Eclectic Foundations seeks to do just that. This curriculum is based on the McGuffey’s Readers that school children used more than a hundred years ago. I was given a copy of Level B, which is meant for first and second grade students, but I glanced ahead and saw that they have curriculum that extends throughout high school (or plans to extend it that far – this is new on the market!).
I have an asynchronous learner, so we adjusted a few things.
- First, this is meant for first and second grade, and my son is still in kindergarten. He flew through his kindergarten phonics this past fall, so I requested the older curriculum intentionally. But, that meant we skipped the handwriting portion of this. They present cursive writing in this curriculum, and he’s still struggling to write capital letters legibly.
- Second, again, this is meant for slightly older kids and some of the poetry concepts were a little advanced. I absolutely love that they present poetry starting at a young age, but my five year old just doesn’t grasp symbolism yet, even if it is presented in a gentle manner. So instead, we enjoyed reading the poems and just talking about them.
What we loved about Eclectic Foundations:
- We used this first in our daily homeschool routine. We enjoyed alternating between reading a new section in the McGuffey’s Reader (and answering comprehension questions) and cutting apart the corresponding cards. Each part of speech is assigned a color and he had to color in the words on the cards. The finer details are tricky, but he can easily recite the definition of a noun and verb and pick them out of the stack of cards. The multi-sensory approach is a huge draw for young learners.
- The phonics section isn’t like other phonics curricula. This curriculum assumes that the child already understands the mechanics of phonics. Each lesson includes a word list to read aloud, and, after reading those dozen words aloud, students are asked to fill in the “Phonics Practice Sheet,” which is a laminated (and therefore dry-erase) book with fill-in-the-blanks designed to help remember the words. This is essentially an intro to spelling, rather than true phonics (which I love because we don’t plan on hitting spelling until my son is a little older).
- The grammar portion of the curriculum is tricky and requires some critical thinking skills. We’ve been using this for five weeks now, and we’ve covered the basic definitions of the main parts of speech. But, memorizing definitions is the easy part. The challenge comes when the author gives 3-4 words and asks the student to rearrange them to make a sentence. My son likes to come up with silly sentences before giving me the actual answer. The sentences are short, so it’s not too hard, but I like that it makes him think about what he’s reading from a grammar perspective.
The editor in me really likes to emphasis on grammar with this curriculum, and it’s taught in a manner that makes sense. For true first and second graders, the poetry is a wonderful aspect to build reading comprehension. The only element not included is spelling, but the word lists could easily be turned into spelling lists.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a solid, academic language arts curriculum for their kids.