Monday, October 1

Eclectic Foundations {Review}

This review was originally published in March 2017 on our Gypsy Road site.

Some schools take a sight word approach to reading, while others take the classic phonics approach.  At Eclectic Foundations, the vintage McGuffey Readers form the base of a classic approach to language arts.  For the past few weeks, we have been using Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B with our youngest son, with good results!

About the Program
  • Currently available in three levels, this language arts program is available in either physical or downloadable format.
  • McGuffey Reader - Key words are learned and there are reading passages to work toward fluency.  This pairs with the phonics word cards, where students learn the parts of speech by coloring the words appropriately. (You can purchase this book, or it can be downloaded for free here.)
  • Phonics Cards - These are printed on cardstock and easily torn into word cards.  By coloring each word appropriately, the student learns about parts of speech.
  • Teacher's Guide - This outlines each day's lesson, covering the reading portion, phonics practice, handwriting, and grammar lessons.  Some days are longer than others.  (See Lesson 54, on right)
  • Student Workbook - There are poems for the student to read aloud, cursive instruction, copywork, and grammar practice in the pages of this book.
  • Phonics Practice Sheets - This spiral-bound book is made of laminated sheets for easy reuse.  Students practice writing the words they are learning in the phonics section.
  • You could feasibly skip the phonics portion and use a different program (if you already have one that you like) with the McGuffey section.
Our Experience 
We used this set with our younger son, who has his own struggles.  When you have a child with a hearing and speech disorder, it makes mastering phonics incredibly difficult.  After all, if you are hearing ‘A’ pronounced as ‘O,’ it’s going to be very difficult to learn how to spell those ‘A’ words.  So we generally have avoided teaching phonics and just gone straight for the sight word approach.  However, the phonics approach worked really well for him as long as he was able to correctly hear and say the vowel sound.  With those vowels, or other sounds, that he struggles to comprehend correctly, the phonics did not help.  Again, though, for those he could correctly identify, it increased his spelling ability tenfold!

While he could take or leave the McGuffey Reader (he’s more into airplanes and action these days), the passages were short enough that he did not get frustrated in reading them aloud.  Even though the difficulty continued to increase, the length stayed fairly short, and so they were manageable bits.  Also, he really enjoyed the write-on / wipe-off workbook because…he likes that sort of thing.

He struggled a lot with the cursive handwriting portion of this set, and I think it was because there were no cursive models.  At the top of the page, the letter of the day is written in cursive, but the words to copy are written in print.  He cannot translate from print to cursive, and so this made it impossible.  I ended up writing each of the day’s words in cursive and then having him copy those.
Pros :
  • It covers the basics, and lays a really strong foundation for later grammar and language arts skills.
  • It’s rigorous, and can be tailored up or down to ability.
  • Materials are spiral-bound for easy use.
  • It’s very affordable, and you can build on the supplies from previous sets.
Cons :
  • The McGuffey Reader doesn’t line up with the phonics lessons, so that can be a bit confusing.
  • Cursive handwriting workbook is modeled with print letters. 

    Check out some sample lessons from Level B, and see what others are saying about Eclectic Foundations over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!
    Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}
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