Homeschooling three children at varying levels of reading, spelling, grammar and vocabulary can be a daunting task. The Boy is beginning to read; Sweetness has a good reading foundation but struggles to decipher unfamiliar words; and although Bookworm Beauty is an advanced reader, she doesn’t always know why she knows what she knows. When the opportunity came to review Logic of English Essentials 2nd Edition, Volume 1, I had initially planned on using it primarily with The Boy and possibly as a resource to help strengthen Sweetness’s skills.
I had high expectations for Logic of English Essentials and it certainly did not let me down. I have long been a firm believer that phonics is the best method for teaching the English language and I hoped that it would truly be a solid program. Throughout the years I have homeschooled six children through different parts of the early elementary school years. Of those children I have found that those that had a solid foundation in phonics have remained the best at reading, writing and spelling as well as deciphering unfamiliar words. The second element I believe firmly in is an understanding of the Greek and Latin roots. I had not yet taught root words in our homeschooling but Princess and Angel had an outstanding fifth grade teacher in the public school system that threw out the standard curriculum and taught his classes Greek and Latin roots. This proved a valuable resource for them for the remainder of their schooling.
When I received the huge package of materials for Logic of English, I was initially a bit overwhelmed! I spent a full two days just reviewing the materials before I even considered beginning the program. This was a bit of a turn-off for me initially but I came to understand the value of it. This program is extremely thorough and although it appears to be a single curriculum guide, it has three different levels. One could easily go through the program three times, reviewing concepts and going deeper each time. While I was previewing the program I revised my initial plans and decided that I was going to use it with all three kids simultaneously, each at a different level. Fortunately, I did not need to do any of the ten pre-lessons so we were able to jump right in.
At first I found the program a bit difficult to teach from. This was a personal thing because I am usually not one to follow a script. I like to use curriculum guides as guides. With Essentials, I found that it was better for us all when I just followed the plan as it was laid out. In a lot of ways, this was much simpler as they lay everything out for you.
Essentials is laid out in 15 lessons, each broken up over five days. I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to witness improvement in all of the kids by the time we had completed lesson 1. The Boy had been reading simple words for over a year but still did so at a slow pace, contemplating each word. After the first lesson, he was showing great confidence in his reading of simple words. He was also more willing to take risks with trying to figure out more difficult words. Sweetness was already a great reader, reading far above her grade level. However, her spelling was far behind her reading ability. I noticed that she was spelling more accurately in that short period of time and continued to improve as we went along.
Bookworm Beauty surprised me all around! First of all, I didn’t think that she would enjoy working through the program because it started with simple phonics and I felt that she would be resistant. However, she not only participated but was engaged and told me later that she was glad that she was learning actual rules such as the rules for “C” and for “G”. Learning the word roots was another thing she appreciated and I have witnessed her using those learned skills to decipher word meanings. Lastly, she enjoyed the activities and games that we played throughout the lesson. Of all of my kids, she is usually the least kinesthetic however she felt that she got a lot out of the activities.
To go even further, my bonus mom is 70 years old and has always struggled with her reading and spelling. She is literate, she just struggles with proper mechanics. She has taken time to review some of the lessons and has shown improvement. She is finding it exciting to be able to uncover some of her educational holes.
I believe that the greatest gift we can give our children is a solid foundation for learning to read and write and the best way to do that is with a program that teaches everything needed to decipher 98% of the English language. Logic of English will become a mainstay in our homeschool. We will be completing this program in it’s entirety and look forward to the second volume.