Balancing All About Spelling and All About Reading With Multiple Children

My recent posts about my current “homeschooling-rut” have been therapeutic for me to write.  I’m still searching for a better math fit and I’m steadily working my way out of my current sense of homeschool-ennui.  In writing these posts I realized it’s pretty easy to focus on the negative when you’re in a funk.  Once you pass over a certain threshold it’s hard to get out.  It’s like being bogged down in “Le Curricula Tar Pits” and once you step foot there- you’re stuck.

It’s hard to extricate yourself from such a sticky situation.  I’ve decided that the key to breaking free is to take my energy and inner-analysis and focus it on the positives in my routine and quit freaking out about the other stuff.  Who knows?  Maybe highlighting the things that are not only working- but working WELL will be just the push I need.  (Some of the following links are affiliate links, just FYI.) 

So first up is All About Spelling and All About Reading.   It’s been awhile since I gave an update and now that we’re incorporating 3! of their programs at once I figured I’d share with you how I tweak these products to work for my family.  I hear from some folks who think it would be too hard to juggle these programs for multiple children in their home and I want to show you that not only is it possible- but it’s extremely rewarding.  Both All About Spelling (AAS) and All About Reading (AAR) are scripted curricula.  That means they are parent-intensive.  It’s not the sort of curricula where you just throw a workbook at your kid and hope it sticks.  This requires active parent participation (and in the case of AAR’s PreReading Program it also involves puppet participation).

But just because it’s parent intensive doesn’t mean these resources take tons of times to plan or prepare.  In fact, I personally take little to no time to prepare.  Yes, you heard me correctly.

Most days I just take a minute or two to preview the lesson prior to starting and make sure I have any coordinated activity pages or new learning tiles if needed.  But really, the resources are written so you can just pop it open and go.

  • One of the biggest components to AAS and AAR is the use of the colored magnetic tiles which allows for tactile learning.  The use of our Magnetic Board is a staple for our lessons.  Here I have all the tiles prominently displayed.

My younger children focus on just the vowel and consonant tiles while Mira utilizes the complete set in her lessons. So far, this hasn’t overwhelmed my younger kids and it saves me time by not having to take off and put on different sets of tiles repeatedly.

  • Stagger your heavier subjects into more manageable bits.  Spelling and math are two of the meatier subjects in our school and I try to plan them in a way that won’t overload my kids OR myself.   

Since Mira is the oldest and currently the only one of my children “officially” school-aged she gets the most rigorous schedule.  Mira is in 2nd grade and we do spelling three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for about 20-25 minutes a lesson.  In order to avoid constant interruptions during Mira’s lesson I place my younger children on their laptops where they play More.Starfall.com or TeachYourMonsterToRead.com which supplements their own reading lessons.  (When they were younger they would watch a LeapFrog video in another room.)  Since math is being done everyday, these three days tend to last a bit longer than the rest of our week.  Therefore I utilize the off days on Tuesdays and Thursdays to work my younger girls with their AAR lessons instead of doing it all on the same days.

  •  Use your children as teacher’s assistants while reinforcing their learning.

I’m always amazed at how happily my girls volunteer to help me teach their siblings.   They enjoy assuming the role of teacher’s helper and I can use it as a way to reinforce their own learning.  For example, it took Stella awhile to grasp rhyming.  It was a concept she really struggled with for a long time.  Last week Lyra had her first rhyming lesson and I realized I could ask Stella for her help in directing the lesson while surreptitiously using it as opportunity to review her.

The old two birds, one stone approach.

As those of you homeschooling multiple children already know, some days will play out more fluidly than others.  The key to success is being open to change and adapt as needed.  Some days your younger children might not want to be contained elsewhere while your conducting a lesson for an older child.  Be flexible.  Try to find a way to layer your lesson and incorporate them all.

Layering is an awesome way to keep all students in your one-room school house happy and the more you do it the more you’ll find layering opportunities pop up.

Layering doesn’t always have to be as involved as having a student help with the meat of a lesson; it can be as simple as having everyone illustrate one of the older student’s dictation sentences.

For my family, All About Spelling and All About Reading have become highlights of our week.  I look forward to it because it’s simple to plan yet a rigorous and thorough approach to teaching spelling; while my girls look forward to their lessons because of the ease and fun with which they learn them.

Do you currently use any All About Learning Press resources? Or are you looking to try them out for the first time?  Good news! Later this week I’ll be hosting a GIVEAWAY where you can enter for your chance to win a $50 gift certificate to All About Learning! 

Stay tuned for my upcoming post on how I tweak these resources to cater to my children’s unique individual learning styles!

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About Kristen

Home schooling classically with a dash of whatever strikes our fancy.

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12 Responses to Balancing All About Spelling and All About Reading With Multiple Children

  1. Thanks for this input! I currently use AAR for one child and AAS for another. Next year, I’ll start with AAR for another as well AAS for a second student. Although I’m managing it well now, it’ll get more complicated next year with the 3rd child for sure!

  2. Jessica says:

    I have an only child but we are using AAR and AAS. They are really working out well for us, spelling and reading has always been a struggle.

  3. Amy says:

    We just started AAS (because I wasn’t totally happy with what we were doing) and so far I LOVE it. I decided to start with level 1 even though my son could have easily started with level 2. I did this so that it could help him build confidence and also that that his sister could join in the lessons. They are perfect for her right now. THe only struggle is that it takes her longer to do everything =) So…I’m finding ways accommodate them both while all being at the table at the same time. I’m already looking forward to level 2!

  4. Pam says:

    This is great advice. I’ve got two in different levels of AAR and one in AAS. Next year three levels of reading and two of spelling. I need all the help I can get, but we love the program too much to let it go.

  5. Terra says:

    We just recently started homeschooling and we’re using AAR both both our boys (Kinder and 1st grade) and AAS for the first grader. I love how you gave examples of the older helping teach the younger – I think my guys would get a kick out of that!

    We’re almost to the end of Level 1 of AAS (4 more lessons!) and my oldest is so excited to move up to Level 2!

    Thanks for the great review and I look forward to your giveaway!

  6. Heather says:

    We love AAR and AAS! I hope I get the certificate. We need level 3 AAS. 🙂

  7. Rebecca says:

    I have two working in AAR and AAS right now both at the same level even though they are 2 years apart in age and school years. The biggest quandary I run into is trying fit in the time to do each with each of them separately because the youngest could very easily speed through the lesson on her ability to do it, while the oldest is still struggling with some words. I want to do 3 times a week for each of them and haven’t yet figured out if separate days work better or what. But that could be because we also have a 3 year old at home and oh yeah I’m very tired at 33 weeks pregnant. Trying my best. Thanks for the encouragement though that it can in fact be done!

    • Kristen says:

      Hang in there Rebecca! Maybe you can do more 2 days with the oldest and that child can then help you “teach” the younger daughter(although really the oldest is getting an additional review day as added reinforcement.) Just a suggestion.
      And remember- take breaks when YOU need them. Homeschooling is equal parts students AND mama. If mama ain’t happy/rested/etc. . . 😉

  8. Jody says:

    I’m pinning this to come back to. I’m planning to start All About Spelling with my oldest next year. I love your magnetic board set up!!

  9. thanks for this review! These products are on my to-consider list for next year. Thanks!

  10. Maria says:

    I have three using AAR and AAS. One in AAR3 & AAS2, one in AAR2 & AAS1, and one inv AAR1 & AAS1. It is time- consuming, but both the kids and I love the program. Knowing I was going to use the programs with multiple children, I laminated all thecactivity sheets from AAR so they would be reuseable, which has worked wonderfully since the kids love replaying the games together. I use this method for review quite often. If two are in the same book together, I just mark their places with separate sticky tags. Also, they love the readers, and the older kids seem to really enjoy helping a younger sib read the familiar stories for the first time.

  11. Lisa Nelson says:

    This is an excellent post! I love how you use your olders to student teach your youngers. What an excellent way to reinforce learning. If you can teach it, you know it!

    I love that!

    Thank you so much for linking up this fabulous review at the #homeschoollinkup!

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