Since we are all in homeschool planning mode right now, and you are all searching for the right reading program for you, I thought it would be helpful to share our experience. If you are new to homeschooling or just trying to find a better approach to teaching reading, you are in the right place. I feel like I did a TON of research last summer trying to find the system that would be the best fit for us. I am so thankful I choose this program. It really has made a big difference for us.
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If you got a chance to read my previous post all about things I learned my first year of homeschooling (found HERE), you know that we choose All About Reading for our reading curriculum last year. It is not an understatement to say that All About Reading gave ME the confidence to know that I could homeschool when we were so brand new and still figuring it all out. That is saying a LOT for a reading program. As the year progressed, and M was learning how to read, I saw that SHE was becoming confident that homeschooling was going to work for her too. All of our feelings about being successful in homeschool as a whole came from being successful in reading because of this program. It has made that big of a difference for us!
Top Reasons that we LOVE All About Reading
It Is Lightly Scripted
When I decided to start homeschooling M when our twins were only six weeks old, it was critical for me to select a curriculum that walked my sleep deprived self through the to-dos but still allowed room for my interpretation. Luckily for me, this was just what I needed. Each lesson took us about 1/2 hour – 45 min tops. My teaching portion was laid out for me on exactly what to teach, how to say it, helpful ways to explain concepts, etc. After my lesson, we moved on to her work of reading new words, doing activities, and reading the books. Even though I was involved in the whole reading lesson, once I got through my teaching bit at the beginning (10-15 minutes tops) was able to sip my coffee and be present and make sure I was there to support her, guide her, and listen to her working on it. It has been the structure that has actually worked for us.
Additionally, the lessons are very structured. One day is a lesson with activity, the next read out of the book, and then repeat. This routine was beneficial to establishing a structure we craved to stay on task and for my little to know what was next and what was expected.
The Stories are Fun to Read
I can not tell you how sweet these stories are. They are just a classy selection of short stories. There are a lot of stories about animals and adventures. Nothing sassy. Not religious. Just simple kid stories. M loves them. She doesn't feel like they are immature at all and she is even a bit older since she started learning to read later than most kids her age. When she first started getting to read little chapter books, the IDEA of chapter books overwhelmed her. Her self-doubt started showing but as we worked through this program the little short stories are laid out like mini-chapters, and she became much more confident in such a short time.
This System Built Confidence
I was amazed at how quickly M's confidence grew with this program. She never ended a lesson feeling defeated or feeling stupid as she had in school the year before. The way this system works breaks up reading into doable segments that don't seem overwhelming. The word cards are reviewed each time you do a lesson. For us, this was 3-4x per week. After so much practice with the word cards over a continuous period, she could easily read them. Once we got toward the end of a level her stack of word cards she could easily read was huge, and it was a visual reminder for her how much she knew and had learned. It helped her confidence significantly. I also believe the constant review has lead to continual learning which has been fantastic to witness.
Lessons were Quick & Enjoyable
The way we did our reading lessons are as follows:
- Teaching lessons (every other lesson)
- Reviewed learned word cards by reading the word out loud. If she got stuck on a card, I helped remind her how to say the word.
- Followed scripted lesson plan by a quick demonstration on our whiteboard based on the teacher manual
- M does reading activity in the activity book (we sometimes skipped this if the lesson seemed easier to her or we didn't have a lot of time that day)
- M reads new word cards from current lesson out loud to me
- M reads words from review worksheet from activity book
- Sticker on the chart to mark off our completed lesson
Storybook lessons (every other lesson)
- Reviewed learned word cards by reading the word out loud. If got stuck, I helped remind her how to say the word.
- M reads warm-up worksheet from activity book out loud to me. This helps her sound out words that will be encountered in the story BEFORE she reads the story. I can help her with any words she gets stuck on.
- M reads the story from the included story readers. Because she has read the warm up page, reading the story is more fluid since we have already encountered potentially challenging words and worked through them together. Because of this she can read the story quicker, and therefore it makes more sense, and she enjoys it more.
- Sticker on the chart to mark off our completed lesson
Teaching happened at our own Pace
This program is set up so that once you master the material in any level, you can move up to the next level. I love that this program is not defined by grades but instead by levels. One of the benefits of homeschool is that you can customize every subject to the level you need regardless of what grade your child is in. I loved that we were able to start out our 3rd grade school year using levels instead of a “3rd” grade curriculum. For our struggling reader, this helped her not to feel like she was any less than exactly where she should be for her. Not being able to measure herself against her peers was a game changer in her confidence and motivation for learning. In fact, we were able to sail through level 2 and get half way through level 3 in one school year from September- May.
We are excited to finish up level 3 this coming year and planning also to do level 4. I can not wait to continue watching M's reading level transform and grow. Have you tried All About Reading too? I'd love to hear about your experience as well. Feel free to comment and join the conversation. I will also be posting more about homeschool in the upcoming weeks. If you are interested in future posts, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter.
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