I’ve mentioned before, and my home-schooling friends know, that our youngest boys, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” have long struggled with reading. They came into our family at the age of 8, unable to read, and given all of the other issues they had, instruction in reading never went very well. But recently, I was given the chance to review a reading program from the ABeCeDarian Company for the Schoolhouse Review Crew.
The ABeCeDarian Reading Program is different from any other reading program we have tried in the past. This program features (from the website):
•Explicit, comprehensive, multisensory phonics instruction
•Sound blending and segmenting explicitly taught and practiced
•Letter/Sound correspondences taught in the context of reading and spelling words
•Letter sounds taught before letter names
•Code knowledge organized by sounds with engaging sorting activities
•Precise practice routines and error correction procedures
•Integrated handwriting and spelling instruction
•Expert oral reading fluency practice
The teacher’s manual instructed me to read a lot of material which was meant to teach me how to use this program. At first, it seemed a bit overwhelming going through it all, but eventually it began to make sense. Our past experience had me teaching consonant and vowel sounds first, and then moving on to putting them together.
I used a combination of having them do the free placement assessment, along with having them try to read the initial story books for Level A to decide where in the program they should begin. Now, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” have, apparently, gotten a lot further along in reading than I expected, because we were able to zip right through all of the story books for levels A1 and A2.
Using these two things together helped me to see that they needed to begin with Level B1.
With ABeCeDarian, we started right in with decoding specific sounds. For example, in Level B1, we jumped right in with learning the “o” sound, and sorting words according to the different ways the “o” sound is spelled. I did have to keep stressing for the boys that each word in this section had the “O” sound, but that there were six different ways to spell that sound. From there, we moved on to breaking the words apart, and underlining each separate sound in the word. Basically, this program is set up in such a way that letters are presented in an organized way, according to sound. The idea is that your child will practice this material not just to mastery, but become a fluent reader.
Here is “The Puzzler”, reading “The Quest” which is storybook number 10 . . .
. . . and here is “Mr. Loquacious” reading the same book.
In level B1 there are 12 units, which are completed in 24 lessons. Among the many things covered in this level are the following:
Sorting words, special instructions for recording words with o-e, breaking words apart, word reading practice, reading chains (a list of words in which one letter has been changed in each word to make it into a different word), completing sentences, completing the storybook “The Quest”, key words and letter sound practice, reading multi-syllable words, and reading all of the fables in the ABeCeDarian Aesop book.
The teacher’s manual is spiral bound, so I can keep it flat. It is completely scripted, which would be very helpful for the new home-school mom, or any home-school mom who is not comfortable going “off book” and doing her own thing. The instructional material in the beginning of the teacher’s manual will teach you how to properly correct your child’s errors.
There are things that you WON’T be doing in this program, which are part of the reason it took me a little while of reading and re-reading the instructional material, given that my only experience was with a phonics based program, just as it was with my children.
There is no teaching of long and short vowels, sight words, or silent letters. It did take some time for me to get used to that, and for a while I had to constantly correct myself, as I would automatically go to those things.
Because their earlier experience with reading instruction was all strictly phonics based, the decoding process was confusing for “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” at first. When working on the word sorting activities, “The Puzzler”, who actually reads better than his brother, had a lot of problems at first, and told me it was very confusing and hard to do. However, “Mr. Loquacious” caught on to the decoding idea right away. I think this just shows that it is true that children learn in different ways, and that perhaps “The Puzzler” simply has an easier time learning with a phonics based program. In fact, when I think back to when we were working with phonics, “The Puzzler” was “getting it”, while “Mr. Loquacious” was not.
The student workbook is very nice, there are no distracting colors or pictures, which is a big plus in our family, since our children have extremely short attention spans. The lessons are fairly short, which is also helpful with distractable children. The lines for copying words and sentences are nicely spaced, with plenty of room for them to print. The workbook is spiral bound, which I like, as it lays nice and flat. It is in landscape format, which I think is easier for my kids to write in.
We received the following items for review:
Student Workbook A1, $12.25
Teacher’s Manual A1, $28.50
Student Workbook A2, $12.25
Teacher’s Manual A2, $28.50
Set of 10 Storybooks, $21.50
Student Workbook B1, $10.25
Teacher’s Manual B1, $25.50
ABeCeDarian Aesop, $2.50
I think that ABeCeDarian is turning out to be a good fit, at least for “Mr. Loquacious”. I’m not so sure it will work as well for “The Puzzler”, but we do intend to keep going and see how well they both do. I would recommend this program, especially if you have a struggling reader.
Be sure to click below and read what other crew members thought of ABeCeDarian!