I LOVE All About Spelling.
It will be my spelling program forever and ever, amen.
When I was looking for a spelling program, I was overwhelmed by all the choices out there. I read every single review of every single spelling program I could find, scrolling through pages and pages of opinions on sites like Home School Reviews, Cathy Duffy Reviews, and The Homeschool Lounge.
What really took All About Spelling to the top of my list was that it consistently received very high marks from a huge variety of moms and students. Moms who homeschooled from the beginning liked it. Moms who pulled struggling readers/spellers out of public school liked it. Moms who had kids with dyslexia or other learning disabilities liked it. Moms who had kinesthetic learners liked it.
What is so different about it? It uses a multi-sensory approach to learning. We can work orally, with flash cards, with the letter tiles, or with regular old pencil and paper. It has all these different avenues built into the program, and that makes it easy to connect with the visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. Even though I’m not entirely sure what kind of learners we’ve got, this is going to cover all the bases.
Here’s why I like it:
• It is organized. It progresses in a very logical manner. This appeals to me, because I am logical and like to do things in a Neat and Orderly Fashion. In fact, the phrase Neat and Orderly actually comes out of my mouth on a pretty regular basis. I’ll bet if my husband made a top ten list of Ways in Which My Wife is Annoying, hearing “guys, let’s do this in a Neat and Orderly Fashion,” all the time would be on it. IF there were such a list. But there isn’t. Right, Sweetie?
Speaking of organization, I like that AAS teaches all the letter sounds of all the letters. Sure, after the first few Explode the Code workbooks he knew the basic letter sounds and the short vowels, but wondering when to introduce the 4th sound of U or the 3rd sound of Y stressed me out a little. Should I teach all the sounds all at once or would that be overwhelming? On the other hand, saying, “Hey! You mastered all the sounds! Guess what? - There’s a bunch more!” seemed like a dirty trick. Besides, my son was advancing more quickly in reading than he was in our phonics workbooks (Workbooks! Gah!), and got frustrated when the words did not follow the phonics rules we had covered so far. Luckily, All About Spelling answered those questions for me and I could stop wasting all my valuable freak-out time on vowels.
*By the way, we have now abandoned Explode the Code altogether for phonics and are using All About Spelling and real books for Language Arts. I throw in some handwriting practice when I remember, and next year we might add in some gentle grammar. Right now though, AAS is fulfilling way more than just spelling. In my opinion, it’s a comprehensive learn-to-read and spell program.
• There is no student book. Only the teacher’s manual. This is a plus to me, because we can work through each chapter at our exact pace, rather than trying to get 10 pages per week done or Mommy’s Schedule is ruined and Mommy doesn’t cope well with that. I allow approximately a week and a half per chapter. Some chapters we work on for 3 days, some take 6 or 7 days (10 to 20 minutes per day). Plus, no student book means no badgering this child to write, no listening to this child whine about writing, and we can work at the speed of his brain, not the speed of his hand. (Of course, if you have kids that aren’t so averse to writing, you can spell on paper.) No student book also means no consumables, which means I can save everything for my daughter and avoid buying more stuff.
On the other hand, it is a very teacher-intense program. There is ZERO preparation, and all the lessons are scripted and very specific about how to get the point across; but the teacher must be there, working with the student. This is not a drawback for me since my kids are very young at 6 and 4 – I’ll be fine doing spelling with them every week for the next 6 years if they will just attain Bathroom Independence.
• The letter tiles. Again, the letter tiles allow us to learn to spell without all that pesky writing. Big likes to work with the tiles. I don’t know why exactly – something about them is fun. Pretty much everything is more fun compared to some dry old workbook that makes your hand hurt. Fun means I never have to cajole him into doing spelling. Fun means he asks to do spelling. Fun means spelling isn’t even really considered schoolwork. Fun makes it a win all around, is what I’m saying.
• It is a mastery program with lots of review. We are in chapter 22 and not only do our spelling words focus on the phonics rule we just learned, there are also spelling words that incorporate rules from previous chapters. We tend to think that spelling the English language is confusing, but in reality, 85% of our words are spelled phonetically and with specific spelling rules. All About Spelling focuses on both of those and does so in such an organized way, that I no longer worry about sight words or gaps. Rather than having kids memorize long lists of words, AAS teaches the how and why of spelling. I feel confident that by the time we have completed the entire program, my kids will be able to read and spell almost any word they are confronted with.
• Other Awesome Features. AAS has their own set of readers that correlate with the spelling lessons. They also have a site called the Chatterbee where you can talk to other users and ask questions. I think it’s a great resource and have used it a couple of times. Marie Rippel herself (the author of the program) will respond to questions and emails with amazing promptness. I’ve realized that AAS is family-owned and I like supporting small business, so that’s a tiny bonus to me. Also, there are no grade designations. We started from the beginning, but if you have older kids, it’s nice that AAS does not label each step as a grade, but rather as a level. It is arranged by spelling concepts, so it’s only logical to start at the beginning - older kids can do this without feeling like they are doing baby work.
I really can’t think of any cons to this program, except that some people think it’s a little on the expensive side. I don’t, because readin, ritin, and rithmatic are huge priorities to me and I don’t mind spending money on them; and also because there are no consumables which reduces the cost dramatically, depending on how many kids you want to use it with.
You may have noticed that I have a link in my sidebar to All About Spelling. When I placed my last order (for All About Reading for Little – more on that later), I raved so much about the program, the owner (that’s right – the owner took my order) asked if I was an affiliate. After much thought, I decided I believe in the program so much, I would give it a shot. The links in this post are affiliate links, and if you are inclined to place an order, feel free to click through from here. I have received no compensation for this post, I really did write if for my buddy Applie.