First Language Lessons
First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind
Jessie Wise & Sara Buffington
This is an elementary-level grammar & composition curriculum. There are 4 levels that loosely correspond to grade levels. This is a significant plus for me as we run the full spectrum of learners; those who have giftings outside of academics and those whose giftings are academics. I greatly appreciate it when homeschool curriculum doesn’t splash the grade level across the front. It’s a simple thing but I prefer it when the terms “level 1” or “book a” are used over “grade 1”.
Flexible and Easy to Use Grammar Curriculum
I hold off teaching grammar until students are reading well. This curriculum is flexible and allows you to do that as Level 3 can be used after levels 1 & 2 or it can be used as a first grammar text for older elementary students.
Level 1 – start with a grade 1 or 2 student and then carry on with the other 3 levels
Level 2 – grade 2/3
Level 3 – start with a grade 3, 4, or 5 students and then carry on with the next level
Level 4 – grade 4-6
The instructions are simple and straight forward and it’s clear right from the start how you are to move through the curriculum.
The fact that each level has significantly less than 180 lessons was a huge draw for me. It is a turn-off for me when homeschool curriculum packs in enough lessons to fill every possible teaching day over a 10-month period. I prefer a curriculum that allows us the freedom to veer from the schedule from time to time to pursue other interests, dive into projects, spend some time reviewing, or just take a break.
Level 1 & 2
contain 100 lessons each
89 regular lessons
7 writing letters lessons
7 dictionary skills lessons
7 oral usage lessons
85 regular lessons
1 contraction lesson
10 writing lessons
5 dictionary skills lessons
The workbooks are consumable but reasonably priced. There is a lot of white space on each page, a benefit for anyone who can become overwhelmed when there are a lot of words on a page. Also, there are no graphics or characters.
We purchased the downloadable version of the workbooks, and I would not do that again. It has been a hassle to keep up with printing lessons off using our own printer and I have found having the entire workbook printed at a printing company to be costly; not enough of a savings to make the extra steps worthwhile.
All four levels use classical techniques to develop language ability: memory work, copy-work, dictation, picture narration, story narration, and grammar.
If you are at all hesitant about your own grammar skills and teaching ability this would be a great choice as every lesson is scripted, simple, and straightforward. This curriculum is not set up for a student to learn on their own; an instructor is needed! The scripted lessons make it easy for the instructor, and this direct instruction method is essential for learners who get bogged down in written instructions.
Most lessons are not lengthy, so you don’t need to worry about the fact that the lessons require you to walk your student through them. There is the occasional lengthy lesson, but most are very reasonable. There is a good amount of repetition of topics throughout each level, so I have not found the short lessons to be a problem, and most lessons have an optional component that we always completed as the lessons really were so manageable. The flexibility and ease of this program allow you to use a writing program alongside it, or you could wait and use a formal writing program after Level 4.
This is a solid grammar curriculum and should easily make it into your top 3 when trying to narrow down your choices.
by Adrianne Curwen
Adrianne is a wife to a public-school educator/administrator and a homeschooling Mama to seven children, ranging in age from 7 to 23. She believes that we have a unique opportunity as homeschoolers to design individualized education that suits giftings, interests, and passions. She and her husband have used a blend of registered homeschooling, enrolment with independent DL schools, and participation in public trade school programs to design individualized programs for their children. She is passionate about using as many read-alouds, picture books, novels, and conversations to educate her children but also gets excited by the amazing homeschool-designed curriculum that’s out there. Adrianne is thrilled by her new role as Communication Specialist for Classical Education Books and is grateful to have an opportunity to learn something new. She is grateful, every day, for her saviour, Jesus Christ, and has no greater joy than when she sees her most important missions field walk with Him.