Account
Contact
Search Blog 
1,583

What’s the Difference Between AAR & AAS?

One of our most frequently asked questions is “Do I need both All About Reading and All About Spelling or can I choose just one of these programs to teach both subjects?”

That’s a great question!

all about reading and all about spelling components

Read on to find out how the two programs are similar and how they are different, and then download sample lessons to help you decide.

How the Two Programs are Similar

This graphic shows the ways that All About Reading and All About Spelling are alike. The two programs complement each other in many ways, and the skills learned in one program are reinforced in the other program.

similarities between aar and aas

Additionally both programs are presented with our signature step-by-step lesson plans, making reading and spelling easy for you to teach.

How the Two Programs Are Different

We intentionally split reading and spelling into two programs because they each have their own ideal teaching sequence and teaching methods. In order to help your child master each subject, we teach them independently from each other. And by teaching reading and spelling separately, you can progress at your student’s pace until both skills are mastered. Students can move as quickly or as slowly as they need to with each skill.

There are significant differences in the skills that are taught in All About Reading and All About Spelling. Take a look at the graphic below to see those differences.

differences between aar and aas

An important distinction is that All About Reading teaches decoding with the end goal of comprehension, while All About Spelling teaches encoding with the goal of writing thoughts on paper.

Take a Look Inside Two Actual Lessons

Let’s take a look at the lessons that teach the letter combination KN (which says /n/ as in knight).

All About Reading sample

All About Reading Level 3, Lessons 45 and 46

In these reading lessons, students will learn to decode words containing phonogram KN, such as knight, knock, and knot. The lessons guide you in presenting vocabulary, comprehension skills, and fluency practice, all while completing interesting activities like “Mush” and “Who’s in the Castle?” The lessons are reinforced with the engaging short story “Cedric the Brave Knight.”

All About Spelling Sample

All About Spelling Level 4, Step 13

Now let’s look at how KN is taught from the spelling perspective. In this lesson, students learn how to spell words such as know, knee, knot, and knife. They learn that KN is only used at the beginning of a base word, and they learn common homophone pairs such as knight and night. Students write sentences from dictation and compose original sentences using the Writing Station prompts.

As you can see from the lessons, there’s a big difference in the approach to reading and spelling, even though they share the same phonetic code.

Do you have any other questions about the differences between AAR and AAS?

placeholder

Share This:

< Previous Post  Next Post >

Leave a Reply

Marianne

says:

Does it matter if you do AAS or AAR first in your daily work? Should you do them back to back or split them up? We are doing level 3.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Good questions, Marianne.

However, I have a question first. Am I understanding correctly you are starting All About Spelling at Level 3, not having done All About Spelling previously?

While All About Reading can be started at whatever level your student is ready for, All About Spelling is not the same. (Our placement test will help you determine which level of AAR your student is ready for. Please note our levels are not grade levels.) Most students actually need to start with Level 1, although older students will move through the first level or two quickly.

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.

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 unless your student has a lot of experience with another Orton-Gillingham-based program. We have a spelling placement test to determine if your student needs Level 1 or can start with Level 2.

I mention all this since most students do not work in the same level of All About Reading and All About Spelling at the same time. The two programs do not line up, especially beyond the first level or two. With that in mind, we recommend treating AAR and AAS as separate subjects. You can do whichever first you and your student prefers. Many students do focus better doing something completely different between the two, such as a break or music practice or something that doesn’t require academic focus.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Marianne

says:

Okay, thanks!!

Marianne

says:

We have been doing AAS from the beginning and are just switching to/adding the AAR (did PAL before). Lesson 2 in both books cover AI and AY so I wasn’t sure if it was better to do the Spelling lesson first or not. With PAL it had in the lesson where to incorporate the AAS lesson so I thought AAR might have that too but it wasn’t there. But it sounds like it doesn’t really matter which comes first.
Thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, I’m sorry for the confusion, Marianne! I misunderstood.

As you move forward in both programs you’ll see that they don’t match up, and that AI and AY are covered in Lesson 2 of both is more coincidence.

You can approach this particular situation you can still choose whichever you prefer to teach first. Many children do better when they learn to read words before learning to spell them, but others find it easier to be introduced to know phonograms with spelling first. Either way is fine!

Brittany

says:

We have completed AAR pre-reading and are now in the middle of level 1. Should we wait to incorporate AAS level 1 or would it be okay to do them concurrently?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry about the delay in seeing this great question, Brittany.

We generally recommend waiting until a student has completed All About Reading level 1 before beginning All About Spelling. We have more information about this in our The Right Time to Start Spelling Instruction blog article.

Nicole

says:

my son is 10 years old he is having some trouble with fluency of his reading. He is sounding words out perfectly he just needs a little help on the fluency of his reading we took the placement test for level 4 all about reading and he did fine,would it be a waste to purchase all about reading level 4

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nicole,
How did he do reading the story from the All About Reading Level 4 placement test? Was he able to read that story smoothly and fluently, needing to sound out no more than a few words per page and misreading or needing help with no more than a few words total?

If he was not fluent with that story, then he is not ready for All About Reading Level 4, even if he was able to decode all the words. All About Reading includes research-based instruction in all aspects of reading, not only in decoding skills, but also in fluency, automaticity, comprehension, vocabulary, and lots and lots of reading practice. For placement in All About Reading, you are looking for the highest level your son can read the placement test fluently.

If he was fluent with the Level 4 placement test story, take a look at Reading Mastery Evaluation. If he is also fluent with those stories, then he would not benefit from All About Reading. If he is fluent with the Level 4 placement test story but not fluent with the Reading Mastery Evaluation stories, then All About Reading Level 4 will be the perfect level for him.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have additional questions or need anything else. I’m happy to help as much as needed!

Jen

says:

What wonderful resources! My oldest is using your AAR level 2 & I would like to incorporate your AAS with it. Also my youngest finished the pre reading but doesn’t recognize all the letters but can sound out phonetically letters & is starting on her own to separate syllables & spelling words so I think I need to get level 1 for her soon.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this was helpful, Jen. I think you may find our The Right Time to Start Spelling Instruction blog post helpful as well.

Flor Gomez

says:

I really wanto to try the spelling program with my

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Let me know if you have questions about placement or anything else, Flor.

Anita

says:

AAR was released after I started homeschooling. I wish I had been able to use it with my daughter who is dyslexic. After trying many different learn to read programs, she actually used through AAS 1!

Anita

says:

Sorry, typo. She actually learned to read through All About Spelling 1.

Michelle

says:

This answered my question! I started using AAR with my 6 year old after many attempts of other resources and programs and her willingness and eagerness fading. Her eyes lit up with her own book to try again. Now her almost four year old brother is starting to get it too! Thanks for this great program!

Anna Thompson

says:

I’m going to start AAR soon with my kids. I’m also considering using AAS, but I’m worried that it will be too much. Do you have any tips for teaching both AAR and AAS?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great question, Anna!

First, what level of All About Reading will your kids be starting? We generally recommend waiting to begin All About Spelling until the student has finished All About Reading Level 1 or the equivalent reading level. We discuss this further in our The Right Time to Start Spelling Instruction article.

Assuming your kids will be starting All About Reading with Level 2 or higher, we recommend that you take each program at your child’s pace. Spend about 20 minutes per day on reading, and 20 minutes on spelling. Start each subject with a few minutes of review, and then pick up wherever you left off previously. This way you can spread a lesson over as many or as few days as your child needs. Students still get the benefit of having spelling reinforce reading without being held back in reading, or moving ahead too quickly in spelling.

You might like these blog articles that show examples of what your day might look like for each subject.
A typical day and week for All About Reading
A typical day and week for All About Spelling (this one is of an older student using a higher level, but it still shows how you can break a lesson up over several days or a week.)

You may find our Teaching Reading and Spelling to Multiple Kids blog post has tips and suggestions you may find helpful as well.

If you have additional questions or need more help with this or anything else, just let me know!

Shelby

says:

Very interesting! I have been looking into AAR for my soon-to-be first grader and this makes a lot of sense. Thank you for explaining!

Tina

says:

This was very helpful. I was really confused about the differences in AAR and AAS. This really helped me decided where to start.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this was helpful for you, Tina. If you have any questions about placement or anything else, I’m happy to help!

Sarah

says:

Using AAR level one for my kindergartner has been so fun! I love to watch him read! We are excited to start level two next year and continue using level one for our second son.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so pleased to hear that All About Reading is working out well for you and your child, Sarah! Thank you for sharing.

Sarah C

says:

We’ve completed AAR level 1 and just started level 1 AAS :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sound great, Sarah!

Samantha

says:

First time homeschooler. This explains things well! Thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m happy this explained things well for you, Samantha!

rebekah everhart

says:

My children have done well combining both all about reading and all about spelling.

Dawn

says:

Both are such great programs! We are definitely loving AAR and just getting started with AAS.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Dawn!

Marina

says:

What great resources! Can’t wait to learn more!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You may wish to sign up for our weekly email newsletter then, Marina! That way you won’t ever miss a new blog post or article.

Heather

says:

We have noted AAR for a couple years now and AAS has been a great addition. I love how clearly this lays out the differences.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Heather!

Brittani

says:

Thank you for this! So helpful as a first time homeschooler to learn the difference.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Brittani! I’m especially pleased that this has been helpful for you as a first time homeschooler.

Marika

says:

Thank you for showing the breakdown of the differences and similarities between these two programs. I am very interested in trying out both! Was just about to purchase the AAS levels 1 & 2 yesterday, but the promotion to get the free interactive kit with tiles had just ended.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry you missed out on the promotion, Marika.

However, we have some great guides and activities that you can download for free:
Spelling Rules Posters
Dolch Sight Words Quick Guide
Pirate Ship Game
How to Handle Spelling Mistakes Quick Guide
Breaking Words Apart Activity
Pronounce for Spelling Quick Guide
4 Spelling Strategies Quick Guide

Also, we will be running more promotions in the future! All promotions are announced in our weekly email (sign-up for our newsletter) and on our social media platforms (Facebook or Instagram), so please check regularly for announcements about current promotions!

Mel

says:

I definitely want to get AAS for my son. He can read well but not spell well. A homeschool mom sent me a link about the kit for free with the purchase of any level but her email was sent today and the promo ended yesterday I guess. Will there be any more promos any time soon? ❤

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mel,
Yes, we will be running more promotions in the future! All promotions are announced in our weekly email (sign-up for our newsletter) and on our social media platforms (Facebook or Instagram), so please check regularly for announcements about current promotions!

Rebecca Smith

says:

Looking for options for making reading better.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Do you have any questions, Rebecca? I’m happy to help in whatever way you need.

Kimberly Ewalt

says:

We’re just starting and super excited.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful, Kimberly!

Samantha Wu

says:

great info

Ashley

says:

We are just starting our journey with all about reading and all about spelling. We have done nothing but ABEKA. I have heard nothing but good things about this program. I am excited to go through it and it am hoping it will help my kids. I think it will really help my middle child sinces he is a hamds on learner.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sounds great, Ashley! If you have any questions as you begin, just ask. We’re here to help!

Jane

says:

I am finishing up with the AAR Pre Reading and looking forward to AAR Level 1 with my son in kindergarten. I love this program so far and am looking forward to using both AAR and AAS with my son and preschool age daughter in the years to come. Thanks AAL Press!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jane! It’s great to hear that the Pre-reading level has been working out so well for you.

Maureen Armendariz

says:

This was really helpful. Our co-op moms want to transition the younger kids from AAR to AAS next year. I was worried about ther change but this has helped it make more sense for me. Thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this is helpful, Maureen.

Tamela

says:

We have just begun using AAS and she loves it. We would LOVE to try AAR!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m pleased to hear that All About Spelling is being well received, Tamela!

Hayley K

says:

This was very helpful! Looking forward to trying both programs with my son!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful, Halyley! Let me know if you have questions about placement or need any help.

Julia

says:

Thank you for clarifying- the infographics are helpful!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you found it helpful, Julia! You’re welcome.