I’ve mentioned before that Monkey really struggles with his handwriting. He’s a perfectionist and gets frustrated if his first attempt at something doesn’t turn out just the way he thinks it should. He’s always been this way, even as a baby learning to walk, there were no wobbly first steps, he went from crawling to walking and running steadily. We had occasionally “caught” him practicing walking in his crib when he was supposed to be napping, but he would sit down immediately when he saw us watching. While this was a fun surprise when he was one, now it causes him unnecessary stress whenever he is trying to learn something new.
In the last six weeks, Monkey has been gaining confidence in both his writing and his reading with Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level A. Prior to this review opportunity, I had never heard of Eclectic Foundations or the McGuffey Readers (does this make me a bad homeschooler? I don’t really think so, but it sure seems like EVERY OTHER HOMESCHOOL FAMILY owns a copy of at least one of the readers). For anyone else out there who might be as clueless as I was, here are the basics.
The McGuffey Readers were the most popular series of textbooks used by educators in the 1800’s to early 1900’s. Eclectic Foundations uses the McGuffey Readers as part of a comprehensive language arts curriculum that includes phonics, grammar, spelling, reading comprehension, writing composition, and poetry. It teaches from a biblical worldview with 144 short lessons meant to cover 36 4-day weeks.
The full Level A language arts curriculum from Eclectic Foundations includes:
- Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Teacher’s Guide
- Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Student Workbook
- McGuffey Flashcards
For Level A, you will need a copy of McGuffey’s Eclectic Primer (either in print or you can download and print a copy using the links provided by Eclectic Foundations), as well as, crayons, glue, scissors, play-doh and a few other items that you likely already have in your home.
How We Used Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Curriculum
Eclectic Foundations Level A starts by focusing on letter formation and basic letter sounds. Since Monkey was already solid with his knowledge and recognition of letter sounds, we decided to accelerate the initial lessons and would do 2-4 letters each day. Each letter is covered for a span of four days, two days focused on “making” the letter and two days for writing the letter.
So our initial schedule looked like this:
Day One –
- Lesson 1 (focusing on building the letter M with play-doh)
- Lesson 5 (focusing on the same activities as Lesson 1, but with Letter A)
Day Two –
- Lesson 2 (focusing on the letter M again, this time building the letter by covering the letter with sand or other sensory materials)
- Lesson 6 (focusing on the same activities as Lesson 2, with letter A)
- Lesson 9 (focusing on the same activities as Day One, with letter N)
Day Three –
- Lesson 3 (moving out of the “making” phase and into writing, here we focused on writing the letter M in a tray of sand/flour/dirt with a finger or stick. Basically write the letter anywhere and with anything other than a piece of paper and a pencil)
- Lesson 7 (same as Lesson 3, with letter A)
- Lesson 10 (same as Lesson 2, with letter N)
Day Four –
- Lesson 4 (last lesson with letter M, here we actual put pencil to paper and use a worksheet to practice writing the letter M)
- Lesson 8 (same as lesson 4, with letter A)
- Lesson 11 (same as lesson 3, with letter N)
This lessons continue in the same format, of each letter being split across 4 lessons for the first 26 weeks of the curriculum. The last 10 weeks are review of CVC words. Each week also introduces a number of new reading words. McGuffey’s Eclectic Primer is introduced in week 17 and grammar is introduced in week 27.
Monkey really liked the lessons that included play-doh, so I tried to make sure we included that in the schedule on most days. It was a great way to get his hand and finger muscles working and he didn’t even realize that what he was doing was helping him improve his handwriting.
Eclectic Foundations multi-sensory approach to handwriting was just what Monkey needed. It allowed him to practice his handwriting without the pressure to be perfect. This language arts curriculum was so easy to just grab and go, we even took it on the road with us a few days. We will continue to use this program for the remainder of Level A and I am strongly considering purchasing Level B as well.
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