Raisin and I are only done with a little more than 40 of the lessons for the Kindergarten language arts program Logic of English Foundations. However, he enjoys it so much that I feel it is time I discussed it briefly on this blog.
LoE Foundations is an “all in one” language arts for 4-6 year old homeschool teachers or classroom teachers. Beginning with phonics, Foundations teaches children to read, to write (both a manuscript and a cursive instructional workbook are available for the handwriting instruction), and to grasp the basics of spelling. So far, I have not encountered any grammatical instruction or lessons on the mechanics of writing but neither of those are typically included in a kindergarten level program, I don’t believe. The program is to have about 180 lessons. After the first 40, students have learned how to write the 26 lowercase letters of the alphabet and can successfully read a large number of words by sounding out the phonograms.
As those who follow this blog know, my son Raisin taught himself to read about 18 months ago, at the age of 3. We did not have any formal phonics instruction before that point, other than the LeapFrog videos and letters magnet set. So although he was a reader, he did not understand the building blocks of reading. Further, because he is bright and full of ideas, his speech had become slurred and very difficult to understand: he just repeated words as he heard them without really understanding them.
Coming to this program, then, with very different needs from the typical kindergartner has still proven very satisfactory. We began at the beginning with learning basic strokes (I decided to start my son on cursive, although he had learned basic print letters last year in preschool) and learning the building blocks of words (phonograms and syllables). The program began with learning to decode words orally by listening to the separate phonograms that made them up, learning about the different types of sounds (voiced and unvoiced, “sing-able” sounds, etc.), learning about syllables, and learning about consonants versus vowels. Contrary to what a previous spelling program that we used briefly suggested, vowels are not “a e i o u and sometimes y.” Vowels are sounds you can sing with an open mouth. Personally, I found this a much better way of learning what a vowel is, because it builds a foundation for future phonogram learning in a way that the other memorization does not!
These phonemic awareness principles have been expanded upon, one lesson at a time. I’ve found that as my son sounds out words, not by letter but by sound, he is more aware of his own sloppiness in speech. I have a hard time noticing a difference in his speech since I’m with him every day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if others suggested he was getting easier to understand!
As he learns the sounds for the basic phonograms (essentially, the alphabet right now), he is able to sound out and spell words. I cannot testify how this works for children actually learning to read for the first time, but it seems it would have worked very well. I wish I had this program a year ago when Raisin was first sounding things out!
What is so different about this program? Personally, I think the success is in the details. The program provides game after game. Each day’s lesson is not just memorization or quizzing. Rather, we practice phonemic awareness by standing at a mirror and playing a game. We learn the phonograms’ sounds by playing a game. We practice reading words by playing games. We practice writing letters by playing games. And my son is a game player, let me tell you! He loves to play games. He loves to move during our school time!
I purchased two sets of playing cards to go with the curriculum, and my son begs to do Logic of English first most days because he knows whatever we are going to do, chances are there is a game in some way. Some lessons call for nerf guns, races across the room, a print-out board game and game pieces, Bingo cards, and so forth. This is a curriculum for the active learner. I find I am even able to create my own games throughout the day, even on days when it’s lunchtime and we haven’t done any school yet.
Although we’ve only finished the first 42 lessons, I can tell you I am excited to see where the curriculum will take us next. My son is much more confident in his spelling (although he fights having to spell the three words every day, he still is able to write them!), he is much more willing to sound out difficult words in his reading, and he is making lots of progress in his handwriting. He’s so proud that he can write in cursive. Logic of English Foundations is proving to be a wonderful success this year.
I plan on continuing at his pace. At first, I was trying to go quicker through the program since he can already read. I’m finding, however, that is it fun and challenging enough that we can slow down and go at his pace. Some days we just play a game. Other days we just do a few spelling words. But usually, we find time for one of the games. It is lots of fun, and that is what homeschool learning should be at this age!
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this curriculum in the “Beta” stage in exchange for my honest feedback to the program developers and for review consideration on this blog. I’ve been delightfully pleased.