I was a happy homeschooling mom with a beautiful daughter and a cute little boy. My husband, Greg, was a landscape architect. I was busy with the children and worked as a part time tutor. Life was good.
Then, little by little, we began to realize that our son, Scotty, was not learning to read or spell. He tried and tried, but it was beyond his grasp even though he did well in other subjects. He was such a sweet child and so eager to please that it was shocking to see him start acting up in frustration and anger at his inability to learn these simple skills. It was awful to see him suffer so! We tried everything—I bought every curriculum I could find, but none of them worked. Looking desperately for help, we took him to doctors, to specialists, and finally to an educational neurologist—and it was the neurologist, our seemingly last hope, who simply told us to give up and prepare our son for a life without reading or spelling.
I was horrified! My education was in language arts, and I had spent years studying various methodologies in the field. Beyond that, I tutored reading and spelling. So you can imagine how unthinkable it was to me to let my child go through life without these vital skills. In the end, after years of struggle and dead ends, I knew my only solution was to create my own programs. Teaching Scotty to read and spell became my passion.
I spent hundreds of hours re-examining the Orton-Gillingham method that I had studied in college and researching all the new theories and methods for teaching struggling learners. I also drew on my own experience in tutoring children for many years.
From all my research I knew that children learned in three different ways, the ways the brain works naturally—through sight, sound, and touch and I came to understand that every child learns in his own way. By having my child use all three senses in every lesson, I believed I could tap into Scotty’s natural pathway of learning and thereby provide him with a road to success. Starting with that concept, I carefully and thoughtfully created reading and spelling programs for him. I taught the subjects separately so he could stay focused. The lessons were broken down into single concepts and presented in a logical step-by-step order. Every lesson used sight, sound, and touch to teach the concept and included review of previously learned lessons. Appropriate rules were taught along the way. Plus, I made the program mastery-based so he could progress at his own pace and enjoy the feeling of success with every lesson he mastered. And it worked! Scotty soon learned to read and spell, and the transformation was nothing short of amazing.
And I was so excited to do just that! I happily began sharing my programs with other homeschool moms with similar problems. Their children learned to read and spell, too. And then it wasn’t long before I started to see a much bigger picture: if this method could help a handful of children, then surely it could help so many more! And that's how All About Learning Press got started.
For most kids, the most difficult area of language arts is spelling, so I decided to help in that area first. In 2006, just after the family moved to a wonderful spot adjoining the national forest in northern Wisconsin, we published our program, All About Spelling. Our first workbook came out in December of that year, and since then tens of thousands of children, and even adults, have learned to spell with it, including many with special needs.
This year we launched our new All About Reading program. This, too, is a unique program in the industry, and not just because of its multisensory lesson plans. All About Reading is the only comprehensive reading program on the market that begins by teaching five important pre-reading skills to preschoolers, and then continues by teaching all five of the Key Components of Reading throughout grade school.
My husband Greg heads up the business end of things. His is the voice you hear on the phone when you call the company. He loves answering your questions and making sure you have everything you need. And besides being my partner in the business, he's also a great listener with wonderful insight—a real bonus since I constantly pepper him with ideas for new programs and teaching tools!
Our daughter Megan runs the shipping and fulfillment end of the business, and she just loves it. She is the one who will make sure that your order is filled and shipped on time and that all the details are attended to. On top of that, she is an avid cook and loves experimenting on the family. We all appreciate that!
And our son Scotty is our “techno expert.” If we have a question about how to do something on the computer, Scotty answers it. If we have a computer problem, Scotty solves it. If we want to create a new application on the computer, Scotty does it. And he does all this with such a sense of fun and joy, you just have to love the kid. Plus, he will be going to university this fall to further his expertise in the computer field, and we are all so proud of him!
We started the business out of our house, like many small businesses do, but in recent years we have been rapidly running out of space. So we are happy to report that this year we have built a big new building we affectionately call “the Hive.” The Hive is now our distribution center and houses my new office.
My passion is to equip parents with effective strategies for teaching language arts, so every child can reach his or her full potential—just like Scotty did!