Logic of English Essentials: Edition 2 Review

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It is easy to look at the English language and think that it is illogical and messy, however with the help of Essentials Program by Logic of English, you'll begin to realize that reading and spelling in the English language can be understood-- it is logical!   However, it is not merely knowing letter sounds-- becoming a skilled reader  is a process of understanding phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  In Logic of English Essentials Program, each of those strands is woven together to make a complete language arts program for your homeschool.

I was given the complete set of Essentials Volume 1: Second Edition to use in our homeschool in exchange for honest review of the product.  All thoughts are my own.

Essentials is a multi-level reading, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary program.  The program is broken into two volumes-- Level 1, which is available now and Level 2, which will be available January 2017.  We were given the complete set of Level 1, which consists of:
  • Essentials Teacher's Guide, Volume 1
  • Essentials Student Workbook, Volume 1 (student consumable) 
  • Spelling Journal (student consumable)
  • Morpheme Cards, Set 1 
  • Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Spelling Rule Flash Cards
  • Grammar Flash Cards
  • Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Phonogram Game Cards: Bookface
  • Phonogram Game Cards:  Cursive {also availiable in Manuscript}
  • Phonogram Game Tiles
  • Spelling Analysis Card
  • Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference

Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum


I do not have prior experience with Essentials, but one of the biggest changes in the 2nd Edition is that Essentials includes 3 levels of instruction in each volume!  Thus it can be used with multiple children at various stages, customized to one child, and/or used again for the same child but at a different level of understanding!   The levels are not grade specific, but the program gives a general estimate to begin Level A with a 2nd grader, Level B with a 3rd or 4th grader, and Level C 5th grade or older students needing remedial help.  There is a helpful Placement Test in the beginning of Volume 1 to give you a guide of where to begin your student(s).  However, what I love most about three levels being included in the program is the fluidity it allows me-- the teacher-- to move between levels based on the needs of my child!  After completing Essentials, the "sky is the limit" so to speak; now that the foundation is laid, your student should adapt well to curriculum geared towards older students.

Essentials is "an Orton-Gillingham-based program with a number of unique characteristics":
  • Essentials includes 74 phonograms
  • Seeks to develop fluency and reading comprehension in fun, hands-on activities included in the beginning of each lesson
  • Uses a similar approach to the Spalding Method in Spelling Analysis by using finger spelling
You can find this information and much, much more by browsing the website.  Their website provides plenty of resources such as online teacher training videos, charts, handwriting paper, research links and more!

Prior to this review, I had used several other language arts programs-- something for grammar, something different for spelling; lessons weren't "sticking" and I was constantly adding in activities to make them "fun."  Trying to do each piece separately became daunting and then I was approached by Logic of English to try out their revised and updated version of Essentials and I enthusiastically said, Yes!  I have had opportunity to use and review The Rhythm of Handwriting: Cursive by Logic of English in the past, so I knew the quality of the program would meet and exceed my expectations. 

When the product came, it was like Christmas morning!  Oh, I just love shiny new curriculum!!  However, I was brought back to reality as I pulled each piece of Essentials out of the box; there are a lot of pieces to this program-- phonogram cards, game cards, game tiles, and several sets of flashcards.  At first glance, it was all very over-whelming!!  For me, it was definitely not something I could just start teaching the next day.  We received the program around Christmas time, but I stared and flipped through the massive teacher's manual for several weeks to get myself acquainted with the ins and outs of the program.

The Teacher's Manual is 600+ pages with everything you, the teacher, will need to get through each lesson.  The manual includes a nicely laid out Scope and Sequence, detailed Spelling Analysis, Teacher Tips, Placement Test and 10 Pre-Lessons, 15 weekly lessons, and an appendix full of reference materials.  The lessons are scripted and include teaching material for all students and then highlights teaching materials for different levels using green, blue, or orange.  
Now, eleven weeks into the program, it doesn't seem as over-whelming to me anymore!  Although, it is quite heavy to move from one place to another if you prefer to move around the house and do lessons like we do!  I still have not adjusted to having the plethora of cards included in this program.  However, I am sure it would help if I organized them a bit better!  One way I found to manage all the flashcards was to display them on a wall chart; otherwise they were kept in a plastic basket.

However, even more important than my lack of organization is that my son is learning, thriving, and having fun with Essentials!  And that is the point, right?!

The program can easily be adapted to fit your schedule, but each volume is broken up into 15 lessons and each lesson consists of five days of teaching:
  • Day 1: Essential Concepts: Phonograms, Exploring Sounds, Spelling Rules.
  • Day 2: Building Words: Spelling Journal, Spelling Analysis (using spelling list A, B, or C).
  • Day 3: Words in Context:  Grammar and Dictation.
  • Day 4: Words in Action: Vocabulary, Dictation, Composition, Reading. 
  • Day 5: Check Your Understanding: Review.
 I love that each day you work on something different, yet you are constantly building on previous lessons.  Each daily lesson includes ways to review, including some fun games like, Spelling Snap!, Phonogram Tic Tac Toe, etc!  

Essentials takes us anywhere from a 30minutes to an hour to complete.  Day 1 seems to be the longest lesson as a lot of information is often packed into the day.  It can easily be broken into two days, but we have always pushed on through to complete the day's lesson.  The lessons are also very easy to follow.  I personally love that the lessons were scripted as some of this material was new, or seemed new, to me, too.  

Up until week 7, my 8 year old son was working through Level B spelling list.  However, that week my son had  a real tough time with the words, so I moved him to Level A.  There are no noticeable patterns to the spelling words, except that they use the phonogram{s} that was introduced on Day 1.  It took a few weeks to fully grasp how to teach Spelling in Essentials.  The Teacher's Manual did a great job in "spelling it all out", but it was the videos that helped me "see" and appreciate the method.  I would love for Logic of English to make the spelling lists available in some type of video format as the say-to-spell and finger spelling method are key to Essentials Spelling component.  

Day 3 you are introduced to a new grammar concept and mark each spelling word according to its part of speech.  Thus far we have covered nouns, adjectives, verbs, sentence structure, articles, etc.  There are also a few pages to complete in the Student Workbook.  I really appreciated the Student Workbook aspect of the program, too.  The student workbook provides review and reinforcement of the concepts covered and also keeps the work in one place!

Day 4 is set aside to work on Vocabulary where we learn a prefix or suffix depending on what level you are on; in Level C you are taught Greek and Latin roots!  Again you work in the Student Workbook for Dictation and Composition and there are some sentences to practice reading, too.  Essentials also has a reader to go along with the program, however at the time of the review it was only in PDF format, which I decided not to use.  The Essentials Reader should be availabl in  print soon and when it is, it should make a wonderful addition to the program, so that my son can continue applying what he is learning.  

Day 5 is set aside for review-- more practice on what was taught the past week.


All in all, I love this all-encompassing language arts program; it has been a wondeful addition to our homeschool day!  Having to learn things simultaneously and not separate really works for my son.  We look forward to January 2017 when Volume 2 is to be released so we can continue laying a proper foundation in reading and spelling.  


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