Monday, November 9, 2009

Review: AVKO




*As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free one year membership to AVKO.org in exchange for a review. My opinions are strictly my own, and I encourage families to research this and other programs to determine what is right for them.*


AVKO (which stands for Audio, Visual, Kinesthetic and Oral) is a non-profit organization founded by Don McCabe. AVKO "is dedicated to teaching everyone how to read and spell, regardless of their mild to moderate learning disabilities, dyslexia, poverty, or opportunity."

Don McCabe is also the author of Sequential Spelling, a highly popular spelling program among homeschoolers. I've never used Sequential Spelling myself, nor did I have access to it for this review. Therefore, I will only give my opinion on the website itself and its content.

I have to admit that I really didn't think much of this program at first. Wait--let me rephrase that. I didn't feel I had a genuine need for this type of program. However, the more I played around on their site, downloaded their e-books, and listened to Don McCabe's mp3 workshops, my whole attitude changed. Suddenly, a light bulb moment took place inside my head; "Could this be the answer to my son's struggles with reading and writing?"

For years, I just figured Ethan was allergic to pencil and paper. Not literally of course, but I figured since my husband isn't a huge reader/writer and struggled all through school, Ethan was just "taking after Dad". I knew Ethan would learn as he went along, and I never tried to push him beyond what I knew he was capable of. Neither my husband or my son has been formally diagnosed with any sort of learning difficulties, but like I said, the more time I spent on the AVKO website--the more everything started to make sense.

I'd always understood dyslexia to mean flipping letters or numbers around, or reading backwards. However, by reading Don McCabe's book, "To Teach a Dyslexic" (McCabe's personal story that was really interesting, but does contain a few zingers/curse words--FYI), I learned that dyslexia creates difficulty in a number of areas including memory retention, delayed speech (Ethan didn't utter more than "mama" or "dada" until he was over 2 years old), and sometimes math.

Needless to say, this was one review product I was very glad to receive! I learned far more than I had expected, and I noticed awesome changes in Ethan's retention and understanding after following some of the suggested teaching methods. I'm now saving up to purchase Sequential Spelling to see how it stacks up with our current program. :)

An individual AVKO membership costs $25/year and provides access to a multitude of helpful products including:
  • E-books aplenty, including all 10 volumes of The Patterns of English Spelling, To Teach a Dyslexic, and Starting at Square One
  • Supplemental materials such as word games, puns, and worksheets
  • Discounts on all AVKO materials through their webstore
  • Access to Don McCabe's mp3 audios (which are very informative!)
  • AVKO newsletter and more.

AVKO also offers a selection of freebies, such as sample book pages and articles, that can be found by clicking here.

Overall, I was very pleased with Don McCabe's methods and the selection of products offered through AVKO. The materials are incredibly helpful and simple to use, and I was very impressed with how the tone of voice didn't come across as babyish or "dumbed down" to the student. It was just simple, logical, and to the point.

On a little side note, I did find their website a bit overwhelming at first (there's a LOT of info!), but if you play around with it a bit, you'll find what you're looking for.

If you have a struggling reader--whether dyslexic or not--in your family, I highly suggest checking out AVKO.org. I happily award them with two thumbs up!

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