How We Overcame A Speech Delay With All About Reading...

July 25, 2017

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If anyone is looking for an amazing phonics curriculum, look no further. All About Reading is seriously the best! I really can't praise it enough. It's simple yet thorough, requires very little prep (my kind of setup!), and builds a great foundation for success in reading. The best thing about it for us -- it helped knock out my son's speech delay! No joke. I will give all the credit to All About Reading! If you follow my personal blog, then you already know all about this, but I thought I would share it here as well -- seeing as how this is a space for all things homeschool...

After completing Level 2, I felt like I had to reach out to the team at All About Reading and let them know how much I absolutely loved their program. After all, my son went from not being understood at ALL to speaking clearly -- how could I not let them know how grateful I am?! Well, they loved hearing about it so much that they asked if they could share Sam's story on their blog so that it may help others. I'm sure this post will be shortened/edited before they put it on their blog, but here's what I sent them. Please feel free to share this with any friends that might be researching phonics/reading curriculum or has a child with a speech delay...

Overcoming A Speech Delay With All About Reading

A little back story…My son, Samuel, struggled with speech from day one. We started him in speech therapy at 19 months old and he continued in that until a few weeks before his 6th birthday. When he started Kindergarten at age 5, he was still struggling with his initial and medial consonants. He would occasionally stutter and use the wrong pronouns when speaking. If you asked anyone at our weekly homeschool park group, no one could understand what he was saying at all. They would kindly smile and nod and wait for me to translate. We saw small hints of progress through the years as we worked with different SLP’s, but nothing compared to what was to come when we started All About Reading…

With that said, I first remember hearing about All About Reading from my sister, who has been homeschooling for a few years now. I initially flipped through her books half-heartedly dismissing the idea since it’s all black and white. I know, I know…that shouldn’t matter. Knowing we were starting our homeschool journey in kindergarten, I thought I wanted everything to be bright and colorful! That was until I researched further and read all the praises online about this curriculum. I decided to give it a shot and boy am I glad I did!!! Because of it being on back order through our charter school, I started our first month of kindergarten with something else. My son enjoyed it, but it was stressing him out a bit. Then when All About Reading finally arrived, we set that aside and dove right in. My son, Sam, was super excited! The pictures on the front of the readers looked fun and he liked the activities that went with each lesson. 

I have to say…one of my biggest concerns before we started Level 1 was that if he couldn’t say the sound correctly, how would he be able to read it properly? I love how Level 1 breaks it down into simple steps. As we began going through Level 1, I felt like I was doing my own little speech therapy session. After all, we were focusing in on one specific sound at a time. As I would have him repeat it back to me, I would have him look at my lips and tongue and even look in a mirror if need be so that he could pronounce it correctly. The AAR app also helped, as he could repeat the sound over and over as he worked on it. We would work on it until he could say it correctly on his own, and then we would move on. You could see the pride in his face when he would finally get the sounds right with the ones that were a major struggle. Cute Sam! 

Once he could pronounce the sounds properly, he would fly through the fluency practice sheets. Even though he struggled with speech, he picked up on Level 1 incredibly fast. We completed Level 1 in less than 3 months. I let Sam take a month off (over Christmas) before starting Level 2. During that time, we reread all the stories in the Level 1 readers — it allowed for him to review the phonics rules, but more importantly for me, it allowed him to work on his speech! We would read through the books and pause anytime there was a word he needed to improve on. Since his main struggle by that point was initial AND medial consonants, the CVC words were perfect! We would take it slow and steady until he got through. By the start of Jan, when we started Level 2, he was already starting to speak a little clearer. Things got a little trickier with Level 2 since it teaches  compound words and blends. It took a lot more effort on Sam’s part to knock those out. It took a lot of slow, focused, attempts at getting his mouth/tongue formed correctly to get the right sound, but those fluency sheets and review cards helped a LOT! While we always got homework from his SLP in the past, this was like a much more thorough version. By the time Sam completed a fluency worksheet, he had that sound down — not just down, but it was precise and clear! With each lesson, his speech improved more and more.

Oh, I should mention that when he started kindergarten, there was a delay in setting speech back up. Since we had an IEP with the charter, we waited for them to assign us an SLP. With each SLP we were assigned, somehow the scheduling didn’t work. It wasn’t until April that he FINALLY saw an SLP — basically almost a year since the last time he saw one through the school system. The only reason I mention this is because during this time, I would joke with the Spec Ed teacher that was assigned to our family that by the time we find one with an open slot, Sam might not need it! His speech had improved SO much while using All About Reading, that we may not need to go back. I said it jokingly, but as it turns out, it was the truth. Sam was at Lesson 40 in Level 2 when we finally saw his new SLP through the charter after almost a year without therapy. Sure enough, she was shocked when she read what was listed on his IEP vs. what she observed from her first session with Sam. All that work with All About Reading had done the trick! When I described to her how I approached phonics with this curriculum, she told me I was basically doing speech therapy without the degree, ha! Since she didn’t find too much that he needed to work on, they decided to do a full speech assessment to see where he still needed improvement. When we received the results, I was beaming with joy — he scored at a year above his age in almost every section. There was not one area needing improvement. Not only did he not need speech therapy any longer, but they said his enunciation was perfect! I suppose I wasn’t surprised after watching his progress throughout the year, but to hear it from a professional felt so good! He worked hard all year and had a LOT to show for it.

The funny thing is that now whenever we meet someone and speech somehow comes up — whether I mention how he just recently graduated from speech or how he used to be in speech — they’re shocked and say how they never would’ve guessed that he was behind with how clearly he speaks. The moms at our park group have even brought it up on their own about how they can't get over how much his speech has improved since the fall. He’s now the one that enunciates things perfectly clear and I give all the credit to All About Reading. You can see the wheel turning when he tries to say a long or difficult word — almost as if he’s visualizing it from the AAR letter magnets and rules that he has learned. It truly is a blessing that I was introduced to this curriculum. I have mentioned it to friends, as well as our past speech therapists that we remain friends with. Sam’s little brother is following in his footsteps in the speech department and I look forward to seeing the progress when it’s his turn to start Level 1! 

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And because they asked for some photos to share, here's one of the family. Cute Caleb will be starting All About Reading when he shows signs of being ready...

This is a typical scene when we're doing our AAR lesson -- Sam's reading off the words on his fluency worksheet while on the bosu ball...

Sweet Sam excited to be done with Level 2!

Whether your child goes to a brick and mortar school or you homeschool...if they're struggling with reading or speech, I highly recommend giving this a try!!! We absolutely love it!!!

All About Learning Press

Last thing, as you notice in the banner, they offer spelling curriculum too -- we just haven't tried it yet. However, we will be starting AAS Level 1 in the fall, so I'll be sure to comment on it once we get started!

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