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All About Reading (AAR) is a fabulous reading program. It is comprehensive and very easy to use, and it’s extremely effective. It’s even possible to use it with two other very young children rolling around the living room! It uses the Orton-Gillingham approach, which is a multi-sensory, systematic, mastery-based approach excellent for a wide variety of learners (dyslexic students, struggling readers, and gifted students alike).
It’s an open-and-go program, which means that a parent or teacher can give the lesson without any lesson planning or activity coordination of their own. I highly recommend this program to any parent wanting to help their child develop into a fluent, proficient reader.
When I originally selected a reading program, I had the following qualifications:
- Phonics-based. The program needed to teach how to decode words, without relying on rote memorization of many full words (known as “sight words”).
- Easy to implement. It needed to be “open and go”. We were ready to start a reading program with my oldest daughter right after she turned four. I had a four month old baby and a 2.5 year old as well, and very little free time. I did not want to spend any evening time planning the next day’s reading lesson.
- Interesting. For a program to work with my precocious preschoolers, it must be engaging and fun. I also wanted to be interested in the program, so that my student could sense my enthusiasm and not my boredom as we worked the lessons together.
- Straightforward. No tricks, shortcuts, or making up a special language! The reading program needed to be clear and understandable immediately, by everyone. I wanted to have the option for my husband or in-laws to implement a lesson, if necessary- a substitute teacher, if you will.
I chose All About Reading because it fully met all of my qualifications:
All About Reading is phonics-based: The lessons in All About Reading introduce reading concepts systematically, encouraging learners to fully understand phonics-based concepts before moving on to the next concept. The next lesson builds on the previous lesson in a sequential and logical way. That is the beauty of this program- it encourages mastery, rather than just completion of tasks and rote memorization of many sight words.
She explains how many educators currently teach reading based on the “whole word approach” designed in 1936 by Edward Dolch. His methods gave 220 words to be taught as sight words, or words that must be memorized rather than phonetically decoded. Marie explains in this video that of those 220 sight words, 198 are actually decodable and just 22 are true sight words requiring memorization. The All About Reading program teaches students how to decode all words except the 22 true sight words.
This video and full blog post can be found here.
When my oldest daughter first started using the curriculum, we spent a few weeks on the first few lessons. It was clear when she “got it” and when she didn’t quite grasp the concept, and I was able to address that gap immediately by redoing that activity or doing another part of the lesson. Since the activities are enjoyable, neither of us felt bogged down or irritated. Sometimes though, we set the lesson aside until the next day for a fresh start. In any case, we didn’t move on to the next topic or lesson until she understood.
All About Reading is easy to implement. When we first started Level 1 in September 2016, we spent about 15 minutes a day on the lessons, two – four days per week. The baby was a frequent napper at that age, so we waited until he napped to work on reading lessons. My 2.5 year old would sit on my lap and listen or sit next to me and play quietly while her sister and I went over the lessons.
The lessons were so simple for me- I literally read the script off the page and did the activities exactly as the lesson plan described. Within just a few weeks, Giggle was able to decode words and read stories in the accompanying readers. Within 6 months, she had finished Level One and was reading chapter books on her own!
We moved on to Level Two in late February 2017 and are still there. By the time we started Level Two, Giggle was a voracious reader. Because she was reading everything in sight, and I was a bit overwhelmed with a crawling toddler, we set the lessons aside for a while with plans to pick back up when kindergarten officially started (July 2017, also the month this post is being written).
Now, we do the lessons when the baby is occupied with a snack or a toy. Because the lessons are broken up with activities, it’s a natural fit for our household. We can work on one lesson throughout the day or do it all in one sitting, depending on the time we have available.
Most of the time, we do the lesson until I have to stop and take care of something else, and then she finishes the activity alone if possible. Otherwise, we set the work aside for a bit and she is free to read from the readers or another book.
All About Reading is interesting. Each lesson uses a multi-sensory approach: a variety of activities to allow learners to absorb the information in different ways. You don’t have to know what way your child learns best to implement this curriculum, though- the multisensory process is engaging and encourages a deeper understanding of the material. This is great for learners (and teachers!) with short attention spans, too!
It’s also worth noting that the projects and activities suggested by the curriculum are not messy at all, and are very easy to implement.
All About Reading is straightforward. The teacher’s manual is essentially a script. For each lesson, the manual tells you what to say and when, and what activities to do and when.
This is exactly what I was looking for- I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my own ability to teach someone to read. It seemed scary, and potentially very damaging if I did something wrong. This curriculum laid it all out clearly, and is so easy to use.
With AAR, it is totally unnecessary for the teacher to have any training in teaching reading, or even any training in teaching at all! It’s easy for a substitute to go through a lesson, too- no pre-work or “catch-up” explanations necessary.
Want to see more?
In the video below, I show you the materials for Level 1 and some lesson and activity examples.
In short, I highly recommend this reading program, and wouldn’t even consider using another one.
I hope this review of All About Reading has helped you! If you have any additional questions about the program, how we implement the lessons in our homeschool, or anything else, please let me know! I’ll be happy to help!