review section and gets reviewed daily for a while.

Another way is to dedicate one day each week for review. On that day review all of one color of cards, yellow, red, or blue, and some of the green cards. Say you choose Mondays as review days. The first day you would review all the yellow cards and some of the green. The following Monday, you would review all of the red cards and some of the green. The third Monday you would review all of the blue cards and some of the green. On the fourth Monday you would review all the rest of the green cards, so that you would review all the mastered cards every month. As before, any card that needs further review gets put into the review section for daily work. My co-worker, Merry, uses this method of additional review.

Another way is to review 2 of each colored cards, yellow, red, and blue, each day and 5 of the green cards. I use this method and am having great success with it with my struggling spellers. I use an index card in the mastered section of each color. I shuffle all the cards, and then put the index card at the back. Each day I draw 2 yellow cards, 2 red cards, 2 blue cards, and 5 green cards from the front of the mastered sections. If my son gets them correct without hesitation they get filed behind the index card in the back of the mastered section. If he doesn’t get them correct they go back into the review section and get reviewed daily for at least a week. At the end of the week I put them back in mastered, but mixed in in front of the index card so that they will be reviewed again within another week. When the index card works it’s way to the front, I know it’s time to shuffle the cards again and put the index card to the back. I prefer this way because my kids really dislike master reviews, so there is less crumbling when they do just a little bit every day.

We would love to help your further with the specific needs your son has. Please email us at support@allaboutlearningpress.com or call us at 715-477-1976 (M-F, 8am-4pm CST). The author, Marie, was told that her son would never learn to read and spell. If you haven’t had a chance to watch their story about her son’s struggles, you may want to check that out. Very amazing!

D

says:

Sure wish I had been taught with this method! My oldest son is loving AAS and I’m looking forward to starting it with my younger children. Thank-you!

Jenna

says:

I’m looking into AAS for my daughter for next year.

Deirdre

says:

AAS is such a great program! We’re loving it!!!

andria g.

says:

I need AAS for my kiddos!

Terry

says:

Spelling is such a struggle for so many students. This systematic and cumulative approach makes learning the “whys” and “hows” of spelling so attainable for all learners! Thank you!

Rebecca Harris

says:

I love AAL’s approach to spelling. I must admit that I loved spelling tests. ❤ But I’ve used AAS with my oldest from the beginning and she has done very well with reading and spelling. I think she’s more of a kinesthetic learner so the tiles make it fun.

Michele

says:

As a special education teacher, I have experience with many students who struggle with spelling. I am looking forward to trying some of the strategies offered in this article. Thank you for the information.

Ruth

says:

Makes sense. Thank you for your program, my kids love it.

Lisa

says:

I like that AAS focuses on one spelling concept at a time. This opens up the conversation to other words that fit into this rule and also, ones that don’t and why.

Amy Cahill

says:

Thanks so much for helping home schoolers who are trying to do their best!

Patti

says:

The All About Spelling approach starts at the ground up with a thorough and meaningful approach to spelling- which is most successful.

Laura

says:

I can’t wait to start AAS with my son next year. This is great info.

Jaime S.

says:

I have see some of these other programs. I could understand how the kids were supposed to learn anything from them. One such program had the students do two days with some activity, crossword or fill-in-the-blank, using the list words. One the third day there’s a quiz and the student has to write all missed words 5 or 10 times each. And then on Friday, test on the list words and write all missed words 5 or 10 time again. Seems to me that would just frustrate not teach.

Jenni

says:

I haven’t started spelling yet with my early elementary children, because I feel a little intimidated by it. These are good tips.

fleur

says:

I so agree!

Emily

says:

Interestjng. I do think spelling lists are helpful and memorization is good for children. But thanks for the tips for developing a better list.

I. Bluhm

says:

I recently started using “All About Spelling” level 1 for my 11 yr old who has dyslexia. A lot of it is review for him and he is moving through it quickly. I know that we have to start at the beginning so that he doesn’t miss anything. I am so thankful to Marie for providing me with tools on how to teach my struggling speller. I look forward to seeing his progress!

Julie

says:

I started my 10 year old son in AAS this year too. We had tried a different Orton-Gillingham program that uses the Ayre’s List of frequent words. The phonograms and rules were all memorized up front and then they were applied on a Spelling list. He could not remember the rules, didn’t understand what it meant when I said, “/k/ two letter /k/ used after single short vowel sounds” and used the phonogram ou to spell any word he wasn’t sure of the vowel.

We started in September and are ready to start Level 3 after Christmas break. His spelling and writing is really taking off. We still struggle with reading.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Julie, for sharing this. It’s great to hear how quickly your son moved through AAS 1 and 2, yet it is helping his spelling and writing already.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing how your older student is doing with All About Spelling level 1.

Minnie

says:

As an adult who is terrible at spelling I couldn’t agree with you more. These semi-random spelling lists never helped me at all.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for your perspective as an adult who struggles with spelling, Minnie.

SA

says:

I am excited to try this new approach. Based on these articles I am hoping that these methods will help.

Marissa

says:

We have just started AAR and I’m looking forward to AAS.

Meghan

says:

My boys always complain about spelling and the English language. These spelling lists make so much more sense.

Lynn

says:

In a Building Spelling Skills workbook, the lists were based on various themes – vowel sounds, compound words, suffixes, prefixes, plurals, etc. One list in particular seemed to be focusing on double consonants (i.e. occurrence, embarrass, recommend) as 12/18 have this pattern. The other 6 words are hooray, daughter, authentic, awkward, brought and because. Crazy.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Wow, talk about a confusing list full of hard words. I have a couple of students that would fall over and give up if they saw a list full of 18 such words to be learned in a single week. I’m thankful they have AAS instead.

Thanks for sharing, Lynn.

Heidi

says:

I am so glad we started AAS. In level 1 even I learned something and I was an A student all through school! I never understood when letter “c” would have the sound “k” or “s”. Now thanks to teaching my daughter with AAS I do. :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Heidi,
I understand. I was an A student too, and I have learned so much teaching my own children. I am so much better educated now that I have homeschooled one student all the way through (with 4 more to go)!

Desiree C.

says:

My 9 year old has always struggled with spelling, no matter what we’ve tried! I am using AAR with my six year old, and am considering a switch to AAS with my 9 year old. Thank you for the article! It has made my decision an easier one to make.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Desiree,
You are welcome. Also, have you seen our article on using All About Spelling with Older Students? It may have helpful information on starting AAS with a 9 year old.

Marcia Welsh

says:

We absolutely love AAS!!

Holly

says:

I love everything about your reading and spelling program. My kindergartener is halfway through level 2 of reading and over halfway through level one spelling. I tell everyone interested about how wonderful it is and how easy it is to teach!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Holly,
Word-of-mouth is the best advertisement, because it’s personal. Thank you for sharing AAR and AAS.

Rhonda Biroschik

says:

Yes, my children have had spelling lists that do not seem to make sense, but we are so programmed to that being the norm we do not think that there is any other way; we now know there is. Thank you

Jessica B.

says:

This is helpful. Thanks for sharing. My kids have never received any spelling lists because I’ve always homeschooled them but I have seen friends’ kids with lists I don’t understand. I’m glad we’re not studying for those tests!

Tavia

says:

This is so helpful and really explains how I can better use spelling lists with my children, even with varying learning styles. Thank you for another great article.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Tavia. Glad to be able to help.

Michellle

says:

Amen! I was a teacher for years before becoming a homeschooling mom and used a spelling curriculum from a major educational producer. I never could understand why they chose the words on the lists or how to appropriately teach the random concepts covered. I am SO THANKFUL that you have created a system that makes sense! I wish all schools across our country would use this system!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing your teacher turned homeschool mom perspective, Michelle.

Lynne

says:

Thank you for this. I do have a question…my kids have really different learning styles. Do you think the list style should be adjusted to learning style?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great question, Lynne.

Some students are natural spellers and would do okay with any sort of list. They might actually enjoy lists that centered around a theme like a book they are reading or a history or science subject they are studying (type #1 list above). However, even natural spellers would benefit from knowing the why of the way words are spelled, so that they can apply those concepts to new words they have never studied in the future. Such topic themed lists do not always equip students to spell unfamiliar words.

All About Spelling is set up to work with all learning pathways. Research has shown that children taught through auditory, visual, and tactile means together learn better than those taught only through their own preferred learning pathway. This article, Spelling Can Be Easy When It’s Multisensory, explains further.

Also, All About Spelling is designed to be used at the individual student’s pace, so that all students aren’t spending the same amount of time on each concept and list. Some can master the material quickly and easily, and will move through 2 or more concepts and lists a week. Others need more time and will spend 2 weeks on a single concept and list. AAS is set up that each type of learner can be accommodated easily.

So, all learning styles benefit from spelling lists centered on a single, well-organized spelling concept.

Jess L

says:

Not being a very good speller myself, this totally makes sense to me. I have been very frustrated with other spelling programs who have weird spelling list and not being able to explain the “why” on how to spell words to my kids. I am so looking forward to started and continuing this program!

Hylary

says:

My son completed Level 1 and is well into Level 2. We love AAS and AAR. His spelling has improved leaps and bounds in 2 months! It’s made his journal writing so much faster and easier.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Hylary,
This is great! Thank you for sharing how quickly your son has made leaps toward spelling success!

Faroutfan

says:

I look forward to exploring your program
More!

Jennifer

says:

Thank you for this article. I knew I liked the program, but couldn’t explain to others why it was so much better than other spelling programs. This will help me.

Christine Mayfield

says:

I learned a lot from this as I struggle to pick the best spelling program for my children.

Mary Purpura

says:

This is a very interesting idea that, on reflection, makes a lot of sense. I’m always looking for ways to set my children up for success, and spelling lists as you’ve described them fit the bill. I’m really grateful for All About Spelling. It works!

Anne J

says:

We see non-matching versions of a sound or letter all the time – usually 2-3 concepts at once, PLUS 4 Fry words, 4 “extension words” (usually related to the concepts), and 4 vocal words. To get a perfect score of 4, they have to be 100% correct, including capitalization. One tiny error and they lose half a point (3.5). My kid used a lower-case letter on our city name and lost 12.5% of the points, even though the spelling and capitalization were 100% correct on all 24 words. Frustrating on all counts, but he’s doing great anyway – probably because we are doing AAS outside of school, so he knows the rules!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Wow, Anne, how discouraging! I can see some children giving up trying at all, if one partial error like forgetting capitalization drops the score by that much. With that method, a student could get 83% of the test correct and still get a failing grade. Yes, frustrating, but at least they are learning to well outside of school.

ani

says:

Haven’t started AAS yet, but will soon when ds finishes AAR 1! If all goes well, then I may include my dd’s too.

Tara

says:

We just started using All About Spelling last week. I can already see how it is helping my girls!

kim t.

says:

I find this article very interesting. I started sequential spelling with my older two a few years ago and I think they were too young for it as they kept getting lots of words wrong, but the method made sense to me. we dropped spelling for a while, but picked it up last year using spelling power with one and the same sequential spelling level with the other. the one using sequential spelling is flying through it, so i think it is now too easy and he needs a different level. the one who uses spelling power still struggles, doesn’t master the phonics rules and there are often words in the lists we don’t like. how does your program differ from the two or combine them? I have been interested for a while now.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kim,
Spelling Power teaches “rules” that might be actually rules. For example, it might be something like, “Long A can be spelled ai, ay, a, or eigh.” That isn’t wasn’t a rule at all. There was no prep to each individual pattern, no instruction on when ai or ay may or may not be used, etc… In contrast, All About Spelling has word lists that focus on a single new spelling concept. For example, one list focuses on the sound of long E spelled ee. To avoid confusion, additional ways to spell the sound of long E are not taught until previous ones are mastered.

With Sequential Spelling, there’s no instruction. The patterns do build, so it’s very visual, but the student just guesses, and if they get the pattern wrong they are told how to correct it. It’s very discovery oriented, which some students find very frustrating. Many prefer to be told explicitly about patterns, instead of trying to figure them out on their own. Also, Sequential Spelling does not teach any rules. All About Spelling explicitly teaches patterns and rules to students, including why words are spelled the way they are.

We have pdf documents that further compare and contrast All About Spelling with Spelling Power and Sequential Spelling. If you would like to see them, email us at support@allaboutlearningpress.com and we can email them to you.

Sandrine

says:

Thank you, this is so helpful.

Judy

says:

I cannot tell you how relieved I am to have finally found a spelling program that finally works for my kids. Thank you

Alice Ross

says:

I had this type of illogical spelling test in school and never learned to spell well. AAS is so much better. I’m seeing the patterns behind the lists I memorized.

Lenita

says:

Thank you for taking the time to write out this full explanation. I truly see the merit of this program. I have been looking for something that is going to truly give my sons a wonderful foundation in spelling. I plan to study your site.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lenita,
Let us know if we can answer any specific questions or concerns you have.

Holly

says:

The same occurred with my son in school. He had a list on Monday and a test on Friday. He could do great if we practiced every night, but after the test, he couldn’t spell the word in writing. I really enjoy All About Spelling because of the drastically different approach. His confidence is boosted and I feel like he enjoys Spelling.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Holly,
So many students have experienced this that is pretty much the norm. It is saddening that so much time needs to be spent on something that will not be retained and that this is considered normal.

Emma

says:

I have no training in education, but I’ve always felt the Friday spelling tests just weren’t right for my daughter. Even if she’d get them right on the test, there was no follow-up or review and she’d forget them just as quickly!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Emma,
You may not have training in education, but you made a great point! On going review is very important for long term mastering. This particular blog post doesn’t discuss it, but All About Spelling does incorporate on going review in many ways.

Larissa Evans

says:

This is a great post. I often thought that my child’s teachers were missing the mark with the spelling lists they sent home each week. My daughter would almost always get 100% on the spelling tests, but then when she went to use those words in sentences she wrote, she usually misspelled them. Thank you for this wonderful program!

Jennifer

says:

We are loving AAR and AAS. First product that is making sense to my daughter.

Steph

says:

This is one of the reasons I am so glad I made the switch to AAS. My daughter used to hate spelling and be so unsure of herself. We haven’t even finished level one and I can see a change as the concepts begin to stick in her brain.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Steph,
Thank you for sharing how you are seeing changes in your daughter’s spelling, and she hasn’t even finished Level 1 yet. Keep up the great work.

Carolynn M. slocum

says:

I love the AAS approach to spelling. I probably owned 48 different programs before I discovered this one, it really works!

Lisa

says:

Yours is the first spelling program that has made sense to us & has really helped my children. I’ve learned a lot of new concepts as well!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE learning alongside my children.

Damaris

says:

Thank you for your post. I had spelling lists given on Mondays and test taken on Fridays in elementary school ages ago. I remember thinking how unrelated to school work the list was.

Mistie

says:

Unfortunately, I gave spelling tests like this for years back when I taught first and second grade. I have been home for 10 years now and am now homeschooling my two. I never felt like I was “teaching” my kids to really spell. It always felt like it was just memorization. My daughter was in school up through last year (she’s in 6th grade now). She learned the same way, mostly, and even won a spelling bee, but often misspells words she should know by now because she reverts back to phonetic spelling. She basically learned to memorize words for a test. Needless to say, we began AAS with my first grade son this year :) We are very pleased.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Mistie,
Thank you for sharing your interesting experiences with spelling tests.

Emily

says:

Very helpful. Thank you!

Stevie Arledge

says:

I just started using AAS with my 10 year old Dyslexic son. He comments on how he likes it and it is fun. I am planning to begin using it with my 12 year old son who struggles somewhat with spelling, to strengthen his understanding of spelling rules. So far, we love the AAS program.

Janet

says:

Having the spelling list using words that use the same spelling concept makes a lot of sense to help teach a child how to spell.

Kathryn

says:

We have been using AAS and AAR for several weeks and I am already seeing some great results with my 9 year old son. Thank you so much for this program!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kathryn,
Thank you for sharing that our programs are already making a difference for your son after just several weeks of use.

Jen

says:

My kids and I are big fans of all about spelling!

Kristi

says:

This is fantastic! I really hope to be able to use this Spelling curriculum in the near future.

Bethany

says:

I look forward to well thought out spelling lists when we begin AAS in a year or two.

Cj Holloway

says:

Your reading program is amazing! My son is dyslexic, I can’t wait to try All About Speling with him as well!

Christelle

says:

This makes total sense. I think it could help my boys with their spelling !!!

Sherilyn F

says:

When my son prepared for spelling tests, he would memorize the spelling of each word. He forgot it by the following week. Now he knows spelling rules and strategies to spell words thanks to AAS.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sherilyn,
Yes, that “learn for the test, then forget” mindset is common with many students using traditional lists. Thank you for sharing the difference in learning AAS has made.

Angelique

says:

This makes sense. Done at the right pace (which is slow and slower), my active 6 and 7 yo boys are getting it, and when they miss, they quickly find the mistake on their own by reminding them of the rule. Thank you for putting together such a thorough program, because English is one crazy language!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

We’re glad to help, Angelique!

Colleen

says:

This makes sense. I’m looking forward to trying AAS!

Katy

says:

My daughter loves AAS!! Thank you so much!!

Kristin

says:

Makes complete sense! I was just about to make a list from the “wrong way” group…thankful that I read this first!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kristin,
I’m glad this was timely for you!

Jessica T.

says:

This makes so much more sense to me. My son is “why” person and this approach would tap into that so much better than the way he is taught at school.

jane

says:

This does bear out in my experience with my children. We started out doing spelling based on a reading program that we used that taught using word families. Spelling went great. Then we switched to using a high frequency list. It was fine in the beginning, but as we moved through the list, it got worse and worse. My 6th grade son has never spelled better since starting AAS. We did level 1, 2, and 3 last year. This year I hope to complete levels 4 & 5, finally finishing with level 6 & 7 the following year, or maybe two.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jane,
Just remember that AAS 7 takes students through high school level spelling. 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, if your son needs a bit more time than half a year per level, he’ll still be on target. And if he’s anything like my daughter, he’ll be correcting your spelling before long. :D

Lisa G

says:

As a teacher and now a parent, this all makes so much sense. I wish all teachers could see the logic in connecting words and use this type of logic and system in their classrooms!

Alta

says:

This makes so much sense to me. I’ve never struggled with spelling but my husband and daughter are bith dyslexic. I can’t wait to try this program with my children!

Jamie

says:

My daughter aced every spelling list ever sent home through public school. She was bored out of her mind and thus used to help the other struggling kids in her classes. Beginning homeschooling this year has allowed me to see where she needed extra help. She LOVES to be challenged. It’s so exciting for me to see her actually progressing. This is a new world for me going beyond the preschool years with home learning. It’s a little scary, however, I think the challenge is fantastic for us both!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jamie,
Have you see our recent blog post about a dad using All About Reading with a gifted son? The same concepts apply across all areas of learning. Children do wonderfully when allowed to move forward at their own pace!

Margaret

says:

I agree.

Ashley

says:

My niece has studied spelling lists for elementary school, and it always makes me so very glad we homeschool and are able to use programs like yours that are so much better for teaching and learning!

Kim

says:

AAS seems to be working well for my boys so far. It’s well organized and easy to use. Thank you!

Amy Smith

says:

AAS has been a great help to my DD whi has struggled with spelling. Since beginning AAS she has become a more confident speller and now believes in her ability to be able to spell.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

This is wonderful, Amy. Thank you for sharing your daughter’s success!

Adrian N.

says:

Thanks for the helpful article!!

Anne

says:

Bless you for creating AAS with all of this in mind!! It has been tremendous for us.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Awwww, thank you, Anne.

Carly Staub

says:

My daughter has easily grasped spelling concepts that she didn’t learn successfully any other way we tried. What really excites me, though, is how her confidence has also grown. Now she’s happy to try spellingnew and unfamiliar words instead of just wanting me to spell them for her.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

This is great, Carly. Confidence in one’s abilities is so important!

Lacey

says:

Learning the “why” behind the concept has always helped me learn better. I am so grateful for your programs that allow me to easily pass that on to my children as we homeschool!

Mia

says:

It is so important to make sure spelling rules are understood. My son had no problem memorizing when spelled before this program. However, when it was time to spell those same words later, he had extreme difficulty.

Beth

says:

I completely agree. Having homeschooled for many years, my children and I achieved the most spelling success and progress when we focused on one concept at a time.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing your experience with this, Beth. We discuss this in the first post of our Memory Series, The Funnel Concept.

Christine

says:

You are so right. The way you have organized the spelling lists do make “learning stick”. When we were at the end of All About Spelling Level 1, I had my 6 year old spell every word that we had completed through the entire book. She got them all correct. We are now almost done with Level 2. She loves both your reading and spelling programs and is learning so much and feels positive about her experience (which is the most important part for me). Thank you.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Wow, it sounds like your daughter is doing very well, Christine! Thank you for sharing.

Jessica

says:

I have been using all about reading with my 2 oldest! We are loving it!!! Would like to try the spelling.

Lindsay S

says:

My 5 year old loves spelling and reading. I don’t know what we would have done without All About Learning Press!

Sherrie

says:

I homeschool and see this types of lists all the time on the internet. I cringe when I see them because they just don’t make sense to me. Sometimes you’ll see the alphabetical list. Even some phonics programs I’ve seen may have a test where the ay, ai, aCe forms of long a are given in all the same list. I like your approach centering on only 1 concept (which is always how I’ve preferred to teach my kids on my own). We have your AAS level 2 and am looking forward to starting that as I have to do some fundamentals to go back over for my 5th grader

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sherrie,
I’ve seen some spelling tests that make me cringe too. Hopefully you find All About Spelling to be a good fit for you and your student.

TomI Carroll

says:

Love this program!

Melissa

says:

I love this program. My son has dyslexia and lots of trouble with spelling. The All About Spelling program is the only one that has helped him make real progress.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Melissa. It is great to hear that All About Spelling is helping him make real progress.

Melissa

says:

We’ve been using the program for a little over a month. I love how you learn rules and why you spell things a certain way. I can see my son grasping the concepts and applying them to more complicated words. Amazing!

Mia

says:

Is your son homeschooled?

Karen

says:

I’m enjoying learning the spelling rules as I am teaching them to my daughter. I was taught to spell by memorizing, and had no idea there were more rules than “I before E except after C”.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Karen,
Ah, the infamous “I before E except after C” rule that is mocked for having more exceptions than words that follow it. Sigh. All About Spelling instead focuses on rules and patterns that are reliable.

Karen

says:

I love your materials and use them for intervention.

Stacy

says:

I am very thankful for this spelling program. Not only has it improved my kids’ spelling skills, but it reminded me of all the spelling rules that were locked away in my brain’s filing cabinet! It retaught me some of the basic spelling rules that has enabled me to teach my kids to become better, smarter spellers. I can’t tell you how thankful they were to be told that they weren’t have a spelling test! Thank you!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Stacy,
This is great! Thank you for telling us how AAS has helped your kids.

Ashlea

says:

We haven’t started spelling tests yet; glad I read your post now!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ashlea,
I’m glad this was timely for you!

Teesa

says:

I’ve been doing simple spelling lists with my first grader the first part of this year and it’s not working at all. Ready to take a different approach with AAS since he LOVES AAR!

Michelle

says:

Spelling tests never worked with my 4th and second graders either. Since we started this program, they actually get it!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thanks for sharing that this method has worked with your students, Michelle!

Jennifer P

says:

As a reading tutor, I am always looking for new strategies for the encoding side of things.

Jenni Evans Smith

says:

Wow, this sounds like it may really help my son learn to spell.

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