Most of you all know about our struggles with teaching our youngest son, Jacob, to read. Several things have helped, but nothing has really done the trick. Nothing has seemed to really motivates him to learn – or for that matter me to teach him better reading skills. He has always had the basics down. He knows his letter sounds. It’s just a matter of teaching him to blend those sounds together. Basically just practice, practice, practice. Finding a curriculum that is easy to teach (motivates me), fun to use (motivates him), and provides the practice has been difficult. Until, that is, Eclectic Foundations and their Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B program entered our home! It is easy, fun, and provides the practice he needs plus more!
I love the fact that it is easy to use! There is almost no preparation at all and it doesn’t take long to teach. In fact, every lesson in the Teacher’s Guide is just one page. It tells you exactly what to use, exactly what to say, exactly what to focus on! It is extremely easy which with my busy lifestyle is very much needed!
Each lesson has five areas that are taught:
McGuffey’s Reader – Yes, we use the old, tried and true McGuffey’s Reader. We were blessed to receive a copy of McGuffey’s First Reader with the material that was sent to us. If you are not familiar with the McGuffey’s Readers, let me tell you that they are advanced. Just because it says First Reader does not mean it is the typical first grade reading book. At the beginning it may be easy, but at the end you are reading words beyond what a typical first grader would read.
At the top of each lesson there is a picture. Underneath there are practice words and a short story. Jacob reads the practice words that are introduced and then the story. Then I ask some questions about the story and the picture. I say “picture” because some of the questions are about the picture itself to help him use his imagination and think about what might happen next. It all takes a very short time and is more fun than a chore.
Phonics – We were also sent a an Eclectic Foundations Language Arts B Student Workbook. It is equally easy to use and has several sections but first I’ll talk about the phonics section.
At the top of the page there is a list of words that are similar – such as silent e words. The student is to read the 10 to 12 or so words and continue to review the words he has trouble with until he can read them fluently. We were also provided with a laminated Phonics Practice Sheet Level B book with laminated reusable pages where the student is to print the words as he says them. I love this tactile method that is used to help them concrete the learning of the words.
Handwriting/Copy work – Yep, I said “handwriting”, and I am not talking about printing either, I am actually talking about cursive writing! They start off very simply with a letter a day and then work on connecting letters and copy work. I love that they are teaching cursive writing at an early age but must say that I have not tried this with Jacob yet. He also has small motor problems and I am not quite sure he is ready for this yet. I may try soon, though, because it is said that the smoothness of cursive writing is actually better for kids who have small motor problems.
Poetry – I also like the fact that kids are learning good poetry in this curriculum! And we aren’t just talking about simple little made up poems. Jacob is learning poetry written by Robert Lewis Stevenson, George McDonald and more. Each poem is in the student workbook. We’ll read the poem, and talk about the way a poem is put together and about the poem itself. For example, during the first few lessons Jacob was asked to circle the rhyming words of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “A Good Play” poem. We then discussed each stanza.
Grammar – From the very first lesson the student is learning grammar. Often we just discuss grammar using the questions and examples provided in the teacher text, sometimes there is an exercise in the student workbook to be done, and other times we use the provided McGuffey Word Cards to discuss parts of speech. Again, I love the mix of tactile (in some lessons the student is to color the word cards red for a noun, green for verb, etc.), oral (often the student has to orally answer grammar questions) and auditory (many times the teacher describes and explains grammar concepts).
That is it! It may seem like a lot, but really it doesn’t take long at all and it goes by quickly. We are both loving it. I think we finally found what is really going to work for us! It’s simple for the teacher, fun for the student, and provides the practice needed.
To find out more about Eclectic Foundations and Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B, just click on any one of the highlighted links. Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed other levels of this program and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Eclectic Foundations can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/eclecticstudent. Happy Homeschooling!