Starting Foundations With Children Who Are Already Reading
Here is a question we hear sometimes from those switching to LOE with first or second graders, or starting out with a young child who has already begun to read.
If a child is 7 or younger, you recommend starting at Foundations. With a child who is already reading, how does that work? Where do we start? Will it be too easy?
There are two possible starting points in Logic of English for young children: Foundations and Foundations . We do not recommend starting at C or D. With students who are too old for Foundations, start at Essentials.
While A is usually the best starting point, in some cases — for kindergarteners or especially first or second graders who know the concepts taught in level A and are already reading comfortably — level B may be a better fit. If the child is reading chapter books comfortably already, you may also want to make some adjustments in how you teach B to provide an appropriate pace and level of challenge, moving quite quickly before slowing down at the more advanced levels. In just a moment, we'll turn our focus to how to do that well.
So let's dig in.
Ready for tips on how to customize Foundations B for a strong reader? Read on!
Unsure which starting point is right for your student? Use our Help Me Choose tool to think through this, and read more about this question at the end of this article.
Have questions about why we would recommend Foundations B as the starting point for strong readers? Skip to Why start at B? at the end of this article.
Adapting Foundations B lessons for an advanced reader
When no adjustment is needed. For some children who have started reading, Foundations B may actually be just the right level of difficulty as written. This will likely be the case if your child is mostly comfortable reading CVC words and other one-syllable short-vowel words (such as kids, clap, sled, or stops). If this is your student, simply teach Foundations B as written. You don't need to know for sure before you start; simply adjust your pace through the lessons according to the child's comfort and level of mastery.
When you'll want to adjust how you teach B. For other children who are reading, the B readers and reading practice games may be very easy, even though many concepts taught in Foundations B will be new to them and very valuable for expanding their reading skills and spelling knowledge.
In this case, you'll want to teach the language concepts introduced in B, but to adjust the pace and the level of challenge to meet the ability level, interests, and attention span of the student, both to keep it interesting and to provide more meaningful practice and application of the phonograms and rules. Teach B as fast as the child can master all these concepts, increasing the challenge when appropriate as you go, planning to slow down only when needed for the child's comfort (typically when you get to the longer lessons and more advanced material in Foundations C).
Here are three tips for how to do that.
1. Focus on the concepts — teaching the child why.
Your purpose for teaching Foundations B is not that the child memorize or be able to read a certain group of words, but that the child understand the tools that explain how these words are written and be able to use them to read and spell tens of thousands of other words.
So make sure to teach all of the instructional content, even if the words in a reading activity in a lesson are already easy for the child to read. The concepts that explain these words are the key. (Note: If the child already knows the letter names and how to write the uppercase letters, it is fine to skip these parts of the instruction. But don't skip anything about phonograms, spelling rules, or other language concepts.)
As an example of the difference in this approach: A child who has completed B succesfully can not only read the high-frequency words the and have, but also give both sounds of the phonogram TH, explain why the has a long E sound, explain why it is usually pronounced with a schwa sound rather than a long E, explain why have has a silent E, and use these concepts to read and spell hundreds of other words.
2. Adjust the pace — maybe quite a bit!
Feel free to move as quickly as the child can master the concepts and feel confident in them. If she can take in and enjoy two (or even three) lessons' worth in a day, go for it. Don't skip concepts, but abbreviate or skip some of the practice activities when it's clear the child has mastered a concept or skill. Some of the concepts in B may be familiar to 1st and 2nd graders and may not take long to master.
Play at least one phonogram game each day. Mastering all the sounds of each phonogram, so that children can use them in levels C and D and throughout life, is the main goal. Be sure to include practice where students hear the sounds and write the phonogram with no visual reference, since this requires deeper mastery than games that require seeing it and saying the sounds, or hearing it and choosing the correct card.
Slow down to a more typical pace whenever the lessons are becoming more challenging for the child. This will often be at the beginning of Foundations C, which has longer lessons and more challenging concepts, but for some children this may happen later in B. Let the child's interests, comfort, and mastery level dictate your pace.
3. Increase the challenge by shifting the focus to spelling.
This is a big one. The goal of Foundations B is for the child to understand all the phonograms and spelling rules introduced, to use them for reading but also ultimately for spelling! When reading them is easy, the child is ready to try applying the skills on a more challenging level.
Since reading fluency is the first goal of Foundations, most of the practice activities are designed to strengthen reading skills; even spelling activities are intended primarily to help with reading. However, for a strong reader you can provide more effective practice with the phonograms and a greater challenge by asking him to use the tools to spell the words. Spelling is more difficult and requires a higher level of mastery. This is a great way for a strong reader to practice the phonograms and rules!
Here are some examples of what this might look like:
- In active high-frequency word games such as High-Frequency Word Race in Lesson 42, Reading Basketball in Lesson 51, or Silent E Machine in Lesson 56, children normally draw a card and read the word on it as part of the game (and then do whatever action or move the game requires).
Adjust the game so that the student has a whiteboard or blank slip of paper instead. You (or another student) will read the words aloud; the player's job is to write the word. Play continues as written from that point; earning a point or being able to move forward is based on correct spelling rather than successful reading.
- With some of the workbook-based reading games, such as Word Bingo in lessons 43 and 45, you can create a blank game board, rather than using the one in the workbook that contains words, and have the child write the words in it. Bingo actually works even better this way! Read each word aloud and let students choose where to write it. Then, call out the words in a random order. Students place their game pieces/pennies/raisins on each word, calling out BINGO when they get three (or four, depending on your board setup) in a row.
- Some other workbook reading activities will take more work to adapt for spelling practice. When one of these activities is easy for the child, you can either: skip it entirely and move on; have the child do the activity as written, for extra reading practice; or take the time to adjust the activity for spelling.
For example, in Lesson 47's Matching activity, cut out the pictures. Give the child blank pieces of paper. Dictate the short sentences and have the child write each one. Writing sentences is much more challenging than writing single words or reading sentences, so support the child if needed by finger-spelling, providing phonogram cues for sounds with more than one spelling possibility, and giving hints about capitalization and end marks. Then have the child match what she has written to the pictures.
Any of these options will work fine; remember that the goal is simply for the child to get very comfortable with each phonogram and rule and how it is used, to have fun, and then to keep moving.
As you move through B, choose whether to do, abbreviate, adjust, or skip each practice activity based on the child's mastery of the concepts and enjoyment of the activities. Keep in mind that you'll likely slow down, maybe quite a bit, when you get to level C and especially D; if the students are able to fly through B, that is fine.
And that's it! If this all makes sense and sounds like the right fit for your early reader, you're off to the races with Foundations B. If you have questions about why we recommend B for young children who are reading rather than Essentials or Foundations C, read on to learn more. To think through what you'll need to start at B and whether or not skipping to B is the right fit for your student, see What materials do I need to start at Foundations B?
Understanding Foundations: Why start at B?
Why should early readers start at Foundations rather than Essentials?
Foundations is a complete, multi-sensory, playful, age-appropriate way to introduce young children to phonics, handwriting, reading, and spelling. Its primary goal is to lay a strong foundation in understanding why our words are written and read the way they are, equipping children with accurate, and logical tools that they can use throughout life in reading and spelling. And it teaches these concepts in lessons that are perfect for young kids!
While the same concepts are taught and applied on a deeper level in our Essentials curriculum, which is designed for ages 8 to adult, Foundationsthey learned new language concepts in Foundations, even in levels A and B!)
Why should early readers start at Foundations B, rather than skipping to C or D?Foundations B and C are where children learn most of the tools they need to sound out about 98% of English words and understand their spelling. For a complete understanding of English spelling, you need all of them!
People new to Foundations sometimes misunderstand the purpose of the curriculum and think that if a child can read the words in the B readers, he should skip B and begin at level C. However, this is a recipe for a confused student (and teacher!) and lots of gaps in understanding — not only of the level C lessons but of thousands of English words. The focus of Foundations is on teaching the tools that explain why, and these tools apply to the words in the reading activities but also thousands of others.
For example, in level B students
- learn what schwa is and why it occurs in English words
- test various sounds to see if they are consonants or vowels
- learn 21 multi-letter phonograms
- discover two reasons for a silent E
- learn the most common reason for vowels to say their long sound (which is not, contrary to popular belief, a silent final E)
This is why these children should start at level B even if they are good readers. Skipping this level and starting at C will leave out many crucial concepts. Of the 75 basic phonograms taught in Foundations, 26 are taught in A (the A-Z phonograms), 21 are taught in B, and 29 are taught in C. Level B also teaches seven of the most important spelling rules. Advanced young readers typically love learning this fascinating information about our language, and they swiftly begin applying the concepts they are learning to more advanced words as they read.
For these kids, we just need to make sure we tailor the curriculum to keep it engaging, fun, and appropriately challenging, moving as quickly as they can master all the material.
To find out more about Foundations, check out:
- Compelete Foundations page - details about each level, sample lessons, what's in a lesson, scope and sequence
- Foundations for Schools info page
- Foundations for Homeschoolers info page
- Complete Sets
To find out what you need for B, see:
The phonograms and spelling rules that explain the spelling of 98% of English words are taught in Logic of English curriculum and in Uncovering the Logic of English: A Common-Sense Approach to Reading, Spelling, and Literacy.