I love books, and to an extent that applies to textbooks and curriculum. I love sitting down to come up with ideas for our homeschooling year-planning activities, trips (ahem, field trips), books we are going to read, and all the marvelous things we are going to learn. It makes me happy. I discovered the Logic of English Foundations curriculum over the summer, and we have been using it for the past several months. Here is a look at why I chose it, and how it is working for us.
A Look at Our School Year and Our Starting Place
As of the start of our homeschooling “school year” (Sept. 2017. I use the term ‘school year’ loosely), I have a 2nd grader, a Pre-K year 4, and a toddler. What this looks like is a lot of noise and crazy movement, and some good snuggles! My overarching goal, always, is to instill a sense of loving to learn, and to be kind, good humans. With a little more color to fill in the details: reading books is at the top of our list, always, experimenting and building is absolutely encouraged, playing and using imaginations is a must everyday. I’m not interested in torturing them, or me, by having them sit for hours a day. And right now, my 7 year old is going through a growth spurt, which entails quite a bit of drama, and a stronger need than usual for physical activity (which is normally pretty high).
Both boys are using the same curriculum for Language Arts. The fact they can both use the same, with a 3 year age difference, is astounding to most people. It is easy for both of them, but they are starting on the same page, and it is working well. It allows us to play games together, which makes it fun.
My 7 year old, Newton, is more of a numbers kid. Numbers and math come easily to him. While we have been slowly working on phonics for a couple years now, he still does not read fluently. And really, he just hasn’t been ready. Hindsight is 20/20, so they say, and while I have read articles which say boys take longer to develop language skills and to read, I didn’t know how to gauge that for myself. So, yes, I wish I had been more relaxed about the whole thing and not really started until he was 7, but alas, I was eager to “get started,” for my own sanity rather because he was ready.
I have been much more relaxed with my 4 year old….He is only 4. But Silas is a completely different kid. Before age 2, he would ask what different letters were, and so I would tell him names and sounds. At 2 he knew all the letters and their sounds (well, not all the sounds, as I discovered with Logic of English!). By 3 he was reading simple books, and now at 4.5, he is reading anything and everything. He has literally drug me along in his education. 4 year olds should be playing, and mine does, but he also has a crazy drive to read and learn what his brother is learning. He brings new meaning to the phrase, “follow the child.”
Intro to Logic of English
Logic of English is a multi-sensory, holistic approach to Language Arts (learning to read, phonics, handwriting). It teaches
- Phonemic Awareness
- The Alphabetic Principle and systematic phonics
- Fluency and high frequency words
- Reading comprehension
[from Logic of English]
The Logic of English curriculum has two options: Essentials and Foundations. Newton, my 7 year old, age-wise is on the line straddling the two curriculum, but in the end I thought he would benefit from and enjoy the silliness of Foundations. Also, the playfulness of Foundations appeals to Silas, my 4 year old, who is working alongside Newton.
Essentials looks great, and we will progress to it once we have finished all 4 books of the Foundations program.
Logic of English Foundations, Book A & B
We are using Logic of English Foundations. There are 4 levels in the series (A, B, C, D). Each level is its own manual and kid workbook. Support materials include (most of these have been used for A and B):
- Sandpaper letters (cursive or manuscript)
- Phonogram flashcards
- Letter/phonogram tiles
- Easy readers
- Dry erase board (we love!)
Logic of English uses the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching phonics. It focuses strongly on phonemic awareness, and has activities focused for all different types of learners: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
The format of the book is 5 lessons, then a review lesson. Each book is 40 lessons (plus reviews).
[PHOTO OF SANDPAPER LETTERS/PHONOGRAM CARDS]
Foundations Book A
I went back and forth about starting with Book A, which starts at the very beginning of what a letter (phonogram) is, then goes through all 26 phonograms with ALL the sounds they make (74!). There is a really strong focus on phonemic awareness, which has been great for Newton, he has responded well to the rules and logic of…English. When ordering books, I had the option of the boys learning print (manuscript) letters or cursive. I chose cursive. Book A teaches how to write all the lowercase letters.
I chose to start with A, even though it would be (and was) way too easy for both boys. It allowed us to learn the flow of the program together, with the enjoyment aspect of when things are too easy and not challenging. Before starting, I did not know all the sounds each letter makes. I mean, I can read, and I know there are weird things letters do, but I couldn’t have told you why.
Turns out, there are 74 phonograms! And that doesn’t include multi-letter phonograms. I have to say, I am enjoying learning more about the English language right along with them. They’ve learned them all fairly easily- ‘U,’ ‘I,’ and ‘Y’ each have 4, and those were a bit harder to cement in their minds. They have marched around the house yelling phonogram sounds more times than I care to remember.
Because A started at such an easy level, we flew through it. We went through a couple lessons a day for most of the book. Halfway through we slowed down a bit, when spelling words started. Each lesson presents 5 spelling words. Some days we do all 5, most days we do 3. I keep it easy and low-key: this is not a test, there is no grade; this is practice of what we’ve learned, sounds and blending as well as handwriting. The act of writing the word helps reinforce what we’ve learned (Read about it here).
The program does have them reading words, and even some short booklets that came with the program (similar to BOB Books, which are recommended as a supplement). I am not crazy about the booklets, it felt like quite a bit of money for not a lot of booklet. BUT, the kids both like them, they have color illustrations and photos in them, and less words than BOB books!
Newton, my 7 year old, is loving cursive! He was really frustrated with the beginning of A with how slow the cursive was going. The first few lessons teach just pieces of letters, which was amusingly infuriating for him. “Please teach me just one letter!” Ha! Not your average 7 year old begging. Newton has never really enjoyed writing, drawing, or coloring. Learning cursive has been a game changer for him. He is willing to write in order to practice his cursive. Now, he still tires of it quickly, but it’s progress.
Silas, 4 years old, started out learning cursive right alongside Newton, but it is hard for him, so I’m not pushing. We worked together to write a letter, and I gave him the option to spell words, but I’m not forcing him to do any handwriting. At 4, we are working on strengthening his fine motor skills. He can print all the letters, and he does sometimes.
Handwriting with a 4 year old
Okay, so both boys’ workbooks are for learning cursive. The A/B book set came with sandpaper cursive letters to trace the letters. Silas has really enjoyed those. When we started, he was very willing to try cursive letters, but somewhere along the way, he decided he wanted to write “real” letters (print), instead of cursive. I’m not about to push or force a 4 year old to hand-write anything! I offer to write the cursive letter, or word, for him to trace, and sometimes he agrees to that, sometimes not. Other times, he chooses to write spelling words in print; some days he doesn’t write anything. Seeing as his brother is 7 and is really only just showing interest in writing, coloring, and drawing, I’m okay with waiting until he is older. I do make sure to include activities which build fine motor skills, such as cutting with scissors and playing with playdough.
What we love about Foundations A:
- The Games! The program is designed for wiggly kids in mind. Every lesson has a couple game suggestions, all of them low-prep on my part (which I love).
- The layout is really easy to follow.
- That all the phonograms were taught from the beginning. I seriously spent a month walking around to everyone I know saying things like, “Do you know ‘S’ makes the /z/ sound 70% of the time??”
- Cursive! Newton has been saying for the last 5 months that cursive is his favorite subject this year.
Foundations Book B
I bought both A and B together, so we rolled right into Book B after celebrating the end of Book A. The lessons are longer in this book, so we are sticking with just 1 lesson a day. They were a little longer in the beginning than Book A, but by about halfway through the lessons really felt more bulky. I definitely play each lesson by ear based on the content and how the boys are doing. Some days we just need short and sweet, and other days we can really focus and dig in. Being 7 and 4, they are still young, and I’m more than okay with moving at their individual paces.
For this book, we are working on mastery of our individual phonograms (74), and are also learning 19 phonogram blends, and 8 spelling rules. Frankly, I was a little doubtful that the boys would retain all the information, but they have done great with it. The last 10 lessons or so, where we start learning /ow/, /ou/, and /ough/ are a little tougher. There are just so many sounds /ou/ and /ough/ make! But they are sticking with it really well. Did you know ‘CH’ makes 3 sounds? Or that no English words end in I, U, J, or V? Yep, I’m still learning things right along with the boys.
Capitals in Cursive
Book B teaches capital letters for handwriting. So now we know the entire alphabet in cursive. Capital G was one of the last letters learned, and it was an exciting day when Newton wrote ‘Greenawalt’ for the first time in cursive! ‘Mom, that’s a lot of letters!’ Yep!
High Frequency Words and Other Bits
Rhyming, opposites, and syllables have all been discussed in Book B. Also, we have started incorporating a game, Fox in the Hen House, which helps cement high frequency words. I have to say, by the end of the book, our bowl of words is packed full! I set a timer when we play, otherwise we would spend all day going through the words. We play this game a lot, which is one reason why the lessons are taking a bit longer.
A word on workbooks
We don’t do a ton of ‘workbooks’ or worksheets, for anything. In general, I have used them when we are running short on time, and we just need to at least keep our brains in the game, or we are in the car for a long time. I sometimes use them when we need a little extra help. I have not been insistent or strict on either boy doing all the writing, whether it be Language Arts, Math, or other.
For Book A of Foundations, I bought one book, but we didn’t write in it. Occasionally I would show them the sheets and we would point to the sounds or whatever the instructions were. For where they were, and how fast we were going through the book, I just felt it wasn’t necessary. For Book B, each boy has his own workbook, and we are writing in them. Silas (4) not quite as much, but he does enjoy having his own book and being part of what is going on; being included is important to him. And he will draw lines to connect pictures to words/sentences, or mark the phonograms; whatever the instruction is. The workbooks with Logic of English are designed to reinforce concepts. The boys seem to enjoy working in them. I am not strict in having them finish everything. If they are fading or losing too much interest, we move on to the next thing. The workbooks do have game pieces in them for cutting out, and those have been a big hit. I really appreciate that I don’t have to make flashcards! I just have to cut the words or game pieces out…my kind of craftiness!
What We Love about Book B
Well, kind of all the same things as Book A! We have not lost our enthusiasm for the book or program. We’ve just wrapped up Book B in January, then we will take a short break before continuing Book C.
Final Thoughts on Logic of English Foundations
I’ve been really impressed with this program. I personally have learned a lot about the way the English language works, which I have enjoyed (I fully embrace my nerdiness). Newton is really enjoying this program compared to what we did before, which was How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We had made it through all 100 lessons in the spring of 2017, and we were both so burned out by the book, and he was not enjoying the process or thriving with it. He is doing a better job decoding words. He still doesn’t read ‘fluently,’ nor does he enjoy reading for long periods of time, but he does show a better grasp of the English Language, so he is headed in the right direction. And the cursive has been a winner for him. We are going to continue down the road with Foundations, Books C and D.
Find more information at Logic of English.
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