Foundations FAQs

Logic of English Foundations is a curriculum that teaches children ages 4 to 7 years old to read without guessing or memorizing sight words. Students develop phonemic awareness, learn to read and write the 74 basic phonograms, and increase reading fluency through structured but playful activities. The innovative Rhythm of Handwriting method is built into the Foundations curriculum, aiding students in developing fluid handwriting. Step-by-step, students grow in reading comprehension skills, moving from words and phrases to sentences, paragraphs, and well-known children’s books. Using evidence-based reading instruction methods, Foundations combines multi-sensory learning with the latest in linguistic research to provide students with the best possible foundation for education: strong reading and writing skills.

Foundations is designed for ages 4-7. Due to the playful nature of Foundations, many students as young as 4 have been completely successful starting the program. Typically, though, Foundations is used for Kindergarten and First Grade, or Kindergarten, First, and Second, depending on your pace and the student's age when you begin.
Some 7-year-olds, on the other hand, will find Essentials a better fit, but most seven-year-olds and even some eight-year-olds are happier starting with the more playful, high-energy style of Foundations. (Help Me Choose!)

The curriculum is intentionally divided into separate levels so that teachers and parents can choose the schedule that works best for their students.

A fairly typical schedule is A & B in kindergarten and C and D in 1st grade. Some choose to start A in pre-K, or to spread A, B, and C over kindergarten and first grade and teach D in second grade. These schedules will work fine as well! If you start Foundations with a first or second grader, you may find that you move very quickly through A (or even skip it), move quickly through B to introduce new phonograms and rules, and then focus most of your time on C and D.

Foundations equips students with the tools needed to read any word and lays a strong, linguistically accurate foundation for spelling, so it is an outstanding preparation for success in reading and writing throughout life. Learning the skills to the point of mastery is far more important than completing the curriculum on a certain schedule. We encourage you to respect the interests, level of mastery, and attention span of your child or students and let these be the determining factor in how you pace the curriculum. Foundations fulfills and exceeds the Common Core Standards for Language Arts for kindergarten and 1st grade, as well as many of those for 2nd grade.

Yes! Foundations is designed for any child who is ready to learn to read. The ABC’s and their sounds are introduced gradually. Students do not need any prior knowledge before beginning the Foundations curriculum, just the ability to speak English and an interest in learning about letters and reading.

In terms of pacing, the beginning levels of Foundations are geared toward Kindergarten students. Younger students may progress more slowly through the activities, and we encourage those who choose to start A in pre-school to take a very relaxed approach, letting the child's level of interest and enjoyment determine the pace. Use the handwriting activities, large-motor only, to introduce the child to how the letters 'feel' and add a kinesthetic element to learning each phonogram, but do not worry about whether the child masters how to write any of the letters at this stage.

If you'd like to start teaching your child about sounds and laying the groundwork for reading but aren't sure you're ready to start a curriculum, you may also want to consider Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book of Sounds.

This depends a lot on the age and vocabulary of the student and his progress in developing fluency, which happens at a different rate for different children. Most children, depending on their age, will be reading at a second grade or end of first grade level by the end of D, or above. Many will be reading beyond that level even before then, and all of them will have in place the decoding skills they need to read any book as they develop the vocabulary and reading fluency to do so.

There are two reasons it is difficult to pinpoint precisely:

  1. We teach students all the skills they need for reading and spelling in a thorough, systematic, step by step way. Instead of asking students to guess what words say, rushing sight words without understading so that students can "start reading" faster, and pushing more advanced comprehension skills before a strong and linguistically accurate foundation is laid, Logic of English provides the information, skills, and practice needed for success at every step. The curriculum equips students with all the tools they need, by the end of the curriculum, to decode any English word and read any book - not just ones using sight words they have been taught. Most of these tools are taught by the end of level C, and students practice them extensively Foundations D (as well is in the previous levels). What books students are most comfortable reading by the end of the program will vary with their vocabularies and how much fluency they have developed at that point.
  2. There are significant limitations in the accuracy of any effort to "level" children and books and declare them to be at a "2nd grade + 4 months" level, etc. The children's literature used in the Foundations D lessons ranges in Lexile® score from 70L to 590, for example - but many will find that some of the books with higher Lexile scores are actually easier for their children than some of the books with lower scores.

There are too many factors in a child's reading ability and a book's difficulty level for numerical measures to be any more than a general reference point. Reading fluency develops differently with different children and not at a steady rate. Children make large leaps at different points as various pieces come together for them. So it's important to hold leveling systems lightly; we haven't found any that seem just right, and we encourage you to focus more on whether the child is continuing to improve in reading. Starting in Foundations D, the Review and Assessment lessons include a reading passage and simple assessments for rate, fluency, and comprehension to help you get a good sense of this. We encourage parents and teachers to trust their own observations of how children are reading and whether they are making progress!

One per level A-D: One-time purchase for all levels (reusable materials):
Additional materials used in level D (reusable):
Optional items

Many lessons include items commonly found in a classroom or home, such as scissors, markers, glue, blocks, a mirror, toy cars, stuffed animals, and chalk. A list of materials is included at the beginning of each lesson and each activity.

While reading is a visual experience of language, handwriting is the kinesthetic element. Learning how to form the shapes of the letters helps students to more readily recognize them for reading. Handwriting is taught in Foundations through large-motor skills, with lots of active movement and a variety of sensory experiences, so that students can begin learning to write the letters even if their fine motor skills are still developing.

If your child is not ready to write with paper and pencil, use a whiteboard, sidewalk chalk, finger paint, etc. to keep practicing writing. While working on spelling activities, feel free to allow him to use magnetic letters or phonogram tiles to form words. It is not important that students master handwriting at this stage; just keep providing frequent opportunities to practice it and to connect the physical motions of forming each phonogram with the phonogram's sounds.

For more handwriting questions and tips on developing fine motor skills, see Rhythm of Handwriting FAQs.

There are two possible starting points for Foundations: Level A and Level B.

For most students, and for all children just beginning to learn reading, the best starting point is A. Students who know all the sounds of the A-Z phonograms, can comfortably write the lowercase letters, have strong phonemic awareness skills, and can read unfamilar CVC words and short vowel words with consonant blends (ones they have not memorized as sight words) may in some cases be best served by starting in B. When in doubt, we recommend doing at least a quick review of the material in A, as students will be more successful later on if they have strongly developed these foundational skills. (For guidance, click Help Me Choose!)

There are two possible starting points for Foundations: Level A and Level B.

Since levels C and D build systematically on and presume knowledge of phonograms, spelling rules, phonemic awareness, morphological knowledge, and other linguistic tools taught in previous levels, these levels will not work as starting points. Older children who are new to LOE should start at Essentials, which teaches all the phonograms and spelling rules and is designed to meet the needs of students age seven and up.

For schools transitioning to Logic of English, in the initial year we recommend teaching first graders either Foundations B and C or Foundations A, B, and all or part of C (depending on the phonics and phonemic awareness skills of the students). In subsequent years, students who have started Foundations in kindergarten can use Foundations B and C or Foundations C and D in first grade, depending on their mastery of the material in level B the previous year.

(For guidance, click Help Me Choose!)

Scheduling varies from school to school and home to home. On average, though, we find that most students complete the four levels of Foundations over the course of two or three years, which averages out to about two to three days per lesson. There are forty lessons and eight review lessons in each level.

The lessons are designed to be possible to complete in one day. However, one lesson a day can be merely a reference point as you establish your pace according to what what works best for your student. Splitting lessons over multiple days, teaching a new lesson only three or four days a week and using the other days to play games and review, or teaching more than one lesson a day with a child who is mastering the material quickly all work fine.

You may also find that your pace changes as you progress through the levels. Lessons gradually increase in length (we estimate about 30 minutes per lesson in A and B, 45-60 minutes in C, and 90 minutes in D), primarily because as students gain more and more of the linguistic tools they need to read successfully, they spend increasing amounts of time reading. Depending on the age of the child and your schedule, you may find that it works fine to spend more time per day on the lessons as you progress and do the same number of lessons per week as you did in the earlier levels. However, for some children slowing the pace down as the material gets more challenging works better, and this is just fine too!

The purpose of the spelling lists in the Foundations lessons is to guide students in applying the phonograms and spelling rules in the context of words. Practicing applying these skills and analyzing how they are working in words, with guidance and support from you, is a powerful tool in helping children to develop reading fluency. It also lays the groundwork for future spelling mastery by deepening their understanding of how written English works. These lists are not a spelling test or a list of words students should memorize.

For tips on the whats, whys, and hows of the Foundations spelling lists, visit our blog: The purpose of Foundations spelling lists.

First of all - fear not! There are many ways to slow down the pace, and it is fine to do so. What is important is providing frequent practice and moving at a pace that works well for the student, not completing a certain number of lessons per week.

The basic skills of phonemic awareness, phonics, and decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) are foundational to success in reading, writing, and academic learning. For students to develop fluency and reading comprehension, and then use these skills for reading in other subjects, they must know the phonograms so deeply and be able to blend and segment sounds so easily that their brains decode words automatically. Thus, it is far more important to teach the skills to the point of mastery than to "get through" a Foundations level in a certain amount of time. To develop this mastery, students should be practicing the skills daily, especially the phonograms, but the best pace and amount of time to spend each day depends on each child. For some tips, see the following article on the Logic of English blog: Adjusting the pace of Foundations lessons.

It is also helpful to keep in mind that Foundations lessons gradually increase in length (we estimate about 30 minutes per lesson in A and B, 45-60 minutes in C, and 90 minutes in D). One reason for this is that once students begin to have enough linguistic tools to read, it is through extensive reading practice that they develop fluency. Depending on the age of the child and your schedule, it may work well to spend more time each day as you progress and do the same number of lessons per week. However, if you need to spread some lessons over multiple days, doing fewer lessons per week, as the material gets more challenging, this is just fine!

Finally, pay attention to your student and trust your sense of how he or she is doing. Don't be afraid to take a break from the lessons and spend a few days playing phonogram games and reading together before going on. The most important thing is to help the students develop mastery of the tools they need for reading (and to keep having fun while you do it!).

Foundations teaches the skills needed for reading and spelling very systematically, step by step, and some children begin to put more of the pieces together even before they have been taught all of the phonograms. Thus, while students won't have learned all the basic phonograms and spelling rules needed for decoding and encoding English words until the end of C, some begin to take off in reading before then. These students continue to enjoy and benefit from what they are learning about the structure of our language in Foundations lessons even as they continue to accelerate in reading. There are also some ways you can increase the challenge for them as they move through the lessons.

The violet "Challenge" callouts in the Foundations Teacher's Manuals provide a variety of ideas for giving students an extra challenge. In addition, one way you can challenge strong readers is to begin to shift the focus to spelling. While Foundations places a much greater emphasis on developing reading fluency and it's not necessary that students master spelling at this stage, you can begin to incorporate more practice with the spelling words for those who are ready. Spelling uses the same knowledge of the phonograms and rules as reading, but it requires a deeper level of mastery. Many of the blending games and reading (decoding) games in Foundations can easily be adjusted to make them spelling games instead (for example, see Reading Basketball, Foundations B Teacher's Manual lesson 51). If students are ready for the challenge of working towards spelling mastery, you may begin giving informal quizzes on some of the spelling words they are learning as well.

Finally, encourage students who are able to read comfortably to read widely, and to use their knowledge of phonograms and roots to think about the words they are encountering! The phonograms are everywhere, and verbally-minded students often find it fascinating to apply what they are learning to the world around them and learn about the logic and complexity of our language.

For more guidance on adjusting the pace or increasing the level of challenge for fluent readers, see Starting Foundations with a child who can read on the Logic of English Blog.

To learn more about how learning the Logic of English benefits gifted readers, see our blog article "Does Logic of English help strong readers and spellers?"

Foundations A: The readers are located in the back of the student workbook. These are to be cut out and assembled by the student as a reading comprehension activity.

Foundations B: The readers for this level are now sold separately as a set of individually bound, reusable paperbacks. (If you ordered your Foundations B workbooks before the summer of 2015, readers are included in the back.)

Foundations C: The readers for this level are now sold separately as a set of individually bound, reusable paperbacks. (If you ordered your Foundations C workbooks before March 2016, readers are included in the back.)

Foundations D: Foundations D lessons incorporate both a variety of children's fiction books, available from a library or bookstore of your choice, and a set of eight nonfiction Foundations D Readers published by Logic of English. The Foundations D readers are sold separately here. A list of the children's fiction books used in level D is available here.

To learn more about Foundations readers, click here.

Yes, all available Foundations materials are compatible with each other. You may use any Foundations workbook with your existing Foundations teacher's manuals. Here are the changes you should know about:

B and C Workbooks: The second edition workbooks for levels B (released summer 2015) and C (released spring 2016) differ from the first editions in that they no longer include the student readers as tear-outs in the back. With the second edition of these books, the readers are sold separately as sets of individually bound, reusable books. The actual workbook lesson pages are the same.

C Teacher's Manual: The second edition (released summer 2018) includes 8 bonus lessons using our new Miles and Jax readers. Both the first and the second edition C Teacher's Manuals are compatible with any C Workbook.

B and D Teacher's Manuals The second editions have very minor changes and additions, such as prompts to read Whistling Whales after introducing each new phonogram. They are compatible with any workbook for these levels.

Other materials: Any edition of the Logic of English Basic Phonogram Flash Cards, Spelling Rule Flash Cards, Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards, Grammar Rule Flash Cards, Tactile Cards, Handwriting Quick Reference, and Spelling Analysis Card may be used with Foundations.

A few supplements do have minor changes, though probably not significant enough to be worth buying a new set. The newer Basic Phonogram Flash Cards add a fifth sound of OU and add the phonogram ES. The newer Spelling Rule and Advanced Phonogram sets have had a few additional concepts added, including Spelling Rule 31 and new advanced phonograms. If you have older sets of these cards, we recommend adding these concepts to your deck with index cards unless you would prefer to purchase a new set.

Essentials! When Foundations students are ready to dig deeper with spelling mastery, grammar, and vocabulary, Essentials is an excellent next step. Students review the phonograms, spelling rules, and linguistic concepts they have learned, and the emphasis shifts much more to applying them for mastery in spelling. They also learn the remaining spelling rules, new morphology and language tools that further strengthen vocabulary and comprehension, and foundational grammar concepts such as the parts of speech.

Our new, expanded edition of Essentials, released starting in 2015, is even more effective for students who have already completed Foundations than the 1st edition was, because three levels of instruction within each lesson allow you to choose the level of spelling words, grammar practice, and vocabulary activities appropriate for your student. No separate materials needed; the three levels are built right in, with activities and practice to match! The vocabulary instruction sections for the level B and level C spelling words introduce almost 200 new roots, prefixes, suffixes from Greek, Latin, Old English, French and more.

In addition, students shoud read widely using whatever literature or reading curriculum you prefer. Having learned the phonograms and spelling rules they need to decode 98% of English words, they are ready to begin exploring whatever books are the best fit for their interests, age, and vocabulary level.

For those using the 1st (2012) edition of Essentials, we recommend use of the optional Advanced Spelling Lists for Essentials as a supplement or replacement for the lists in the book for any student continuing from Foundations. Students who have encountered many of the concepts previously in Foundations are often ready to start applying them in the context of more complex words.

For a discussion on choosing between the two programs, see Do We Want Essentials or Foundations? on the Logic of English Blog. For a detailed comparison chart outlining the similarities and differences between the two, see What's the Difference Between Foundations and Essentials?

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