All About Reading Review

10 Essential Components of a Solid Reading Curriculum {All About Reading Review} | This Reading MamaThis post contains affiliate links. I was also given free material from All About Reading in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. Please read my full disclosure policy for more information.

10 Essential Components of a Solid Reading Curriculum

  1. Research-Based: The curriculum is built on already existing, solid reading research. The curriculum writers did not create their own research or find only research that supports their thinking.
  2. Developmentally Appropriate: Instead of a “one size fits all” mentality, the writers thought about the reading development and needs of students reading on different levels.
  3. Systematic: While some young readers (a small minority, really) can crack the code of reading all by themselves, most cannot. A solid reading curriculum will look at the typical development of reading and comprehension skills and teach those skills in a systematic way (not haphazardly) so that gaps do not form in a child’s learning. This way, the skills learned in the last lesson serve as a foundation for the next lesson.
  4. Hands-On and Multisensory: This compliments hands-on. Students get to use all of their senses (or at least most of them) to help concepts “stick”.
  5. Well-Balanced: Reading is comprised of several different skill sets. There’s phonological awareness, phonics knowledge, fluency, and comprehension (just to name four). A well-balanced reading curriculum will help young readers grow in all of these areas, not just one or two.
  6. Explicit: Skills and concepts are talked about and manipulated in an explicit way so as not to leave any learning up to “chance”.
  7. Scaffolds/Supports the Reader: The teacher models and thinks through first while the child watches and listens. Gradually, the child is handed the steering wheel as he begins to practice and apply the skills independently.
  8. Lightly Scripted: While it is good to have notes and extra tips to get you through it, any curriculum that asks you to simply read a script to your child and calls that “teaching” is a BIG no-no in my book.
  9. Meaningful: Children aren’t just drilled on phonics skills. Those phonics skills are applied to real reading.
  10. Multiple Exposures: Concepts are introduced and reviewed more than one time and within several lessons (using multi-sensory techniques) so that multiple chances are given for the child to understand the concepts.

How Does All About Reading Measure Up?

All About Reading nails every single component on my top 10 list! I’d like to share my thoughts as my 2nd grade son is currently working through Level 3.

All About Reading Is Developmentally Appropriate

Designed for children who struggle to read, Marie Rippel (the creator of All About Reading) understands research-based, developmentally appropriate practice for the teaching of reading. You see, just because your child is in the third grade does not mean he is on a third grade reading level {you can read a little more about that here}. I’ve tutored many students who were reading several grade levels below their actual grade level. Leveling a curriculum with, “Grade 1″ or “Grade 2″ would not be an accurate reflection of the student’s abilities. I love that All About Reading has developed a quick placement test that asks pointed, specific questions to get you thinking about what your child does or does not understand about reading so you can more accurately figure out what level you would need to buy. (You can find this placement test on All About Reading‘s website when you click on any of the levels.) Doing this gives you a better overall picture of your learner’s abilities; not just a blanket grade level.

All About Reading Supports the Learner

The Teacher’s Manual included in the kit shows you, as the teacher, how to explicitly teach the phonics skills needed for children to read the texts.

helpful hints and teaching tips are includedClearly marked in the Teacher’s Manual are helpful tips and ways to model the learning for the child, like what to do when a child misreads a word. Also included are questions you can ask the child to see if he understands. Once he demonstrates his knowledge through hands-on manipulatives and some worksheet exercises, he applies them to real reading, making learning meaningful.

activities are hands-on and multisensoryNew lessons start with review from past lessons, which makes All About Reading systematic. These reviews may take the form of hands-on manipulatives, flash cards, sorts, or interactive worksheets. Reviewing material in different ways also ensures that the learner gets multiple exposure to the same content, building those connections to the concepts stronger.

All About Reading Provides Hands-On Activities

One of my favorite things about All About Reading are the hands-on activities. While there are some worksheets included in the Student’s Book, many of them are interactive sorts or flip books kids can create.

All About Reading letter tilesThe magnetic letter tiles were my son’s favorite. With these, he could manipulate the letters of words. Through touching, seeing, and hearing the sounds in these words all at one time, building these took on a multisensory approach. Not only that, but the activities were meaningful and fun for him.

All About Reading Encourages Kids to Apply their Knowledge

Once phonics concepts are introduced to and played with by students, those same skills are APPLIED to real reading. Included in All About Reading are real stories that kids can read themselves.

reading Level 3 of All About ReadingWhile the pictures are not in color, the story lines and characters are sure to get your child’s attention. Each story features the phonics and word skills the child manipulated with those magnetic letter tiles and interactive workbook pages.

All About Reading Supports Reading Comprehension

I’ve said it before. Reading equals thinking. But in order for kids to think, the quality of the text has to be “think-able”. I especially appreciate that the integrity of the story line in the reading book was not sacrificed by a confusing decodable text, written just to squeeze in as many new phonics words as possible! This makes for a story that can actually be read AND comprehended by readers.

Before kids read, the Teacher’s Manual encourages you to teach vocabulary and tap into a child’s prior knowledge. Without this before reading step, comprehension can be greatly compromised. The suggested comprehension questions are based on research. Instead of asking lower level questions that just require kids to remember something, the questions provoke kids to THINK about what they’ve just read. Students are asked to do things like compare and contrast characters or invent a different ending to the story.

When Choosing a Reading Curricula, Consider This

One reading curriculum, no matter how well put-together or research-based, will not fit every learner the same. In her introduction, Marie is quick to note that, “every child and situation is unique…feel free to adjust” lessons, lesson times, or time spent on a particular skill. That’s the beauty of lightly scripted lesson plans. You’re not mandated to say this now and do that later. You have the freedom to adapt it for your own learner. Even (dare I say it) skip an activity if it causes a road block for your child.

The makers of All About Reading know that buying reading curriculum is a big step and can be rather scary. That’s why All About Reading comes with FREE lifetime support. And… if you purchase AAR through their website, you have one full year to try it out! If, for some reason, it does not meet the needs of your child, you can return the materials within one year for a full refund of purchase price. Now, that’s an amazing guarantee, don’t you think?!?

So, what are your top 10 components of a reading curriculum? If the list is anything like mine, you are sure to like All About Reading!

 

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~Becky

Comments

  1. Thanks for this review, Becky. I’ve been very curious about this curriculum!

  2. Thanks. I’m very interested in this curriculum. Do you know where I can learn about how all about reading and all about spelling work together? Is it possible to use just one?

    • From what I can tell (and I’m not an expert at AA Spelling), if you order the Reading Interactive Kit together with AA Reading, you don’t need to necessarily order both. AA Reading has a lot of spelling instruction built in to it. Hope that helps. :)

    • We use and LOVE BOTH AAR and AAS! They TOTALLY and COMPLETELY go hand in hand! You only need to buy the Interactive kit once. While MUCH spelling is built into the reading program (and a lot comes naturally when learning the reading the way they present it), AAS is WONDERFUL at teaching rules to help you think about what you are spelling in ways that make sense to kids! My Kinder, 2nd and 4th graders ALL use it and are ALL succeeding! My 4th grader did not start it til this year. I made her start at Level 1. We FLEW through levels 1 and 2 and she is currently working through Level 3. But let me tell you…her spelling has improved TEN-FOLD since we started! I CANNOT recommend these programs ENOUGH!

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