794

The “No Gaps” Approach to Reading and Spelling

Closeup of cartoon girl climbing ladder

Does your child have gaps in reading and spelling?

Hundreds of thousands of children struggle to learn to read and spell. They spend hour after tiring hour being fed information, only to eventually be tagged as “unable to read” or labeled with a learning disability that keeps them from being able to spell.

It’s hard to believe, but according to nationwide statistics, 64% of fourth graders read below proficient levels.1 2

That’s a staggering number.

Let’s think about that for just a moment.

If you lined up ten random fourth-grade kids from across the United States…

… only four of them would be able to read at a proficient level. Just four. Six of the children would only be able to read at a basic level or below.

Cartoon lineup showing 6 of 10 kids below proficient reading level

But if you live in certain states, it’s even worse: 72% of fourth graders in Michigan read below proficient levels. In New Mexico, it’s 77% of fourth graders. Among black students, it’s 81% of fourth graders. (Check out the reading stats for your state as reported by the U.S. Department of Education.)

However, these grim statistics don’t tell the whole story.

The Problem: Gaps

More often than not, the problem doesn’t actually lie with the child. Most reading and spelling problems are caused by gaps in the reading or spelling curriculum. Gaps are created when programs don’t follow incremental steps, or when information is taught in an illogical sequence. Such programs don’t build sequentially upon the information the child has already mastered. These gaps can cause lots of problems for kids. Here’s why…

Confused cartoon boy looking at ladder with missing rungs

Imagine Climbing a Ladder with Missing Rungs

You’re in front of a tall ladder, and you’re expected to climb to the top. There’s a reward up there, and you’re excited to grab it. You don’t know it yet, but this particular ladder has a few problems. In fact, the ladder has some missing rungs. But it’s your job to climb it, so you begin.

Climbing the first and second rungs of the ladder doesn’t present a problem—the rungs are adequately placed, and you can put one foot ahead of the other. But when you lift your foot for the next step, you hesitate…because there is a gaping hole where the third rung should be. In order to take the next step, you have to really stretch. You have long legs and a strong upper body, so you can do it—but it isn’t easy. You make that big step and pull yourself up the ladder.

But wait! When you take the next step, you realize that there is another missing rung in the ladder. Good thing you are up to a physical challenge! Reaching and stretching, you eventually climb to the top of the ladder and claim your reward.

But What If You Can’t Overcome the Missing Rungs?

What if your legs aren’t long enough to stretch over the gaping holes? What if you don’t have the upper body strength to pull yourself up to the next rung? You will likely become discouraged and defeated, and may eventually give up. Should you be labeled as having a ladder-climbing disability for not being able to climb the ladder?

You may think it’s your fault that you can’t climb the ladder, but it’s not. The cards were stacked against you from the very beginning. The ladder wasn’t well constructed, so the designers of the ladder are to blame for the failure. The problem isn’t with you; the problem is with the ladder and its missing rungs.

A properly designed ladder makes climbing to the top possible—even for a person with challenges that would make climbing a faulty ladder impossible.

Cartoon girl climbing ladder with no gaps

Learning to Read and Spell Is a Lot Like Climbing a Ladder

Each rung on the ladder represents an important concept that helps students get closer to the goal of fluent reading and spelling. If a rung (or concept) is missing, climbing (or learning) is harder than it needs to be. And as you can imagine…

…it’s much easier to climb a ladder that has all of its rungs.

For some children, a reading or spelling curriculum with missing steps is not a problem. Just as your long legs would help you climb a ladder with missing rungs, some children are able to intuitively fill in the gaps in a reading or spelling program.

But for many children, those missing steps present an insurmountable obstacle. Just like some people don’t have the physical makeup to climb a faulty ladder, some children aren’t wired to make the big jumps that many reading and spelling programs require.

Your Curriculum Choice Can Make the Difference Between Success and Failure

When I developed All About Reading and All About Spelling, I had a clear image of a ladder in my mind. I spent thousands of hours analyzing each and every step, making sure there were no gaps. I wanted every child to have the benefit of clear, concise, well structured, and fail-proof teaching.

(Click here if you’d like to view samples of my “no gaps” approach.)

All About Reading and All About Spelling teach through a research-based, logical sequence with NO GAPS. Both programs are “ladders” with precisely placed rungs that make it easy for your student to climb to the top, regardless of his age or ability. With this approach, kids can successfully climb to the top of the ladder—step by step by step—and reap the rewards of mastery in reading and spelling without all the struggles along the way.

We guarantee it!

Download my free e-book to discover twenty more tips for teaching reading and spelling!

Free report - '20 Best Tips for Teaching Reading and Spelling'

___________________________________
1. nationsreportcard.gov. Accessed 12/4/2019

2. McFarland J., et al (2019). The Condition of Education 2019 (NCES 2019-144). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, page 91. Available: nces.ed.gov.

The No Gaps approach Pinterest graphic
< Previous Post  Next Post >

Leave a Comment

Anica

says:

I love AAR!

Jenna Sybert

says:

We enjoy AAR and AAS so much. We hope we avoid missing rungs with this approach!

jessica

says:

I noticed when I started homeschooling my two kids, two years ago, (one was fourteen and one was nine), my older daughter didn’t know some of the stuff that my younger son was learning in English and Grammer. She began to follow along with him in his work. It has helped her fill in some of the gaps that she had. I have been surprised at how often this has happened in other subjects as well. I began to feel like she was falling behind, due to having to fill in these “gaps”, but I realized that you can’t climb a ladder to the top with a ladder that has missing rungs!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
Great observation! Thank you.

T. McShan

says:

My son loves AAR. I really love the readers that come with the program. No more searching for appropriate reading level books at the library.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Oh, I know how difficult it is to find phonics based beginning reading books at the library. There are so few! We love hearing that you are loving our Readers.

Jessica Kirdyashev

says:

I actually, originally purchased your curriculum for my two, smart, creative dyslexics that I had used several different curricula on, searching for the right fit for us. I worried about the gaps! After all the things we’d used, there had to be some. I ended up purchasing the first level for my twins who were not struggling yet. I thought, “AAR should even work for them if they never show signs of a dyslexic processing style, so I think that I will start them over at the beginning and stick with the same one for them from here on out, so I know what we’ve covered, at least.” I feel so much more confident that they are getting as gapless a reading education as I can provide. It was worth the time it took to start over.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
Thank you for sharing your thought process with your decision to start your twins over at the beginning with AAR. It’s great to hear that it was worth the time it took to start over!

Leah

says:

Great innovation, esp. for spelling…!

Kristin Girod

says:

We are loving AAR with my 7 yo!! Very thankful for the no gaps approach.

Carolyn K.

says:

All about reading has been a great resource for my difficult reader!

Kerry Hill

says:

We are new to homeschooling. I have heard so many great things about All About Reading /Spelling, I can’t wait for us to try them!

Ani

says:

We’re about to finish AAR 1! Can’t wait! My DS loves to “play” with all the phonograms on the fridge.

Debra Boyer

says:

My first grader is struggling with his reading. I’m hoping that a switch to this reading curriculum will help him.

Gina Hilton

says:

As the parent of a dyslexic child, avoiding these gaps is even more important.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Yes! We completely agree, Gina.

Tina

says:

If I think my child has gaps and she is in 4th grade, would you still recommend her starting at level 1? She is reading well, but her spelling is very bad. Trying to see what could help her with spelling.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tina,
We recommend that struggling spellers start with level 1 to build a strong foundation in spelling.

All About Spelling is a building block program with each level building upon the previous one. The rules and concepts learned in Level 1 are applied in Level 2, and then those are applied in Level 3, and so on. Placement for spelling is based on the student’s knowledge of spelling rules and concepts rather than grade level, reading level, or the words a student has memorized.

For example, we find that many students simply memorize easy words like “cat” and “kid” but have no idea why one uses a C and the other uses a K, or that the same rules that apply to these words also apply to higher level words such as “concentrate.” Other students switch letters or leave out letters entirely. This usually occurs because they don’t know how to hear each sound in the word. Level 1 has specific techniques to solve these problems.

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

Level 2 of AAS focuses on learning the syllable types, when they are used and how they affect spelling. This information is foundational for higher levels of spelling. Three syllable rules are introduced in Level 2, and then more in Level 3 and up. For this reason, we don’t recommend starting higher than level 2.

Marie encourages parents and teachers to “fast track” if the student knows how to spell most of the words but does not understand the underlying basic spelling concepts. In this case, very quickly skim the parts that he already knows and slow down on the parts that he needs to learn. Pull out several words as examples. Make sure he understands the concept being taught, and then move on. This blog article has a good example of how you might fast track.

Please let us know if you have further questions or concerns on placement or anything else.
Robin E.

Michelle

says:

I am so glad we followed your advice and started my second grader in AAS level 1. Not only did he gain confidence but we are filling in some gaps.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
Thank you for sharing how AAS 1 has helped your 2nd grader.

Amanda

says:

Hi, I agree, thank you for posting this!

Margaret

says:

Nice ideas

Ashton Burke

says:

AAS is making my kids FINALLY proficient spellers!! THANKS!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ashton,
You’re welcome, and thank you for sharing your kids’ success in spelling!

kim krauss

says:

My kids need a little more instruction with the second syllable sound of I and e. They are getting these wrong a lot. Any suggestions for making this easier would be great. For example, the word, seven. It sounds like /I/, but spelled with e.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kim,
This is the infamous Pin/Pen Merger. It’s a difficulty for a large region of the United States. It’s so common that we even have a blog post specific to it, Pin or Pen? Solving Short I/Short E Confusion.

As always, let us know if you need further help, but I do think this blog post will get you started on helping your kids.
Robin E.

Leanne

says:

I often wonder how to make sure my children don’t have these gaps. It’s always good to have some support around you from people who have been working on this area for some time.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

We’re here to help if you ever need it, Leanne.

Paula

says:

We love reading &!soelling lessons that complement each other.

Carol

says:

My twins had difficulty learning to read when they were in public school. They’ve been using AAR for the last year, and the improvement is amazing! Definitely glad for the “no gaps” approach :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Carol,
Thank you sharing the difference experiences your twins had with a school curriculum and with AAR. It’s great to hear that AAR has made a difference.

Sara Burke

says:

Thanks to all about spelling, my struggling speller is finally getting it!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

HURRAY!

Thanks for sharing your child’s success, Sara.

Corri Montgomery

says:

The statistics are really eye opening and scary. Hopefully soon I will be able to purchase your product.

B Blanchard

says:

Would love to use this for my son

Joy

says:

I appreciate AAR with my dyslexic daughter; it seems to really be helping her. And would love to have the next level.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Joy,
It’s great to hear that All About Reading is helping. Thank you for sharing.

Katy Austin

says:

Very informative. Thank you!

Sandra

says:

My daughter has childhood apraxia of speech and has many gaps in learning. I hope our early start with aar will help her as she begins her reading journey.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sandra,
As I am sure you know, apraxia can make learning to read even more difficult, but we have had good reports from parents of apraxic children. If you ever need additional help, please let us know.

Andrea saunders

says:

I worry about my kids having gaps. Thanks for the article and all that you do. I have one of your spelling programs but not te reading one yet.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Andrea,
I’m glad that we can ease your worries about gaps at least for spelling.

Wendy

says:

We are loving AAR! I saw a lot of gaps with the program I used with my first two children. Thankfully, we found AAR and the next two are getting a more solid foundation.

We love these curricula! Not only are there no gaps for my kids, but the steps are simple to teach and make sense to me!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Holly.

Sudhir Luqman

says:

I really love to be the part of this. Thanks

Leave a Comment