We started AAR probably two weeks ago? I think? I'm not sure when things happen anymore -- it all kind of blurs together.
At first, I only ordered the teacher's guide, student workbook, and books (the package that is $99). I thought maybe I'd try to make it work with our own hands-on letters instead of theirs.
We got through a few lessons that way, but I quickly realized that their letter tiles would make things a lot easier on me, so I ordered the letter tiles and magnets. There is now a free app to see and hear letter sounds, so I didn't buy the CD or package that includes a CD. If you're familiar with the AAR products then you'll know what I'm talking about.
I thought I'd have to punch out all the tiles myself, and do the magnet thing myself...but both Johnny and Vivie were eager to help with setup and it made it go much faster. Yay!
This is right on Johnny's level. A perfect fit. He can do the lessons easily, though some words are a challenge and he needs to slow down and think it through.
I've been happy with the relatively short lessons, the progression of concepts taught, the different worksheets, and how the program uses a variety of approaches to teach reading. We just finished lesson 6 this morning (of like 49, I think?).
At the end of each lesson, we put a sticker on his little progress chart.
When Vivie wants to be involved, I quiz her on individual letter names and some sounds by using the flashcards or letter tiles. No blending. I photocopied the progress chart, and she gets a sticker if she either participates somewhat, OR if she plays nicely elsewhere/nearby and lets me and Johnny do the lesson :).
Lesson #5 was only some quick flash card review and then he read two stories to me from his book. They are really basic, with black and white drawings, but I think they're fine for this stage. He can handle some slightly more advanced stories, but it's good for confidence and reinforcement.
Johnny noticed we didn't do a lesson yesterday, and he was annoyed at that. Sorry bud. I'm not trying to do it every day, but if he brings it up we'll do it. I'm aiming for a few times per week, perhaps.
It's early in the game, but I'm glad I purchased this. I need the structure of "which letters/sounds to teach in the best order."