I’ve spent years figuring out the right way to teach reading, and yet every one of our kids needed a different approach.
For this upcoming year I’d purchased TGTB 1 for our grade 2 daughter. I’ve used this program before with other kids and love the recent edition. While it’s a very beautiful program, I’ve realized our daughter needs her language arts broken into separate components because she’s at a different level for each area of writing, reading, spelling etc.
Because I’ve used both of these programs for our 4 kids over the years I would like to offer a comparison and pros and cons of each.
Both are such great programs and I hope this comparison offers you insight on what will work for your family!
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The Good & the Beautiful Language Arts (TGTB)
TGTB is an ‘all in one’ program with everything you need to teach reading, spelling, grammar and it even includes art/geography. It is Christian company and you will find notes of that throughout. It does teach grammar concepts early, and the recent editions have expanded on teaching reading with extra booster cards and optional readers. It’s an open and go program.
When you buy TGTB level 1 you’ll get the Level 1 Course Book, Reading Booster B Cards, Reading Booster B Books Set. Optional Nature Reader.
All About Reading (AAR)
All about reading offers multisensory Orton-Gillingham instruction. For kids that don’t like to sit still reading, the hands-on activities keep them focused. It is a secular program and offers scripted lessons, however the instructor will need to spend a few mins before starting the lesson to get familiar with the activities.
When you buy AAR level 1 you’ll get one Teacher’s Manual, one Student Packet Color Edition. Package includes: one Teacher’s Manual and one Student Packet (Activity Book, Flashcards, Stickers), and three readers.
Comparing TGTB vs AAR
Both of these programs have an app with letter tiles which kids love using to make words. The TGTB app is free, but you have to pay for the AAR letter tiles one. All about learning press also offers a phonogram sounds app so you can hear the sounds of the letters and word chunks for clear pronunciation.
If families are avoiding screens for learning, AAR also offers the magnet tiles instead which can be used for all spelling and reading programs.
TGTB younger levels have recently been updated and are beautiful and modern in design. I don’t think the AAR has had many design upgrades other than the color edition the past many years.
AAR is more expensive and the focus is only reading. Here in Canada TGTB is costs more with the US exchange rate then shipping and duties on top of that.
On the plus side of the price of AAR, if you’re using it with more than one child, all you have to buy is the student pack for the next child.
Because there aren’t frequent design changes every couple of years it remains a ‘classic’ homeschool resource that you can resell.
TGTB is a consumable book except the booster pack cards and books. You can also get the free PDF file for TGTB (which is amazing) but resell isn’t there except for ‘extras’ like the booster books/cards. Trying the free download of TGTB gives you the option to look at the program to see if you think it’s the right fit and try a few lessons before purchasing.
Many homeschoolers have found that TGTB is lacking in reading comprehension. You can buy their nature readers (I did because they’re gorgeous!!) and supplement if you feel that’s the case. I will say the booster cards have been a great addition to the recently updated TGTB level 1.
AAR offers a robust teacher guide with scripted lessons.
I’ll be honest and say that when I started homeschooling I despised scripted lessons, but now in my 9th year home educating I can really see the benefit. I’ve learned over time that I really don’t like teaching reading, in fact it’s been my least favorite aspect of homeschooling. The scripted lessons for me are worth it financially and because we’ve used this program with multiple children.
TGTB is ‘open and go’ but I thought I still needed to look at what we were covering that day before we started.
I’ve used both of these programs and they’re very wonderful.
Each family has different needs and only you will know if you prefer ‘all in one’ programs for language arts or if you prefer to keep them separately.
I personally prefer the latter as then I can fine tune each aspect, which is especially important when they’re ahead or behind in reading/writing/spelling etc. Our perfect mix this year is using level 1 AAR with Spelling you See A.
Our daughter’s biggest challenge has been reading which is why I really want to give that the focus this year. She also gets overwhelmed if there’s too much on a page. TGTB is so pretty but for kids that need more ‘white space’ on a page it’s too much to look at. She really loves the hands on activities with All About Reading.