Essentials Curriculum Review

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For the past four months, I have been teaching spelling from a curriculum from Logic of English, called Essentials. My children are in second grade and kindergarten respectively and we started LOE Essentials in January, in the second semester. I geared this curriculum mainly towards the oldest, but the little one could benefit from it too. She is learning how to read and spelling is reading in reverse. So I have included her in our lessons, especially in the beginning, during the Pre-Lessons.

Teacher's Manual and Student Workbook

Teacher’s Manual and Student Workbook

I decided we needed the Pre-Lessons after administering the Placement Test very informally, over breakfast. Even though my son can write in cursive (we did not do manuscript at all), spelling has come difficult for him. We have tried four other curricula and I have no seen great results. He does the work, remembers the spelling for a few days, then he does not. 

After consulting with a homeschooling mom who has graduated two, a boy and a girl, I concluded my son just may not be ready for spelling. So I dropped it and focused on copywork with Writing With Ease. And then a hero comes along…

Logic of English staff contacted me about doing a review. Since I had already used their Rhythm of Handwriting curriculum successfully two years ago, while I was on the Review Crew, I accepted. It took me about an hour to sort through all the materials, understand what I am supposed to do, and find the phonogram chart with all the sounds on their website.

Essentials flash cards

Several flash card decks which are necessary to teach Essentials

One hour to prepare to teach this very important subject does not seem too long. Some people go to Teacher’s College for four years, right? So I counted it all joy to be ready in one hour.

I moved all the sets of cards into zipper bags. As soon as I am finished teaching one lesson, I look ahead at the next one and prepare the materials needed for the following day. That way, I am prepared and ready to go in the morning. So the every day prep work takes less than five minutes.

The Pre-Lessons were fun for me, but the kids declared them boring after two sessions. They enjoyed looking in the mirror at their mouths as we formed different sounds. After that, the honeymoon with this curriculum was over for them. I ignored their protests and pressed on.

Quick-reference guide to teach Essentials

Quick-reference guide to teach Essentials

Finally, when we got to Dragon, the game, they loved it. So we played Dragon for a few more days to keep it entertaining for them, then we continued until we finished the Pre-Lessons. My daughter can write uppercase letters so I asked her to write those down, while my son would write the required phonograms in lowercase cursive. By the way, I did not play Bingo with them or any other games. They just seemed to get the phonograms easily and it seemed like a lot of work to pull just the right cards out for different games.

We relied a lot on the website for the pronunciation of phonograms. Vowel sounds especially are a bit tricky for me, and I wanted to make sure my children got them right. Besides, we live in the South and I can tell they both have a slight southern accent. Ben sounds a bit like bin, for instance, in their mouths. One cannot be too careful.

Phonogram Tiles

Phonogram Tiles

In the process, I found out my daughter, who is in kindergarten, thought Thursday is pronounced Fursday. She wanted to spell it with a F. We clarified that and I realized all over again how true it is that most spelling errors come from wrong pronunciations or from the lack of awareness of mouth position.

The big day came. We started Lesson 1. I showed my son we needed to cover four pages for Day 1 and he seemed worried. I told him it was mostly me talking and we will actually skip over 1 ½ pages of questions like “is this a vowel or a consonant?” He seemed relieved.

That’s the only problem we have had with this curriculum – the length of each lesson. Each lesson is split into five days and each day can have up to six pages. That’s a lot to cover in one day, for us. So sometimes I have had to split it in several sessions.

But it really works and has helped my son befriend spelling in ways he never has before. I can definitely tell he is making progress with this curriculum.

I have been given this curriculum for free in exchange for my honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.


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