All About Reading/Spelling

I started using AAR and AAS because at 8, after 2 years of various phonics programs we realised my daughter was severely dyslexic, she was still struggling to remember over a third of the alphabet and could only read a handful of 3 letter words. It was starting to frustrate her a lot and she was losing confidence. If your child is really struggling with reading/writing its worth it to check them against the symptoms of dyslexia and get a professional assessment sooner rather than later.

All About Reading

All About Spelling

These are seperate but complementary programs that teach reading and spelling seperately. They have good rationale for doing this and staggering the learning so you master the reading first and then work at spelling below your reading level.

I like AAR because it is designed for kids who have struggled with reading in the past. It's a systematic phonics program that covers literally everything the child needs to learn explicitly, with plenty of practice activities, games and hands-on fun stuff that keeps the kids, practicing and learning at the same time. It also has a lot of helpful advice about how to pace lessons, how to respond to student difficulties and emotions. Also great free resources on their website for those just getting started:

AAS is not quite as fun but it's lessons are short and effective.

As the teacher it takes a minute to read through the lesson, before you teach it. That's it. If you have no experience teaching phonics, it might take you a couple of hours when you first get the book to read the teacher notes etc, but you then have everything you need to teach your child to read and spell.

The teacher does need to be with the child as they do the lessons, and the teacher needs to give the student their full attention for the duration of the lesson (recommended 20 minutes max for each per day)

There are plenty of hands-on activities in AAR. As well as that there is a book of games you can buy and more games on their website that you can download and print. These work best if there is another child to play with, and they can mostly be played with kids at different levels.

AAS mostly relies on magnetic letters and whiteboards, there's not so much play based learning in it.

It's sufficient as a stand-alone for learning to read and spell. The author of the series has structured it so that kids can build up their reading skills first before taking on spelling/writing in the complementary (as in it goes with it, not it's free) AAS program.

I have tried Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons, Spelling Rules and various other phonics programs that all moved much to fast for my child. These might be good for kids who learn faster but my child really benefited from the (interesting) repetition and ability to tailor this program to a slower speed.

It is expensive compared to some other programs (around $250 AU for each level, and there are 4 levels for AAR; $70 for AAS and 7 levels), but it also comes with really great online support (email the publishers whenever you have a question). They have a team of mums who homeschooled their own kids and really know their stuff and make super helpful suggestions. How fast you go through a level, completely depends on the child and their mastery of the subject. Each level has around 50 lessons, and a lesson could take between 20 minutes and 2 hours in my experience, completely depending on your child.

If you keep the resources for the hands-on activity (we store them in plastic sleeves for each lesson in a ringbinder folder) or buy another activity book, you can use this over and over again for multiple children, which makes it far more reasonably priced.

The best place to buy it (the only place in Australia as far as I know) is

You can also buy it directly from the publisher but by the time you pay shipping the savings are pretty minimal