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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Logic of English Essentials...A Review

It's been a while.  I get that.  But we are in a new season of our lives, and I really, truly can't believe that my sweet Bug is now about to be a big 5th-grader!

Who loves to read.  And talk. And play.

But not to write.  Or spell.  At all.

Enter in our first review in quite a while.

I was invited to take a look at a program from Logic of English--Essentials:  A Multi-Level Reading, Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary program all tied up in one.

And, honestly, I'd about used up all of my ideas about helping my little guy start to write and learn how to spell.  This review opportunity came along at just the right time.

What is Logic of English Essentials?

The Logic of English Essentials program is a complete program for learning about the structure of the English language--the "logic", as it were, of the language, sounds, and spelling.  It uses research-based methods to teach reading, spelling, and writing to kiddos ages 8 and up.

What Did We Receive?

Man.  This is a hefty curriculum, ladies and gentlemen.  Here is what we received in our package:

We received the Essentials Complete Set, 2nd Edition (retail $198), which included:

--Essentials Teacher's Guide

--Essentials Student Workbook

--Spelling Journal

--Basic Phonogram Flash Cards

--Spelling Rule Flash Cards

--Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards

--Grammar Flash Cards

--Morpheme Flash Cards

--One deck of Bookface Phonogram Game Cards

--One deck of Manuscript Phonogram Game Cards

--Phonogram Game Tiles

--Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference Card

--Spelling Analysis Card

This set is meant to be used as a one-semester curriculum, as Volume One.  Volume Two should be ready for release later this year.

The Essentials Teacher's Guide is a 600+, hardcover book that offers quite a bit of information for the parent / teacher before beginning the lessons.  Everything from what the different symbols mean (do you remember the grammar markings from your school days? I didn't!), to specific tips for teaching phonograms, to creating a daily schedule for the curriculum.  It also has placement tests, Pre-Lessons for those kiddos not quite ready to start, and an appendix full of reference materials.

Essentials Volume One contains 15 Lessons, each designed to be done over a week, and split up into Days 1 - 5.  The Teacher's Guide has scripted lessons, and is split into Levels A, B, and C, depending on the level of the learner, and in a way to use the program over three consecutive years.

The Student Workbook is a consumable, paperback book for the students with exercises to complement all of the lessons in the Teacher's Guide.  The pages are perforated so they are easy to remove for portfolios, etc.

The Spelling Journal is a paperback, consumable, 72-page book for the students to keep track of their most challenging words--those with sounds that can be spelled in multiple ways.

The Flash Cards and Game Cards are made to be used throughout the lessons--depending upon Grammar, Spelling, or Phonogram rules learned in that specific lesson, or used for the games introduced at the end of some lessons.

The Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference Card is a multi-page, laminated chart that offers questions and reminders for students to keep in mind when writing and / or spelling.  Both single-letter and multi-letter phonograms are listed, as well as more Advanced Phonograms.  Common spelling rules learned are listed on the back as well.  It is a sturdy and helpful reminder of what the lessons offer.

The Spelling Analysis Card is a large bookmark-sized cardstock card with a quick reference reminder of the method Logic of English employs in spelling a new word.

How Did We Use This Program?

Well, once again, we continue to use curriculum NOT as the publishers intend.  What was nice was how well this program lent itself to being "adapted".  As I mentioned before, Essentials is designed to be a five-day program, with each section designed to take 30-45 minutes to go through.  However, the curriculum offers scheduling considerations to use with intensive reading remediation, students with dyslexia, younger children, or for use in a classroom setting.  Here in our homeschool, we tried to complete one section per day, but we worked to Bug's attention span, typically spending 20-25 minutes per session, so not always quite finishing a section in a day.

Also, after beginning with the placement test provided in the Teacher's Guide, I discovered that we really needed to start back at the beginning with Bug.  Therefore, we started with the Pre-Lessons provided, and went through Pre-Lesson A- Pre-Lesson J before even getting to start with Lesson One.  Also, although each section does not include a game, we finished each day with a game of Snap, Dragon, or Eraser Race.

What Did I Think?

Well, after I got over the initial shock of realizing maybe my Bug was more "behind" (I know, I know--that's not a thing...) than I thought, and that we had more work ahead of us than I had anticipated, I was grateful that we had this program.  Why?

--It is an open and go curriculum.  For the most part.  And I say that because I would really encourage anyone starting with it to really study the first 40 or so pages of the Teacher's Guide to get a good feel for the journey you are about to start.  Logic of English teaches phonograms--sounds--not necessarily letters.  It is a very--well, logical--system, but wasn't something I was super-comfortable with right away.  But once you have the ideas down, the lessons themselves are completely scripted for you, with all of the needed materials listed as well.

--It made sense to Bug.  He's really a pretty logical thinker, and I think the set-up of this program appealed to him.  He struggled a bit with some of the vowel phonograms, and those got frustrating for him, but over time and with consistency, he settled into those and then moved through the rest pretty quickly.  He likes memorizing, and so the Grammar Rules and the Spelling Rules worked well for him too.

--It's very thorough.  I am comfortable that we can use this (at our pace), consistently, and it will provide a great, great foundation for my kiddo--and teach him how to spell.  Which he hasn't been able to do to this point.  I've already caught him using the steps Essentials uses to spell new words when writing on his own.

Logic of English Essentials seems to follow a Classical model, which we don't typically follow here in our homeschool.  However, by breaking the lessons down into smaller pieces and really utilizing the games included, as well as working with Bug's strength and enjoyment in memorizing, this has really worked well.

What Did Bug Think?

"I liked the games.  I think they could have explained it better. The sounding out helps with my spelling. The workbook was OK.  The games were a 9 out of 10.  The explaining was a 4.  Sounding out was 8 because sometimes it was confusing because one letter can make different sounds. (Here he proceeded to give me an example with the letter "A".  AND HE GOT THE SOUNDS RIGHT!)  The workbook was a 9."  --Bug, age 10

How Can I Find Out More?

Logic of English has many programs, so be sure to head over to their website to learn more about all they have to offer.  You can find all of their Essentials goodies on their website as well, as well as lots of information on things such as phonograms and phonemic awareness, help with reading comprehension, and the research to back up their methods.

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