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Abeka Phonics and All About Spelling?
Do you like Abeka Phonics but not so much its approach to spelling? Do you like All About Spelling but already started using Abeka Phonics and not sure if the two would work well together?
Of course many already know Abeka has its own spelling program, and All About Spelling can be used together with its sister phonics program All About Reading. However, some people (like us) might begin using Abeka to then realize the whole curriculum will not be a good fit for their family and so the research begins…
If you are anything like me and my brood with multiple kids and multiple learning styles to cater to, boxed curriculums rarely fit those needs very well. When we first started our homeschooling journey 4 years ago with my now 9-year-old, I decided to use an Abeka curriculum kit for our Kindergarten and 1st-grade years. Although the Abeka Phonics part was a keeper for my kids, everything else ended up being a poor pairing. By the end of 1st grade, we ended up ditching most of our Abeka curriculum kit including its spelling program. Now what? Well, we had to go through some growing pains before finally in 3rd-grade finding the right spelling curriculum.
I’m here to say Abeka Phonics and All About Spelling beautifully complement each other making it a great pairing.
Yes, it’s true! Pairing these 2 curriculums not only works but also helps us really understand all the phonics rules we couldn’t make any sense of at times. So let us take a closer look at each one and then explain how introducing “All About Spelling” in the middle of 1st-grade really brings together everything “Abeka Phonics” teaches.
Although I’m not a big fan of everything Abeka, I have to say Abeka Phonics is a wonderful program to teach kids reading.
Before I go into explaining how this program works, I’d like to explain I’m not a fan of Formal Early Childhood Education. Yup, I said it, and you can read all about why in my “Homeschooling Preschool” post. Why am I saying this? Well, just like many other phonics programs, Abeka Phonics could be started at 4-years-old using its K4 curriculum. For those families like ours who do not wish to formally preschool their children, the good news is Abeka Phonics can be successfully taught beginning from its K5 level.
With both of my school-aged children, we completed this program over the span of 2 years (Kindergarten and 1st-grade). At the end of K5 (kindergarten), a child will be a beginning reader capable of reading level-1 books. During the next year (1st grade), the student will complete the Abeka Phonics Program and will be ready to explore many different level books.
Of course, each child will learn at his own pace even when using the same exact program. My 2 eldest children are the perfect example of that. My now 9-year-old, after completing the Abeka Phonics program was still not a confident reader and needed an extra year of review and practice to finally blossom into the avid reader he is today. On the other hand, his younger brother is now in the middle of 1st-grade and even before finishing to learn all of the special sounds, he can basically read almost any level book. At the end of the day, it is my opinion you can’t fight DNA. 🤷♂️
With both of our children, we began to homeschool when they were 5 1/2 years old and used the Abeka Phonics program to teach them how to read. During the K5 year, kids will learn the following:
- Letters and their sounds (kids will learn ALL Alphabet’s letters and sounds).
- Handwriting (Manuscript or Cursive) depending on what version you choose.
- Blending (Kids begin to blend a consonant with a vowel, then progress on reading 3 letter words, 4 letter words, 5 etc..).
- Beginning to read (As soon as kids learn how to read 3 letter words, they will begin to read K5 books included in this program).
- Special Sounds (With the help of some big and colorful Flash Cards, kids begin to learn some sounds that don’t follow the rules).
- Sight Words (Words that completely defy all rules and need to be recognized by sight and cannot be read applying phonics rules).
Just as I explained before, most kids will finish this year being beginner readers. YAY!🎉
- Handwriting (kids will continue to practice their handwriting with a focus on shrinking the size of their letter formation).
- Special Sounds (Kids will finish learning all of the 132 Special Sounds taught throughout this reading program).
- Sight Words
- 8 Abeka Readers (Kids will read the 8 Readers included with this program, focusing on reading comprehension and practicing Special sounds and sight words as they are introduced).
- Grammar & Creative Writing (Kids will begin to learn some Language basics during 1st-grade. Creative writing is also taught in this grade, however, it ended up being a fiasco and we choose to skip this part and use a separate writing program. The writing curriculum we use has a much gentler approach to writing than Abeka. If you’d like to know more about it, here is a link to my review of it “Essentials in Writing“).
At the end of 1st-grade kids will be able to fluently read many level 2-3 books. (this can vary depending on the child).
Some words of advice to help keep Abeka Phonics from becoming Frustrating and Overwhelming.
Although the Abeka’s Teacher Manual is necessary and invaluable to effectively teach this program the way it’s intended, I’d like to give out some words of advice. Parents should keep in mind all of Abeka’s curriculums were written for a school setting. Yes, even its Homeschool curriculum version has LOTS and LOTS of fluff and busy work included, meant for a classroom setting more than a home setting.
Following the teacher’s lessons plans to the “T” can leave parent and child feeling completely burnt out and overwhelmed by the end of each day. My best advice is to stick to the necessary teachings and cut down on the required amount of seatwork (worksheets). We also skip all games and extra activities sticking to the basics, and the program works just as well.
All About Spelling (AAS)
“All About Spelling” teaches kids the rules of spelling by using all 3 learning pathways (Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic) instead of relying only on the visual method by doing repetitive copy work.
We started using All About Spelling with my 3rd & 1st grader this year and it’s been fantastic! I have to admit, starting from level 1 for both of my children hurt my pride as I felt we were behind the spelling curve ball with my 3rd-grader. However, as soon as we started using AAS many questions that were left unanswered by Abeka Phonics were answered, and suddenly everything made sense!
Short, Simple and to the Point, AAS rules actually stick and kids don’t have to memorize never ending word lists!
All About Spelling teaches spelling rules and honestly, the thought of this held me back from switching to this program earlier. The thought of my kids having to learn rules of spelling wasn’t too appealing and the use of letter tiles to me just looked like too much work.🤷♂️ However, what I didn’t realize is how each spelling rule taught is actually a “Unique little trick” making learning spelling a breeze.
All About Spelling “Tile App”
What finally made me switch to using All About Spelling was finding out we could use the Tile App instead of their actual tiles. My kids will learn even without touching the tiles, and the Tile App makes the lessons go by so much faster. No set-up time, no cleanup, just pick your level and lesson from the App tabs and you are ready to go! Nothing to store other than our kids’ tablets and another cool thing? If you have more than 1 Amazon Tablet you only have to purchase the Tiles App ONCE! Yes, that’s right. After downloading the Tile App to your Amazon’s account, you will have access to it from any Amazon Tablets you own. We have it installed in all 3 of our Amazon Tablets and love it!!!
←Here is a link to one of the Amazon Kids Tablet choices. Tablet needs to be at least 7″ for the Tile App to work.
Since I’ve already written not too long ago a full review of All About Spelling I will now move on to explain how it compliments well the Abeka Phonics teachings. If you’d like to learn more about All About Spelling, here is a link to my full review of it: “Spelling You See vs. All About Spelling”.
How All About Spelling makes teaching Abeka Phonics a breeze.
Since starting to use All About Spelling this year with my 1st-grader, I realize it has made teaching Abeka Phonics so much easier than it was with my first child. One of our first AAS lessons teaches the “4 sounds of vowel O”. When this concept was introduced, finally all those variable “O” sounds we learned in Abeka Phonics made sense and my sons and I all had an “AH AH” moment!💡
The way All About Spelling tackles many teachings in its program is easy, clear, and makes sense from the very beginning. As I’m going through our AAS lessons, I came to realize its lessons were almost like an explanation of all those hard to grasp concepts Abeka Phonics introduced early on. Our “HA HA” moments kept on coming until I decided to completely skip some Abeka Phonics concepts that were confusing us, and learn them the All About Spelling way. SCORE!
Combining these 2 curriculums has helped my child and me understand some concepts Abeka Phonics just doesn’t do a very good job on teaching. One of those being Syllable division. For the life of me, I had a very hard time teaching my first born syllable division using the Abeka method. The reason for it, it’s because it’s poorly and briefly explained. Abeka Phonics teaches Syllable division as the parent should already know how to teach it (perfect example of how it’s more catered to a school setting). Skipping any step by step explanation, parents and kids are thrown into clapping syllables with little to no guidance as to how these syllables should be divided and why. Well, not anymore! All About Spelling does an excellent job explaining throughout its early levels about all the different syllable division rules.
All About Spelling’s syllable teachings has made a world of a difference not only in my eldest son’s spelling but also his reading.
After this experience, I’ve decided to skip entirely teaching syllables with Abeka Phonics and instead opted to teach my second born syllables as a spelling lesson with All About Spelling. This has been a winner decision, and I can happily say my 1st-grader has a very clear and excellent understanding of what Syllables are, the different types, and how to divide words into syllables. I will certainly do the same with his younger brother when the time comes.🤩
Where Abeka Phonics has kids memorize many sight and rule-breaking words, All About Spelling uses unique tricks to helps kids decode more and memorize less.
Following are some ways we have found AAS to perfectly complement and simplify the Abeka Phonics’ teachings.
- Extra Vowels Sounds (For vowels: A, O, U.) By teaching all vowel sounds from the very beginning of their program, helps kids to know they can rely on the rules they have learned. This also helps cut down on the number of rule-breaking words they need to learn).
- Fewer Sight Words to memorize. (While AAS is a spelling program, We’ve experienced its method also helps kids decode more words improving our children’s reading skills).
- Syllables division (How to divide syllables couldn’t be taught in an easier way)!
- C & G sounds (AAS rule for C & G helped solidify what our kids had learned using Abeka Phonics. I’d say also the visual Tile practice really helped master this concept previously learned).
- Silent E Jobs (AAS teaches kids the 5 jobs of Silent E and then gives kids their very own Silent E Detective log. Kids learn how to visualize these type of words to then correctly spell them. This simple but yet genius method improves reading skills while teaching how to spell Silent E words).
- Qu Tile (visualizing the “qu” tile helps kids truly solidify how letter Q in the English language should always be next to U and never alone. Kids immediately grasp how “qu” makes only one sound by using this tile while practicing spelling).
- Differentiate between Special Sounds that make the same sounds.
- Homophones (I gladly skip teaching and practicing Homophones using Abeka Phonics since All About Spelling also has a whole book dedicated to them for grades 1-8. “All About Homophones” worksheets are a great and effective way to teach kids homophones).
Why not use “All About Reading” then?
Some might wonder why don’t use “All About Reading” instead of Abeka Phonics at this point. “All About Reading” stretches out teaching reading over 4 levels (5 if including its Pre-Reading level). Although some children could greatly benefit from this approach, that wasn’t our case. I personally prefer Abeka Phonics’ more intensive approach on teaching kids how to read over the span of 2 years. This has worked for us and introducing All About Spelling in mid-1st-grade really brings together many concepts Abeka Phonics teaches early-on.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Hope our uniques experiences can be of help and guidance to many,