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Avoiding the “Big Pit”

Mom and son standing next to big pit

I’m worried my child isn’t making enough progress.

Most homeschool parents feel this way at one time or another. We regularly hear from parents who express concern about the progress their child has made—or not made—in reading and spelling.

When we question the parent further, we often discover that the child has in fact made excellent progress, yet the parent doesn’t recognize that progress.

In these situations, however, the problem is actually much more likely to be related to the parent’s expectations for the child’s progress, rather than to the child’s actual progress. It is very easy to become too focused on “the ideal.”

So What is Your “Ideal?”

Your ideal may be different than someone else’s. Maybe your ideal is to have your child complete All About Reading Level 4 by a certain age or to have him spell as well as the child next door. Maybe your ideal has been influenced by what your child’s grandparents think about his progress. Or maybe it’s even thinking ahead to your child’s future college career with worried thoughts like, “How will he get into college if he can’t even spell proficiently?”

In all the cases above, focusing on the ideal can create frustration because, until your child actually reaches your ideal, you will always be focused on how far he still has to go until he reaches “it” … whatever “it” may be.

Boy looking unhappy

To varying degrees, envisoning your child’s future can serve you well because it helps you gauge what you need to do. After all, if you’re completely happy with the status quo, there would be no reason to teach your children every day.

But while focusing on ideals can help us set goals, it’s not a great way to measure progress in a motivating way. In fact, always comparing your child to the ideal can lead to disappointment … and the Big Pit.

Stay Out of the Big Pit

What is the Big Pit, you ask? This is the huge chasm between where your child’s abilities are now and where you want him to be.

The Big Pit is a bad thing. It’s bad for you and for your motivation. And it’s bad for your child, his sense of self-worth, his enthusiasm for learning, and his future progress.

Boy looking defeated next to big pit

So instead of this self-defeating way of looking at your child’s progress, let’s take a step back … no, let’s take a step up.

A Fresh Perspective

To better understand where your child is really at and to stay out of the Big Pit, it helps to get a bird’s-eye view of your child’s situation.

Eagle flying

Look at the big picture from a vantage point where you can see the whole continuum, beginning with where your child started and ending with your ideal.

With this bird’s-eye view, you can see the ideal off in the distance, but you can also see how far your child has come.

Happy boy looking back at starting point

From this vantage point there is a LOT to celebrate.

What I would encourage you to do is frequently look backward instead of always looking forward. Think about where your child started out, and then you can see how much progress has been made.

When you give yourself a bird’s-eye view, you can look back and see the ten-year-old who was struggling to read a year or two ago, but is now reading fluently. You can picture the boy who spent two or three days on each spelling lesson but can now complete a lesson in a day. You realize that the child who cried through every single fluency practice sheet is now smiling through them.

This new vantage point provides an inspiring perspective that will help you and your child stay motivated … and encouraged. It changes everything, doesn’t it? Can you see the difference?

Do you ever fall into the Big Pit? What successes has your child had so far?

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Leave a Comment

Ashley

says:

I don’t want to do this to my children.

Julia

says:

What a great article!

Rachel Gray

says:

What a great reminder to change your vantage point to see how far my child has come instead of looking to see how far they have yet to go. :)

Brandy

says:

I love this!! I have read many times over my homeschooling years… do not compare your child to someone else’s. Comparison is the thief of joy for you and your child.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Brandy,
I love how that was put, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Thank you!

Anna Fritzinger

says:

I watched a video about how this course came about and it was touching. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it from friends.

Jillian

says:

I think the biggest pit for me to avoid with my #2 is comparing her to #1. To #1 schooling comes naturally; it doesn’t flow quite the same for #2. Their learning styles are different too, which is constantly reminding me I can’t give them “box” schooling. The beauty of homeschool is being able to make it individualistic for each according to his/her strengths /weaknesses!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great points, Jillian, thank you.

Jennifer

says:

It is definitely easy to fall into that pit, especially with siblings as others have already noted. I will have to try to make an effort to celebrate the achievements of each child separately!

Sharon

says:

A good reminder to go at my child’s pace, not by some arbitrary date I set for us to be done by. Thank you.

Daniell

says:

A great read. Thank you!

Amanda

says:

I have never tried All about reading but eager to 😀

Candice Meadows

says:

It’s hard not to compare kids to siblings or others. Seeing progress of each child compared to themselves is much more productive and encourages better growth instead of unrealistic expectations.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Candice,
Yes, comparison between siblings is almost impossible to avoid. One of the benefits of having a large family, however, is that everyone gets to see that every child develops uniquely. I have five, and not one has learned the same way or at the same pace for all subjects as any other.

Emily moser

says:

A great reminder.

Amber

says:

Thanks for the reminder. I sometimes fail to see the progress that’s made.

Deirdre

says:

Great article! Two of my three kids struggle with reading and it is hard to see the progress they have made at times. I am so thankful for AAR! It has been a life saver!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Deirdre,
We are happy to hear that All About Reading has been so helpful for your family!

Amy Stathos

says:

All About Reading has been exactly what my twins needed. Thanks :)

Michelle Long

says:

Thanks for the reminder.

E Renee Sortore

says:

Thanks for the reminder! It is very easy to fall into “the pit.”

Dawn Reitz

says:

I was beginning to fall into that pit. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement to look at the big picture. When I did that, I saw the progress that has been made.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Dawn,
I am happy this article has helped you gain a better perspective on your student’s progress. It can be hard to think of how behind are students are. Some students may never catch up, depending on the difficulties they are dealing with, but many will. It doesn’t matter if they are “grade level” at age 8, or age 14. The end result is the same. But keeping the right perspective along the way can make the process of learning so much more enjoyable and pleasant for everyone involved.

Thank you for the encouragement!

Jacquie

says:

I’ve never thought of it this way but it’s a good way to describe it! I often think of where they should be instead of what’s been learned already. Especially with my oldest who struggles with school in general.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jacquie,
It is important for our students and us teachers to think of our students in terms of the progress they have made and not just where they “should” be.

I need to focus more on what they’ve accomplished rather than what they still need to learn

Ella

says:

Hi, I just wanted to add that we’ve had this curriculum for years but o Lt starting using it this year. I begged a friend to come over and show me the “why” do I have to do this. My kids can read and spell but once they got to five or above letters strange things began to happen. Poor pronunciation poor spelling. Wait, what!?!
Now after being taught myself all the why, I finally get it. I wish I had started so much sooner. I wish there could be a way for a video or something that explains the pitfalls of. It doing this program and how it’s even helping my older son with dyslexia that the schools let slide through the cracks.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ella,
This recent blog post includes a video that explains the importance of using sight, touch, and sound to teach and why we teach our lessons in such multisensory ways. Is this what you are looking for?

bani makker

says:

good

Katy H.

says:

On a related note, thank you for not labeling your curricula by grade (Grade 1, Grade 2, etc.) The use of “Level 1” or “Level 3” is helpful in keeping us out of the Big Pit. My 10yo is okay with being in Level 2 reading but might be discouraged if everything was labeled “Grade 2.”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Katy. I know what it’s like to have a child is working behind grade level.

Just to be clear (for anyone else, since I think you understand this), our levels are not grade levels. It’s not only the name that is different. All About Reading and All About Spelling group words in a logical manner based on similar rules or patterns regardless of their supposed grade level, which allows students to progress quickly and confidently.

As an example, here is a very simple online assessment. A child completing AAR 2 would be able to read all of the words on the 1st grade list, all but 3 of the 2nd grade list (eat is covered in L3. City and animal are too, though some students would be able to figure those out after doing L2), all but one word on the 3rd grade list (weather–L3), and more than half of the words on the 4.0 and 4.8 lists. There are even a couple of words on the 5th and 6th grade lists that students would have the skills to sound out!

Sheila

says:

This is a great reminder. Thank you for the fresh perspective!

Adrienne

says:

This is one reason I love AAS, it’s written in such a way I don’t feel pressured to go on to the next lesson. We have just spent almost two weeks segmenting words with beginning and ending blends. I am confident DD has mastered this and that she has a firm foundation to become a good speller.

Janelle

says:

It’s so good to remember to be content and celebrate progress along the way, not to be disappointed until the “ideal” is accomplished. Thank you!

Joice H

says:

I do enjoy reading all of your different blog post. THey are encouraging to read and give plenty of information that is helpful for my homeschooling needs.
Thanks so much.

Tracy

says:

This was a timely and encouraging post. Thank you!

Chelsey Stafki

says:

Thank you for the words of encouragement. It is sometimes hard to remember that my child is different from all others and should not be compared to anyone else in the progress that he makes while learning. Thank you for the reminder! :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Chelsey.

Mary

says:

I have a problem with this. As I might have to stop homeschooling one day, I always try to keep my son above grade level so his transition would, I hope, be really smooth. Because of his birthdate and state birthday cut offs for school though, he’s really lucky to be in Kindergarten at 6. In his sports teams, he’s often placed with 1st grade 6.5 and almost 7 year olds, though. I’d like him to feel comfortable in school and while with 1st graders. So these silly worries basically :/

I am proud that he’s loving, caring, and thoughtful. I am also proud that he completed AAR level 2 in August, before he was 6. I am proud he’s helped me learn how to homeschool and how to be a better homeschool mom.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Mary,
Placing children on sports teams by grade level, rather than by age or ability, has always baffled me. A couple years can make a huge difference in size and sport abilities.

It sounds like your son is doing very, very well with All About Reading. Thanks for sharing his success with us!

Erin

says:

Thanks for the reminder to not compare my child to others or to my ideal!

Amanda

says:

We just started with Pre-Reading this year with my son. He is my oldest and I am excited and nervous about our new adventure in homeschooling. Since he is my oldest I think I have a greater tendency to worry if he is where he “should be” but this article and many others on this blog have been so encouraging to relax and enjoy instead. He is doing great and just about to start level 1 now. I have noticed a lot of growth in the past week or so and it also amazes me how much his two sisters have learned just by watching and listening along side!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
Thank you for sharing your nervousness and your amazement! It sounds like your son and his sisters are doing great.

Rachelle Digges

says:

Comparing your child to your ideal, as well as comparing your child to the “ideal” other child are both ways to fall into this big pit.

Penni

says:

This is my first year homeschooling with a 2nd grader, 1st grader, Kindergartener, and a 6 month old. It is sometimes difficult to keep things like this in perspective. Thank you for this article!

Erica

says:

This is a great visual reminder. Thanks for the supportive post.

Lisa

says:

This was me just a month ago but Merry at the WTM boards encouraged me to keep at it and to slow down a bit. I think, often times, when we are working daily with our children the progress isn’t as apparent. Looking back on my daughter’s work from the beginning of the year and specifically at the sweet Valentine’s Day card she made me yesterday it is clear that she is advancing at her own pace. She has CAPD and I am convinced that this is the program for her.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
I’m so glad that Merry could encourage you last month. She’s wonderful, isn’t she?

I also have a child with Auditory Processing Disorder, so I understand the struggles and frustration you have had. Keep up the great work!

I get this way just about every night when we go to read our story for the day. I’m 95% positive my daughter (6) is dyslexia, and just to get her to calm down to look at a book at times is a 30 minute task in of itself! If the book has more than 40 words, she gives a fight. I ensure I pick books she can read, just a little longer but the anxiety still kicks in. We have even changed how we are doing reading with the curriculum we bought, but I don’t feel like any progress is being made. I’m ready to make the jump to AAR, but scared too.

megan

says:

just to encourage. I have dyslexia. back in 70s they didn’t say so. I discovered it my self as an adult. they just had me in special reading for ever, I hated reading!!!!!! and spelling don’t even get me started. now for the encouragement. I now as an adult LOVE to read. What I pick for books. I read anything from junior books like Little house up thru adult romance. As long as I get to choose. I remember once when I was about 4th grade, my mom trying to help me picked Nancy Drew. she loved mistories. She was sure I would love them. I hated them!!!!! still do! best to find what will interest your kid. what do they play with. what do they like on TV??????? what do they talk about???? they will get there.I did. they may not like to read ever. but they will be able to read well enough to do what they need to. they may be like me. reading 2.5 novels a month. sure, not fast. but I read a lot. my mom would read 100 pages in less then 1 hr. me 3 days of reading after kid in bed. about 6 hrs. but I love to read!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thanks for sharing your story, Megan! And 2.5 novels a month is great, considering at least one Huffington Post poll showed that 28% of adults hadn’t read as single book in the previous 12 months.

I agree about offering a wide variety of books to your kids; it can be surprising what kind of books a kid will take too.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Vanessa,
First, I’d like you to know about our “Go Ahead and Use It” one year guarantee. We don’t want anyone to feel they are stuck with our curriculum.

Second, when you say it takes 30 minutes to calm your daughter down before reading time, do you mean she is upset about the idea of reading or is she just high energy and doesn’t want to be still? If she is high energy, it might be better to choose a different time of day for reading, when she is naturally lower energy, such as after lunch or after a bike ride or some other activity.

However, if she is that upset about the idea of reading, I highly encourage you to back off completely for a while. She is learning (or rather has already learned) that reading is a thing to dread and despise. That is not a feeling you want to be reinforcing. This blog post, 9 Ways to Keep Reading and Spelling Lesson Motivating, discusses the importance of happy, nurturing environment for learning, as well as how important it is to end a lesson (or not even begin it) if there is frustration.

Please let us know how we can help you help your daughter, or if you have any questions about placement or anything else about AAR.

Lacy van Vuuren

says:

I really like the advice to back off for a while. I have had experience with that. My husband is a builder. When my 9-year-old daughter was 5, we were building our home. Our whole family worked on it nearly every day. Since I had 3 older children I was working with, she did not get as much daily teaching as I thought I should give her. I would work with her for a day or three, then neglect books for a week or more. She had very little progress for many months, but one day, she finally understood how to blend the sounds she had memorized. After that, she progressed through easy readers in leaps and bounds, and by herself, decided to start reading chapter books! I know she was young for reading when we started, but compared to my other children (I know, another pit!) she was about the right age.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing your daughter’s story, Lacy. I had a similar experience with one of my children, although with me it was my oldest child and it was because we moved, had a new baby, had extended houseguests including a toddler, and then moved again, all in his kindergarten year. It ended up being fine (and I the next year of homeschool went much better).

roslyn harris

says:

This is so true! This fall, my son did not understand a word I sounded out for him to figure out (blending). I would say car and he would have to run to the car or I would say tree etc. I almost got frustrated…then he got it! Later in the year we started reading CVC words and blending here was again hard…now he gets it also! Learning seems to be a series of steps to climb to a new challenge.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Roslyn,
Blending words from sounds can be a difficult step for some children, but it’s such a big deal when they finally get it. Thank you for sharing your son’s struggles and then triumphs with us!

Jackie

says:

This article was so encouraging to me; thank you! Comparing is my biggest pitfall, and can so easily rob me of the joy and contentment in who my child and our family *uniquely* is!

Luba Bellos

says:

We started using AAR in January, and I must say that we absolutely love it. My son loves checking off on his progress chart, he loves the activity sheets, and he loves that he actually has a ‘chapter book to read’… He still struggles with reading, but I find that the lessons really help him. Today he learned how to chop a word in two ( compound words), he looks for the 2 vowels, and finds the two syllables.. and bingo!… it really helps him… lately he even got his own first readers at the library, without me pushing him to do it… So I say that is HUGE improvement.. basically he is growing in confidence! thank you so much! your books are amazing!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Luba,
This is wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your son’s progress and confidence with us! Keep up the great work!

Bryanna Paice

says:

This was a needed read for me. Thank you so much for what you do to help, empower and encourage homeschoolers.

Valerie Daigle

says:

Thank you for the reminder!

Ciro

says:

I have an 8yr old who is very good at everything else but has struggled with spelling and started detesting it. This is how awe got to using AAS. He is now so willing to do his Level 1, yet I find myself struggling with the Big Pit. I keep thinking that at 8yrs he should be doing a higher level. Thanks for reminding us to focus on progress being made gradually.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ciro,
Keep in mind that in AAS 7 students are spelling high school level words (we use all of the modern Ayers list words which ranks up to 12th grade, and other various lists that rank words between 9th and 12th grade). AAS 7 isn’t “7th grade” and AAS 1 isn’t “first grade”. This is because All About Spelling doesn’t correlate to specific grades, because the order of the words in it is not “grade-level” order. AAS groups words in a logical manner based on similar rules or patterns regardless of their supposed grade level, which allows students to progress quickly and confidently.

So, your son is doing fine to be in AAS 1. He is more than on track to finish AAS 7 before the end of high school, and to be a great speller.

Anyway, I hope this helps a bit with the big pit problem.

Carol

says:

I need to bookmark this to come back to on the days I fall into the Big Pit. Thank you!

a

says:

When we started AAS a few years ago, my yardstick for progress after the first year was that my reluctant reader and writer was now willing to do both–not an expert at either, but, at least, willing to do them. In my mind, that represented huge growth.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Yes! That is huge growth. Thank you for sharing this perspective.

Christina Randall

says:

I’m taking a slower approach with homeschooling my kids, an 8 year old boy and 6 year old girl. I like that they have more time to be kids at this age. Even though I know that they will catch up as they get older, I find myself on occasion wondering if I’m doing the right thing. I try to do like you suggest here; I look back to see all they’ve accomplished.

Both kids have lots of friends in our neighborhood that attend public and private schools, and it can be hard not to compare with them.

Chelsey Stafki

says:

I am convinced that my child has missed out on some level of instruction due to how he learned to read. Hoping this program can help.

Melinda Ledman

says:

We loved All About Spelling #1!

Kate

says:

A little daily diligence hoes a long way, eventually!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Yes! We completely agree, Kate. Thanks.

Gale

says:

I struggle with this all the time. My child went through KG at a public school and was going to have to repeat…so we homeschooled him (he wasn’t happy at all there, and needed more individual attention). He is already a grade behind, but yet very tender about learning so I don’t want to push too much. We’ve been homeschooling a year and a half and, he’s a little behind for first grade, which worries me becaue 1st is already a grade behind where he would have been if he had progressed normally. I tell myself he can catch up later but wonder if I’m teaching him as well as I could be.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Gale,
Can you tell us more about your son’s struggles and what you are doing with him? We would love to help you feel more confident about teaching and help you help your son. You can email us at support@allaboutlearningpress.com or call us at 715-477-1976 if you would prefer to discuss things with us privately.

Caroline Frahm

says:

I have had to really work to stay out of the “big pit” because my boys have been much slower at learning to read than I expected. This year they have made the most progress and it is very encouraging , like you said to look back at the progress they have made. I have to avoid comparing them to others and just remind myself that all young children learn and progress differently; that helps me a lot. The last thing I want to do is pressure them or make learning stressful.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Caroline,
Yes, it can be hard when our students take longer than we anticipate to master materials. Keep looking at how far they have come, and keep moving ahead slowly but consistently. They will get there!

Candice

says:

I fall into the big pit because my daughter never wants to reason and when she does, she prefers small books with few words that she can finish quickly. One of our successes is that she can read well above her age level.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Candice,
Try allowing your daughter to read those small books with few words that she can finish quickly for a while, without judgement or pushing. Easier books help students gain both enjoyment and confidence in reading, and once they start gaining confidence they naturally start choosing more difficult books. This is the Matthew Effect in action.

Tara

says:

I love All About Spelling and Reading. I have seen progress already in the last 4 months. I highly recommend it.

Johnna

says:

Thank you for this much needed reminder. Sometimes we use their progress as more of a barometer of ourselves measuring our effectiveness as a teacher and need to remember it is an individual experience. They will progress as they understand. I would much rather spend more time on a topic and know they are confident in what they are learning and doing than to push toward an artificial goal. That is one of the primary reasons we home school.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great thoughts on this, Johnna. Thanks for sharing them.

Christianne

says:

We have been “using” your programs for spelling and reading for the last three years, but are still in Level 2 – mostly due to the last year of almost no schooling at all. I’ve been feeling stressed and like a “horrible” mother for not teaching my son and having him in Level 3 yet. He is almost nine and technically in 3rd grade. The level 2 AAR words are very easy for him to read and honestly I was surprised since we hadn’t been doing any official schooling for a long while. I couldn’t even tell you where he would have picked the words up from. Despite our issues, we have enjoyed your program and are now getting back into a homeschool routine and I pray it will go by quickly so we can buy Level 3 and feel caught up to his age and grade.

Thanks for all your work in this program and bringing it to us families.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Christianne,
I’ve have had a couple of years like that. You just have to get back on it and aim for better and better consistency. Short lessons, day-in-day-out, that’s where progress is made. Keep up the good work.

Anne

says:

This was timely advice for me. Thanks!

Gail

says:

Thanks for sharing. I do fall into this pit, sometimes. I am so very proud of my 6 yr old kindergartener who just started Level 1 Reading before Christmas break. I can’t believe how quickly she is catching on! Next year (1st grade), I plan on adding All About Spelling Level 1 or our Level 2 Reading!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Gail,
Thank you for sharing your kindergartner’s progress with us!

Charene

says:

I fall into this trap all the time, especially with comparing my younger daughter with my older daughter. It is never a fair comparison for any parent to do this, but especially hard on the younger one when the older one is gifted in different areas and you expect them to be the same across the board. I love that homeschooling allows you to adapt for each child, but following the same “program” for each child is so much easier that you expect them all to fit the same mold.

Jessel

says:

I am having a lot of trouble with both of my children in reading. And even thought that one of my children may have a learning disability but after reading the articles on the site I realized the problem may be the way she is being taught. Thank you for these articles.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jessel,
You are welcome, and I’m glad you found helpful information here. Please let us know if you have any questions, or if we can help in any way.

Carrie King

says:

Can’t wait to try All About Spelling with my son. I’ve heard good things from friends who use it.

Donelle

says:

I really fall into this trap. It is mostly out of fear of not having my kiddos prepared for college. That is one reason I love using a curriculum, not making it up as I go. I feel like I have a better chance of covering all the bases.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Donelle,
Just remember that homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. However old your kids are, you likely have many years until they will go off to college. A lot can happen in one year, let alone many.

Rosie

says:

Thank you so much for this article. Wow! You must have been in my vehicle this morning. I was thinking just as you stated. How Far… Thanks for the encouragement. I needed to see that. Look back at the progress. How do you keep the self-esteem up? Academics is a big part of that. Thanks for the moments to pause and come out of the pit. Reach up again and look back how I can bring myself out of the “Big Pit.” Can only imagine how our child may feel as well. Thanks! Live and Love.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Rosie,
Many of us find taking the child back to a lesson from a few months ago is a great way to help them get that bird’s eye view as well. When they are in the trenches of learning it seems like they are making not progress because it was new and difficult before and it’s new and difficult now and it’ll be new and difficult for evermore. Taking the student back a few months and having them work at that level again shows them just how far they have come, just how easy the old stuff is now. It’s often a great boost to the child’s self-esteem!

Lauren

says:

Looking forward to starting AAR-Pre!

Annette

says:

Thank you so much for this wonderful encouragement. Just what I need right now.

So true. I do keep accidentally and quietly within my mind comparing my two younger daughters (ages 6 and 8) to their older brother (age 12, how he was going at their current ages) and feeling like I have not been doing a good job at all. However, if I take an eagle eye’s perspective as suggested by your beautiful illustration and thoughtful words, you are right. They are progressing tremendously well and have actually come so far with their learning. Remind me to continue to remind myself of this please. :)

Love your materials and words by the way. We are about to start AAS and AAR Level 3 with older daughter age 8 and younger daughter is currently in middle of AAR 1. Older son had the advantage of learning it all quite quickly at a young age and then through a rigorous academic program that he attended whilst at school for a few years. Now of course all 3 are homeschooling but I wonder if my two daughters would be further ahead if they were at that school? ….. which we can no longer afford anyway and they are so different from him in many ways. (Did I just slip into that pit again ?? Ok Ok, I am climbing back out again now).

Thank you again.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Annette,
I think your comparison pit is made worse by the fact that older brother had a different educational experience in the younger years. For me it was easy to see that the same teacher (me) and same materials that worked so well with older brother and older sister were simply not working at all with my 3rd child. I knew it had to be something about how he learned.

I don’t know what your older son was doing at 8, but AAR and AAS 3 at 8 years old is a great place to be. Keep in mind that after AAR 4 students have the phonics and word attack skills necessary to sound out high school level words (though depending on their age and experiences, they may not yet know the meaning of all higher level words).

Rachel Dale

says:

Trying to avoid the pitt!

Jen

says:

This would be a blessing to our family. Looking for ways to help my littles with spelling, but no money in the budget for it.

Amy

says:

Can’t wait to try AAR

Melissa

says:

Thanks for the encouragement. Seems I have to learn some things over and over!

Jennifer

says:

Because I am homeschooling my children from the very beginning, it is hard to know if I am doing the right things to help them be successful. I do not have a degree or background in education, so I do a lot of research and sometimes it is very hard not to let all of the homeschool blogs and books that I read discourage me because it is easy to feel like my kids are not on the same level as other children their age.

Kathy

says:

Hi Jennifer,

I remember similar discouragements creeping up on me when I began looking at other homeschool families and models. Taking a step “up” (as Marie would say!), I realized eventually that my homeschool would meet certain goals and criteria that were suited to our family, lifestyle and kids’ goals and aspirations. I eventually stopped looking around and started looking in, and became better focused, more motivated and dedicated to making our homeschool everything it could possibly be! Over the years (as I take a bird’s eye view back), I realize how much we did accomplish, how much my kids were exposed to and how they each were able to excel in fields of their interests, academically, spiritually and personally. Isn’t this really the heart of homeschooling? Isn’t this really why the initial decision is made? Enjoy the journey, persevere and acknowledge that there may not be another identical homeschool to the one you are intentionally creating:) It is your privilege to have it so!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

OH, Jennifer, I understand this very much. There are certain corners of the internet that I avoid because they make me doubt if I am offering my children a rigorous-enough education, and those doubts started with my oldest who is a typical learner with no struggles!

However, now I have the benefit of hindsight as I have a homeschool graduate who is doing well at a small, private university. Do you know the biggest change I have made in my homeschool since taking him through his senior year, college application process, and into his first year in university? I am aiming to be more consistent day in-day out. Not more rigorous, not more subjects, not more time. Just more consistent.

Work at your students’ paces. Work consistently. They will succeed.

Leslie

says:

This is such a timely blog post for me. I’M finally making some progress in backing up from the pit! YAY! It is so hard not to compare my children with others because as their mom AND teacher, I feel such enormous pressure to equip them to feel successful in all subjects, but especially reading and spelling. Thank you for more encouragement to put my eyes backward more than I put them forward! I know my children will enjoy that perspective much more!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Leslie,
Yes, the pressure can be heavy. But remember that struggling learners would struggle no matter where they learn, and are likely to struggle more in a large classroom setting than in the small homeschool setting. You are giving your children a great foundation!

Loreen G

says:

I have fallen into this “pit” so many times. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact I was trained as a teacher and worked in the public school system for years. I have had to drop all that learning/expectations and realize that we are in a totally different learning environment. One on one will never be the same as 1/30. We are doing just fine in our home schooling journey, but with all journeys that don’t follow the “norm” (as set by others), there are more questions & judgements directed towards us. Take the dr who (unsolicited, I never even told him we were home schooling…he assumed it since I said I wasn’t working outside the home) grilled me on HOW I knew my child was “up to par with all the other kids”. I stated that the truth was, I DIDN’T care! Oh my, the look on his face. Anyway, I have learned over the years that we are doing just fine, even better than fine and I don’t need to be worrying about what others think. I just watched the documentary called The Race to Nowhere and it is eye opening on what is going on out there. I’d rather spend the time we need to get true understanding and progress than just memorize material to be forgotten the minute the “test” is over. Thank you for all your encouragement over the years. It makes a difference :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Loreen,
WOW. I’ve heard of doctors being antagonistic to homeschooling, but that was some reaction. I love your response, by the way!

Maria

says:

Thank you for such a great and uplifting post. I have to keep reminding myself of the progress
made and not to keep thinking how far behind we are.

This is excellent perspective. For more than just teaching— for many aspects of life! Personal development comes to mind. I see how far I need to go and I get so discouraged… but WOW— when I look behind me….!! What progress! Thanks for the reminder!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great point, Julie! I have been using this perspective with my own personal goals this winter, but haven’t realized it. I have just been aiming for “better than before”, but that is all about looking back at how far I’ve come. Thanks for pointing this out!

Jessica

says:

This is a helpful reminder. Thank you.

Kristen R

says:

Thank you! A good reminder

Lacy

says:

Thank you for this. I often feel I have trouble balancing schoolwork that is easy enough to be fun and hard enough to be educational. A good attitude (for teacher, as well as student!) is important for learning. Keeping an eye on progress made is an excellent way to keep a good attitude.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Awww, finding that balance can be a juggling act, Lacy. And just when you get it “just right”, they go and change again and you have to find “just right” all over again. The key is that if you have to err, aim to err on the side of easy, and be willing to stop, or at least adapt, a lesson that is leaving a child frustrated.

Melissa

says:

I sometimes fall into the trap of discouragement with my son’s slow progress. Thank you for this excellent reminder!

NH

says:

Thank you! Great read!

Kenya

says:

Unfortunately I have fallen into the Big Pit and I believe that hurt my child’s progress. We have since moved on from there and he is excelling quickly especially in reading. Thanks for creating such a great program.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kenya,
I’m glad your child is making good progress now. Thank you for sharing your son’s struggles and successes with us.

Elizabeth Putman

says:

Can’t wait to use this curriculum!

Stephanie

says:

Thank you for putting it into perspective. I really enjoyed the post.

Tara

says:

Thank you! So helpful

Jennifer Larson

says:

Thank you for this. I have a daughter who is struggling and I constantly worry she isn’t making enough progress.

Christa

says:

I appreciate this insight as we are currently dealing with this in our house. Thank you for your blog.

Micheal

says:

I have a struggling speller. This will help as she tends to focus on what she’s not doing right.

Jennifer Stevens

says:

I needed this thanks

Jo W

says:

Great post. About a year ago, I was feeling frudtrated that my daughter’s fluency just didn’t seem to be improving despite a lot of practice…and then it suddenly took off overnight! She went from sounding out every third word to flying through books! Thank you for developing such excellent reading and spelling curriculum!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jo,
Isn’t it interesting how kids learn? Thank you for sharing her success!

Renee P.

says:

Wow! I completely relate to this. Often spelling, reading, and writing are a struggle with my son. I find myself always looking forward and comparing my son to standards that I have allowed someone else to create for him. My goal is now to spend more time thinking about all the progress he has made thus far; pondering on the positive, rather than the negative.

Stephanie

says:

Would love to win!

Loretta Lentz

says:

Thanks for sharing this. I just very recently started homeschooling my 2 youngest kids. It has taken me a couple of months to find what and how I wanted to teach them. Making lesson plans for 2 months out, I caught myself thinking “my daughter can’t do this.” Then I kind of had an ah ha moment. No she can’t do it, but that’s why we are going to learn it so that she can. She is quickly grasping math concepts but alphabet and spelling is still a but tricky for her. I feel confident that I can have her reading in the next few months.

Olivia

says:

Great read!!!!! I have had to learn how to work with this child and not compare him. I have also had to teach him that he may not be as good as one subject as “so and so” but he exceeds at another subject.
Thanks :)

Chandra P.

says:

I think this helps put the learning into perspective and makes it less target driven. I will focus more on my child retaining information we’ll instead of just meeting a goal. Thanks for the info!

Rebekah M

says:

Thank you. I have a very bad habit of expecting too much of my children, so I have been told. I will try to change my focus to seeing the big picture.

jodi Armstrong

says:

I love the idea of an angled scale which demonstrates an increase in learning vs just a start and finish line.

jen roche

says:

Sounds amazing. I need to try this. I have a son who really struggles

Tiffany

says:

Good reminders! I do have one of those 11 year olds who have younger brothers/sisters who have learned how to read more easily than she did, and who now surpass her reading skills. She has definitely improved in just this past year, and I like to point out how quickly she read her page in comparison to her speed “last year.” Focusing on her progress helps her to see it too. She too easily can compare herself to her younger siblings all on her own….There’s no need for me to do that for her.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tiffany,
I understand how hard it is when a younger sibling bypasses an older one. My 11 year old has bypassed his 13 year old brother in math this last year.

I have found spending time discussing how everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses is helpful. My 13 year old struggles in math and my 11 year old is especially good at it. But my 11 year old struggles to understand interpersonal relationships, while my 13 year old is especially good at making friends and understanding how others feel. We even discussed things that I’m good at and things that leave me struggling. It’s kind of hard to be honest about such things with your kids, but it helps them to see that it really is true.

Louise

says:

This article was so encouraging since every child has different giftings and different speeds in every area. Comparison is such a nasty trap.

Stephanie

says:

I can’t wait to get started with level 1!

Stephanie

says:

I can’t wait to get started with level 1

Ann

says:

Until using your program I didn’t realize I had fallen into the Big Pit. Looking back I can see it but I’m so glad we are making progress now and focusing on that!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Yeah for progress! It’s good to hear you are now able to focus on that, Ann.

Jenna

says:

This came just when I needed done encouragement. Thank you!

Misty

says:

I really needed to read this article. Thanks for helping me keep things in perspective.

Kelli

says:

Thanks for this reminder! My 6 year old son may not enjoy the fluency practice sheets, but he ALWAYS enjoys playing with the letter tiles, and he is definitely making progress.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kelli,
The fluency sheets are often the least fun for students, probably because they are the most difficult part of the program. There are so many words on the page, and they don’t have the context of the story and pictures that the Readers have.

Just in case you haven’t seen it, we do have a blog post with our Top Tips for the Practice Sheets. Also, take a look at the comments; there are lots of great ideas there too!

Angelique

says:

It’s so easy to compare to public school curriculum for their age, but this program is so much more logical and sequential. I couldn’t imagine having my boys learn using any other method. Thanks for an awesome program, they ARE learning, no matter how long each lesson takes! 😉

Delpha

says:

I started using the spelling tiles in our ERC classroom and wish I could send photos of the delighted expressions on the faces of the children as they ‘get it’ when manipulating the tiles to form words.

Thank you for all you do to help children learn.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Delpha,
Thank you for sharing this. The tiles do make a huge difference for many children, because they make the concepts so very clear. Even with older students that don’t enjoy using the tiles can benefit from seeing them used to demonstrate a concept they are struggling to understand.

Donna H

says:

Thank you for the kind reminder. All About Spelling has been amazing for us. My son was an early reader and can read virtually anything that I put in front of him. When he turned 8 years old this fall he was still unable to spell or write (anything!). I tried using other curriculum in the past, but nothing seemed to work. He was reluctant and lacked confidence to write anything but his first name. He could not even spell cat or dog, and would become stumped if I asked him how to spell “me” or “I”. In just two months of using All About Spelling he can spell and write hundreds of words, and we are only on level one. I am excited to continue with Level two! I can’t thank you enough for creating All About Spelling!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Donna,
This is wonderful progress! What a difference just two months made for your son. Thank you so much for sharing his outstanding progress with us!

Holly

says:

My son has been doing so well with spelling that I was pushing him to work longer to finish. I recently decided to slow down and just yesterday he said, “Mommy, do you know what? I like school!” That encouraged me so much.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Holly,
We really have found that students make the best long term progress with just short, 20 minute spelling sessions a day. Our article, Spelling: how much time should I spend?, discusses this further.

Angie R

says:

It’s all
About perspective!!

jen

says:

Ohhhhh excited to try this curric.!!!

Kristin A.

says:

Great advice! It’s so easy to see what’s “wrong” and critique rather than what progress has made. It takes a lot more effort to see where our child has come from, especially when we’re dealing with the day to day exercises. Also, we need to remember that some days are not as good as others, but it doesn’t mean out kids haven’t progressed.

Ani

says:

Yes, I’m guilty! I do need to be more joyful in their successes.

Charlene

says:

Thank you for this, I do find myself falling into this “pit” but you’ve given me new perspective on how to look at my child’s progress and successes. We love your program!

Melissa

says:

Your blog post is exactly what I needed to hear today!! Thank you!! I will take this to heart.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

I’m glad we could give you timely help, Melissa!

mandy biddy

says:

I am bad at this I have a 7 year old boy and a 6 year old girl and I always compare the two. Thanks for the great reminder that all kids are different and learn at their own pace

Annie Bleuer

says:

Great advice and a good reminder for this mom.

Rebekah

says:

Good reminder. She no longer throws a fit every day. lol Progress is progress.

Dee Anne

says:

What wonderful encouragement! I was just thinking about this “ideal” way of thinking the other day, and I began to feel discouraged. This blog has the best ideas and advice than any other “school” related blog I receive. Thank you so much for all of the great ideas and information that usually show up in my inbox just in time:)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

What a nice thing to say, Dee Anne! I’ll be sharing this with the whole AALP team!

Danielle Burback

says:

This was such a good article and really helped me with my son. I definitely have had high ideals for him! I am now going to take the time to appreciate how far he has come! What great advice. I love the emails we get from you about the blogs the topic always seems to come as it is needed, much appreciated! This is my first year home schooling and I need all the advice and encouragement I can get. Thank You!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Danielle,
It’s wonderful to know that we have been able to help and support you in your first year of homeschooling. It’s what we aim to do and it’s great to know we hit the mark! Thank you.

Alta

says:

So often I think about this, and try hard to determine what “success” looks like for each child. It is usually very different from the measure that mainstream culture advances. Thanks for your post.

Kristi

says:

This is such a great topic! Who among us doesn’t at some point play the comparison game, whether with our kids or ourselves. Thank you for your advice!

Jennifer Mathesz

says:

great advice!

Libby

says:

Ironically, one of the reasons I started homeschooling was so my kiddo wouldn’t compare himself to others… and now I find I am the one comparing him! Thanks for this.

Joyce

says:

Thanks for the encouragement! I have a teenager that I struggle to get the right perspective on. I will share this with my husband as well!

Kim Carroll

says:

This is a great and timely article. I often find myself in the struggle of comparison. Thank you!

Jen

says:

Great article! It is easy to get caught up in how the world thinks your child should learn and at what speed. This bird’s eye view helps keep things in perspective.

Brett Spore

says:

I find that focusing on where he used to be vs where he is now is inspiring whereas looking at where he is compared to other kids or where I think he “should be” is depressing and exhausting. Looking at where he is right now, keeps my focus on what we need to celebrate as well as what we need to work on.

April

says:

I fall into the big pit with comparing my two oldest children. Thank you for this encouragement!

Keri A

says:

I’m very interested in using this program with my children. Thank you for the information on this site.

Kristy

says:

Thank you for the encouragement. On the days when it is hard to see any progress, it is good to remember where we started and that every small step in the right direction is important.

Renatta Welsh

says:

I don’t necessarily fall into the pit because of comparison or high standards, but because of the very long, slow road to success. I get discouraged because I seem to follow the rules and directions to help my Dyslexic son but progress is….so….slow! I know I can’t necessarily expect a years worth of progress in a year, but it’s hard to only have him progress 4-5 months in a year. I keep myself out of the pit by putting most of my energy into what he is good at, Legos, math, building things, telling stories, etc.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Renatta,
I understand that so…slow…progress feeling. But slow does get there. I’ve seen it with more than one of my children.

Julie B.

says:

It is always a challenge for me to stay out of the “Big Pit” but as my child is making strides it is easy to celebrate his achievements and find that as a lure out of the Pit.

kim

says:

It can be a long slow road with some children. The key is to keep it short and fun. Never let them see your frustration!

Kristin

says:

Just yesterday my 13 yo boys completed AAS Level 1. As they accomplished spelling (most) of the final sentences correctly, I was pretty excited. They agreed that at the beginning of the school year, they could not have done that. Thank you for giving them the opportunity to make that forward progress even if it’s nowhere near the “ideal.” Spelling is a tremendous challenge for them, but now they are experiencing success.

Christina

says:

Thanks for your encouraging comment. My 8, 9, and 10 year-old boys struggle mightily, and it is nice to hear about other young men who are succeeding!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kristin,
Thank you for sharing your bird’s eye view perspective of your sons’ progress with us. It sounds like they are off to a great start!

Janelle Wiebe

says:

I’ve definitely been in the big pit with my oldest. Things are so much better now that we celebrate her making progress rather than getting bogged down with the fact that she is below grade level for her age.

Jarica

says:

Thanks for the encouragement and reminder!

Tammy

says:

Thank you for another great article!

Sandy

says:

I do my best to not compare my child. I think I tend to worry more about my abilities in the area of teaching her, more so than her abilities to get it on the 1st round every time. I have to say that All About Spelling has really helped her in her reading. Just last week one of her teachers at Church told me how she had been asking to read in class, and how well she was doing. She told me that she was impressed with how she sounded things out. I was so proud!! Not in my abilities as Mommy and teacher, but that this program has helped her understand words. I did some research and asking around before buying this program, and those with whom I spoke told me again and again how much help this program was to their child. I can say that we are in that class now. I am thankful we found All About Spelling.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sandy,
Thank you for taking the time to share how well your daughter is progressing and how All About Spelling has helped her.

Rachel

says:

Thanks so much for the encouragement and tips! Our little ones need our encouragement!

Susan Hudgins

says:

I think goals are important but not comparing is the challenge.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Susan,
We agree that goals are important, but not the practice of only looking at the huge end goal (such as reading and comprehending well on an adult level) that is so far away. This practice is depressing and discouraging.

Tiffany

says:

These are great tips. It is very easy to fall into these traps. Thank you.

Dedre'

says:

Thank you for all the inspiring posts. There is always something to take to heart.
The more relaxed the child and learning environment is the better the child will learn and succeed.

Lydia R.

says:

I compare not so much my son’s academic aptitude but his academic attitude/behavior. I’m oftentimes frustrated because I feel that he doesn’t take academics seriously enough–an attitude that most have, including his own second grade teacher. My son would forget to bring his homework sheet home almost 30% of the time; his teacher would also sometimes forget to give out the homework sheets…

Sadly, there’s no way that he would take academics as seriously as I’d like unless his teacher(s) also take it seriously.

/end tangentially-related-to-the-post comment

Charlsie

says:

My daughter has been struggling with reading and phonics so I went ahead and purchased AAR and it is set to arrive this week!! We are so excited to get started!! I have researched so many phonics and reading programs and keep coming back to AAR and AAS. I know this will be the right fit for my daughter. I keep reminding myself to look back at what she has learned and not to focus on her being “behind”. I know with the correct training and No Gaps learning from AAR and AAS she will do just fine and be where she needs to be.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Charlsie,
If you need any help or have any questions as you get started, just ask! We are only an email (support@allaboutlearningpress.com) or phone call (715-477-1976) away!

Cat

says:

Thanks so much for your words! I find with nine children that some are natural readers while others are struggling. Even in our small little homeschool it’s hard not to compare and become frustrated. Nice to hear your perspective.

Charity

says:

Good reminders, and suggestions.

Chelli

says:

A fresh reminder of a big problem. Thanks for the chance to win!

Michelle

says:

I was definitely guilty of this at the beginning of the year. My daughter was barely passing and could really only read CVC words after 3 years of formal schooling. Finally i let go of my ideal and just made it fun and relaxed. She is now reading AHEAD of grade level!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
WOW! What a jump in just half a year. Amazing progress. Whatever you are doing, keep it up!

Kelly Grundhofer

says:

This is a great reminder… Thanks

Leslie

says:

I often struggle feeling like I am not doing enough and my child is not where other kids are. I have found it paralyzing to fall into the Big Pit. Though I have some wonderful people in my life that point me back to what is important. That we are learning. When we just work on continuing to learn we feel so accomplished. And when we look back it is awesome to see how far we have come!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Leslie,
I’m thankful to hear you are blessed with wonderful people in your life that help you keep things in perspective.

Joanne Gibbons

says:

I am so guilty of looking at the ideal. No more pit for me…..Bird’s eye view…..here we come!!!! Thank you for the fresh perspective!

Holly

says:

This is timely encouragement for me. Thank you!

Krystal

says:

This is a great post! Your tips are spot on!

jen s

says:

This is perfect timing for me. I go between panicking that I’m not doing enough, they’re not where I think they should be in certain areas, etc. and then to the other extreme of enjoying life as six year olds and not stressing on the academics quite yet. I need to step back and really take in all we’ve done and continue striving to hit milestones.

Judy

says:

Excellent post! I love the graphics with it. They really helped to focus the point. And reminded me to celebrate the successes, even though there’s far to go.

Amber L.

says:

Thank you for this article…It arrived in my inbox at the most perfect time of the year. To help me put things in perspective and to give my child a boost every once in a while, I’ve created memory boxes (scrapbooking stackable plastic bins) of my child’s work that I have within reach of our learning area. Therefore, when I’m feeling down as I’m planning future lessons or when I feel my son is needing a little confidence, I pull that subject area’s work from a year ago. Upon reflection, I usually feel a smile or get a smile! :)

Haley

says:

Totally agree about the destructive potential of the Big Pit! It’s discouraging for parents, unmotivating for kids, and makes everyone feel bad about themselves. The only way to make progress is by staying positive while taking daily steps towards the goal.

Jessica

says:

This message is so timely. My son took a huge leap forward over the past few weeks and this week he took a few steps back. Learning and mastery do not function as constant linear equations, they are more like the stock market with jumps, dives and plateaus.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
YES! We, as adults, expect learning to happen at a steady, always forward, pace. But for many kids learning takes place is leaps and standstills and the occasional backslide. Thank you for reminding us about this.

Shannon

says:

Thank you for the reassurance. It is a big pit and hard not to fall into it!

Tanya

says:

Thank you for this blog. I do this frequently and needed a reminder of having a fresh perspective and look back on how my kids have grown.

Karol Whitcomb

says:

Our kids love the reading activities in AAR. My girl tries to get to the activities before the lesson. She is learning to be patient and wait after the lesson. Spelling is working wonders for both my 1st and 3rd graders. They are getting the concepts very easily. I has been great for me also for both of this programs have improve my English. Reading and Spelling were the two subjects that I dreaded the most when we started homeschooling. Your program have made it very easy for me to teach these two subjects. The item that helps me the most is your Basic Phonograms CD ROM. If I can not pronounce a sound correctly then I go and listen to the phonograms. If I still can not pronounce it correctly I just have the kids listen to it. I has been an awesome experience to teach with your program!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Karol,
Thank you for letting us know how well your children are doing with All About Reading and All About Spelling. It sounds like they are doing very well!

In case anyone wonders about the Phonograms CDrom, we no longer offer it for sale. We have replaced the purchased CDrom with a free Phonograms App. The app does the same thing the CDrom did, but is available for Android, Apple, and other devices free of charge.

Liz

says:

We haven’t started AAR or AAS yet, but we’ve been playing the “I Spy something that starts with /sound/” game. My preschool daughter loves this game and initiates it while we’re grocery shopping or at mealtimes. This is such an improvement from where we started in the fall when she struggled to come up with a word that started with any given sound. I needed this reminder to look at how far she’s come and celebrate her successes.

Gabriela

says:

I love how much I learn from your blog!

Marylin

says:

Hi! Thanks for all your articles. They are very encouraging and worthwhile to put into practice. ;)

Iris

says:

It’s great to be reminded that your child will progress at his/her pace, and work at comparing him/her to that idealized version created in your mind. I take the time to periodically look over prior work to see how much progress has been made so as to stay outta the “gap.”

Cindy

says:

Thank you for this! Perfect timing after an evening of tears for both of us my son and I needed a little perspective.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Awww, Cindy. I’m sorry to hear tears were involved. I hope you can find encouragement in looking back over how far your child has come.

Jenn

says:

Oh, how I need this post so much today. My son has a speech disorder, and though I try and remember how hard he is working on his speech and how much progress he is making, it is so hard to not see how far he still has to go, especially when I hear his peers or even kiddos younger than him talking so much better than him.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jenn,
It’s wonderful to hear that this blog post was timely for you. It can be heartbreaking when our little ones struggle and we want them to succeed so much. But he will get there!

Marylin

says:

Hi! Thank you for all the tips and reminder that each child is special in that they learn at their speed and ability. It’s been encouraging to me to keep at it when my youngest struggled more than his older siblings when it comes to reading. Thanks again!

Angela

says:

Thank you for the article!

suzanne luttrull

says:

My 7 year old has struggled with reading for a while now. I was starting to despair that she was ever going to catch on but now she is really taking off. I decided to ease up on the expectations and just spend more time reading aloud books that she finds interesting. I also started the All about spelling level one to give her some more structured spelling practice and it has done wonders for her. She is able to spell leaps and bounds better than where she was and it has also greatly improved her reading abilities. Now she volunteers to read on her own rather than me forcing her. It is such a joy and I look forward to it each day!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Suzanne,
Thank you for sharing your daughter’s success with us! How exciting!

Betty

says:

Hi! i can not thank you enough for your program. My grandson is six years old and has struggled with reading. I have tried numerous programs and all to no avail. He is so excited to do his work each day. I have compared him to his brother who was reading by this age of six and realized it was not fair to the younger. I am learning each works at their own level. Their autism has been difficult for each brother. Thank you for having the insight and courage to produce this awesome product!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Betty,
I’m glad to hear that we have been able to help and encourage you as you teach your grandson. Let us know if we can help any further!

stacey brown

says:

Thank you for the reminder that all kids progress at their own pass

Kim

says:

This was a great reminder for me. My middle son has been learning to read at a much slower pace than my eldest and I’d often compare them. When he was first learning, I remember the occasional groan when I’d tell him it was reading time. He finished level 1 last week and was practically jumping for joy when I asked him to read a story to his little sister. I’d say he’s made amazing progress :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

What a difference! Thank you for sharing your son’s success with us, Kim!

Christine

says:

Thank you for these timely and encouraging words! Just the boost I needed in the middle of the winter, when it’s easy to get discouraged. Hope I can win a AAS book! 😊

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Christine,
The mid-year can be a low time for a lot of homeschoolers. The holidays are already past, and the end of the school year seems so far away. I like to try out new things this time of year, to breath new life into our homeschool. This is the time of year I start a new science, or do more field trips, or work on art projects regularly, or other fun new experiences. It really helps.

Elizabeth

says:

I’m guilty of falling into the big pit. Thank you for the reminder! It’s funny how often I lose sight of why I home school. Shockingly, it’s not so my child can be like everyone else, yet I still compare.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Elizabeth,
I think many of us fall into the comparing trap once in a while. When it happens, just remind yourself to compare the student to himself from a few months or a year ago instead. It’s a much more accurate picture anyway.

Sherry

says:

Thanks for this reminder. It’s even harder to apply in a classroom. But this is one thing I especially like about homeschooling, there aren’t 20 kids that “have” to keep up! As a homeschool teacher, we can go at each child’s pace without worrying whether the rest of the class will fall behind.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sherry,
Yes! This is one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling; the ability to teach the student where he is at in each subject regardless of age or supposed grade level!

Megan

says:

Thank you for that! Very helpful to keep in mind.

Brenda Perez

says:

I love AAR. My daughter is very bright, and I expected reading to come easily to her, as most things do. Unfortunately, it just hasn’t been that way. We’ve tried a couple of other resources, but she really didn’t start putting it together until we began AAR this school year. While she is not even close to where I would like her to be, she has made great progress. The icing on the cake is that she now says, “Well, I like reading a little bit.” That makes my mommy heart very happy!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Brenda,
I’m sorry your daughter has struggled, but it’s great to hear she likes reading at least a little bit now. Thanks for sharing.

Kim

says:

Awesome article….I love your products!

Peta

says:

A timely reminder! We have been working on recognizing how far we’ve come with respect to manners (though we still have far to go); it’s a good exercise to apply to academics as well!

Laura Winter

says:

I am guilty of falling into this pit, but mainly with my oldest. It took me a while to realize that all kids learn at different paces and no child has to be like another. Thank you for the encouragement and for helping to put things in perspective.

Stacie F

says:

I always tell myself, “small bites.” We did all our work with this in mind.

Judith Martinez

says:

I think my husband struggles with this even more then I do. He had these really great expectations for how well our children would do academically but life happened and they have not reached such lofty heights. I have learned to compare their achievement to how they would have done if they’d had to attend the many public schools we’ve lived near over the years of upheaval. I know in my heart that several of our children would have struggled even more in a public school classroom while dealing with our family difficulties.

Kiel

says:

This is not only a great reminder for us in dealing with our children and in teaching but also in looking at our own growth as adults!

Suanna

says:

I like the big picture idea. I like to know what I’d like to see at the end, but set smaller goals to meet in between the beginning and ending points. That way both my child and I can see the progress being made.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great idea, Suanna, setting small, achievable goals along the way. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Liz Cain

says:

This topic just came up in conversation with a friend today. Thanks!

Amy

says:

Progress over time is amazing and fun to review. In her early reading days my daughter hated that every day was a challenge. One day I had her go back to the beginning of the reader and read the first day’s lesson. She was surprised at how easy it was and how much she had progressed. And that was eye opening for me.

Katie

says:

Great reminder for a rookie like myself :)

Melanie

says:

Excellent reminder!! Looking back amazes me! Sometimes, when we review those very early lessons, I see the surprise in my little guy’s eyes as he thinks- boy, that was easy! Thank you :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

It’s a great idea to go back to earlier lesson in order to see just how far you have come. Thanks for sharing this, Melanie.

Lesa Dale

says:

I like the idea of the big picture review. I know my child has come a long way with his spelling. We are still working through the levels, but I can see where it has helped outside of his All of About Spelling.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lesa,
It’s great that you are seeing his spelling improve outside All About Spelling. That’s really good progress!

Renee Brown

says:

THis is a fantastic post!! I am always concerned about my daughter’s progress. I am proud to say that AAR has helped her begin to read. She just finished reading her first little book to me and her dad! Very exciting!! All thanks to AAR!!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Renee,
Thanks for sharing this great news with us! Congratulations!

Laura

says:

Thank you. This was needed

Tammy

says:

I am super glad you gave us this post on “the big pit”. I have continually wondered about every concern you listed. I get anxious and I know it shows in my emotions especially when my child often needs rule reminders. However, looking at what he has learned is far more important than worrying about an ideal! You always know how to keep encouraging us! God Bless You! AAS changed are life in a great way!]

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Oh, Tammy, I am so pleased to read this morning. It’s wonderful to be part of a team that has made such a difference in your family! Thank you!

Kerri

says:

It is hard to not fall into the pit when you have to repeat a lesson. Keeping in mind the end goal seems to help keep me out of the pit.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kerri,
Great point. I find myself often asking one of my children, “What is the goal of doing this book? Finishing it quickly, or actually mastering what is in it?” Focusing on doing what it takes to deeply learn the material is much better than focusing on getting through a book as quickly as possible.

Teresa

says:

So guilty! But I think AAR makes progress much easier to see.

Lida

says:

I love seeing progress, even little steps!

Laurie Chevallier

says:

Thank you for the encouraging article! Just one question… What does a fluency practice sheet consist of? Fluency is a key area we are working on and I’m always looking for ways to gone in on that area.

Thank you!
Laurie Chevallier

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Laurie,
Fluency practice sheets are a key component of our All About Reading program. You can see one on pages 13 and 14 of our All About Reading 2 Activity Book sample (it’s a double sided sheet).

Anna Tibbitts

says:

Such a timely article. At the half way point in the school year I’m trying to get out of the pit. I had hoped my son would be farther along in reading at this point but as you point out a birds eye view is more accurate and encouraging.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Anna,
The half-way point of the school year can be such a time of trial for many of us. Changing your perspective is a great way to help get through the mid-year doldrums.

I use AAS for 3 years now and have seen great progress with my daughter. She has dyslexia and it is very difficult for her to spell correctly and retain the information. I love the way the program works, the only thing I have issues with is that she doesn’t seem to show a lot of progress in one school year. This article was a great encouragement to me and helped me to remember to stop and appreciate the progress she makes. Thanks for developing the AAS program.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Dori,
Thank you for taking the time to share your daughter’s progress in spelling with us. With dyslexic students, progress can be slow and sometimes hard to see, but looking back shows how very far they have come. Keep up the great work!

I’ve found that just when I don’t think my little guy is making any progress, if I will just slow down for a few days, I’ll see him FLY very soon. We’ve been sort of a stuck for a couple of weeks, doing more review than new teaching because he just didn’t seem to “get it.” Then this morning, he brings a stack of books to my bed and says, “Mom, I want to read these books to you!” Ahhh! Progress! Being patient can be so hard, but it’s worth it to not push. This post was a great reminder and encouragement.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Leigh Ann. Being patient IS hard, but the results are so worth it!

Laura

says:

What an encouragement! Just what I needed.

Dara

says:

This is exactly what I wanted to avoid but sadly I fell into the pit! So worried that it wasn’t enough but this is such a good perspective, so validating of their achievements. I might pull out some work from the past with them and take a look at their accomplishments and how much they have grown since then. Thank you so much!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Dara,
Pulling out past work is a great idea. Thanks!

B C

says:

This article was a great encouragement to me. Thanks so much!

Tracy

says:

Thanks for the encouraging post! I have been guilty of comparing my children’s progress… With siblings, friends’ kids, where I was at their age. When I look instead at what they have accomplished it always hearings a smile.

Elizabeth

says:

What a helpful word of encouragement!

Michelle Lee

says:

I need this so badly

Jen S.

says:

This is a great article. My daughter has dyslexia so I pretty much constantly worry about if she is progressing enough. This is a good reminder that as long as she is making progress it’s not as important if she’s at the same level as other first graders.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jen,
When my kid start feeling this way, I like to pull out one of the stories she read a few months back and have her reread it. Since we are continuously moving forward, the difficulty stays at a pretty consistent level and it is easy for my child to get the idea that she isn’t getting better. Rereading a story from a few months ago shows her just how easy that story is for her now, so she can better understand how far she has come. It’s very encouraging.

Sarah

says:

I definitely struggle with this at times…even within our own family. My oldest was an early reader (2nd gr level by her her 4th birthday) that I worry I’m not ‘doing enough’ with number 2 and 3. They are actually both doing well for their age and level, plus are very different from Big Sis. All kids should be improving according to where they are, not where someone else is/was. I used AAR Level 1 with my second child and am now using it with number 3. We love it!

Evelyn Barge

says:

I am sooo guilty of looking at the “now” instead of looking at the future or from where we started. It is so much more fun to do the best you can and enjoy the ride! Other people are struggling too. :)

P

says:

This would be a great prize to win, very useful.

Sheri Miller

says:

All About Reading worked wonderfully for my learning disabled daughter! She loved the format and the reading books!

Casey S.

says:

Thanks for the advice and encouragement!

Destiny McCabe

says:

With a dyslexic son, this is a trap I fall into often. I’m so thankful for your supportive staff to keep me on track! My 3rd grader is in Level 2 of reading and spelling, and is making wonderful progress with your programs.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Destiny,
My 3rd grader is in AAR 2 and AAS 2 as well; I completely understand. However, it is the right place for her to be, and any time I feel the pressure to start picking up the pace things get frustrating for her.

I remind myself to think so what if it takes her until 5th or even 6th grade to complete AAR 4. At the end of Level 4 students have the phonics and word attack skills necessary to sound out high school level words! She’ll be okay, and won’t learn to hate reading along the way.

I’m very glad that we can be supportive to you. Keep up the slow and steady wonderful work!

Heather Culp

says:

At times, I’ve compared my son, who has struggled with reading, to my other children who caught on to reading very quickly. I have found that I do this less using All About Reading since it’s not a textbook aimed at a specific grade. I am thrilled to see him progressing through the levels of reading at a pace that is right for him.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Heather,
Great point. Our levels are not grade levels; in fact, at the end of Level 4 students have the phonics and word attack skills necessary to sound out high school level words (though they may not know the meaning of all higher level words yet). There is time to get through AAR without rushing.

I think I get worried my 8 yr old should be in level 3 of reading AAR but I’ve learned he dosent need as much support as his siblings in learning to read so I had to start letting go of trying to do every activity suggested for every lesson.

Pam

says:

great reminders

Heather

says:

Great advice! I really needed to be reminded of this. It’s so easy to compare our kids to others and fall into the Big Pit. I need to remember to look at how far they have come. Thank you!

Lisette Dionisio

says:

Yes! I have no regrets in stepping back and letting my child enjoy learning. Worrying just makes me gain another wrinkle. haha :) My child is a level 3 reader at the age of 6.

Lee

says:

Celebrating the small steps!

Stephanie

says:

Yes! This happens to me. But sometimes it really helps to look back just a month or two and remember how difficult things were and how much has changed.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Stephanie,
Yes. I find that when I or my student are falling into the “Big Pit”, going back and asking them to read a story or write some dictation from the previous level shows us both just how easily she can do work that not so long ago was challenging.

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