“I have four children…and two of them are in the same level! Will your program work for me?”
Many people assume it’s hard to juggle All About Reading and All About Spelling with multiple children, but not only is it possible, it’s also extremely rewarding! This post is packed with ideas for effectively and efficiently teaching reading and spelling to multiple children.
Before each lesson, take a minute or two to preview the lesson and gather the necessary activity pages, flashcards, and new letter tiles. Then simply follow the script to teach like a pro!
When you’re teaching multiple kids, teaching your children back-to-back can be a valuable time saver. As much as possible, keep transition time between children to a minimum. Here’s a plan that homeschool mom Robin uses:
Stack your children’s reading and spelling materials on your table and have each child come to you when it’s their turn. Try to give each child a five-minute warning to help ensure they’ll be ready when you are.
Spend 15-20 minutes per day on each child’s reading and spelling lessons. If you can’t finish a whole “lesson” in the allotted time, that’s fine! Just pick up where you left off the next day.
Homeschool mom Elaine teaches five children. Sounds overwhelming, right? Elaine makes it work by teaching reading and spelling lessons on different days of the week. This might not work for every family, but it makes teaching five kids doable for this busy mom.
Here’s Elaine’s plan:
First, we do spelling only on Fridays. Each lesson takes about 20 minutes max. I do verbally quiz them through the week, sometimes even at the dinner table, to see what rules they can remember or how to spell a particular word. Also, to save me some time, Liam and Jack do spelling lessons together.
Reading is done twice a week. Again, these lessons are only about 20 minutes, including the fun activities that go with each one.
So, between spelling and reading for five children, I spend about two and a half hours per week teaching. While that may seem like a short time for teaching reading and spelling, this program is really effective. It takes us a bit longer to get through each level, but with five kids, this is the schedule that works best for us!
In most cases, teaching AAR and AAS requires one-on-one instruction time with limited interruptions. That means it’s imperative that you keep your other children busy while you teach your lessons. Here are some productive ways to keep kids occupied:
Have an older sibling do some buddy reading with a younger child. In addition to keeping kids busy while you teach, buddy reading also
Independent reading also provides multiple benefits!
Although older children can work independently on subjects like handwriting and math, you may need to get a bit creative to keep younger children busy. Some ideas include “schoolwork” like reading picture books, doing puzzles, coloring, or using educational learning apps, and other activities like chores, quiet playtime, or assigning an older child to read to them.
If you have an older child who works well with your younger children, don’t be afraid to enlist their help as a “teacher’s helper.” This can be especially beneficial if the older sibling is in need of extra review! When we teach something, we learn it more thoroughly, so with this scenario, everyone benefits!
When you’re teaching multiple kids, keeping everything well organized will save you time and will help ensure that your lessons run smoothly. Here are a few tips:
Teacher’s manuals, student workbooks, and readers:
Take five minutes to plan where your materials will be stored for quick, easy access. And be sure to keep a good supply of bookmarks, sticky tabs, or paperclips handy so you can keep track of where your children are in their lessons.
AAR and AAS come with phonogram cards and word cards that help ensure that concepts and skills stick in your kids’ brains! Our review boxes provide the perfect way to keep all your children’s flashcards organized. And when you’re teaching multiple kids, that’s really important!
Color-coded letter tiles (available as either physical letter tiles or the Letter Tiles app) are a staple of the All About Reading and All About Spelling programs. If you opt for physical letter tiles, we recommend using a 2’ x 3’ magnetic white board to store the tiles that you are currently using. Some families keep their entire set of letter tiles on one big white board for all their children to use. Other families have a smaller board for each child. Some use metal baking sheets or large oil pans.
If you prefer an option that doesn’t require organization, the Letter Tiles App might be the perfect solution for your family! The bottom line is to do whatever works best for you!
These handy charts are great for keeping track of your children’s progress, and they also provide an at-a-glance reminder of which lesson each child is on every day. So simple and yet so effective!
Are my children at significantly different instructional levels? If your children are not at the same starting point, be careful that you don’t hold one child back in order to meet the needs of the child who is not as advanced, or attempt to push a child beyond his capabilities for the sake of keeping your kids together.
Are my children able to maintain a similar instructional pace? Although your children may start at the same place, you may discover that one is able to advance through the material at a faster pace. If one child starts to move more quickly than the other, you’ll want to consider splitting them up so each child can move at his or her own pace.
Will my children’s learning differences disrupt lesson time? Is one of your children a wiggler while the other enjoys learning in peace and quiet? Does one child love spending extra time with hands-on activities, but the other just wants to “get it done”? Though your children may be at the same level, if the way they learn isn’t compatible, it may be difficult to meet the needs of both children at the same time.
If you’ve answered these questions and have determined that your children would have difficulty learning together, we recommend that you teach reading and spelling separately to ensure the highest levels of success for each child. However, if you believe your children can be taught together in the same level, we have a few helpful tips for you.
Listen to each child read aloud during every reading lesson. It is critically important that you hear each child read aloud during every lesson, either from one of the readers or a fluency sheet. Listening to your child read can alert you to the need for corrections or adjustments in your instruction.
Make sure each child is getting the practice he needs. Be careful not to tailor combined lesson review times to the specific needs of one child. This may result in giving your other child too much—or too little—practice.
Provide the perfect amount of practice for each child by customizing the fluency practice sheets. A child who needs extra practice can be assigned more fluency practice, while a child who is not struggling can get by with less practice. Fluency sheets can provide plenty of leeway for children with different needs.
Be sensitive to the needs of older students. If your older child needs remedial help, it may be embarrassing for him to share lessons with his younger siblings. In that case, it is much better to teach him separately.
If you decide to teach your children together, we recommend that you purchase a separate Student Packet for each student.
Review is a critical part of the All About Reading and All About Spelling programs. The cards in the Student Packet (Word Cards, Phonogram Cards, etc.) provide a method for consistent review and for easy assessment of student progress. Sharing one set of Word Cards with multiple children may make it difficult to closely track each child’s progress. Likewise, trying to use only one review box and set of dividers can make it hard to effectively organize individual review and progress for multiple children.
Although buying one Student Packet can save you money, what you save in dollars you may lose in efficiency and effectiveness. Only you can decide whether you should teach your children together. We hope this information will help you discover what is best for your family and your budget.
Have you taught AAR and AAS to multiple children? We would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Photo credits: Elaine J. and Kristen H.