Thursday, September 12, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: The Logic of English -- Essentials

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There really is a logical approach to teaching English -- and we've been working through it at Long Leaf Academy.  Logic of English offers complete reading, writing, and spelling curriculum for homeschool students and their Essentials program has been an amazing addition to help my Princess catch up to exactly where she should be.  (She didn't learn to read until she was almost 10, so we've had a lot of catching up to do.)   Designed for students ages 7 - Adult who are just learning to read or who need a bit of remediation, Essentials is a rigorous program of study that will take between 8 - 16 weeks (although it can be easily adjusted for a longer framework of time, depending on your child).  A multi-faceted curriculum that covers spelling, grammar, reading, AND writing skills, Essentials not only works, but it is FUN.  My 7th grade daughter has enjoyed the time we spend working together -- and the evidence is found in her smile and willingness to study everyday.  I don't have to beg or threaten.  She is more than willing to pull up to my chair for time spent studying the basics.  Not only are we spending quality one-on-one time together, but she is progressing AND her cursive handwriting is improving.  How's that for an incredible bonus?

 photo EssentialsWBs_zpsa0cf995a.pngA complete program that combines the "SCIENCE of Reading and the ART of teaching", Essentials meets a student right where they are and helps them to understand the subject of English by putting the pieces together like a puzzle.  As students work through phonograms and spelling rules, they begin to grasp the parts of speech and improve their sentence structure through composition exercises.  And if teaching phonograms scares you just a bit, don't worry -- there's even an App for that.

With step-by-step instruction to the teacher, your student will follow along and pick up on the systematic approach immediately.  (And this is a good thing for me.  I wasn't taught in this same logical progression, but the scripted teacher's manual makes it easy for me to help my child.)  Since all components of English are woven together into one "class", your child will quickly grasp new concepts and you'll be amazed at the almost immediate vocabulary and spelling improvement.  And did I mention the boost in self-confidence that will be evident?  My girl is beaming these days as the light bulb goes off and for once she really gets it -- spelling words and parts of speech all meld together to make sense as she studies syllables and listens for the sounds that each part of a word makes.

So, what components of Essentials have we been using and how have we made this work best for us?  I'd love to share the program with you.  For review purposes, I received the following portions of the Essentials program:

  • The Logic of English Essentials Teacher's Manual ($95.00) -- hardback, 539-pages.  Simply open and begin teaching.  No prep work required.  (You've GOT to love this.)  This is a WONDERFUL resource that includes Spelling Lists and Grammar Rules and word-for-word teaching scripts. 
  • The Logic of English Essentials Student Workbook ($25.00) -- softcover, 480-pages available in Cursive or Manuscript.  We've been using the Cursive Workbook and it has made a LOAD of difference in my Princess' cursive writing.   Both her cursive writing and cursive reading have made vast improvement.   She is enjoying this so much that she has begun to write everything in cursive.  SCORE.   It is important to note that each student needs their own personal workbook as they will need to complete assignments in it.  There is even a family-license PDF available of the student Workbook in both cursive and manuscript formats, if that works best for your family.
  • The Logic of English Phonogram & Spelling Game Book ($15.00) -- 96-page softcover full of games and drills to help add a fun element to learning.  My Princess especially enjoyed the game of Speed.  Whew -- talk about fast-action with phonograms.  
  • Basic Phonogram Flashcards ($18.00) -- super sturdy, large flashcards with one of the 74 phonograms listed on the front of each card.  The back of the card contains the pronunciation guide for the phonogram, word examples, and rules to follow.  
  • Spelling Rule Flash Cards ($15.00) -- super sturdy, large flashcards that each contain one of the 30 spelling rules used in Logic of English.  The front of each card shares a rule and the back of each card gives example words for that rule.
  • Phonograms Game Cards ($10.00 per deck and you'll need a minimum of two decks, although three decks is recommended) -- These come in three different styles:  Green Cursive, Red Manuscript, and Blue Bookface.  Each deck is the same and contains 74 cards of phonograms and 15 cards of game play instruction.

Each of these separate components work together to make for a complete educational experience and I look forward to finishing the entire program with my daughter.  There are additional components available that can also enhance the learning experience.  I'm eyeing the Grammar Flash Cards to help both my Princess and my Boy Scout really master all of the Parts of Speech.

The entire Essentials program consists of 40 lessons with an assessment and review for every 5th lesson.  Each lesson is divided into three parts and each part is further segmented so that students are given ample opportunity to learn new concepts.  Part One of each lesson teaches Phonograms, Exploring Sounds, and Spelling Rules.  Part Two of each lesson builds on the teaching of Part One by introducing spelling words that follow the given Spelling Rule.  Part Three of each lesson teaches Grammar, Dictation, Composition, and Vocabulary Development.  Activities are included throughout the Teacher's Manual to appeal to all types of learners -- kinesthetic, visual, auditory, and creative.  There are corresponding pages to be worked in the Student Workbook for each of the components in a given lesson.

This truly is an open-and-go teaching manual.  What I simply LOVE is that there is absolutely ZERO prep work required of me.  The Teacher's Manual is laid out so well that I can open to where we left off and begin reading to my Princess.  We work through one lesson a day and she remains engaged throughout.  Completing each of the three parts of the Lesson takes us between 1 - 1 1/2 hours -- and she NEVER gets tired of it.  Each lesson is laid out the same so she knows just what to expect.  We begin with an introduction of the phonogram to be studied and she follows along in her Workbook reading aloud to me.  This is followed by her writing the phonogram and then practicing those phonograms we've already learned for reinforcement.

Each lesson includes 15 new spelling words that are spelled, marked, identified as to Part of Speech, and written in plural past tense.  Once we complete the spelling portion of the lesson, we move into grammar.  Games are played throughout the text.  Subjects, predicates, nouns, and pronouns are all discussed.   Reading skills are improved and students are taught to compose quality sentences and use proper punctuation.

This is a comprehensive program that covers all of the essentials and makes sure that they are not only introduced, but completely understood.  Where I have worried in the past that my daughter might never catch up to grade level, I am reassured that she is quickly getting back on track.  And did I mention that she likes it?  She really, really likes it.

 photo PhonoApp_iPadPlayScreen_assembled_400_zps917b1955.jpgAnd remember I mentioned there was an app for that?  The Phonics with Phonogram iPad App ($2.99) makes for an easy reinforcement tool.  My Princess is all about games on the iPad and I am all about games that TEACH.  We have used the App as a supplemental learning resource.  Although it is not referred to in the Teacher's Manual, it is a great way to bring the day's lessons to life.  With hands-on learning, she is able to hear, see, and feel the phonograms and fully comprehend how they make words.

I am super-impressed with Logic of English's Essentials because I know that it has made a HUGE difference in the life of my child.  This is a neat program that will help your student complete the English puzzle and find encouragement  as they study.  Please take some time to look through the website and see all that is offered for your own children.  I think you'll be as excited as I am with what you find.

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 I was given the opportunity to use and review Essentials by Logic of English as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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