Language Arts. Spelling, vocab, grammar etc. For my youngest and I, it is our biggest challenge. Needless to say, I am always on the lookout for something that will “click” for him. He was a late reader, and while he’s caught up in that department, his spelling and writing still cause us both a headache. That’s why I thought it would be a great idea to try Essentials 2nd Edition from Logic of English for this review. While the phonics-based program is aimed at grades 2-6, it’s a great choice for struggling learners ages 8 and up and it teaches spelling, grammar, and vocabulary.
First, you need to know that this program includes a LOT of components. There are multiple sets of flashcards, a teacher’s book , workbook, and spelling journal. It also took me a little bit to get the routine down and work it out to find a system that worked for us. However, if you take it one step at a time, and refuse to be overwhelmed when you open the box, I think you will find it’s totally worth it. The hardback teacher’s book literally has a script that walks you through each lesson, so you don’t even have to worry about what to say. There are cues about when to use the flashcards too, so once you figure out what everything is, the program itself actually runs very smoothly.
The schedule is set up so that each lesson takes only four days per week. In the beginning, it did take us about 30-40 minutes to work through a lesson, but by about the third week I would say lessons averaged around 20 minutes. Spelling lists are set up at three levels and assignments in the teachers book and workbook correspond to these levels. There is a pre-test that helps you determine where to place your child.
Now, as the parent of an older child using this program, we did tweak a little bit. Essentials starts with teaching individual phonemes, expecting that students have very little experience in that area. Being that my son is older (8th/9th grade) he is familiar with phonics, so we kind of breezed through these very quickly. HOWEVER, I did notice that when we got to the more complex phonemes there were still some sound patterns he was not familiar with (like I said, reading was a struggle for a long time), In that case, we went ahead and did the entire phoneme lesson, because you will find that that these do tie into the spelling.
I really liked how Essentials broke the different sound patterns into visual cues, so that letters that had multiple sounds had a cue you could use to signal the student when they were trying to figure out how to spell them. I think this is something that will help my son for years to come. I also liked the differentiated levels of lessons in the workbooks. There are pages for use with all three levels of students, so I think this is a program you could realistically use with kids at different levels and maybe just get more than one workbook or something to make it work. My son liked the fact that there wasn’t a tremendous amount of writing for each day!
I also liked the fact that dictation was a regular part of the study, because I think that really helps with so many different part of kid’s writing and spelling training, but honestly, it’s not something I just do by myself. It was nice to have it included as part of the regular program.
I also liked the games you got to play with the flash cards and the vocabulary instruction, in particular, really stood out. It reminded me of the way I used to teach vocab in my classroom. Instead of just learning a list of random vocabulary words, kids learn the definitions of actual word parts, which I think is so much more useful! If they know that the prefix “con-” means “with, together, completely”, then they can use that knowledge to help them define a word every time they see that prefix! It’s a much more long-lasting and beneficial way to learn word meanings!
On the whole, I thought Essentials was a really solid language arts program! A complete set costs $198 dollars, but you can also add/purchase pieces and parts based on what you need. To learn more, connect with Logic of English on social media here:
To see what other crew members thought of this and the other programs we got to check out, click here: