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Teaching Reading and Spelling to Multiple Kids

“I have four children…and two of them are in the same level! Will your program work for me?”

boy and girl working on spelling together

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.

7 Tips for Teaching Reading and Spelling to Multiple Kids

  1. Take full advantage of open-and-go features.

    All About Reading and All About Spelling were designed for busy parents and teachers, so all the planning has been done for you. When you’re teaching multiple kids, this is so freeing!

    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!

  2. Set aside time for back-to-back lesson times.

    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.
    a young girl smiles as she writes in a notebook
  3. Alternate days for reading and spelling lessons.

    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!
    all about reading and all about spelling books stacked on a bookshelf
  4. Reduce interruptions and distractions.

    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

    • provides extra reading practice.
    • helps the weaker reader because the stronger reader will correct and help them.
    • helps the stronger reader by allowing them to be the teacher.

    Independent reading also provides multiple benefits!

    • It encourages enjoyment of reading.
    • It provides practice in reading silently.
    • It increases concentration skills while others are making noise.

    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.

    a birl reading a book with her face partially covered
  5. Employ older siblings as teaching assistants.

    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!

    a young girl holds a zebra puppet while teaching her younger sister
  6. Keep reading and spelling materials well organized.

    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.

    all about readnig and spelling materials organized on a rolling cart

    Flashcards:
    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!

    box of review cards in the foreground with two children behind

    Letter Tiles:
    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!

    child's hand works with letter tiles arranged on a metal pan

    Progress charts:
    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!

    multiple progress charts hanging on a bulletin board
  7. When possible, teach multiple kids together.

    All About Reading and All About Spelling are based on ability rather than grade level, so if you have children that are very close in ability you can combine them and teach them together. In fact, this can be a very effective (and economical) way to use the programs. But before you decide whether to teach two or more children together in one level, consider these important questions.
    • 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.

    a boy and a girl sitting at a kitchen counter while the boy high fives his dad

    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.

    a young boy and girl sit side by side at a counter working on schoolwork

A note about sharing student materials:

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.

all about spelling materials sitting on a countertop

The Bottom Line for Teaching AAR and AAS to Multiple Kids

  • All About Reading and All About Spelling are scripted programs that require very little daily prep for the teacher.
  • A well-organized area for teaching reading and spelling will help your homeschool days run more efficiently.
  • Children of similar abilities can easily be combined and taught together.
  • Teaching multiple children will not look the same for every family. It’s important that you create a system that works for your family!

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.

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Leave a Reply

Rachel

says:

This is so helpful! It has been nice to have two in the same level for the reading activities – more fun for them! I love the teaching assistant idea; tucking that away for when my youngest starts reading.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
I’m glad this was helpful!

Katey Bishop

says:

This was very helpful.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this was helpful, Katey! Thank you.

Catherine

says:

I have 3 kids. I’d like to teach the older 2 together, however one needs remedial help so I’m weighing up if that would be a good move….

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Catherine,
You can try teaching them together at the beginning and see how it goes. You could always separate them as needed.

If you would like more help in making the decision, please email us at [email protected]. We’re happy to help.

Amanda Hill

says:

Such great ideas, I have had trouble teaching multiple kids at once and these pointers are definitely something to try.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope you find these suggestions helpful for your situation, Amanda! But if you find you need additional help, please let us know. We are happy to help!

Randi

says:

I love that with AAR I am able to teach multiple children as they reach the different levels. I love that’s it’s all laid out for me and I don’t have to think of how to present the information.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful, Randi! It can be difficult to teach multiple children at multiple levels, so I’m pleased to hear that All About Reading has made it easier for you.

Valerie Stonerook

says:

When we began with AAR level 1 I incorporated my younger daughter in her older sister’s lessons. She learned the rhythm and started to look forward to reading lessons! Now that my older daughter has progressed to level 2, I’m still working with my younger at the first level. I definitely recommend an additional student activity book. It really makes it so simple to open and go!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for the recommendation, Valerie!

Celeste

says:

This is so helpful when teaching two kids at different reading levels!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this is helpful, Celeste!

Gaeyle Gerrie-Boss

says:

Easy to follow and effective guidance = success in schooling!

Sarah C.

says:

I have 3 kids going through AAS. Two of them are currently going through AAS5 and the third is working on AAS3. We only do spelling Tuesdays and Thursdays, and back to back is definitely a time saver for us. It takes 10-15 minutes each lesson. I also LOVE the tiles app vs the physical tiles. We can build and share so much easier.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing how working in All About Spelling with three students works in your home, Sarah. Sounds like you have a great routine for your needs!

Megan

says:

I use AAR Level 2 with my oldest, while my younger 2 are in the Pre-reader level. Today was the first time I taught the younger 2 the same lesson. Younger 1 wanted to work on letter sounds like her brother, so she skipped ahead a few (43) lessons to join him. Worked for now, tomorrow we may be back to separate times.

Lisa Klunk

says:

I am teaching level 1 AAR with my 4 year old, and level 3 AAR plus Spelling 1 with my 6 year old- very do-able! Organization has been key for us.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing, Lisa! Glad to hear it is very doable for your family.

Jennifer

says:

I think I’ve done nearly everything here at one point or another. The app is really great for allowing each learner to have their own “board”.

Jaclyn

says:

Thank you for these ideas. I really appreciate this curriculum, but can get overwhelmed by teaching multiple children at different stages. It is good to see that we maybe could try alternating days.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jaclyn!

Some children, especially those with possible learning disabilities, may not do well with alternating days. However, many children thrive on it, so it is worth a try if you think it will help.

Let me know if you have questions or concerns.

Jacquelyn

says:

I love this program! My child was crying everyday with another curriculum and now he happily will sit down and do his lessons!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so happy to hear that the program has helped make learning happier for your child, Jacquelyn!

Kimberly M

says:

I haven’t purchased any AAR curriculum yet, but I’m seriously considering it for my struggling 1st grader. Im still on the fence, mostly due to price.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kimberly,
Please let me know if you have questions or concerns; I’m happy to help.

Just so you know, we do offer a one-year money-back “Go Ahead and Use It” guarantee. If you purchase from us and find that the curriculum is not a good fit for whatever reason, you can return it up to a year after purchasing for a full refund excluding shipping, even if the materials are used! Marie Rippel, the author, never wants anyone to feel “stuck” with a purchase.

LaDarrah Krogh

says:

We love AAR! Such a great program!

Judith Martinez

says:

This is a great time-saving idea! I’m currently working on AAR with my youngest but I’m getting ready to start AAS with her older brother and doing one after another is a great suggestion.

Marie Smith

says:

We love AAR!

Justina

says:

I am so grateful for this program! I have 4 kids & my older ones are learning so much & learning how to spell phonetically, which they never earned in public school. Thank you for a fantastic program!

Susan

says:

It’s working for my kid

J. Burke

says:

Excellent tips! I’ll be adding in a 3rd reader soon and this was great for ideas/strategies for how to make our day go smoothly.

Mel

says:

This was so helpful for me as I teach mu two boys together! Great tips. Thanks!

Katherine Feltner

says:

These posts are so helpful! We love AAR!

Mary Whitworth

says:

I love your blog posts. They always have great tips.

Cherie Tuck

says:

Love this- thank you for such great tips!

Mychal

says:

I use AAR with my third child and AAS with my older two. I use the review boxes for organization and also do spelling and reading on different days as mentioned in the article. I occasionally substitute teach and have heard how difficult it is to have children memorize words. Definitely going to suggest this curriculum.

Danielle

says:

Thank you for this awesome information! These tips are great and helpful!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Danielle. I’m glad this was helpful.

K

says:

Thank you so much for this information! It has been very helpful! :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this was so helpful for you!

Jess

says:

Love working with this program

C Terry

says:

This is such an amazing value! Great for my little learners! :)