Scheduling Ideas for Summer Reading Camps and Short-Term Interventions

Fast-paced schedules for Essentials, designed for those who have a narrow window of opportunity to introduce students to as many of the tools for reading as possible.

Who should use these schedules?

The schedules on this page are designed for those who need an extremely fast pace through Essentials because they have a short, one-time opportunity with a student or group of students. If you have students who are struggling with reading who may not have another opportunity to learn the phonograms and rules besides your program, and your top priority is to teach them as much of this material as possible in the time you have, read on; this page is for you.

Who should not use these schedules?
  • Those who have at least eighty hours of instructional time available for Essentials
  • Those whose students will have the opportunity to continue Essentials instruction after your program ends.
In these cases, we recommend you consider one of these reading intensive schedules instead, in order to teach the Essentials lessons more thoroughly, incorporating more practice, vocabulary and grammar instruction, and fluency development.

Creating your short-term intensive schedule: general tips

  • Start with the Placement Test, and allow a few days to teach the Pre-Lessons before you start Lesson 1. Do not skip the Pre-Lessons if the Placement Test indicates the students need them.
  • Teach all of Day 1 (phonograms, spelling rules, exploring sounds) and Day 2 (phonogram practice, spelling analysis) of each lesson. (See Components of an Essentials Lesson.) In these sections, students learn new language and spelling concepts and practice applying them in words.
  • Skip part or all of Days 3-4. As time allows, incorporate additional review or some of the grammar or vocabulary instruction from these sections before moving on to the next lesson.
  • Play phonogram games and drill the phonograms with flash cards at multiple times throughout the day. Keep this practice short, frequent, and fun.
  • Teach up to two lessons per day as your schedule permits (expect to spend at least 90 minutes on each lesson).
  • The Essentials Reader is optional, but strongly recommended for any struggling readers. There may not be time for extra activities found in the Essentials Reader Teacher's Guide in such a compressed schedule, but we do recommend practicing decoding the Pre-Reading words and then using each Reader text for fluency and comprehension practice, as well as to build confidence and interest in reading! Always use the Reader texts after students have completed the corresponding Essentials lesson. We recommend delaying the corresponding reader passages at least one day to give students more time to practice each lesson's phonograms and rules first.

The exact schedule you work out will be as unique as your students and setting. But here are a few examples to help you envision what this might look like in practice:

Example 1: Two-Week Phonics Intensive

This schedule is based on a two-week phonics camp that was offered by a homeschool program in Mississippi for students in grades 4 and up who were struggling with reading or spelling. The camp had four hours of instruction each day. The program taught only Days 1 and 2 (the first two sections) of each Essentials lesson, adding in extra phonogram and spelling games each day for additional practice and fun!

Morning Session
Afternoon Session
Monday Placement Test
Pre-Lessons: Phonemic Awareness
Pre-Lessons: Review sounds of A-Z
Essentials Lesson 1
Tuesday Essentials Lesson 2 Essentials Lesson 3
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 1 (during camp or as a take-home activity)
Wednesday Essentials Lesson 4
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 2
Essentials Lesson 5
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 3
Thursday Essentials Lesson 6
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 4
Essentials Lesson 7
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 5
Friday Essentials Lesson 8
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 6
Essentials Lesson 9
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 7
Monday Essentials Lesson 9: Review, Check Your Understanding (from Day 5)
Catch up, review, phonogram games
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 8
Essentials Lesson 10
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 9
Tuesday Essentials Lesson 11
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 10
Essentials Lesson 12
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 11
Wednesday Essentials Lesson 13
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 12
Essentials Lesson 14
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 13
Thursday Essentials Lesson 15
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 14
Essentials Lesson 16 (coming in 2017)
OR: Teach the phonograms WR, WOR, and PH and Spelling Rules 12.1 and 13. Play phonogram games. Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 15
Friday Essentials Lesson 17 (coming in 2017)
OR: Teach the phonograms EY, EI, and EIGH and Spelling Rules 12.2 - 12.3. Play phonogram games.
Optional: Essentials Reader Lesson 16
Essentials Lesson 18 (coming in 2017)
OR: Teach phonograms BU, GU, IE, and DGE and spelling rules 12.4 - 12.5. Play phonogram games.
Optional: Essentials Reader Lessons 17 and 18.

Example 2: Six-Week Summer Reading Camp

This schedule is based on a summer reading camp that was offered by a South Carolina public school district for rising fourth graders who were struggling with reading. These students also needed instruction in handwriting. The camp included three to four hours of Logic of English instruction three days per week for six weeks. They focused on Days 1 and 2 of each Essentials lesson, along with a short handwriting lesson each day, and were able to teach four to five Essentials lessons per week.

Rhythm of Handwriting
Essentials &
The Essentials Reader
Learn cursive Swing letters: i, t, u, s, j, p, r, w Placement Test
Pre-Lessons A, B
Learn cursive Curve letters: a, d, g, qu, c, o. Connect letters. Pre-Lessons C, D, E
Learn cursive Loop letters: l, b, f, e, h, k. Connect letters from the midline. Pre-Lessons F, G, H
Learn cursive Bump letters: n, m, y, v, x, z Pre-Lessons I, J
Handwriting practice 26. Learn cursive P, B. Essentials Lesson 1
Handwriting practice 27. Learn cursive R, N. Essentials Lessons 2 and 3
Essentials Reader 1
Handwriting practice 28. Learn cursive M, K. Review
Essentials Lesson 4
Essentials Reader 2 and 3
Handwriting practice 29. Learn cursive H, U. Essentials Lessons 5 and 6
Essentials Reader 4
Handwriting practice 30. Learn cursive Y, W. Essentials Lessons 7 and 8
Essentials Reader 5 and 6
Learn cursive V, X, Z. Handwriting practice 31. Review
Essentials Lesson 9
Essentials Reader 7 and 8
Handwriting practice 32 Essentials Lessons 10 and 11
Essentials Reader 9 and 10
Handwriting practice 33. Learn about uppercase letters that connect at the baseline. Essentials Lessons 12 and 13
Essentials Reader 11
etc... etc...

Final Thoughts

Please keep in mind that these guidelines are tools, not rules! We made Essentials flexible on purpose so that you as parents, teachers, and tutors could adapt it to the needs of the students you teach. You should pace the lessons in Essentials in whatever way works best for the age, attention span, ability level, learning style, and schedule of your students. The most important factor to keep in mind in planning an effective lesson schedule is the need for frequent practice and review so that students learn the phonograms and spelling rules to the point of mastery.

Related resources

Overview: Scheduling Tips for Essentials 2nd Edition
Schedules for Slowing Down Essentials
Schedules for Essentials with The Essentials Reader
Schedules for Intensive Spelling Remediation with Essentials
Schedules for Intensive Reading Remediation with Essentials and The Essentials Reader
Components of an Essentials Lesson

If you are using Essentials 1st Edition, we recommend these scheduling tips designed for that edition.

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