My personal experience using All About Reading with an older child ~
Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool
Sometimes homeschooling requires us to face our greatest fears.
When we first started out, my husband and I used an interest-led learning approach. I knew this meant that my children might not read at ages five or six, but could even take until eight or nine to reach that milestone.
I read example after example of homeschooling parents whose children went from not knowing how to read one day, to reading full chapter books the next. I saw something similarly miraculous occur with my oldest two, who began reading at ages six and eight, with minimal formal lessons.
But with my youngest I waited and waited. We dipped our toes in program after program as the years went by, each one helping, but nothing unlocking fluency.
Having an older child who could not read was one of my greatest fears, one that I’ve been called to face. My son is now fourteen.
His inability to read is not his fault, nor is it mine (another fear). It goes back to his battle in infancy with malaria, a battle that nearly took his life in West Africa before he joined our family. He’s a survivor, yet his brain still shows the scars. Having to work much harder than others to master basic academics is one of them.
I’ve cried and prayed and stared at the ceiling in the middle of the night, asking God for help. About a year ago those prayers led us to All About Reading. (affiliate link)
Using All About Reading with an Older Child
One day I watched a video in which Marie Rippel, founder of All About Reading and All About Spelling, describes her own son’s learning struggles that led her to create her programs. I showed the video to my son, and he wanted to give it a try.
We’ve been using it for over a year now.
I wanted to share our experience in case it might be the right fit for you and yours, whether you have a child who struggles as well or are just looking for a solid program to use with younger children.
A few details I’ve appreciated:
The Scripted Lessons
I was shocked by how much I LOVE the scripted lessons, telling me exactly what to do and say and what materials I need for each part of the process. It takes away that guesswork of “Am I covering everything in the best order?” – especially important with a struggling learner.
I will say that if I was using this program with elementary-aged children, I would likely add in some reward/incentive (#intentionalbribery) to make sure the lessons don’t become a battle.
Check out my day in the life post from a few years ago where I mention our “skills learning treats.” This is something I wish I would have started earlier, but I worried that bribery would take away my kids’ love of learning. (Note: Providing it’s not overused, it doesn’t!)
Format of Lessons
Each lesson begins with a review of phonograms and words previously learned, moves on to new teaching (a lot of which is done on a magnetic whiteboard), and includes activities that allow students to practice new skills.
Alternate lessons have students reading stories, which are some of the best I’ve come across in early readers–and I love the illustrations, now in color!
I also adore the “warm up sheets” for each story, which guide children in practicing specific words and phrases that will appear in their story–helping them read with more fluency. Brilliant!
Since I’m doing these lessons with an older child, we often skip the kinesthetic, game-like activities geared toward younger kids, but it’s perfect to have them if you need them. The program also builds in many multi-sensory learning options so you can adapt it to what works best for your student’s learning style.
The entire All About Reading program is comprised of four levels, covering phonics, decoding, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.
Elijah and I are currently halfway through Level Two, and while he hasn’t reached fluency yet, we feel more hopeful about his reading than ever before.
We typically do a 15-20 minute lesson three to four times a week, and we go at his pace, which means that we might spend two days on one “lesson.”
Our progress is slow, but guess what? It’s progress! And after all these years, that feels really good.
Interested in giving All About Reading or All About Spelling a try?
I’ve also had wonderful success using All About Spelling with my son Jonathan, but this post was getting too long, so I’ll save those details for another in the future!
One of the best things about AAR/AAS is their incredible year-long guarantee:
Check out all of the step-by-step lesson plans and reading and spelling tips for ONE FULL YEAR. Treat the program like your own, and learn everything the program has to offer. If you then decide it’s not for you, simply send the package back (in any condition), and we’ll refund your purchase price. No questions asked.
As I mentioned before I am an affiliate for All About Learning, which means I receive a commission on any purchases through these links. Please know I only ever share with you programs that have made a difference in our homeschool.
This is definitely one of them! Perhaps it will also be the answered prayer for you that it has been for us.
Any specific questions about using All About Reading with an older child? I’d be happy to answer them!
Disclosure: I received this curricula at no charge; all opinions are my own.
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This is such a wonderful program. I used it with my child who struggles with dislexia. It helped so much.
So encouraging to hear it was a help to you as well, Bethany!
I’m so glad you are willing to talk about your struggles in homeschooling and what helps! I have a couple of questions :
-do you regret not starting AAR earlier? Do you think it would have helped earlier, or do you think your son would not have been ready earlier? Did you ever try outside help/tutoring?
-how did you help your son learn and explore on his own without being able to read for this long? I have a 13yo who still isn’t fluent in reading after years of remediation, and sometimes I feel like we haven’t found the way for him to learn and develop his strengths because we’ve been so consumed with his struggles and waiting for the reading light bulb to go on before he could really delve into his passions. I regret that, but haven’t fully figured out how to get around that problem.
Thanks for your ideas and thoughts!
Hi Rebecca! To answer your questions, in our particular case I don’t regret not starting it earlier. We have done a lot of reading curricula/programs over the past six or so years, but I really think my son was not ready for more earlier and it would have only prolonged the process and the frustration we have experienced. We had other issues that were more pressing/important at an early age to deal with, and I think we made the right call, even though it has been hard! Yes, we have tried outside help/tutoring as well, which also helped me to see and understand that it wasn’t just me/my methods.
My son has devoured hundreds of audiobooks over the years, and those have been such an excellent resource for him to learn, as well as things like reading aloud in areas of his interests, documentaries, etc. Hope this helps a little!
My DS is 12 should I start with pre reading or level 1?
He only knows some letters and no sounds. He knows A few sight words.
I would think Level One, Karren, but I think they have samples/placement tests so if you look at those it will give you a good idea where to begin!
I love this program! I’ve tried many others, but this has been the best fit for our family.
Thank you for sharing this post. We kind of float between unschooling and relaxed homeschooling. My 10 yr old is progressing but my 12 year old struggles. We have also hopped from program to program and today we were once again both frustrated and in tears. I have heard of All About Reading and have been searching for experiences with older children. Thank you so much for sharing. This is what I needed to read today.
Jamie C. Martin
I’m so glad, Alanna!
We love AAR and AAS. We got the app so we don’t have to organize all the little pieces. It also helps our older son feel like the curriculum is more age appropriate.