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10 Tips for Reaching Your Struggling Learner

Broken pencil on notepad

When your child is a struggling learner, it can be scary.

My son struggled with reading and spelling, so I know firsthand what that fear feels like.

You feel responsible for making sure your child grows up being able to read and spell proficiently, because you know that your child’s future options will be limited without those essential skills.

You don’t want to see your struggling learner blocked from reaching his full personal potential, and you would do almost anything to help him overcome his struggles.

What Is a “Struggling Learner”?

A struggling learner has to work harder than others around him in order to accomplish the same task or learn the same thing. The child may be a year or more behind grade level in one area or in all subjects.

There are many possible reasons for the child’s struggles. He may have physical disabilities that affect sight, hearing, mobility, or coordination. Or he may have learning differences such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, or auditory processing disorder. Interestingly, a struggling learner may be gifted in some areas, such as a child who is amazing with math but does not read.

One very common reason for learning struggles is that the child has not yet been taught in a way that works for him. For example, he may need the structure and logic of a phonetic approach to reading, but he is being taught with a whole language approach.

10 Tips for Teaching a Struggling Learner

There are very specific teaching methods that you can use to help your struggling learner succeed. One of the most important things you will want to do is to use curriculum and teaching strategies that can be customized to meet his needs.

Even if other methods have failed to work for your child, the ten tips that follow will help you reach your struggling learner.

1. Teach Through “Direct Instruction.”

Direct instruction is a proven method in which the child is taught exactly what he needs to learn. With direct instruction, the information is presented very clearly through well-tested materials that rule out the possibility of misinterpretation and confusion. And your child is shown exactly how to apply the information, too. The explicit teaching of language rules and patterns means that your child doesn’t have to guess or struggle to figure out how to read or spell a difficult word.

Pages from All About Spelling Teacher's Manual

2. Choose an Incremental Approach to Lessons.

Incremental means that lessons start with the most basic skills and gradually build up to more advanced skills. Each lesson builds upon previously mastered material, and gradually increases in difficulty.

Incremental instruction provides a “no gaps approach” that allows your child to learn one new piece of knowledge at a time in a well-thought out, logical sequence. With this approach, kids can successfully climb to the top of the learning ladder—step by step by step—and reap the rewards of mastery in reading and spelling without all the struggles along the way.

3. Understand the Importance of Multisensory Instruction.

Multisensory learning happens when sight, sound, and touch are used to learn new information. Children learn best when they can use all their senses. When children can see a concept as it is explained, hear about it, and then do it with hands-on activities, it is easier for them to learn and retain the new information.

In a multisensory spelling lesson, for example, your child can see a new word spelled out with letter tiles, hear and see a demonstration of a related spelling rule, try out the spelling rule for himself by manipulating the letter tiles, and say each sound of the new word as he writes it out on paper. This combination of activities uses multiple pathways to the brain.

Image representing seeing, hearing, doing

4. Give Your Child an Advantage by Teaching the 72 Basic Phonograms.

Kids who struggle with reading and spelling often have a misconception: they think that the key to reading and spelling success is memorizing strings of letters. But the fact is that it’s very difficult for children to memorize words this way. They often just get frustrated and give up.

There’s a better way. Teaching phonograms helps kids see spelling as a doable task. A phonogram is a letter or letter combination that represents a sound. For example, CK is a phonogram that says /k/ as in clock; OY is a phonogram that says /oi/ as in oyster.

Woman holding Phonogram Card 'ck'

Each sound in a word can be represented by a phonogram. If your child learns the phonograms and which sounds they represent, reading or spelling the word will become so much easier. If he knows that the sound of /j/ at the end of a short-vowel word is spelled with DGE, the word bridge becomes simple to read and spell.

5. Teach Just One New Concept at a Time.

When you dump too much information into your child’s mental “funnel,” your child’s memory can only attend to a certain amount of the new information. Teaching one concept at a time respects the limitations of your child’s short-term memory, and allows concepts and skills to be more easily stored in the long-term memory. And that means significant amounts of meaningful learning can occur.

6. Teach Reliable Rules.

Children are really helped by knowing a few reliable spelling rules. For example, knowing the rules regarding the use of C and K can help them spell words like kitchen, acceptable, and automatic. When your child learns trustworthy spelling rules—like the Kids’ Club Rule—he’ll have some guidelines to help him make the right letter choices.

Child pointing to correct spelling of 'kitchen'

7. Teach Reading and Spelling Separately.

On the surface it may seem to make sense to teach reading and spelling together. But in reality, although they are similar, reading and spelling require different teaching techniques and a different schedule. Reading is easier than spelling, and teaching these subjects separately is much more effective for most kids. Separating these subjects allows kids to progress as quickly as possible through reading while taking as much time as needed in order to become an effective speller.

8. Make Review a Priority.

Consistent review is the key to getting spelling facts and spelling words to “stick.” Teaching something once or twice does not mean your child has actually mastered it. Mastery takes time—and practice.

Review doesn’t have to be boring, either. Have your child practice spelling concepts with letter tiles and flashcards and through dictation. Use a variety of techniques to ensure that your child retains what you are teaching.

Child using a hands-on game from All About Reading

9. Keep Lessons Short but Frequent.

Short, frequent lessons are much better than longer, sporadic lessons. In a short lesson, your child’s attention is less likely to wander, and you’ll find that you can actually accomplish more. Keep the lessons upbeat and fast-paced, and use teaching tools and activities that engage the child’s interests.

Start with 15-20 minutes per day, five days a week. You can adjust the length of the lessons up or down according to your individual child’s attention span and specific needs. (Here are guidelines for lesson length for teaching reading and teaching spelling.)

10. And Finally, Recognize the Power of Encouraging Words.

In the ups and downs of the daily grind, we sometimes get so focused on teaching and “improving” our kids that we forget to encourage them. The first nine tips are all built into the All About Reading and All About Spelling programs, but putting the power of encouraging words to work in your homeschool is all up to you!

For many people, using encouraging words doesn’t always come naturally, so we created a way to help moms and dads remember how important it is. Be sure to visit our blog post on Encouraging Words and download the free poster as a reminder.

Teaching a struggling learner can be difficult, but the tips above can help make it a lot easier—and I know that from experience. Just take it one day at a time. Before you know it, your struggling learner will be doing things in life that you never dreamed were possible!

Is your child struggling in reading or spelling? We’re here to help! Post in the comments below, give us a call (715-477-1976), or send us an email (support@allaboutlearningpress.com).

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Leave a Comment

pretty manana

says:

My son is 13 yrs and is struggling to read and his slow I don’t what to do his falling behide his suppose to be in grd6 now but his in grd 4 bios of his slowness what can I do to help him.plz help

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Older students that struggle with reading often have gaps in foundational skills. Filling those gaps can make a large difference.

We have placement tests for All About Reading to help you decide which level would be best. Also, we recommend having your student read the sample stories from the previous level online as a further confirmation. You want him 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…

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

In addition, All About Spelling supports reading, and since we recommend students begin at level 1, he can fill any very beginning level gaps by learning to spell.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Lois

says:

Lots of helpful information. Thanks

Natalie Brobst

says:

Looking into different options right now bc my son is ready to start learning how to read.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Natalie,
If you scroll down on this page, you will see lots of information about All About Reading. Please let us know if you have any specific questions.

Debra

says:

I have a struggling learner and he gets so frustrated. I originally planned on using this to homeschool my 1st grade daughter in the fall but am seeing that it may greatly benefit my son!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Debra,
All About Reading and All About Spelling are beneficial for struggling, frustrated learners. Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can help in any way.

Katherine Rhodes

says:

This is great info! My second oldest struggles with reading but is amazing at math.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Katherine,
I have one that is amazing at math, but has troubles with all things language as well. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that he can be behind in writing, on track for spelling and reading, and head in math. I can teach him at the right level for him in each subject area independently.

Michelle Holmstrom

says:

Thank you for the good tips! Even if we already do a lot of these, it’s hard to remember all the best ways kids learn, especially when teaching multiple children at different levels. Thanks for reminder!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Michelle!

Abigail

says:

Great article !!

Jenn

says:

The short but frequent tip has been the most helpful. Its easy to take some flashcards with us and review them at short times all day.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jenn,
Thank you for sharing how short, but frequent review has made a difference. It is very effective for learning.

Autumn rowland

says:

we use teaching short lessons but do them daily even sometimes twice a day. Once in the morning and then review that lesson again in the afternoon!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Autumn,
Two short lessons a day is a good way to get a bit extra learning and review in, especially for older student. Thanks for sharing this idea.

Gina

says:

I am excited to try this curriculum with my 6 year old who just finished 100 Easy Lessons!

Lisa B

says:

Thank you for this article. My daughter has been struggling with letter sounds, but is finally starting to master everything else. This article and others through the page, has really helped guide me in teaching her in better ways to suit her needs.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
Here are activities, games, and fun ways you can review the phonograms.

Check out our Letter Recognition Activities page, if you haven’t seen it already. It has all kinds of hands-on activities you can do to work on letters.

Other ideas you can use:

ABC Snacks

Tips for using the ABC Snacks to work on Pre-reading skills

make letter of the day or week placemats

Go on a letter-treasure hunt: Put letters on index cards and tape them on things around the house that start with a letter and have her find the letters, or just hide letters for her to find.

Make her a fun pointer stick. As you say the sounds of letters, she can point to them on an alphabet chart. You could also spread the phonogram cards or tiles on a table and she could point to them.

Play games: Take index cards or squares of paper. Write a letter of the alphabet on each piece of paper. Set out four NON-CONFUSABLE letters at a time. For example, set out a, b, e, and f. (Do not set out c and e together, or b and d.) Take turns being the teacher and being the student. The teacher says “Point to the /f/ (or whatever sound).” If the student points to the correct letter, he gets to keep it. Continue until the student has collected all four letters. Over a period of days, gradually add in more letters.

8 ways to use refrigerator magnets Many of these games can be used with the tiles if you don’t have typical refrigerator magnets. Do the games for letter sounds, rather than letter names.

Swatting Phonograms Have her “swat” letters on index cards as you say them.

An idea for very active kids is the snowball game. You can just tape the letter cards to the wall. It can also be played with a Nerf gun instead of paper snowballs.

If she is also working on handwriting, have her work on writing the letter she is learning. Use tactile methods to practice letters. Or practice writing letters in various ways like a gel pen on black paper, or crayon that she paints over. Or have her color with all different colors, then color over it with black, and use a coin or other object to write a letter. It will scratch away the black and the letter will be rainbow-colored.

Get Ziggy involved in learning the letters as well; many kids really respond to Ziggy. Or, have her teach her dolls or stuffed animals letter sounds.

I hope this gives you enough ideas to help him master the phonograms in a way that is fun!

Evangeline L.

says:

Great tips!

nicole

says:

these have really helped- thanks for the great post!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Nicole. Please let us know if you need further help or anything else.

Lindsey R.

says:

These tips will be incredibly helpful in our homeschool!

Micah

says:

Great tips. Thank you.

jen

says:

I need this program!

Emma Dear

says:

Love AAR!

Sarah Boston

says:

I have 3 kids using various levels of AAR and AAS and they all love it and are benefitting greatly.

Esmeralda

says:

Love AAR!

Christy Lane

says:

I’ve been saving for my dyslexic daughter and look forward to using the all about reading program with her !! It’s my hope that is will help her to become a stronger more confident reader :-)

Jen Mercadante

says:

Thanks for the Kid’s Club rule! That is a great tip!

Haylie

says:

Will be looking into AAR for sure next year

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Haylie,
Please let us know if you have any questions.

Cyndi

says:

We love AAR!

Adrien

says:

AAR is my favorite reading program by far!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Awww, thank you, Adrien!

Lauren

says:

I love this program!

Dawn Taylor

says:

Great article! Thanks for all the information. Your site has so much useful information & some great teaching strategies.

Anna

says:

My granddaughter would GREATLY benefit from this program. I’d love for her to have it, she would too, but sadly we just can’t afford it
on our measly income. Even used ones are out. We buy our books at yardsales, used bookstores ($1 books), and Goodwill. We’ve never
won anything, but it sure would be a blessing to win this. Thank you for giving us the opportunity. :-)

Jennifer Gacka

says:

We are just about to finish AAR Level 1 and my son looks forward to every lesson. The multisensory approach really helps him to “receive” the lessons and the brief lesson times recommended (i.e., stopping before burnout) are very helpful. We had tried several other phonics programs. This is the one we plan to stick with.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jennifer,
Great point about the importance about stopping before burnout or frustration. Thank you.

Lisa

says:

I struggled with reading and spelling as a child and am looking forward to using AAR with my kids to give them a different experience than I had.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
All About Reading will definitely help you help your children succeed in reading. However, if you have any problems or questions, just let us know. We are here for support as much as you need it.

Deena Hackett

says:

We are in the middle of AAR2 and my daughter, I believe, could read almost anything at this point. We love AAR and will continue with 3 and 4!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Deena,
It sounds like your daughter is doing so well!

Suzanne

says:

About to start Level 4. Thank you for this program! My kids love it!

JL

says:

Thanks for this reminder that it takes repetition, and that spelling and reading can be taught separately!

Christi Brogan

says:

Thanks for the great suggestions!

Brandi

says:

I love this program! My struggling son has improved so much since we started.

Kari

says:

I appreciate your supportive articles that complement your curriculum. I feel like there’s always help available as I’m on this home school journey.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kari,
We’re pleased that you are feeling supported!

Nicole Poore

says:

My daughter has responded so well to the All About Reading program that she recently scored at the 6th grade level in reading comprehension despite being in 3rd grade. When we decided to homeschool after Kindergarten she had no clue how to sound out words or to read anything other than sight words. All About Reading has changed her life!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nicole,
Wow, your daughter is doing so well! Thank you for sharing this.

Michelle

says:

From what I’ve been reading, there are at least two approaches to OG. Can you speak to the different approaches? I’ve heard your approach is quite successful and that the other approach has quite varied results. (I’m sorry that I’ve forgotten the name at the moment, but it is a Japanese name.)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
Here is a report you can download that describes the Orton-Gillingham approach in detail. It outlines the elements that characterize this approach, which was developed by Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham. You can read how our programs follow the approach and also use this as a way of assessing how well other programs follow the OG approach.

As for comparing it with this other approach, I’m sorry I’m not sure which approach you are referring to. Knowing the name would be helpful.

Chantel

says:

Great ideas!

Ana Tham

says:

I’m really excited to start this new school year with my son. We’ve just got our first AAR and i’ve been going through the instruction and it seems pretty straight forward and simple to understand. My son is 6 1/2 and he can read a number of words but seems a bit unhappy when it comes to reading. I’m really hoping this program will help him enjoy studying and learn in the process.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ana,
I’m pleased to hear that you think AAR seems straight forward and simple to understand even though you just received it. However, if you have any questions, just ask!

Encouraging words goes a long way in helping the child to succeed. This is an excellent article.

alberta

says:

my daughter has dyslexia and her reading has jumped by leaps and bounds when we started your reading program. The program is great!!! Thanks so much.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for letting us know that your daughter has jumped ahead in reading with All About Reading!

Phyllis Brooks

says:

Just received my AAR level 1 .Can not waint to start. Have heard so many great things.

Zikhona Tefu

says:

I have a 10 year old struggling reader. Last year we started with AAS 1 and would like to add AAR 1 and 2 this year. Just from doing AAS, her reading has improved so much. She has gained so much more confidence. We are not 1st language English, so I sometimes have to remind her some of the spelling rules when doing other subjects, especially the C says “S” before E, I and Y. It is so easy to forget that, but once I start asking what does the letter C say before those letters, then it triggers something. Thank you for a great curriculum.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Zikhona, and it was great to read that All About Spelling has helped your daughter so much already.

Donald Knight

says:

Wow! Really useful.

Cathy

says:

Thanks! Great advice!

Mindy W.

says:

Great ideas! I needed these reminders.

Jenny Meyer

says:

My kids love this curriculum. We use both All About Spelling and All About Reading. The curriculum is easy to teach and the kids actually enjoy it.
My son used to literally cry when it was time to do spelling. Every day was a struggle. Those days are gone since we switched to All About Spelling. I can not say enough good things about this program.
Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Jenny, and thank you for sharing your son’s story with us. I am sorry that he had tears when it came time for spelling, but very happy to hear that those days are gone!

Demi

says:

Today my kids and I were working through step 11 of AAS level 1. We were talking about words that end with ‘x’. My son, 8, suggested words like “facts” and “licks” might also end with “x”. I was at a loss as to how to explain it.

Lori

says:

It is important for your child to understand the concept of a base word. ‘Facts’ is the plural of the word ‘fact’, and ‘licks’ is either the plural of ‘lick’ or a conjugation of the verb ‘lick’. In each of these cases, if the child follows the instruction to write the base word first, he should be able to see why the ‘x’ is not an option for those words.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Demi,
First, let your son know that he is really listening to words to hear the /ks/ sounds in licks. Great work!

Jump ahead to Step 23 and discuss what plural means and how we make words plural. Don’t actually do Step 23, but you can use the wording and information there to teach him about the concept of plurals.

Then, let him know that words that end in an X alone are not plural. Words like box, ax, and fix all mean one, just one box, one ax, and one fix. Licks and facts mean more than one; they are plural. When we spell plural words, we first spell the base word and then add the S or ES. So, when he learns to spell licks, will spell lick first, which obviously does not have the X sound. Then he will add the S to make it plural.

Does this help? Please let me know if you need further explanation. Your son is obviously thinking about words, and that is the beginning of a great speller!

Lynette Williams

says:

With AAS, spelling with my struggling learner has moved from being a tear-filled ball of misery to a do-able challenge we use as a “break” from the tougher subjects. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wow, what a transformation, Lynette! From tears to something done as a break from tougher things. We’re pleased to hear that All About Spelling has made such a difference for your student!

Leah Farmer

says:

Started homeschooling my struggling reader a year and a half ago. After a lot of research we found AAS and AAR and I am so thankful. My 10 year old has almost finished AAR4 and AAS5, she is reading 5th and 6th grade books and her spelling has improved dramatically!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such great progress, Leah! We are so happy to have had some part in your student’s success as a reader and speller!

April

says:

Great advice! Than you!

Lori

says:

AAS has been very good for my kids! Even I have learned spelling rules through this program. I learned spelling only by memorization, but the incremental rules and learning have been so beneficial for my kids!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lori,
Thank you for sharing how AAS has been so beneficial for your kids!

Melissa

says:

Love this program!

Joy Bauer

says:

I have only heard raving reviews about this program!

Michelle Atwood

says:

Great tips. Saving article.

Cathy

says:

All About Spelling has helped my son, now in the 4th grade, so much!

Summer

says:

Homeschooling my struggling reading for the first time this year. All about reading has been a great resource for me to use with my son.
Thank you for the tips.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Summer–you’re welcome! I’m glad All About Reading is helping your son.

Kelli

says:

Wonderful tips.

Misty

says:

Thank you for all the information you have provided

Jennifer

says:

Thank you so much for all your help!

Marj

says:

its a very nice and worth reading blog ! Hope to read more of these soon ! thanks

Katy H.

says:

My 10yo son has a host of learning struggles, including dysgraphia, & possibly dyslexia as well. AAR & AAS have changed our lives! Spelling was always easy for me – I just remembered how to spell words from seeing them. When this didn’t work for my son, I had no idea what to do. But rules work for him! He has strategies for spelling words and defined rules for how to begin. (I could never have explained to him why “duck” is spelled with a “ck” at the end and “ask” has just a “k”. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned!!) We are using AAS Level 2 & AAR Level 2 and thriving.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Katy,
Thank you for sharing about your son’s struggles and how All About Reading and All About Spelling have made a difference for him!

Lucia M

says:

I have a 4th grader, with a reading level 1, struggling with big words, phonics and changing d, b, letters.

OCTAVIA DOUGHERTY

says:

HELLO,

I HAVE A 6TH GRADER 3 GRADE LEVELS BEHIND. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS ON MATERIALS THAT TEACH PHONICS AND SPELLING IN MORE SOPHISTICATED FASHION THAT WILL KEEP HIM INTO LEARNING HOW TO READ AND SPELL?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Octavia,
All About Reading and All About Spelling are specifically designed to help struggling students succeed in reading and spelling.

We do have placement tests for All About Reading to help you decide which level would be best. Also, we recommend having your student read the sample stories from the previous level online as a further confirmation. You want your student 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…
Your student’s ability to decode the words in the story.
Your student’s ability to comprehend the story.
Could your student fluently read the story with expression?
Did your student understand the words from a vocabulary standpoint?

For spelling, we recommend that struggling spellers 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.

We encourage 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 he already knows and slow down on the parts that he needs to learn. Pull out several words as examples. Make sure he understands the concept being taught, and then move on. This blog article has a good example of how you might fast track.

Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Jennifer Lodge

says:

I am doing these, but she is still struggling. Not sure what to do.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jennifer,
We would love to help. How old is your child? What have you been using? Is she struggling with reading, or spelling, or both? We are available here, through email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com, or by phone at 715-477-1976.

I do have a question about my daughter–we LOVE AAR and are doing a slow but steady job of getting through the levels. BUT when my daughter, who does have a cognitive delay, even SEES letters and numbers at school she will shut down. I she had a horrible year last year and I just dont want to repeat that. Any suggestions on how to get the success of AAR at home to transfer to school?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Javaughn,
I am so sorry to hear that your daughter has had such a horrible experience in school that she reacts this way.

What you are describing is not a learning struggle, but an emotional one. She has become accustom to any sort of academics in the school environment being a bad experience, so she seeks to avoid more bad experiences by shutting down. She needs to start having good experiences with academics at school, but to do that at this point she will need lots of support. I would think developing an atmosphere of trust in her classroom would be the very first step, but how you would go about doing that would depend very much on her school, her teacher, whether there is a teacher’s aid, and other things.

My advice is to make an appointment to discuss these issues with her teacher as soon as possible, and maybe even seek to have these emotional issues addressed in her IEP.

Jamie Garcia

says:

We will be starting AAR 1 for our 7 yo 1st grader in September and can’t wait!

Mary K

says:

My 5 year old son really struggles with attention. He is very easily frustrated by even slight difficulties. I am not sure that I can actually teach him to read even though I have taught his older siblings. I will try to be very positive, but I am still worried.

Mary K

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mary K,
5 years old is still very young. Many 5 year olds are still working through our Pre-reading level and haven’t even begun learning to read yet. We recommend working just 10 or 15 minutes at a time with such young learners, because attention spans are so short. It is the day in, day out consistency that leads to learning success, not how much is covered in a single day.

Even if your 5 year old does struggle to learn to read as he grows older, you do not need to be overly worried. Approximately 34% of children struggle to learn to read and spell, so he’s in good company. Everyone at All About Learning Press involved in direct customer contact has taught at least one struggling learner to read and spell well, and some of us have taught more than one. We will help you help your son have success too!

But most of all keep reminding yourself that 5 years old is very young and may 5 year olds are simply not developmentally ready for reading yet. Be sure he has all the reading readiness skills mastered, keep going with short daily lessons, and leave worrying for another year or two!

Jackie

says:

Thanks for the helpful tips. I want to use All About Reading 3 for the upcoming school year. My son has not improved in reading in the last two years.

Alyssa Pliml

says:

Hi Jackie,
Are you starting with level 3 because your son is in 3rd grade? I just completed level 1 with my 3rd grader! AAR is incremental. Throughout the first 10 lessons of level 1 I thought I had made mistake and started too easy with him, but about halfway in to level 1 we found a lot of gaps that had been obviously what were preventing him from progressing all these years. He would not have had the success he has had this summer if we had started at level 2 or 3.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jackie,
Alyssa brings up good points, however when I first read your post I assumed you had used our placement tests for All About Reading to help you 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 your child to be reading fluently with good comprehension before going to a higher level.
Level 1 sample story
Level 2 sample story

Evaluate (without correcting your student) for the following…
His ability to decode the words in the story.
His ability to comprehend the story.
Could he fluently read the story with expression?
Did he understand the words from a vocabulary standpoint?

If your son can read the AAR 2 stories smoothly and fluently, with good expression and comprehension, then go ahead with AAR 3.

We do recommend starting All About Spelling at the beginning, however.

Nervous Nikki

says:

Another thing….my son adds additional letters in words as he’s sounding them out. Has anyone ever seen anything like this? Does anyone know why he does this?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Nikki,
Adding sounds into words as he is trying to read is a symptom of dyslexia. This doesn’t mean your son has dyslexia for sure, but here is a Symptoms of Dyslexia Checklist. You might also find our Dyslexia Resources page helpful as well.

Nervous Nikki

says:

I am considering trying AAR and AAS. My child will be going to fifth grade this fall. I just found out his reading and math levels are almost three grades behind. He has a specific learning disability-reading. I will start homeschooling this fall. I am extremely concerned!! How quickly do most see reading improvement?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Nikki,
How quickly you can see improvement can depend on what gaps the student has and how far they go back. However, we commonly hear back from parents that their children start making improvements from the first few weeks.

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

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

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

– AAR is 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 uses specially color-coded letter tiles. Working with the All About Reading letter tiles can make the difference between understanding or not understanding a concept.

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

– AAR has built-in review in every lesson. Children with learning difficulties generally need lots of review in order to retain concepts. With AAR, your child will have a Reading 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.

– AAR 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 Reading has a one-year guarantee. You can try it, and if for any reason you feel that it isn’t the right match for your child, return it for a full refund.

Please let us know if we can help with placement or anything else.

Gail Timmer

says:

I am sure you will love these programs. My grandson was 2 years behind and entering grade 3. He hated school. He was helped by Orton Gillingham teaching and caught up in 10 months. He just needed to be taught the way he learned. I am an OG tutor and have a couple of AAR and AAS modules. I love them and the kids love the tiles. Everything makes sense ❤️ and the child experiences success every day. Good luck

boitumelo

says:

my kid is struggling to spell words even the simplest words he’s doing grade 4.I always help him with spelling but he’s struggling

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

My daughter was in the 4th grade and still struggling with spelling when I found All About Spelling. She was unable to spell words as simple as bake (she spelled it backe). In the one month it took her to complete All About Spelling 1 her spelling improved dramatically, and just continued to improve as she moved through the levels.

She finished the last level, AAS 7, in the first half of 9th grade, although she would have finished almost a year earlier if she hadn’t finished AAS 6 before AAS 7 was available. Now she is finishing the 11th grade and spells wonderfully. I even ask her how to spell words occasionally!

Let us know if you have any questions.

Amy

says:

AAR and AAS have both been great for us. My daughter was struggling to learn to read in school. When we pulled her out to home school, I decided to use AAR level one, even though she could read those books pretty well. It made all the difference, we flew through most of the lessons, but it filled in some really critical holes for her. I started my younger child with AAR, and he’s been progressing nicely. The systematic progression appeals to his logical brain. :) In spelling I have found myself saying “I’m not sure why we do it that way, I was just told to memorize it. We’ll find out soon in AAS!”

Mabel

says:

I got the AAS program for my daughter who has always struggled with reading. She has been doing a lesson a day and will have finished the first three books by the end of the school year. She is not struggling as much as I thought! However what surprised me is that I am also learning along with her and I am as spelling ace. I never knew all the spelling rules, but just can look at some word and remember how to spell it. My oldest son is also also a spelling ace and I am having him go through AAS so he can learn all the rules of spelling. My next oldest son is just starting spelling and I am finding that this program is working well for him. One lesson takes him several days and he can spell words correctly with tiles much sooner than he can spell them correctly on paper. The multi-sensory method is excellent for teaching and building spelling skills. All in all I have been very surprised and satisfied with AAS. I got it for one child and ended up using it for four students (myself included)!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Mabel, I love that you included yourself as a student! A lot of us have found that our own spelling has improved with AAS! Also, thank you for taking the time to explain how one program has worked with your natural speller, your struggling speller, and your new speller.

Amy

says:

I have been using these tips with my sons when afterschooling. They have been very helpful.

Caryn Salamy

says:

These are all great tips. The rules have really helped my daughter.

Misty

says:

My 11 year old son is dyslexic, and he also has an auditory processing disorder.This is our first year homeschooling. He really struggles in reading, and remembering until it gets in his long term memory. Just a few weeks ago I seen someone on Facebook post about how great this has been for their child with dyslexia, and auditory processing disorder. I’m really hoping this curriculum works for him! Thanks for this post!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Misty,
As a mom of two children with dyslexia and auditory processing disorder, I can say this curriculum does work! It can be a slow and steady process, but success does come. Let us know how we can help!

Amy

says:

My son struggled with reading and spelling, but this curriculum helped him learn to do both sucessfully. Thank you!

Melinda Ryan

says:

I know how learners struggle and for one intelligent lad here developing the skills to read and write are just so challenging. Not only do we support him, and he is a positive child, we need to support the family to be helpful and positive towards the only child of theirs who cant read and write. Slow and steady….message for parents too.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Melinda,
Thank you for what you do to help students and their parents!

Melinda Ryan

says:

There seem to be so many helpful resources here. As a teacher leading an EAL and SEN team I am excited by reading about what others say works.

Mercedes

says:

Thank you for the useful tips!

Kelly

says:

Slow & steady wins the race.

Alisha

says:

My son is 12 now. I have always been homeschooling him and reading, writing and spelling have always seem to be so difficult for him. He is the ildest of my 2 boys and I had finally heard about dyslexia 2 years ago. He has so many strengths and a very positive heart about being dyslexic. He’s not afraid to ask for help and let other know he is dyslexic. He has always Loved books since he could sit up we have read to him. Thankfully there are hands on curriculums like all about reading and spelling among others and electronic devices in our modern age! Don’t loose hope on your intelligent child.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Alisha,
Thank you for sharing with us about your son’s struggles. You are very encouraging!

Jen

says:

Just started AAR2 this winter, borrowed from a friend to see if we like it. We do!! And when I say “we” I mean, both of us. So much more enjoyable than what we tried before. My son has been slow at it though…. At what point can I expect him to read more fluently?

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

Hi Jen,

That’s great! I’m glad you and your son are enjoying the program. Fluency is one of those things that happens gradually over time–and it happens at different rates for different kids. Some kids will take sudden jumps in what they can read, and others learn at more of a slow and steady pace. You can work in more review and help him develop fluency though. Someone asked a similar question on our message board in relation to level 1 the other day, and I posted a lot of links and ideas of how to work on fluency. You might find this conversation helpful: http://community.allaboutlearningpress.com/showthread.php/1568-AAR-Level-1-lesson-advancement-and-fluency

Let me know if you have additional questions, or feel free to email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com if you want to discuss particular aspects of your son’s reading. We’re always glad to help.

Teresa

says:

We are so thankful for your programs! They have made a huge difference in our homeschool days!

Beth

says:

Thanks for giving me hope! My daughter is slowly getting better at reading thanks to your curriculum. I hope to move on to Level 2 with more speed and vigor!

Holly

says:

I have definitely noticed the multi sensory point making a big difference in my struggling reader.

Amanda

says:

I think my son may be struggling, but I’m not sure? I don’t know when to move ahead in lessons. We spend 20 min a morning on lessons 5 x week and 15 min practice reading in the AAR readers most afternoons. We are at lesson 44 on Level 2. We take several days to complete a lesson.

1. My first question is how do I know when he is ready to “check off” a practice sheet and move on to another? (We don’t put his Word Cards in “Mastered” until he can read them smoothly and confidently on the first try. He seems to master word cards a lot faster than the practice sheets.) The practice sheets seem to be more bumpy and less smooth for him. I need to know when to move on to next lesson.

A. Should I have him read practice sheets over once or twice until he can smoothly read half of the words on first try and has to slowly sound out the other half?

B. Or, Should I have him read practice sheets again and again over several days until he is really smooth (meaning he gets almost all of the words (98%?) on the very first try and struggles to sound out just a few (2%?) -before moving on to next lesson?

2. My last questions are about Practice Reading.

A. He does 15 min a day in AAR reader. I make him sound out words himself. Is that enough, and should I have him sound out by himself during these practices?

B. Should we be doing an additional 15 min in a fun book like a Flyleaf Publishing or an early series book to get him in the habit of reading for pleasure. I could just “give him the words” he can’t sound out so he doesn’t struggle with this additional practice.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
First, the practice sheets are the most difficult reading of the program. The are long, with lots of words, and lack the context of a story that the readers have. With this in mind, it is fine to move on if your son is able to sound out the words of the practice sheets accurately. Reaching the goal of fluent reading will be a gradual process over many lessons. Students may need to read a word thirty times before they can read it fluently without having to sound it out.

Second, we actually recommend spending just 20 minutes a day on reading total. The readers are done on days you are working on the lessons that schedule stories. This article, Reading: how much time should I spend?, explains this further. However, if you son is doing well with with spending an additional 15 minutes a day with the AAR reader, you could continue to do that. However, I would not recommend doing even more reading than that. Maybe you could sometimes do a book other than an AAR Reader, providing help as he needs with patterns you’ve not covered yet.

I’m not sure what you mean in point 2.A. You state, “I make him sound out words himself. Is that enough, and should I have him sound out by himself during these practices?” When your son reads the readers he should be sounding out and reading the words himself, if needed (if he can read them without sounding out that is even better). However, sometimes children can read the words, but struggle with having the stamina for reading long stories. In such situations, buddy reading may be helpful. This article explains how I used buddy reading to help build up my daughter’s reading stamina.

I hope this helps. If you have further questions or concern, please let me know here or by email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com.

Heather

says:

These are some great tips to remember when working with my struggling learner. Thanks for the reminder!

Tammy H.

says:

I’ve noticed that my 8 year old daughter, understands the concepts and words within the spelling lesson, but I am not seeing her spelling translate over into her writing. To edit her writing right now would make her feel defeated. Thoughts?

Tammy H.

says:

Addendum: I use AAS with her. Really great!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tammy,
This actually is somewhat common for students–in fact, we even devoted a blog entry to this topic! Helping Kids Achieve Automaticity in Spelling. When students are writing outside of spelling time, they have many more things to focus on: content, creativity, organization, punctuation, spelling, grammar, capitalization, what kind of audience they are addressing. It’s a lot to think about at once. In fact, even adult writers need to take time to rewrite and edit their work (and sometimes there are still mistakes!). Our students definitely need a separate editing time if the piece is going to be polished at all. Also, remember that since even professional writers need editors, our students will too. I think you’ll find some helpful tips in the article I linked.

Stacey

says:

Thank you for these tips. My youngest is only about to be 3, so I haven’t started homeschooling yet, but I will soon and I need all the help I can get!

Jeanette Wentzel

says:

Thank you for your great ideas and for the download. my grandson who is 6 struggles with his words. I’m definitely going to try this on him

Brianne

says:

My youngest son is learning to read with AAR, and it has been an amazing process. My oldest learned phonics with a different program an I can honestly say that AAR is one of the best phonics programs i have seen. I am using AAS with my oldest to shore up some of the concepts he is missing.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Brianne,
Thank you for sharing your comparison of AAR with us. Not every mom has the benefit of having used another program in the past, so your perspective is really appreciated.

Heather

says:

Thank you for this post. I found it helpful and encouraging.

Sasha

says:

I am so grateful for the All About Reading program! My little guy has benefited so much from the hands on, phonics based learning!

Tricia Gonzalez

says:

My son is having a hard time trying to read he’ll sound out the letters but can’t put it together and he’ll guess something completely different from what he’s trying to say I need help.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tricia,
I understand this one. More than once I have been heard saying, “If I have to listen to a kid sound out ‘/c/-/a/-/t/ … mop!’ one more time, I’ll pull my hair out!”

Try our blending procedure, being sure to include step 3. Model how to blend sounds into a word for your son, going through all the steps. Then have him do it with the same word. Then, change just the last sound (for example, do map first then change it to mat) and have him try. Coach him through the steps as needed. If he still struggles, model how to go through the blending procedure for every word he reads for a while. Some students take time to be able to get this down.

Also, students that struggle with blending sounds into words may be be week on phonological awareness skills. You may want to work on them daily until they become easy for him.

Our Pre-reading level has fun activities to develop phonological awareness built into each of it’s lessons. My son was 6 and struggling with blending when the Pre-reading level was first published. I went through it with him quickly (just 4 months) and it made a huge improvement in his ability to easily sound words out.

I hope this gives you some help. Let me know if you need further help.

KB

says:

Thanks for the tips and for all of your help homeschooling our kiddos!

Debbie Naylor

says:

Love all of your teaching tips! I am a new and somewhat overwhelmed homeschooler who appreciates all the help I can get!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

It’s great to hear that we have helped to encourage you, Debbie!

Patsy Foy

says:

Thank you so much for wonderful tips. I will definitely take these into account & try in our homeschool.

Mendy

says:

Love the direct instruction approach!

Genevieve

says:

I’m looking forward to using AALP for my little ones. We have our AAR pre-reading and will start soon!

Jenna

says:

When our son was struggling we found it necessary to take a one-week break. This gave him time to digest new information, and then we were able to move on.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jenna,
Thank you for sharing this idea.

Lauren

says:

I have been using All About Spelling with my 3rd grader since September and have seen tremendous improvement! Best of all is that my son enjoys the short, focused lessons, and that I am seeing him transfer what he has learned to his writing.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lauren,
Thank you for sharing your son’s wonderful success with us!

Jana

says:

I have a struggling learner. These tips might help me reach him. Thank you.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jana,
I’m glad you found this encouraging. Please, let us know if we can help with any specific questions or concerns. You can reach us by email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com or by phone at 715-477-1976.

Jennifer

says:

I’m glad I stumbled across your website during a google search on dictating sentences! Thanks for the helpful hints!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jennifer,
Did you see our blog post on Using Dictation to Improve Spelling?

Let us know if you have any specific questions or concerns. We’re happy to help!

Amanda

says:

Just wanted to say I love your blog! Very insightful.

Kim

says:

Thank you for this post.

Karen G.

says:

I use these techniques and your materials in our reading intervention program at my school. The students love the magnetic tiles and the hands on techniques, it really supports and engages students who have tuned out. Thank you for creating such a great program. I appreciate the additional download links that I receive by email.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Karen,
You’re welcome, and it’s great to hear that our products are making a difference in your school. Thank you.

TrishA

says:

We use both of these programs in our homeschool. Ever since my 4th child was diagnosed dyslexic we have used your curriculum. Since the one more son has been diagnosed. We use this for all of them. It’s been an excellent way for all of them to learn. I’m always needing “one more student kit” so winning this would be great! Thank you and God bless!

Jennifer Turpin

says:

Thank you for a concise, easily understood, approach to teaching reading and spelling. Having the responsibility of teaching your child can be intimidating.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jennifer,
Teaching a child to read can seem intimidating, but it is also hugely rewarding. You can do it!

Karen Craft

says:

This is very good information, thank you! My youngest son is definitely challenged in spelling and reading. He does have dyslexia, dysgraphia, and vision and auditory processing problems. I think your program would be helpful to him.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Let us know if we can answer any questions, or help in any way, Karen.

Jeanette

says:

we are currently in a program that teaches reading and spelling together, and I think it is really slowing down learning and the ability to gain fluency in reading. Looking into switching to All About Reading and All About Spelling!

Patsy Foy

says:

I have learned that shorter lessons more frequently works great. Thank you for more tips.

Crystal

says:

I love the kid’s club rule! That will be very helpful!

Jessica

says:

Love the tips in the article. Will be sharing my homeschool group.

Casey

says:

My child is in 3rd grade struggling with spelling. Where should I start?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Casey,
We 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 don’t 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.

Barbara

says:

Great encouragement when you have a struggling reader!

Stephanie Harris

says:

This article is great! Lots of wonderful information and tips.

Robin

says:

My daughter flourished during level 1 of AAR it connected all the dots for her she now loves to read and I can’t get her to put books down!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

YAY! Another reader is born. Thank you for sharing your daughter’s success with us.

Davelle Jones

says:

My son loves reading these books. He didn’t like others because they were “baby” books.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Davelle,
Yes! The All About Reading readers aren’t baby-ish; they are simply fun 100% decodable books that students of all ages can feel proud to be reading.

candace

says:

So thankful for AAS. Keep up the good work!

Christina

says:

Thank you so much for this amazing program!!! I have two sons with dyslexia. And I love both programs and the boys enjoy then to.thank you.

Joanna Humphreys

says:

I am using All about Reading with both of my boys now (Level 3 and Level 2) and they are both making great progress in their reading abilities. I’ve been very impressed with the hands on activities as well as the stories that are in the readers. My boys have enjoyed them and look forward to the days when they have a new story to read! It’s also helping my oldest with some visual processing problems I’ve noticed as well as boosting his confidence in reading! So thankful I found this curriculum!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Joanna,
Thank you for sharing your children’s success with us. It sounds like they are doing very well indeed!

Kandy Newman

says:

I’m new to homeschooling and have been in search of a curriculum to help my child to catch up on reading. I’ve heard lots of great things about AAR. I’m excited to get started and see the results! Thank u :)

Cindy

says:

I have twins with CAPD and ADD that struggling to learn to read. AAR is the only program that has helped!

I have used many of Marie’s products with the children I tutor. They have proven to be invaluable. I am so grateful that I found this website and the products.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Renee,
It’s great to hear that Marie’s products have been so useful for you and your students. Thank you.

Ashley

says:

We have really benefited both from the AAS and the regular tips posted online.

Lindsey Mumy

says:

Tip #10 Encouraging words. This seems like it should be the simplest to do, but I often need reminding to encourage more! We love All About Reading and Spelling!

Magdelene

says:

Appreciate the great advice!

ena reaves

says:

Love tips like these!

Melissa

says:

My daughter and I are struggling in our homeschool life. She gets so frustrated when she can’t read. Is like she expects more out of herself and I just don’t know how to help her.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Melissa,
Can we help? Do you have any specific concerns or questions? We are available through email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com or by phone at 715-477-1976.

Sheri

says:

Spelling rules have changed my kids. From the kid who needs to know the WHY of everything, to the kid who accepts everything as is, having the concrete rule of when to use a certain thing has been the best thing I’ve ever done for them.

Christina

says:

Great article. Useful information, Thank you!

Katrina

says:

This program has been a blessing for my add child

Kerrie

says:

Love this program!

Olga Avdyeyeva

says:

I am using AAS with my 6 years old son, but both of us benefit from it. I am an ESL, English is not my native language, but helping my son to progress through AAS helps me as a struggling learner :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Olga,
This is great to hear!

I really need to get my hands on this curriculum, I have a struggling reader/speller she gets to frustrated because her sister has no problems with learning at all.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Terri,
Yes, it can be difficult when one child struggles and their sibling doesn’t. I found it helpful to discuss that everyone has things they are good at and things that are more of a struggle for them. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses that the individual members of your family have, including you! It’s a bit uncomfortable to be honest like that, but it helps a lot.

Kevin Minnett

says:

We have really been enjoying using the Pre-reading curriculum with our 4 year old. He’s really catching on and looks forward to the lessons. Thanks for these tips.

Dee Anne

says:

What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing such great helps for struggling readers. My 8-year-old son struggles in reading. Just the simple task of setting a timer for a 20 minute reading lesson has been such a help for him (and myself). It’s helped to relieve a lot of frustrations.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you found this helpful, Dee Anne. Timers are magical things!

Michele

says:

Wow! Some great tips!

Jenny

says:

Im excited to try this!!

Kathy

says:

I have been using AAS & AAR for over a year now with my struggling student. I will continue to use both these materials and tell others about them because of the great success we have had with both programs.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kathy,
Sharing AAS and AAR with others is the highest compliment! Thank you.

Kate

says:

I’m 28 years old and I just read information that I haven’t ever been taught.
My daughter is four and a half and she wants to read so badly!
This article and this set way of learning has eased my heart and lightened my load.
Thank you!

Ashley

says:

I wish I had started with all about reading years ago. Currently using level 1 and it has made such a positive difference in our home.

Cherie

says:

I love the Kids’ Club spelling rule. The structure of teaching it this way made so much sense to my students.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Yes, that’s a great one, Cherie. My kids found the Floss Rule and poster especially helpful.

Melanie Horrell

says:

Thank you so much for this post. My daughter struggles with reading and spelling, but we are sticking with your program because I have seen slow, but tangible results. Thank you!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Melanie,
I understand. Some children take a lot of time to master reading and spelling; my daughter is one such child. All About Reading and All About Spelling make it easier to teach these slower learners because they are adaptable to whatever pace is best for the child’s unique needs.

However, please feel free to email (support@allaboutlearningpress.com) or call (715-477-1976) for support and help. We want to help you help your child as best as we can.

Kathy

says:

I am having great success using AAR and AAS with my precious daughter, who is a struggling learner. We hit a real snag in AAR with the “ng” and “nk” phonograms, because she couldn’t seem to grasp these consonant sounds without their accompanying vowels. Since only 4 vowel sounds are used with these consonant teams, I made her some yellow cards for “ang,” “ing,” “ong,” etc. Once we worked on them quite a bit with the vowels, she was able to isolate the consonant sound. Now she is reading these sounds with proficiency! I love that the curriculum is so easy to adapt when I need to make something suit my own student!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kathy,
Lovely work on making adaptations to help your daughter!

michelle

says:

I just found out about this site and I am excited. I’ve been homeschooling my son for 2 years now and it isn’t easy. But with his health I don’t have a choice. I look forward to all I can learn from this site.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
Let us know (email support@allaboutlearningpress.com or phone 715-477-1976) if you have any specific questions or concerns. We are here to help!

Judy Haywood

says:

This program has really helped me to understand the rules of spelling (and the rules of the English language in general) in order to help my kids understand spelling, so it is making sense for all of us now!!! Thank you!

Megan

says:

I am so excited to start this program this next year. I really think it will help my students really understand spelling and reading.

Amie

says:

Great tips! Looking forward to trying the programs.

Rebekah O.

says:

Thank you for sharing these points! I am looking forward to trying several of these with my struggling learners.

Nicole Massey

says:

Thanks for the tips and encouragement!

Jessica

says:

This would be great for my struggling son.

Deanna Sallee

says:

I am so excited to start AAR Level 1 with my struggling learner soon! I just got my materials in this week.

Thank you!

Carol

says:

I’m so excited to begin this program.

Sally Lane

says:

The AAS program has really helped my struggling reader with both spelling and reading!

Tara

says:

I love All About Spelling. My 8 year old is learning so much so quickly.

Faith

says:

Great Tips!

Jeni

says:

I really appreciate all your advice on your blog!

Karissa

says:

Absolutely love all your products! Will be starting AAR 4 in the next week or two. My daughter is going to be 7 in June and is learning quickly and easily wit this program!!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Wow, what great progress your young daughter had made, Karissa! Thanks for sharing her success with us.

MaryAnne

says:

My children are finally learning to spell! I am so thankful for AAL products.

Ani

says:

Just saw the posters available for printing. Thank you.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Ani. :D

Laken

says:

I really like these ten tips, especially with keeping lessons short and then building on them.

charmaine

says:

My son’s and I enjoy this program due to the fun activities in the books included in each level, as well as the way the program has been broken down into neat easy steps (including easy-to-learn) guidelines to remember for learning to read and spell. thank you

JESSICA KIRDYASHEV

says:

I have switched all four of our children, not just my struggling learners, over to AAS and AAR for all of the reasons listed above. In particular, I appreciate knowing that they will all have no gaps and that it is multi-sensory so that it will work for all of them, regardless of their learning style. I also needed the security of knowing that someone else researched and decided which order to best present the concepts. Lastly, the readers…I can’t say enough about the AAR readers. They are not the only controlled readers out there, but they are the most beautiful readers available. The pictures are spectacular, so much so, that I have to let my kids look through and study the pictures before we try to read the story or they will be so distracted by them, we may never get through the story. But, it’s not just the pictures…AAR realized how sophisticated are my kids’ minds and senses of humor. These stories are just as entertaining and rewarding to me as they are to my bright kids, yet because the stories are controlled, they don’t require more than my kids have been equipped to read. It builds their confidence and “scratches the itch.” Some of our favorites have been, “Skunk Hotel”, “Slurp” (Slurp is laugh out loud clever and precious!) “Squirrel Antics”, “Wombat Rescue” “The Whistle Man”, “A Haircut for Britches”, “The Weather Girl” “The Sleigh Ride” and “The Bargain Tomatoes.” Stories of this quality don’t exist at these reading levels anywhere else. All About Learning Press has fulfilled the requirements we have for our curriculum…teaches well and is nourishing to the personality. It’s been worth every cent.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
I agree with you 100%!

Thank you for your wonderful review of our readers. I’ll be passing this along to our team, because I know they will appreciate it too.

Sknutsen

says:

Thank goodness for AAS, now my struggling learner is no longer frustrated. The more rules he learns, the more confident he grows in his spelling strategies.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Yeah! We love when struggles change to confidence!

Jill

says:

Although my daughter struggled to learn last year as a first grader using AAR, the light bulb has clicked on this year and she is doing very well. I like that when she is now trying to figure out a word I can refer to the rule or ask her the sounds that phonogram makes. I really feel like this program has been a blessing for us. I did not use a phonics-based program with my older sons (this program was not around then) and I think it could have helped with the more challenging words. Be sure to spend time reading aloud as well as I think this is a huge benefit to them knowing if a word sounds right as they read.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jill,
Thank you for sharing your daughter’s struggles and success. Great point about reading aloud to our students, too. It is very beneficial!

Amy

says:

We love AAS! My son has improved so much this year!

Marlene Wobser

says:

Have been thinking about this program for a while now, my son is struggling and nothing i have done has helped him. Not sure if this would do it or not.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Marlene,
We would love to answer any specific questions you may have about our programs and your son’s specific struggles. However, here are some ways All About Reading and All About Spelling help kids with learning difficulties:

– Each lesson time is simple and explicit, and will include 3 simple steps: 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 components and then teach the lessons in a logical order, carrying the students from one concept or skill to the next. Each step builds on the one 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 Reading or Spelling 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.

– AAR 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.

– AAS has dictation. AAS 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 this level, the Writing Station is introduced. In this exercise, students write sentences of their own that they make up using some of their spelling words. In this way, students 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 “Go Ahead and Use It” guarantee. You can try it, and if for any reason you feel that it isn’t the right match for your child you can return it for a full refund.

Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Mary K

says:

I LOVE AAS!!! After trying at least 5 other programs this is the first that really works. I do short lessons and we do exactly as written using the card box every lesson and reviewing when needed. My children are finally getting it!

Thanks,
Mary

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Mary,
Wow, 5 other programs. It’s great to hear that AAS was the one that finally made a difference!

Rebecca Richards

says:

Loving AAR and AAS for my 7 year old. He was struggling so much until this program.

Lisa

says:

Very interested in your reading materials! Having trouble with my youngest learning to read and would love to try out your program.

Christie

says:

Very helpful tips. I love the AAR approach

Delores Leis

says:

Thanks so much for the tips you give.

Emily Edwards

says:

What a great article. I think, all too often too, that a lot of people, like me, have kids that struggle mildly. They are no where near the extreme, but they are just over the line of mild in various areas. So it’s harder for me to decide weather it’s a learning disability or just stubbornness. That has been my major challenge throughout the years.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Emily,
One test question you may want to ask is if your child is “stubborn” in areas that aren’t academic related. If the problem is an attitude issue, it will definitely show up in other areas such as chores, being nice to siblings, and so on. If it’s a learning difficulty, you aren’t likely to see similar problems in nonacademic areas.

Wendy

says:

Love the lessons and activities in the AAR. In spelling, I often make the longer lessons last a few days to help reduce anxiety for my daughter.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Wendy,
Most students need to spend at least a couple days on most Steps in AAS, and as they move up levels they typically need longer. I have found that 4 days per Step is a good pace for my students in levels 6, 4, and 2.

Marsha Richey

says:

All About Spelling has been such a blessing to our family!

AMY B

says:

I will begin formally homeschooling next year, and I have bookmarked this list as I am sure we will need reminding of these points. I am looking forward to using your programs.

Karen Short

says:

Very interested in your Spelling Materials!

Jane

says:

We just started All About Reading and my son is enjoying the fun activities and learning his words at the same time.

Julie Suciu

says:

I use AAS and AAR at all levels with my SEN students with Dyslexia. THEY LOVE IT !!!! The lessons are predictable so they know what to expect everyday.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great point, Julie. It is very comforting for students to know what to expect. There are enough fun surprises (like the occasional very silly dictation sentence ;) to keep it interesting, but it’s predictable enough to feel soothing.

Amy F.

says:

My 11 year old son struggles heavily when it comes to reading and spelling. Thankfully, I have seen great improvement using the All About Spelling program. The tips are great and it really helps him to use all 3 learning paths! LOVE THIS PROGRAM!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amy,
This is great! We love to hear success stories like this, so thank you for sharing.

nikki tibbett

says:

Love tip #5!!!

Brian Jeppesen

says:

My daughter has been excelling in the pre-reading, but learning problems are common in my family. I have Tourette’s, OCD and ADD, and it is highly likely that she will have them later. This article will definitely come in handy should such a thing happen. Thanks!

Christina

says:

I’m still on the fence for our reading curriculum options. There are so many choices! Then I was just going to use words lists for spelling rather than a curriculum. I’m still tossing around so much!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Christina,
You find this blog post, Spelling Lists that Make Sense (and a few that don’t), helpful.

Let me know if you have any specific questions or concerns!

Valentine H

says:

Your program had been instrumental in helping my 6 year old how to read. He has really enjoyed it. We just finished level one and he is now reading books on his own! All your suggestions are so helpful. Thank you!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Valentine,
This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing your son’s success with us.

Amber

says:

I would add to #2… I love AAR’s emphasis on incremental lessons, however I personally find that having a “reader-based” lesson follow most “new material” lessons a little misleading. my advice is to NOT put these stories in front of your child to read out loud (alone or with a partner/buddy) until they are confident in their blending skills. instead, read the story to your child and then find ways to use them for fun lesson extensions. let them draw their favorite scene and write the story title below… ask them to find the silliest sentence in the story and carefully copy it by hand… use the letter tiles to build words from a page that they choose (extra tiles or a moveable alphabet are super handy for this!)… write words from the story on small slips of paper with red/blue felt tip pens and have them sort them by onset/rime or find the page of the story they belong… be creative! whatever you do, be sure to use these reader based lessons as a way to play more with the material and avoid asking emerging readers to read from books too soon.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amber,
You offer some fun ideas on how to really get the most out of the readers, but I want to add that most children, even struggling learners, do well with the stories in our 100% decodable readers.

By the time a specific story is assigned in All About Reading, the child has been taught the skills to read every word in it. While the child may not yet be reading smoothly, they can read it. And reading a full story is very encouraging and motivating, even if they still have to sound the words out.

Amber

says:

Yes! You make a great point! If the reader has learned the skills then he/she WILL be ready for the stories as they are presented thought the curriculum. AND it’s great to have readers that are truly on level, as many so-called leveled readers use so many sight words from the start. I just wanted to share our early experience… the thing I never expected was that even after spendig a week reading words on level, when my daughter looked at a book or the fluency sheets, she immediately became overwhelmed and discouraged… even though these were the same words she had read successfully.. Just seeing so many at once seemed to shake her confidence. She COULD read the material, but she didn’t yet TRUST that she could. ***She needed incremental learning of the material as well as incremental confidence building!*** So for us, we had to find creative ways to work in that extra fluency practice, especially reading phrases before she was confident enough to even TRY to read from the books. With the fluency sheets, I started using card stock to cover everything except the lines we were focusing on. She also loves the activities included, so we revisit them and I use post it notes to stick short phrases on the backs of the word cards from those activities. Hopefully this can give some ideas to anyone with a reader who may simply need to build their confidence before truly being able to truly enjoy reading the sweet stories that the readers hold.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Even more great ideas. Thank you, Amber.

I sounds like you did exactly what you needed to do to help build your daughter’s confidence. What to go, Mom!

Jackie

says:

Thanks so much for the encouragement. I am currently teaching a 15-year-old “foster child” with learning and emotional challenges, and it is sometimes hard to figure out exactly where the gaps are (since I have not been teaching him from the beginning) and also keep him from getting discouraged with how “behind” he is. He is actually quite a smart boy, he just needs a little extra help and encouragement. :) I think #1 in this list has been the most helpful for him … but I appreciated reading several of the others also. :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jackie,
Bless you for working to help this young man! Let us know if you need specific help in any way.

Wendy

says:

I’ll have to pass this on to other moms and even my sister as a special needs teacher. Thanks!

Keshia G

says:

I am using AAR for my two youngest, and AAS for two of my others who are just a little older who were having trouble with spelling before. All 4 are doing great and love the program. Also the lessons are easy to use for me even with 4 at different levels and 2 of them have autism. The lessons are short and engaging, and I love the way the lessons build on each other and gives reasons for why so it’s not just a guessing game.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Keshia,
Thank you for this. We sometimes have people express concern about if it is possible to use multiple levels with multiple children. It’s great to hear that you are making it work and loving it.

Dyan Croushore

says:

Thank you for these tips. I have a five year old son who is having trouble blending sounds. I am very interested in your reading program. I like the idea of learning all of the phonogram sounds from the beginning rather than introducing them later as “special sounds.”

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Dyan,
All About Reading doesn’t teach all 72 phonograms at once. Rather, AAR 1 starts with just a few letters a lesson, teaching just the first sound of each at first. By the end of AAR 1, however, students will have learned all the sounds of all the 26 letters plus all the sounds of 6 additional phonograms (th, sh, ch, ck, ng, and nk). Other phonograms, including the vowel teams (such as aw, ou, ay, and so on), are taught bit by bit as you move through the levels.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Lynette

says:

We started All About Spelling with my second grade daughter just under 2 months ago. I am seeing concrete, measurable progress. Better yet, neither of us has cried about her spelling!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lynette,
Measurable progress, and not crying! Awesome!

Holly

says:

Love everything about this curriculum!

Michelle

says:

Love your program. I use for all 3 off my small kids. I highly recommend!

cynthia lilley

says:

We love the reading program and are looking forward to the spelling program, our dyslexic son went from not reading to reading on his own in a few lessons, what a difference it has made to his self esteem, Blessings

Brie B.

says:

Thank you for this wonderful post! We are using AAS with our oldest 3 sons, and looking forward to using it with our younger 3 boys as well! We are very thankful for AAS and how it has helped our sons!

Teresa Deuel

says:

My son who was in sixth grade last year has always struggled with reading and spelling. We had tried several spelling programs. When I talked to him about All About Spellng and wanting to start at the very beginning, he gave an enthusiastic yes because he knew he needs help. We were able to get through two levels last year and are going to complete two levels this year. His spelling has improved greatly! He is really learning the reasons behind the spelling of words. All About Spelling has also improved his reading. Don’t be afraid to go back to the beginning!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Teresa,
Thank you for telling us your son’s story, and for being so encouraging. Two levels a year is a good pace!

Jocelyn O.

says:

Thank you for the informative, encouraging post!

Loreen G

says:

I love this,”the child has not yet been taught in a way that works for him.” You have been such a blessing to our family. We finally found a “way” with the help of your AAS curriculum.

Elizabeth

says:

Great tips! Thank you!

Marissa

says:

Thank you so much for the encouragement. Often it is easy to plow through something without our kids ever really learning anything.

Jocelyn

says:

Love All About Reading! Short lessons have been key for us – especially for my younger guys!

Amy

says:

Love AAR and AAS! I have seen so much progress since switching to them!

Jassica

says:

Yes, yes, yes! My second grader is just completing the first level of AAS and AAR (in only 4 months!) It is such a pleasure to see all the progress he has made. I think reading and spelling are finally making sense to him due to the multi sensory approach and the clear, simple spelling rules. Thank you!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jassica,
This is GREAT! Thank you for sharing his progress with us. Keep up the great work!

Carrie

says:

Wonderful reminders! I especially need to remember about the encouraging words. It’s something that doesn’t come as natural to me. Thanks!

Kristy

says:

Thank you. Very good information!

Magela Gonzalez

says:

Thank you for creating this program and for sharing your ideas on how to teach reading and spelling.

Melissa

says:

Your idea to teach reading and spelling separate from each other is brilliant!

Jen

says:

Thank you for this wonderful curriculum!
I personally think it is the best out there!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Awww, thank you, Jen!

Elizabeth

says:

My daughter is in eighth grade and a great reader. However, she has significant challenges with spelling. She understands phonics, but struggles with memorization of spelling words and will even spell the same word differently on the same page! I’m wondering if your program might be what she needs.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Elizabeth,
Our All About Spelling program is very likely to help her. 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.

We do recommend that most struggling spellers 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.

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 don’t recommend starting higher than level 2.

We encourage 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.

Lastly, we offer a “Go Ahead and Use It” one year money back guarantee.

Laurie W

says:

thank you for this post. Especially loved the reminder to keep lessons short but frequent.

LeighAnn

says:

Thanks for this post! I plan on bookmarking it in case we ever reach a tough time with our kindergartener in the future!

Monica Lopez

says:

I need the phonogram tool for my daughter. She enjoys it online.

Monica Lopez

says:

Thank you for your blogs, you have such wisdom.

Dr. Dolly

says:

#5 I agree…not just for kids, but adults, too. Otherwise, things can get muddled. One new concept per subject, but lots and lots of review!

WL Boyd

says:

This should help with my struggling learner.

Jen

says:

Love AAR and AAS! Finally something that is helping my daughter spell and read!

Carrie King

says:

Can’t wait to try AAS.

Gale

says:

I disagree with number 7…at least for some struggling learners. Two of my children could spell simple words phonetically BEFORE they could read. And while the order is different sometimes (sometimes things that are more difficult to spell are easier to read and vice versus), for some things combining reading with a lot of the same phonemes or blends with spelling, and teaching these simultaneously (th, sh, and ch for instance) can be helpful.

Gale

says:

PS: And I should mention while one of those children was ahead the other was a struggling learning.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Gale,
We recommend students learn reading and spelling separately at their own unique pace. Most students will progress more quickly in reading, some much more quickly, but an occasional student will get a bit ahead in spelling. However, by separating the two the child can move faster or slower in each as best serves their own learning needs.

Beginning reading and beginning speller are often fairly easy to do together, but spelling becomes more difficult as reading advances. That is why we have only 4 levels in our reading program but 7 in our spelling program, with both taking students through high school level words.

Tiffany C

says:

I love AAR. I am using AAR1 with my K-er. Hands on tasks and games cannot be beat.

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