When putting together a language arts study for your children, reading is not the only element that should be included. There are phonics, grammar, handwriting and copy work. The Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level C curriculum has all of those elements and even includes memory work. To me, that reads like a complete language arts program and covers exactly what I like to include in our language arts studies.
We had the opportunity to review the Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level C curriculum, which is geared towards children who are advanced second grade or in the third grade. It follows a Biblical worldview in its presentation. The phonics and grammar portions of the program are based on the books Word Mastery by Florence Akin and Speaking and Writing Book 1 by William H. Maxwell, respectively. The set includes the following:
Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Teacher’s Guide ($12)
Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Student Workbook ($24)
McGuffey Word Cards Level C and Phonics Practice Sheet – this sheet is laminated and such a good idea to include in the package. It can be used over and over again for spelling words. ($20)
McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader (free download)
The spine for the program is McGuffy’s Second Eclectic Reader, Revised Edition, which can be downloaded for free from the Eclectic Foundations website or you may purchase a physical copy.
There are 144 lessons in the study that are to be completed over a standard 36-week school year. That is about four lessons per week, which is manageable. It allows your student to complete the scheduled work and gives them time to do reading outside of scheduled lessons.
The program takes users back to the way children use to learn using McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader. McGuffey’s readers were widely popular during the 19th and mid-20th centuries. The fact the readers are still widely used by teachers (especially homeschoolers), should give you an idea about the quality of the material.
Some of the skill areas presented in the Eclectic Foundations lessons are:
Handwriting and Memory
Cursive writing is encouraged for students who have completed Level B of the same curriculum.
Starting was very easy, because each lesson is laid out and all I had to do was follow the steps for each day. We used the program four days a week and started each day reading the story in the McGuffey’s reader. Each story lesson leads with a group of words students will read somewhere in the daily story. The words are written with the phonetic symbols, so the student may understand the pronunciation of the words. If you were to look in a dictionary, you would see many of the same symbols on the words. Each paragraph in all of the stories are also numbered, so you know where they begin.
After reading, we read the word list, which introduces the daily words. I really like this part of the curriculum which also has the teacher dictate the words for the student to write on the Phonics Practice Sheet. I think having spelling be a part of a language arts program rather than separate helps with the a collective understanding of how words come together.
Canyon enjoys writing, so the handwriting part of each lesson was his favorite. The writing section is one sentence and a quote by a notable person from history (ex: an author – Emerson, inventor, etc.), Bible verse, Chinese proverb, etc.
The Memory Verse is a Bible verse, which the student practices for the entire week with the goal of memorizing the verse. Canyon and I both like the Memory verse portion. To add fun, I memorized the verse with him for the week and we recited it to each other. It is amazing how many verses he has remembered from previous lessons.
The Grammar section has the students learning punctuation, paragraph indentation, different types of sentences and more standard grammar points.
Author Elizabeth Ratliff has written a comprehensive and engaging language arts program that includes two other levels (Level A and Level B). The only thing I wish the curriculum had is more pictures in color, especially the ones for the stories. That may be due to the original presentation of the McGuffy’s readers. Another area for improvement would be better quality of the printed pages, which look like they were reproduced due to the shadowing on some of the pages. My copies may have appeared in this manner, because they are review items. Regardless, that does not make or break the program for me, but are just comments.
There is nothing complicated when it comes to using and presenting the material. Everything is well laid out for the parent/teacher, which makes completing the lessons so simple. Other than separating the word cards, there is no preparation needed. Parents also do not like busy work when prepping lessons. I also like that the lessons are short, but comprehensive. The lessons also give attention to the parts of speech of words. Granted, your children will not need to know these things when they grow up, but having that knowledge now will help with how they process information. It will also be helpful to know the structure of a sentence and how to write a good one. That is the B.A. in English in me.
Although the program is geared towards advanced second grade and third grade children, it may be a good fit for a struggling fourth or fifth grade child. I must admit I was not really certain if I would like the Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level C curriculum, but I will say I do like it. For now, we will continue working through the lessons.
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