Learning to Read, Taking it slowly

I haven’t talked much about the lesson side of homeschooling around here in quite some time.  I have been planning like crazy and getting all of my kids situated with the materials they will be using over the course of the next year, anticipating a little down time this fall when we welcome our new baby.  I thought I might share here and there some of the materials we have been using successfully. 

It’s been a full year since I first shared that I had chosen to use the All About Reading program with Larkspur.  My decision to use this program came after years of teaching reading using various methods and programs, and finally realizing that I had reached a point where I wanted and needed a scripted program.  Using All About Reading has proven to be very easy to execute, demonstrated by the fact that we are still using it one year later!  This doesn’t always happen.  I have shelves of homeschooling materials that have quickly fallen out of favor for various reasons.

Larkspur finished Level 1 about six weeks ago and shortly thereafter began Level 2.  I am anticipating that working at her pace, it will take us about a year to complete.  Larkspur is very much following her own time table, which is absolutely as it should be.  I have found that the All About Reading lessons are very easy to work through over as many days as we need, moving as slowly or as quickly as Lark chooses.  The approach is gentle and fun and I really appreciate the fact that it is multi-sensory as well.  Lark loves the readers and was thrilled to get the new ones that came with level 2.  They are hands down my favorite readers, and I know that Larkspur would agree because she is always taking them from the shelf and tucking them next to her bed.  Only recently has she begun to engage in early reading and writing activities on her own such as writing simple little stories, spending hours at a time doing so when she’s in the mood, and I am not sure how often she actually reads from her readers outside of her lessons.  I take the fact that she likes to keep them nearby, “just in case,” as a good sign.

Because Beatrix is a bit of a precocious learner, and begs to do reading lessons (and math lessons, etc. etc.)  but I am not quite ready to teach her how to read, I decided to purchase the Pre-Reading program for her.  We began using it a couple of months ago.  While the lessons begin very simply by introducing first the capital letters one lesson at a time, followed by the lowercase letters, and then letter sounds, they are fun and entertaining enough that they have satisfied Beatrix’s desire to be “learning how to read.”  Beatrix already knows her letters and most letter sounds, but is not bored at all with these lessons.  I think they are perfect for her, especially given that she is not yet even five years old.  On most days, Larkspur joins Beatrix for her letter themed crafts and they enjoy working together.

I am not worried about how I will keep up with the girls’ reading lessons this fall after the baby is born.  I know that all I have to do is pull out our materials.  I won’t have to do any planning or preparation.  That makes all the difference for me, along with the fact that my girls are almost always excited when I announce that it is reading lesson time.  I am truly a devoted fan of All About Reading!

(This post contains affiliate links!  So if you decide to try All About Reading and make a purchase through one of my links, I will earn a small percentage, which is so appreciated!)


  1. Hello from Moldova!
    I want to ask you, what kind of camera you use? I love a good photo. You have very good pictures.

  2. Kate Talley says:

    I am so very happy and thankful for this post! I have been trying to decide which program to purchase for reading, and you helped me make a concrete decision! Thank you! I will be needing structured help with my nephew who is struggling with some issues related to neglect and malnutrition, my 8 year old daughter, and my 5 year old niece. All about Reading sounds like an answer to my prayers!
    Love, Kate Talley
    P.S. any advice on using this program for my nephew, he is 10.

    • I’m not sure that I would choose this program for a ten year old, but I think for the eight and five year olds it will be great. I use Reading Horizons for my older struggling reader. I am planning to write a post about that soon.

  3. How do you deal with children who resist lessons? (And, if you don’t have that problem, what is your secret?) While I do not homeschool, sometimes my son (age 7) really gives me a terrible time when it is time to do homework. Writing is difficult for him and his teacher wants us to do extra work with him. My pediatrician feels we should hire a tutor so I can “just be his mom and have fun with him” — which sounds great, but then I think “So how do the homeschooling moms do it if I can’t?”

    • I guess the short version is that I tell them they don’t have a choice! But, for the most part they know that doing their school work is their responsibility whether then want to or not. They also don’t have to spend that much time “doing school” so they don’t fight it much.

      • This one has always been defiant! My daughters are compliant about homework and want to please. The homework itself isn’t excessive — from 15-30 minutes/day for 1st and 2nd grade if the kid just sits down and does it. But the homework becomes much more demanding starting in 3rd grade so one needs to get the kids disciplined to focus and do the work by that time. I guess I have to hope that 2nd grade brings some maturity for this boy… Otherwise, 3rd grade is gonna be a disaster for him. I never thought I would have this challenge as a parent, as both my husband and I were excellent, high-achieving students (and both went to Stanford, achieved advanced degrees, etc). Its been an eye-opener to have an otherwise normal kid who just won’t focus and do his work no matter what examples we set for him. I don’t expect him to write the great novel, just to do his little math paper or write a few sentences in his journal or read for 20 minutes. But it is always a fight, always an argument, always whining. He can argue and whine until the proverbial cows come home. When he finally does the work, he is happy and proud — but getting him there wears me out!

        I seriously don’t know how you homeschooling moms do it! Kudos to you!!!

      • what if they take the wrong choice?? if they resist lessons? any advice?? consequences???

  4. Thanks for this! We are heading into grade one, though we’re not officially sticking with grade guidelines. We’ve been reading BOB books, maybe from your recommendation? I can’t recall where I got that idea, but our six year old has loved the books since he was four and is working his way through the box sets.

    We started off with Before Five in a Row when he was two, and it was such a lovely thing to wake up and settle in on the couch for a story and then do some other learning around that story. We had a lot of fun with that and I’ve been thinking about starting to do more with the regular Five in a Row program…

    Definitely going to look more into All About Reading. Thanks!

  5. We started using All About Reading last year too and the girls really enjoy the lessons. Like you I enjoy the ease of just pulling out the games. The girls usually help put them together though I did prepare some ahead of time.
    Larkspur’s shirt 🙂

  6. So……is this program consumable? I guess that would be a big deciding factor for me as I am going to be teaching reading to atleast 4 more children, and I can’t afford to buy it 4 times over.

    • It’s only partially consumable, but because nothing gets written on, you could easily save all the materials as you go along and use them for additional kids. If you didn’t want to save all those pieces of cut out paper, the only thing extra you would need to order for each additional child would be the activity book that is 16.95.

  7. I really admire you for homeschooling – I’m so inspired, especially with the slow approach. Children are so fortunate when learning can come in it’s right time. I love the photos of your kids together, making things and helping each other. It’s how it should be!

    We have bee hives and I love standing under a swarming hive – I feel like I might take off in the whirl of it. They are wonderous creatures. My husband is an apiarist.

    I hope you are feeling better after your rough patch! You are amazing with all that you do and for all whom you do it!! (I’m sure that is atrocious grammar but you get the idea…)

  8. Brigitte says:

    My two oldest girls are 20 months apart and learned to read at almost the same time. The beauty of homeschooling is that such events feel perfectly normal within your family. There is not all the hierarchy and competition and labeling associated with schooling. Freeing your children from that is such a gift to them! Your Beatrix reminds me of my Annie, one reason I keep reading your blog as it brings back such fond memories. My Annie just got married, though! It sounds like you are becoming a well seasoned homeschooler. It does get easier. Best wishes for a good school year. September is still exciting even if you homeschool.

  9. Oh how I wish I had the internet when I was homeschooling my children. This looks like a really wonderful program.

  10. I just ordered All about Spelling and the readers for my first grader. Thanks, they look great!

  11. After recently reading your first review of ‘All About Reading’, I too picked up level 2 for my 8 year old who has been frustrated by other language curriculums, and having an almost 5 year old insisting on his own work, I ordered the pre-reading program as well. I just want to say I am so grateful to have found this through your blog. With a toddler also in tow, it has been the easiest and most pleasant experience we’ve (ALL!) had with curriculum thus far. Thanks for the great recommend!

  12. Ginny, would you mind sharing what math curriculum you prefer for younger children? I need to find something different for our daughter (6 years old). I am new to homeschooling and need some direction. 🙂

    • I use Rightstart Math 🙂

      • Which math program do you use once your kids get to about 4th grade? Thanks!

        • Seth just made the switch (7th grade) from Rightstart to Life of Fred. Keats went from Rightstart to Math Mammoth (5th grade,) and Gabe is using Saxon (4th grade.) Different reasons for all three, I’ll have to talk about that soon!

          • We were going to use Saxon for 4th grade for my son, but I am thinking of doing something else to get more hands on math. Do you like Saxon for 4th? Thanks!

  13. Is your reading program phonics based or sight word based?

  14. That’s so awesome. I love reading about your homeschooling techniques because it is something I definitely want to consider when I have kids. It’s so inspiring, and I love that it’s tailored to your kids and your needs!

  15. I could already read (and write my name, address and phone number) by the time I was 5, so it may not be too early for your little one. Everyone learns at their own pace and if she really loves it then she will pick it up quickly. 🙂 Thank you for these home schooling posts and links, I’m saving them for when we have a little one, since I’d like to home school as well.

  16. Also those girls of yours are so cute!

  17. These materials look so appealing. Maybe I’ll get them down the road for Fiona. James could use them now but we aren’t buying any new materials right now.

  18. We used All About Reading last year (I learned about it on your blog—thank you!) and liked it very much.

    I am curious to know if you have used All About Spelling and, if so, with which of your children and how you like it?

    This year, with my almost-eight-year-old, I am using “The Wand” (A Brave Writer language arts program: http://www.bravewriter.com/program/language-arts-programs/the-wand/) and really like it so far. It seems to be a good transition from All About Reading (which is primarily reading focused), to a broader language arts focus (reading, writing, grammar, spelling are tied into one program). The Wand does require more preparation than All About Reading, which has its pros and cons!

    • I started using All About Spelling last year with Gabe and Keats, but it fell to the wayside. I think it’s a really great program, I just had to let go of a few things this past year. I am planning to start using it with Larkspur and Gabe later this year. As far as phonics goes, once my children are reading fluently and no longer need much help from me, I move them to working in workbooks on their own. Explode the Code at first and later we used Seton’s phonics workbooks. Eventually they switch from phonics to Vocabulary work.
      I bought a writing program from Bravewriter to use with Seth, but haven’t printed up the book yet!

    • I got confused and answered someone else’s question here along with yours about All About Spelling 🙂 So ignore my reply between the words “As far as phonics goes….and Vocabulary work.” LOL.

  19. I love getting good recommendations on homeschool materials! And I love your natural approach to letting them learn at their own paces. I am getting there. I so want mine to enjoy learning. Also, Larkspur’s butterfly top in the first few pics is so cute!

  20. That’s the wonderful thing about home school- the children can learn at their own pace.

  21. We’re still deciding what to do when Little Man is ready for school. On one hand, I want to keep him home forever but, on the other hand, he may or may not have a sibling in the future and I want him to get used to children his own age as well as people of his own ability level. Let’s put it this way: the sense of logic in my two and a half year old son is kind of scary.

    However, I might pick up the pre-reading program to have at home…and we’ll see what happens as he gets older. If he has the same troubles my husband had, I might have to pick up the other one, too…but he likes books so I suspect he’ll be more like me. Then again, I have a background in elementary education and special education so it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out when we get to that point.

  22. A friend just recommended All About Reading to me yesterday… I’m still on the fence. But hearing that Bea is comfortable with her letters and the sounds but still finding joy in working through the basics is really helpful. I’m going to dig a little deeper into this program and give it a good look for fall!

    • It’s so do-able, not bright and tacky, and I am also seeing it work well for Lark as far as her reading progress is going. Their support people are really great too, so I’d give them a call if you have questions. I literally spent hours on the phone with them last year before making the decision to buy the program.

      • Thanks Ginny! Seriously considering it. My call them tomorrow. My one frustration is that my Kate is a reader already. I’m struggling to find something that will help her formally brush up on the basics but not be tossing away the curriculum because I barely use it. Level Pre-1 seems too easy, for example!

        • I have a similar situation. My son is an early reader, but too young for writing. I taught him some easy phonics rules with a little book called classical phonics. I’ve looked at the All About Spelling, and it seems like he would be at level 3, but that can’t be right? What’s the difference between All About Reading and All About Spelling besides the readers? Is there more of a writing component to the All About Spelling? I’d like to keep teaching him as long as he’s willing, even though I don’t think it’s that important at his age.

          • Yes, there is writing with the All About Spelling. Larkspur has been slow to take to writing, and the All About Reading doesn’t require any writing on her part yet, so that has been really perfect for her. It sounds like it would be a good match for your son as well.

  23. Amanda Neville says:

    Hi Ginny,
    Thank you for the very informative post. I’ve been toying with the idea of purchasing a reading program for my little ones as well. We have tried a more relaxed approach and have truly gained strides, but with a new baby a couple months ago, I am feeling we too need a little more structure. I am going to highly look into this program. Meanwhile, I was wondering what program you use for math. Im at a loss of where to begin with this one. Any direction you can provide would be great. My boys are 6 and 4, and 2 months.
    I hope your pregnancy is going well.
    God bless you and your family.

    • Hi Mandy! I use Rightstart Math with my younger children. It’s parent intensive, but I have seen good results with it. I’ve been using it for about five years now!

      • Amanda Neville says:

        Forgot to add…do you use the first or second edition of Right Start?

        • I didn’t know there were different editions….I own every level, spiral bound. They didn’t offer the downloads until recently. I would have gone that route if it had been an option for me.

  24. We use All About Reading too! The approach was just what my son needed as others that were not multi-sensory didn’t keep his attention very well. We start Level 1 again with my daughter this fall.

    Out of curiosity, at what age do you usually stop phonic lessons and just let them read? I’m on the fence as to whether to order something else after we finish Level 2 or to just let it go and it would be great to hear from someone with older boys.

    • As far as phonics goes, once my children are reading fluently and no longer need much help from me, I move them to working in workbooks on their own. Explode the Code at first and later we used Seton’s phonics workbooks. Eventually they switch from phonics to Vocabulary work.
      I am planning to look into All About Reading levels 3 and 4 though once they are released.

  25. The girls look engrossed and the program looks wonderful. Looking into to ordering it.
    I just have to comment on the shirt that your son is wearing….it’s near where we vacation for a week in the summer. Have you ever been? We live on the other side of the Wisconsin so the trip takes about 6 hours or so, but it is such a beautiful place. Happy Tuesday!
    PS. I just looked at your previous post as well…you look so cute pregnant!

    • No we haven’t been. The funny thing is that was a shirt I found on the Land’s End clearance rack and bought lots of them–so it seems that one of my boys is always wearing one!
      (and thanks for the compliment!)

  26. Have I missed that you painted blue walls? Looks so peaceful.

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