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Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Levels A-F Review by Cassie Deputie

Elizabeth Ratliff
Eclectic Foundations

Can you name a career or any facet of life that does not require, or at least benefit from an individual being able to read, dictate, write, persuade, and communicate effectively? Doctor? Teacher? Politics? Mother? Missionary? Everything we do as human beings revolves around language and the language arts. Cultures are formed and maintained through literature, people groups are encouraged and stirred on to great things through thoughtful orations. Morality and community are made strong through story and illustration. Poverty-stricken individuals have doors opened to them containing new opportunities when they become increasingly literate. Where are the current great works of art? Who are this age’s great orators, pastors, and presidents? What happened to our once united culture being able to reference the timeless and brilliant works of old and connecting them with present truths and conflicts? The importance of the language arts and its continual study is crucial to our growth as individuals and as a society at large. It may just be the most critical area of study for our young ones to indulge in.

I want to introduce a language arts program that I believe encompasses everything essential in a great education. I will open by attempting to give a clear over-scope of what Eclectic Foundations Language Arts seeks to accomplish and what Elizabeth Ratliff’s vision is behind writing this curriculum. Once you have this basic understanding, I will illustrate how this vision is played out in each level: Level A through Level F.

Eclectic Foundations is rooted in a strong biblical worldview that the educators of the 1800s and 1900s unapologetically taught; it is tremendously patriotic in American values of morality, bravery, and strength. This program is laid out in an open-and-go style where little prep (really no prep) is needed for the instructor and is very cost-effective. A four-day school week is all that is required and includes phonics, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, reading comprehension, handwriting, composition, and poetry with the only material required consisting of a Teacher’s Guide, Student Workbook, and corresponding McGuffey reader. But what is most impressive is this curriculum has more time-tested success behind it than any other one on the markets to date. McGuffey readers and the other books included in Ratliff’s lesson studies have been used from the 1836-1960s. By today’s standards, completing the sixth McGuffey Reader would put a student at a college senior reading level!

Elizabeth Ratliff is the author of this unique language arts program. She is a Christian home-educating parent of five children. She, like many homeschool families, started using traditional homeschool “box” curriculum until she discovers McGuffey readers and started implementing them in her own home. They were forever changed and the search for a teacher-friendly guide to assist her was nowhere to be found which left her with only one choice: to write one.

I would now like to walk through each level giving insight into what is expected from Eclectic Foundation in detail, but before I do, I want to express that in every Teacher’s Guide is a clearly laid out day-by-day itinerary with scripts for the teacher (when necessary), answers to Student Workbook pages, and obvious, bold headings indicating which topics are being studied that day. These headings include, but are not limited to, “McGuffey’s,” “Phonics,” “Handwriting/CopyWork,” “Poetry,” “Grammar,” etc. At the top of each page, in both Teacher and Student books, the lesson number is indicated for easy reference. The layout of this curriculum is logical, orderly, and pleasing to the eyes. The quality of the binding and paper is also outstanding. Our workbooks have been removed in and out of drawers, tossed on the floor, left out on the kitchen table, and received abuse from the daily life in a household of nine people and show no sign of ripping, bending, or denting as of yet.

Level A:

The very beginnings, Level A Eclectic Foundations, is intended for kindergarten or first grade. The material needed to complete this program is a Teacher’s Guide, Student Workbook, Word Cards, Appendixes, and McGuffey’s Eclectic Primer. All these materials can be attained for only $64, with an optional PDF download for $30, as the McGuffey’s are available free online. The subjects that are covered in this level include the alphabet, word building exercises, lite grammar studies, phonics, and reading, as well as some Mother Goose poems. The phonics lessons are sourced from Word Mastery written by Florence Akin. Minimal supplies are needed to complete this program and include a pencil, scissors, glue, crayons, colored pencils, and a small box to keep word cards in. There are 144 lessons in Level A which are meant to be done in a four-day school week resulting in 36 weeks of instruction.

Lessons begin by focusing on a single letter of the alphabet every week, not in alphabetical order, learning it is sound and recognizing its shape. Kinesthetic activities are encouraged before the child physically writes the letter on the lined paper provided within the Student Workbook; these activities do not require a tremendous amount of prep work. Creative games using the letters of focus such as tic tac toe with capital and lowercase letters, letter matching games, and mazes made of letters to name a few, are incorporated daily. Worksheets, game boards, and letter templates are all included in the Student Workbook or dry-erase ready “Appendixes” booklet. Word building exercises are introduced immediately as the child starts to learn even their very first letter. “A” is paired with “M” and the student sounds these separate letters out, slowly blending them together to create their first legible word, “AM". As “N,” “R,” “F” and other constants are introduced, the student and the parent alike are thrilled that real words are being sounded out, read aloud, and even written down in such a short amount of time!

Level A Eclectic Foundations takes a significant increase in workload around lesson 65. This is when reading from the McGuffey’s Primer is presented and the student begins to embark on coloring their Word Cards according to their different parts of speech. These word cards correlate with each McGuffey passage. The cards are colored red for nouns, green for verbs, etc. The child has no idea now why these words are the colors they are, but when they start Level B, they will begin receiving the formal instruction behind this practice. Every five lessons review the Word Cards by reading, memorizing, and doing activities with them. The student begins to recognize these words with ease, and their reading speed increases and confidence builds. Writing exercises slowly build from a letter a day, to three-letter words, to writing two to three-word sentences, and eventually progresses to writing short paragraphs.

Grammar lessons in Level A reference all basic grammar studies capitalization, punctuation, plural and singular words, past and present tense, etc., but the child is not expected to memorize or even fully understand these concepts at this time. The goal is to introduce and expose them to ideas, terms, and definitions to breed familiarity. Eclectic Foundations continually supplies instruction on many topics of grammar repetitively in every level plunging a bit deeper into the laws of grammar each step of the way. You can see this shown in the proceeding level descriptions below.

There is another jump in workload around lesson 105 where the child’s reading and writing load increases quite a bit.

How we used Level A and What We Thought

I am currently working through Level A Eclectic Foundations with my three-year-old son. Since he is so young, I am slowing down our pace dramatically to only two lessons a week currently. I believe that for his age this timeframe will extend Level A through his three and four-year-old, even five-year-old, schooling period. The daily discipline of him doing “school” is building a number of things in him at this age: an excitement for learning, a controlled and focused period of time for him to invest his little energies in, a special bonding moment for him and I, as well as a slow and steady understanding of phonics and fine motor skills. Each lesson has taken us 20-30 minutes to complete depending on how long we want to invest in the activity at hand. Some days, we have played tic tac toe for fifteen minutes before moving onto the next marked activity, and in contrast, we have spent only two minutes practicing writing our letter of the week some days.

Kindergarten to first grade is the perfect assessment of what age group Level A caters to. I only wish the Mother Goose stories had pictures included in the Student’s Workbook. We ended up getting the book from the Library and looking through some of the stories that were read from his workbook. Mother Goose is also available for free download and printing on the internet which is an option to supplement these readings. My son took great enjoyment in the rhymes and stories and I loved seeing a little grin sneak across his face at some of the silly poems.

Level B:

Intended for First or Second grade, Level B of Eclectic Foundations is a complete and low-cost language arts program that includes a Teacher’s Guide, Student Workbook, Word Cards, laminated Phonics Practice Sheets, and also requires McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader which can be found online at no cost. Although the McGuffey is the only other book necessary to advance into this Level, the student will also be working through Word Mastery by Florence Akin for phonics, and First Lessons in English by Thomas Harvey for grammar both of which are included in Level B’s Teacher’s Guide and Student Workbook. Other requirements for this program include pencils, a box to hold Word Cards, crayons, scissors, dry-erase markers, and an eraser for the phonics sheets. Level B consists of 36 four-day a week lessons and costs $64 for physical books, and there is an option for PDF digital download for only $30.

Cursive writing is introduced in Level B beginning with a single letter a day in alphabetical order. Once an understanding of each letter is reached, small sentences are promptly initiated. If a younger student is using this course, this may seem like a premature advancement and require hands-on assistance from the teacher with additional practice for a period of time before fluency in blending cursive letters forms. The content of what is written is what peaks my excitement as Eclectic Foundations reveals its true merits in content. Scriptures and quotes that are in-depth and virtues are meditated upon and copied daily in every level of this program, and this is one of the many reasons Eclectic Foundations is so adored by my family.

The McGuffey portions are read out of the McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader and as the year progresses, the content becomes increasingly challenging, but not at an abrupt pace. It is gradual and consistent. Phonics studies include the reading of a brief list of words every day that are similar in sound and then copied onto the laminated Phonics Practice Sheets so the student can think about the spelling and syllables of each sound.

Grammar in Level B includes coloring Word Cards, which are specific words from the McGuffey passage being read, according to their parts of speech (i.e. nouns are red, verbs are green, prepositions are blue, etc.). In this level, it is explained to the student what each of the parts of speech are, and repetitively, the teacher and student go over, “A noun is a person, place, thing or idea,” “a verb expresses action or state of being,” or “ A pronoun renames a noun.” In addition to these Word Card studies, there are short grammar lessons every day that include simple writing, matching, or oral practices that provide a gentle non-threatening comprehension of topics such as capitalization, types of sentences, interjections, abbreviations, usage of proper tense, subjects and predicates, double negatives, some creative free writing and interpreting pictures, and more. As stated in Level A’s description, Eclectic Foundations provides instruction on many topics of grammar repetitively in every level plunging a bit deeper into the laws of grammar each step of the way; so even if these subject matters are not mastered in Level B, they will be reviewed in all of the proceeding levels and a deeper understanding is sure to be attained. Poetry and reading comprehension skills are also included in Level B.

How we used Level B and What We Thought

My six-year-old son, who is in first grade, and I have been tackling Level B and it is perfectly adjusted to his maturity and mental capacity for schooling. Nothing excited him more than to declare that he knows all his letters in cursive writing. It was the first order of business in his mind daily and he took tremendous pride in it. He got a bit discouraged when he jumped from writing just one letter a day to attempting to chain them together to form six to eight-word sentences. A gradual build-up to this point would feel more natural and less daunting. It seems there are a few more steps and skills required before sentences can be penned. I decided to take smaller words from the quote and have him focus on writing those in cursive as well as other simple words such as “cat,” “dog,” or “sun.”

The reading level in the McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader was precisely on point and began easing him into larger portions of text at a comfortable pace. Continual use of the Word Cards, I can see, has built a feel for which words are nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so forth without him having the ability to express why those words belong in those categories. This does not worry me in the least as I am seeing his growth and comprehension regularly. The additional grammar lessons seem a bit above his head and consist of writing portions that exhaust my little man considering he penned his cursive writing assignment as well as several phonics words just prior to these segments. Considering that age range for this level includes First and Second grade, an older student may find the assignments not tiresome whatsoever. We simply adjusted his assignments based on how he was managing.

The daily reading of poetry surprisingly had a dramatic effect on his reading comprehension; something I have never caught sight of in my son before. He hangs on every word and can speedily recall the answers to basic comprehension questioning at the finish of the reading.

Every day these studies bring a smile to my face and his as he is growing leaps and bounds at a much faster pace than I recall from my older students who did not use Eclectic Foundations as their language arts program. I also see him wanting to be still and listen when other works of literature are read aloud during our family story or Bible times. Even his ability to dictate back to me what was studied in Sunday School has benefited. He will often retreat with a book that is far beyond his reading level and pretend that he is studying it intently. “Whew! That is a good book mom!” he’ll say as he returns it to the bookshelf. I believe he will finish Level B in a single year, as suggested, and I am more than pleased to see such a passion, drive, and such maturity being built in my son on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis while only taking 30-45 minutes of our day.

Level C:

Level C is comprised of a Teacher’s Guide, Student Workbook, Word Cards, and a laminated Phonics Practice Sheet all for the low cost of $64 with the optional PDF download of $30. This level is written with the target audience Second to Third graders. Other materials needed for this Level include McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader, which can be attained free of charge online, a container to hold Word Cards, a pencil, crayons, colored pencils, scissors, dry-erase markers, and an eraser. Included in the student’s study and in the Student Workbook is the material covered in Word Mastery written by Florence Akin for phonics lessons and Speaking and Writing Book 1 by William H. Maxwell for studies in grammar.

The McGuffey readings in Level C take place about every other day with the proceeding day consisting of Word Card studies based on the McGuffey text. These readings cover a wide range of topics from historical pieces, science topics, poetry, short stories, and portions in cursive writing. This is the last Level that Eclectic Foundations implements Word Cards to study parts of speech. Each word is analyzed and color-coded. Nouns are red, verbs are green, adverbs yellow, adjectives orange and so forth. The student is reminded of the definitions of these parts of speech as they sort and color their Word Cards. Other activities are implemented with the cards such as sentence building, alphabetical sorting and more.

Cursive writing exercises encompass a weekly memory verse as well as life-impacting quotes or scriptures we have grown to know, love and expect from Eclectic Foundations. An example of one of the passages that are meditated on is a quote by Doug Larson that says, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you preferred to talk.” Usage of dotted line paper is omitted from this and all the preceding levels. I would have preferred lined pages included as I do not feel mastery in cursive consistency has been built yet. I had my student glue some dotted lined paper on top of the single-lined portions in the Student Workbook intended for these areas of study.

Phonics studies are like those of Level B: a short list of similar-sounding words is read and then copied onto the Phonics Practice Sheet daily. This prepares the student for lessons in spelling which are introduced in Level D, but still incorporates a foundation in phonetic skills necessary for reading.

It is in Level C that it seems the grammar studies have finally met with the student’s ability to understand and digest the topics of review wherein prior levels, they seemed a bit over the student’s head. At this point, I believe, the student and teacher begin to really reap the benefits of using Eclectic Foundations from the primary levels (Level A & B). There is an extensive list of topics covered in the grammar portions over this year which would be too many to list in this review, but include the basic instruction of what is a statement, writing and addressing letters, copy work that subconsciously teaches capitalization and punctuation, initials and abbreviations, changing words from past to present tense and more.

How we used Level C and What We Thought

My third grader is seven years old and is turning eight in the center of this school year. She is the pupil of choice to work through Level C with me. The McGuffey portions seem to begin under her reading level, although she is quite an advanced reader, but progressively get more challenging and include vocabulary she is ignorant of. I am glad I chose to place her in Level C since I think she will benefit from a year of Word Card studies before progressing on to Level D where grammar lessons omit these daily, repetitious practices of defining and analyzing the parts of speech and instead change focus toward vocabulary and spelling studies.

The writing lessons, though longer then she would like, seem appropriate for her age. These daily invoked deep discussions between her and I and would coincidentally correlate with events or attitudes we encountered earlier that day or that week. One of these conversations revolved around the quote in “Lesson 10” which states, “The noblest search is the search for excellence” by Lyndon B. Johnson. We discussed that she should strive for excellence in every area of her life. We discussed why daily habits such as doing chores, math, handwriting, and music lessons are so important and drive us to new levels of excellence. I believe the Lord uses these cursive wiring assignments in my children’s walk with Him.

To complete a Level C assignment took 45 minutes to an hour a day on average depending on how much writing was required. My actual hands-on instruction time only consisted of 20-30 minutes since my daughter can complete the cursive writing and other grammar writing assignments independently. This is perfect as she is the middle child in our homeschool and my younger students require so much more of my physical teaching time. I hope this illustrates how Eclectic Foundations is large family friendly or an acceptable choice for busy families endeavoring to give a solid education in the language arts.

Level D:

Level D has been such an exciting level to go through with my eldest two girls, and my favorite of the levels we were able to physically use in our homeschool. This level's core is the McGuffey’s Third Eclectic Reader, Word Lessons by Alonzo Reed, and Speaking and Writing Book 2 by William H. Maxwell and is intended for as early as third grade and as late Sixth grade. McGuffey readers can be attained free online as they are public domain, and the other books being studied are included in the program itself! This course costs $44 for all necessary material, with a PDF digital download as an option for $30. This is incredible considering all that it includes: reading and reading comprehension, spelling, memory and copy work, grammar, and poetry.

The Speaking and Writing lessons in this level focus on telling stories well and understanding what makes up a good story. Going along this central theme other topics are addressed over the course of the year including how to write and address a proper letter, basic grammar topics such as nouns, apostrophes, quotation marks, and the like, subjects and predicates as well as learning to diagram sentences, how to analyze pictures and creative writing practices. Journaling is introduced halfway through the year in Level D of Eclectic Foundations and is one of my favorite aspects of this level. These journaling topics appear every few days and are typically open-ended questions that may or may not relate to earlier lessons. They encourage the student to explore and compose paragraphs about imaginary situations, historical scenarios, or aspirations they may have as an individual as well as introduce the student to how to put their thoughts into paper.

The approach to vocabulary studies is to locate the selected words in the McGuffey text and dictate the sentences aloud. The student then creates their own sentences using the vocabulary word exercising their creativity and exemplifying their understanding of the word’s meaning. Every so often, a review of vocabulary words is listed in puzzle format including crossword puzzles, word searches, or scrambled word puzzles. There are even a few exercises where the student gets to create their own word search! In these assignments, the actual definition of words is given and the McGuffey lessons that they derive from are listed so the student can go back and re-read portions of the text if needed.

Spelling lists begin in Level D and the child is given a list of 24 words every week. All the words are read every day. Half of them are emboldened which indicates they are meant to be studied and tested on that day. At the finish of the four-day lesson week, all the spelling words have been tested twice with incorrectly spelled words written out three times each. Later in the level, fill in the blank activities are provided for spelling lists.

Poetry is included as well as a simple study of poetic terms such as personification and quatrain. There are some poem memorization assignments that my children adored and took such pride in reciting. We are a musical family and often break out in song, but now my children break out into poem recitation!

How we used Level D and What We Thought

I always start my school day with Level D Eclectic Foundations because it brings me and my children so much joy. We honestly look forward to completing our daily study in this subject above all others. The McGuffey readings can be humorous or convicting; they can be poetically challenging, and they are always life changing. My children and I will reference past stories in daily conversations reminding each other of the lessons we pulled out of them and how they apply to a present predicament.

I have noticed my girls using words in their vernacular that have taken me and others aback proving that as simple as the vocabulary studies are, they are effective.

I appreciate how American and patriotic Electric Foundations is. My students studied the famous song “My Country ’Tis of Thee” and analyzed the meaning behind these powerful poetic words. They will spend several assignments plunging into the history of the Pioneers, and then write out and meditate on dozens of quotes from our founding fathers as well as other great Americans. This is important to us specifically because my husband is an instructor on Constitutional studies and is extremely involved in local politics. So many of these quotes and ideals that are taught in our language arts have reinforced or been adopted as a family creed.

My girls and I took an average of 45 minutes to an hour a day with my hands-on instruction to complete a daily lesson with my hands-on instruction needed for about 30 minutes of that time. Again, this is great since I have many children that I am schooling in our home.

Level E:

Let us take a deep dive into Level E Eclectic Foundations for a moment now. Recommended for as early as Third grade and as late as Sixth grade, this 144 lesson study uses the McGuffey’s Fourth Eclectic Reader, which can be found free online, and includes spelling and word lessons based on the book Word Lessons by Alonzo Reed as well as grammar lessons based on Speaking and Writing Book 3 by William H. Maxwell and Harvey’s Elementary Grammar by Thomas Harvey. These lessons, outside of the McGuffey reader, are once again included right in the Teacher’s Guide and Student Workbook and no additional books are needed. The cost for Level E books comes to a total of $49, with the option of PDF digital download at $30.

Grammar in this level goes over all the basics of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, making nouns plural and so many more topics, but dives into them in a much more in-depth way giving “rules” of grammar for the student to memorize. Plenty of examples and practice opportunities are given right in the Student Workbook and a concept is often repeated three to four times and applied in various ways before moving on; this gives the child ample time to really grasp and apply the grammar concept and include quite a bit more work than in Level D.

The Speaking and Writing portions of Level E excited me immensely! Where Level D focused in on teaching a child how to write a story that interested their friends, Level E focuses on persuasive speech and writing touching on the topics of fables, famous speeches, writing letters to friends or business letters, and studying plays and productions. I believe persuasive speech is a crucial skill to have. Whether one is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, pitching an idea to their coworkers, or selling an item to a customer, the persuasive speech will pave the way to success.

Spelling in this book is more structured according to categories such as common foods, abbreviations for titles or states, words that are misused, types of trees, numbers, and other topics. Similar to Level D 20-30 spelling words are given each four day week and they are meant to be read over on a daily basis with only a portion of those (indicated by bold text) are meant to be studied and tested each day. By the end of the week, all the words have been tested twice with misspelled words written out three times each.

Level E Copy Work in this Level has some of the most meaningful quotes I have ever read. As I paged through the workbook, I often had to stop and really digest some of them. I would text them to my husband since they just struck a chord in my heart. Having my children meditate on these quotes and write them in cursive will, I know, plant them deep into their heart and character. Poetry is still studied in a similar fashion as in Level D with some deeper contemplation questions. Typically, these poems continue to be read aloud and then dissected for discussion. Some are assigned as memory work.

The McGuffey portions are incredible and touch on topics such as bullying, the sermon on the mount, being idle versus toiling, as well as many topics on science and history. While introduced in Level D, journaling takes a much larger role in Level E. It only appears once every so many lessons, but it involves open-ended questions that encourage the student to start thinking for themselves and writing creatively. An example of these topics is: “If you could interview anyone in history, who would it be? Why? What questions would you ask? What do you think that person’s answers would be?” Another example is where the child is challenged to draw their own imaginary constellation and to write a story as ancient people might have told about it. Some of these questions correlate with the McGuffey stories while some rely on the child’s basic knowledge of various subject matters.

Level E left me realizing that it would put in my children a connection between what they verbally dictate and what they physically write on paper. This level strengthens their ability to translate oral to writing in a flawless, creative, and persuasive manner.

Vocabulary includes finding the words from the vocab list in the reading selection, reading the phrase or sentence, and then crafting their own sentence using that word in the proper context.

Level F:

Level F Eclectic Foundations Language Arts will take your student through the first half of McGuffey’s Fifth Eclectic Reader, more of Word Lessons by Alonzo Reed and will complete Harvey’s Elementary Grammar by Thomas Harvey all for the cost of $46 with an optional PDF digital download option for $30. The McGuffey can be attained free online and the other two books that are used for instruction are included in the Student Workbook and the Teacher’s Guide and are not needed to complete this curriculum. Level F is intended for as early as fifth grade but can be used as late as ninth grade.

The beginning of Level F focuses on speaking in public and the child studies and practices articulation, inflections, monotone, accent, emphasis, pauses and more. This level includes far more independent study, which is a necessary skill for older children to attain. There are many stories in the Fifth McGuffey Reader whose subject matter consists of people from history. When the student reads these stories, they are encouraged to research the author or the person the story is written about on their own. How this is done isn’t instructed, but I plan on taking my children to the library on a weekly basis and having them collect books that revolve around the upcoming week’s lessons as well as teaching them how to navigate a search engine on the internet as another option for independent research.

Descriptive writing exercises throughout Level F challenge pupils to write about items such as iron, plants, or an apple. Examples to get them started are given such as: describe the apple’s form, parts, color, taste, kinds, uses and where it is found. Open-ended study is also encouraged within the child’s Bible such as, “What does the Bible say about humility?” or “What other examples do we see of someone in the scriptures ‘losing their mind?’” or a challenge in Lesson 52 to match the Psalms with their references. All these exercises teach a child how to use their concordances and search the scriptures to find answers for themselves. These are especially important life skills! I want my children to know how to find what the Bible says on any given topic they encounter.

Grammar lessons in this level are focused on reading and memorizing grammar rules. There are some short lessons for the student to practice these rules, but mostly it is reading and memorizing. If a child has followed this program from Level A, or has had any prior instruction using Eclectic Foundations, this memorization of the rules of grammar will come with ease and make a lot of sense to them since every level repetitively exposes the child to grammar subjects in every Level lending a deeper and more thorough understanding along the way; however, if a child is jumping into using Eclectic Foundations in Level F,  depending on their previous grammar instruction and understanding, this may seem to be a bit challenging for them. The grammar lessons also include a concept called “parsing” or “syntactic analysis” which is familiar to students who learn a foreign language, but not taught in most modern studies of grammar. An example of this is this: there are several lessons on connecting verbs such as “to go” or “to love” conjugating them according to the nouns they accompany.

I love how each lesson alternates between Harvey’s Grammar studies and the McGuffey studies. This keeps each day fresh and not tiresome. After reading through this level in its entirety I am even more convinced that I wish for my children to continue all the way through the levels from A-F since I see how they build on each other and provide an incredibly solid understanding of language arts as a whole. Their education will be well-rounded. They will be exposed to several types of literature and learn many lessons, both morally and grammatically, along the way.

Vocabulary in this level does not include puzzles or dictation, but the child is encouraged to continue to locate the vocabulary word in the text, read the sentence in which that word is located, and then compose a new sentence in their Student Workbook using that vocabulary word. In earlier levels, vocabulary words were primarily dictated in this same format as opposed to writing.

Other Items to Note:

There are two different sets of the McGuffey Readers with the former being more advanced in content and far more evangelical. The revised edition, known as the Eclectic Readers, still has solid instruction and outstanding moral principles. They were chosen for this program because they are in the public domain and free to download online.

I mentioned in one of the descriptions above that the quality of the binding, covering and paper of this program is top-notch. We have used our Teacher’s Guides and Student’s Workbooks daily for months now and they have no sign of damage or wearing.

I found the tale behind the color-coding of the Word Cards an interesting tale. When Elizabeth Ratliff’s oldest son received the diagnosis of synesthesia, it was discovered that he learned best by associating information with colors. This inspired Ratliff to give a color to each part of speech and the results were incredible. From using this curriculum firsthand over the last few months, I have also noticed unparalleled retention from my children of the parts of speech using this method.

As students grow in character and their ability to be reliable in following written directions, Eclectic Foundations can become less and less dependent on the parent to walk their child through each lesson. I took great encouragement in this since I have an ever-growing brood of little ones competing for my energies.

Eclectic Foundations plans to continue to expand its levels to extend hoping to launch Levels G-I in the upcoming years. These Levels will include Pinneo’s Guide to Composition as well as many other exciting and new studies! We cannot wait to see what Eclectic Foundations has in store!


Lesson 65 in Level E of Eclectic Foundations had me thinking deeply about how lost our culture has been since we moved away from teaching the speeches of our founding fathers and the stories and fables that were referred to. Once, one used to be able to say, “Don’t count your chickens before they were hatched” and every educated individual knew precisely what they were referencing. All the richness of stories that were not just stories, but spoke life, planted ideas, taught us how to think for ourselves, how to decipher right from wrong, and gave us a sense of community, heritage, and importance. I will proudly give this Bible-based foundation to my children and I hope you will consider giving it to yours as well.

- Product review by Cassie Deputie, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2019