When researching a reading and language arts curriculum, it can be hard to find something that is all-inclusive. We recently received review access to Home School Navigator for four of my children. There are several levels, differentiated by colors. Red is the first level, and it is at an approximate kindergarten reading level. Then it goes Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Indigo (which ends at about a 5th grade reading level). I like that the levels are by color rather than grade level, because students sometimes feel strange doing something that doesn’t line up with their grade level. As a homeschooler, I certainly don’t feel that my kids will fit within one level for all subjects. In fact, they are ahead in a few and on level for others, and the numbered system just confuses them, kind of like when someone in public asks them what grade they are in. 😉
Once you have purchased Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum, you log in to the program online and look around at the different levels. You will pick one level for your student to work through. There are samples available on their website to see where you would like to place your child.
Each level gives 36 weeks of instruction, with 5 day weeks. The work is divided up for you by month, week, and day. All teaching helps, handouts, and anything that needs to be printed out are provided for you for each month in one PDF download per month. I love that it begins with a full program teaching guide for all 9 months, then it breaks it down by week telling you which handouts you will need. Next, it gives a sheet for each day, showing the Materials List and Teaching Guide for each day, followed by the required Handouts.
For states that require portfolios, or for parents that just like to do them, there is the option to upload work to your student’s account as they finish it for an end-of-the-year portfolio. You can just snap a picture and upload it, or scan it in. I probably won’t use this feature, but it’s a cool option that I haven’t seen in online programs before.
There are videos for students to watch to complete the work. Several of them give instructions on how to do the assignments. Many of them are a brief lecture introducing the topics. While there are several literature books that go with the curriculum’s assigned work, if you are unable to obtain them, the required reading is done by video. This is ideal for being able to do this on the go, or if you do not have access to the books from your library. That makes the yearly price for the Home School Navigator curriculum very affordable, because you’ll only need website access and working internet and a printer for the handouts.
The curriculum covers all language arts topics for your elementary student. Be prepared to have your child learn reading, writing, word studies, literature, comprehension, grammar, handwriting, and more. The amount of work each day is not overwhelming. We spent between 15 and 45 minutes a day on the program. Some days had more written work than others. If your child gets overwhelmed, you can adapt it to fit your needs. Pick and choose assignments or do some orally instead of on paper.
I liked that it incorporated personal reading, which is something that I assign my kids all the time already. It’s so important for kids to be able to pick out something they like to read and spend a good amount of time on it.
This program also has students creating a Writer’s Notebook to freewrite or draw as well. This is a good way to get kids to express themselves and develop a writing style of their own. It works for younger children and older ones. There is a video to instruct parents and students on the process for this. It’s done frequently, so while it might be hard to get them to do it at first, it becomes second nature after a few weeks!
As I mentioned, I had four of my students try out this program. My 6 year old worked on Red level, my 8 year old worked on Green, my 11 year old worked on Blue, and my 13 year old worked on Indigo. My oldest is a little old for the program, but I feel like there is plenty of room for her to learn and grow with the material, even as a middle school student. Honestly, as long as you give clear expectations on how much work and effort they are supposed to put into it, the assignments can be scaled up or down for any individual student. For example, she would have a higher level book to read each day and her writing would need to be at a higher level as well, when compared to the expectations of her younger brothers.
I like how the program is organized on the website. It is easy to navigate and you will know exactly what to do each day. The handouts and videos are linked within the day’s assignments, so you will be able to quickly open and go every time. You log in to your account, and then students log in to their own dashboard. Progress is saved and indicated for them. Everyone will be able to see where to begin each day.
Overall, I think this program would be great to go through the levels with your student. We have other curriculum that we use for various parts of language arts for my older kids that we will probably continue using instead, but I will use this as an extra resource for teaching things those don’t cover, such as different genres and the word studies.
For my younger kids, I am considering using this as-is for a full language arts curriculum. It would be great to save money by having it all included each time we log in. My kids learn well with video instruction, and there are enough handouts that they will also get the hands-on practice that they need to solidify concepts. Activities and assignments are age-appropriate and adaptable for different learning styles.
This program does require a fair amount of parent involvement. However, I do love the video lectures and readings of literature. I do still need to grade assignments and help with a few things, especially with the younger kids. I also like to sit there while my kids are doing the assignment to make sure they’re paying attention to the videos or actually doing their work, but I have to do that with any curriculum! I love that we are able to click that they finished the work at the end of each day. My kids have liked seeing their progress as they finish assignments.
The lower levels have a ton of hands-on assignments. The higher levels still have some, but require a lot more critical thinking and higher level order of thinking to complete the work. The videos keep my kids engaged. The repetitive nature of the reading and writing gives a good foundation for all students, and I really do love that it is assigned to them. For some reason, my kids don’t mind these types of things as much when it’s assigned by someone other than their mom. 🙂
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