Review of the Riggs Institute’s Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking Level I & Level II

Introductory Note:  I purchased these on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

This is my all-time favorite program.  This was also the first program I ever used in homeschooling.

The concept behind the method is based on explicit phonics (teaching the sounds of English in isolation, without key words and pictures) using the Socratic Method where kids think through the answers based on questions.  Spelling words are dictated once the phonograms (sounds in English) are mastered as well as spelling rules.  Then reading begins where kids “decode” the text by using their spelling rules.

Level 1 is for Kindergarten students and first-graders.  It goes through teaching the phonograms, dictating spellings, introducing letter formation and writing, and grammar/spelling rules as the book progresses.  It contains 160 Lessons to be used throughout the year.  It recommends doing a lesson every other day for kindergarten students and every day for first-graders.

My old charter school taught the phonograms to the kids.  Admirable but not enough, I thought.

The method relies on you integrating all of its components so following it to a T.

Admittedly, I do not.  I use a separate writing program, a separate grammar program, and a separate hand-writing program (all of which is covered in Riggs).  I guess I’m one to believe in more is better.

Level 2 continues right where Level 1 left off with spelling, grammar, syntax, and composition all integrated.

My favorite surprise of Level 2 is it contains a free copy of Essentials of English by Henry Carr Pearson and Mary Kirchwey.  What a gem!  My kids and I are going through this slowly and it is a wonderful addition to their other English lessons.

Conclusions:  I credit the Riggs Method for the reason my girls are such good readers and spellers.  When coming upon a new word, they almost always can sound it out or spell it.  If they miss it, they miss it with one of the other phonic sounds such as ea instead of ee.  Joy always fills me when this happens.

Having had my daughter in a traditional public school for a few months before I began my homeschooling journey I can attest to the fact teaching key words and one sound of the alphabet is horrible.  My daughter was lost and she was placed in a remedial class for help.

Naturally, I was horrified and couldn’t figure out why.  Until I started this book.

Blessedly, she was only in that school for 2  1/2 months but I had to undo what that school did.

Look-and-see only works for memorizers but I believe they will be hindered for life if they don’t know the why behind it all.  I know because this was me.

I cannot recommend this program enough.  If you do nothing else in homeschooling, this is the one I’d buy.  It’s worth every penny and your child will reap the rewards.

9 thoughts on “Review of the Riggs Institute’s Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking Level I & Level II

  1. My daughter started at a charter school with Riggs also. When we began homeschooling in 1st grade, I tried Spalding but then ended up with SWR (easier to teach at home). I’m curious about going back to Riggs with my youngest in PreK. Many folks are using the new AAS instead as it is based on the O/G approach. Have you compared AAS and Riggs? I love all your other reviews. We use most of the same curriculum!

  2. Andrea we have used Riggs for K-2. After review the All About Spelling I will be switching to AAS. My children and I found AAS less confusing than Riggs.

  3. I’m thinking of using the riggs method for teaching my son who is 11 yrs old, I was told to start him at level 1. Would like any feedback you can give.

    1. Joanna,

      Yep, start at Level 1. He’ll probably think it’s easy (which is fine) but you need to get the method ingrained. Just go faster through it and depending on how he does, you’ll be one to Level 2 (harder) in no time!

  4. I am curious, which part of Riggs do you follow if you use separate writing, grammar, and handwriting programs? Only the phonograms/dictation aspect? Did you have your girls write using the diacritical marks and accents, or forego that aspect? And lastly, did you find the Riggs grammar instruction sufficient in the lessons as presented, or did you feel the need to substitute/plan additional lesson material? I am considering starting with Riggs, but am intimidated by both the suggested time commitment (2.5 hours per day!), combined with what I perceive at this time to be a lack of instruction with regard to grammar, and the idea that I might need to have supplemental lessons. In your experience, how many hours per day does the Riggs method actually require to implement with 2-3 students of varying grade levels?

    1. Hey Bonnie,

      Just the phonograms/spelling/dictation aspect and we do do the markings for I find it helpful for syllabication.

      They teach the “old” (in my opinion) cursive handwriting which is the loop style which I abhor since no one can read it so we skip that part.

      The grammar is not sufficient in my view. You have to buy their books they use as well which are books that are 100 years old or so and they constantly refer to them in the lessons in order to teach the grammar part. So you’d have to add even more time in order to implement these lessons as well.

      We don’t spend no where near 2.5 hours per day on this. In the beginning, longer. But now that the kids are used to it maybe 10 minutes or so.

      We do a separate grammar program which I feel is more up-do-date and better in terms of making it interesting for the kids. And superior as well.

      I use Riggs exclusively for the spelling and phonogram/phonics teaching which I feel there is no better program out there for this purpose.

      Hope that answers your questions. Feel free to let me know!

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