Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Favorite Homeschooling Item

This was a hard one.  I was trying to think of an item that has stood the test of time in the past 5 or so years of our homeschool.  I couldn't think of an item.  I mean, our maps have been helpful, I like good art supplies, I enjoy other blogs, and every year I think I've found just the right curriculum for our family.  I guess Math U See has been the one thing that we've stuck with for these 5 years, but I'm not as excited about it as I am with this new favorite program.

This year I think I've found the golden key to our seemingly insurmountable issues with reading and spelling...

I am not getting paid to write this (wish I was!), but I am really loving the All About Learning Press materials.  As you can see, after trying out the simple spelling materials for several months, I went all-out and bought the bags and boxes and reading program and even Ziggy the zebra puppet!

I feel like my kids have needed intensive phonics instruction, but the other programs that use flashcards and spelling notebooks are just SO. BORING.  Even the reading book I used for both girls was miserable for everyone.  I tried so many reading, phonics, and spelling programs that we didn't like.  I was determined to teach the girls phonics since spelling is not coming easy to them.  But back in the 1980s I learned to read by "whole language" and even after teaching intensive phonics myself in a Catholic school, I was still totally intimidated by the programs out there.

Finally we have a colorful, multi-sensory, and EASY TO TEACH program.  There are flashcards and magnets, a dry-erase board, and even a puppet for the reading program!  I don't make the girls use the magnets much these days, but we have colorful dry-erase markers and we go through about 20 minutes of a spelling lesson each day.  The teacher manual is so easy to follow.

I will say that the Pre-1 Level reading program is not as good as I'd hoped.  My son just turned 5 and still doesn't know all his letters and sounds, so I chose to go with this instead of Level 1.  We started it in January.  After talking to friends using Level 1, I think moving slowly through that would've been a better choice.  The Pre-1 teaches a letter each day with some rhyming activities, a coloring page, and a (hardback) poetry book that is really kind of a waste of money.  Maybe once we get to the 2nd half of the book, there will be some more variety.  I think it would be a good match with a Letter of the Day type of program, where you could expound upon the simple letter instruction they offer and do your own little preschool crafty activities.

EDITED 5/22/13  I had a very nice back and forth email conversation with the folks at AAL Press who were gracious and very good at explaining the methodology for the slow pace of the AAR Pre-Reading program.  We've stuck with it, getting almost through all the capital letters, and then we'll move onto the 2nd section of the book with lowercase letters, which appears to have some more varied activities.  In the end, I feel that this was the right choice for him, and I plan to continue into AAR Level 1 sometime during his upcoming Kindergarten year, then I'll decide whether to continue with AAR or move into AAS.

But even though I'm not 100% crazy about the Pre-Reading, I plan to continue and move to Level 1 and then Spelling, so that we stick with this program for many years.  I can't tell you how happy I am to have finally found a Reading and Spelling program that seems to work for our family!

Oh and I'll also add that I've heard some of the big Christian bookstores are starting to sell this in their stores.  AWESOME!

8 comments:

Cari said...

I've never heard of this, but my 5 year old ALSO doesn't know all his letters and sounds, and is VERY hands on. This looks interesting. Thanks for the tip!

Dwija {House Unseen} said...

I just had a friend asking me about phonics programs today. I'll have to send this to her. Thank you!

Melissa D. said...

I feel like we "communicated" about phonics sometime since we've been in London. The kids school uses "Johnny can spell" or maybe "johnny can read" It is flashcards and it is a bit dry, but I don't know how exactly I learned to read without learning all these phonograms, but I do now understand why I never learned to spell. In Kinder, I think Connor will get through all 70 sounds of this program at least once. He'd done a handful before we got to London. I'm making him review ALL of them b/c basically I'm "officially" learning them for the first time. It makes so much more sense to me in helping them learn to read. phonogrampage.com goes with johnny can spell; it's free and you can listen to all of the sounds for you, from single letter on through. AGain, pretty dry, but helpful to me as I am trying to help Connor learn.

You are such an awesome mom and teacher!

assortedjoys said...

I too use this and it is life changing! My son was sooooo resistant to the work of learning how to read. When I say resistant, that is polite chat for became the child of lucifer. Now, he reads well. The stickers, the lessons laid out in an easy to teach way, the rules that actually make sense... LOVE IT.

Erica S. said...

That phonics program looks great! Thanks for sharing!

Sarah said...

I just stumbled across your blog while looking into 1st grade book selections for my daughter next year. I was planning to get All About Spelling and this post confirms my decision even more. Wonderful blog and you have a beautiful family!

Jeannine said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I am so happy you have found what works for you! Our youngest has finally caught on, and it is such a pleasure to watch...

Kim said...

Oh man, I literally just ordered the pre-reading level for my 4.5 YO son who doesn't know all his letters or sounds yet, either. Maybe I should have ordered level 1? The thing is, though, he's not ready to actually read at all yet...

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