Johnny has completed lesson 23 of 49 of All About Reading level 1. I'm happy with his progress and enthusiasm for the program. I feel like reading really clicks for him now, though he doesn't know all of the phonics rules yet. Far from it, but making progress. Right now, he's working on consonant blends ("sh," "th," "mp," ft" etc.).
He prefers using the readers with AAR vs. the alternating lessons where he does flash cards and worksheet/activities. He does those without complaint, but I can tell he enjoys just plain ol reading. The worksheet activities are clever and entertaining, and both J and V get something out of them.
For example, last week we did a sock matching worksheet. We cut out the pictures of socks and I asked Vivie to match them into pairs for us. Then, Johnny flipped them over and read the two word phrase.
Because I can't help but be curious about other programs, I went ahead and bought Phonics Pathways (9th ed.) and Reading Pathways as a cheap bundle on eBay.
I'm wondering if I can just go back to what I originally wanted to do -- use real books and a white board to instruct the new lesson. Like the ideas in Teach a Child to Read with Children's Books, or some ideas from Ruth Beechick's 3Rs, or this:
My friend (hi, Renee!) alerted me to a kindle deal on Bob Books a few weeks ago. I bought sets for $0.99 each. A great deal. I haven't made up my mind on those books yet. But there's a mama who has crafted her own reading program using Bob Books as a base and has shared info on Teaching Reading with Bob Books.
For example, we lost our place in Johnny's AAR reader and we were a story ahead. I realized that we hadn't yet learned "ch" in a formal lesson. So when he came to the word "much" I said, "Oh, when we see 'ch' together, it says '/ch/'. So what does that word say?"
Simple as that. Another ch word came up in the story and he was able to sort it out.
The thing that's really, really nice about the AAR readers is that each story is written to be entirely decodable for the child. And the stories are cute and entertaining, and more so as they progress. Bob Books are like that, too, but I like the AAR stories more so far.
When he was just starting to read, he could only decode a few words and it took him awhile. It just wasn't as practical to use a book as instruction. Or perhaps it would be, if I could locate the right books. Now that he's a little farther along, I'm wondering if we can primarily use real books.
Some of those "beginner books" at the library do use simple words, but many aren't decodeable for him yet.
So my thoughts, subject to change:
- Continue with AAR1 to its completion. He's getting a lot out of this program. Probably more than I realize.
- Use our Happy Phonics games. They've just been sitting in a box, waiting to be utilized.
- Use Starfall.com more deliberately. Occasionally I let Johnny just play with it, but I could have him follow the progression a little more. I think we'd use this more for reinforcement if anything.
- Find his place in Phonics Pathways and perhaps use the lessons as-written, or use it as a guide to know which phonics rules to introduce. On first glance, it looks uh...super dull.
Why I wouldn't want to continue to AAR level 2:
- The price. It's $99. And there's a third level after that, for $120. BUT. I have two other children who could use it after Johnny, plus I could sell most materials when we're done. The consumable portion for level 2 would be an extra $20 per child, and for level 3 $30 per child.
I think that's my only hangup with AAR. It's a really good program, and I also appreciate how it didn't start with learning blends such as ba/be/bi/bo/bu first. Many programs do a consonant + vowel leading off, and in my mind that's a bit confusing.
I think it'll mainly depend on where Johnny is at in 20 more lessons. If I do go ahead with AAR2, it would probably be the simplest way to proceed. If you're taking bets, that's probably where we'll end up.