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Introduce young children to literacy by reading Doodling Dragons and playing phonemic awareness games. If the child has learned some phonograms or has enough interest to begin to learn some, include phonogram games to practice these phonograms as well. The Phonogram and Spelling Game Book is filled with ideas for engaging children with learning activities that lay the foundation for literacy (if you already have the Foundations A Teacher's Manual, you can find games in it as well). Begin Foundations lessons when the child is beginning to take an interest in letters and reading or is starting kindergarten.

The items above are either included in or compatible with the Foundations curriculum.

Foundations A is filled with fun games and learning activities. Complete one lesson over the course of 3-5 days. Do not rush. Rather enjoy learning how to segment words, the sounds of the letters, and setting the stage for literacy through play.

We suggest Foundations, beginning with Foundations A.

Students who know all the phonogram sounds and can read and write short vowel words are ready for Foundations B.

Should my student begin in Foundations C?
We do not recommend that any student begin Foundations past level B. In the first five lessons there are concepts taught that teachers with master’s degrees in reading tell us were new to them. This linguistic knowledge is then assumed throughout the rest of the Foundations program. Students ages 4-7 who are easily reading the texts in Foundations B will still benefit from the B lessons because they will be learning the phonograms and spelling rules. We suggest that teachers focus on spelling, and move quickly through the lesson as long as the child is easily mastering the phonograms and rules and how to use them in words. These gifted students will use the knowledge gained about words and begin to apply it to larger words. Again and again we have heard teachers and parents say that their student’s reading skills have accelerated even faster with the tools gained in Foundations B.
If the style of the Foundations B lessons feels too young for a student, you may also begin with Essentials if the student is age seven or above.

We strongly suggest beginning with Foundations B and The Rhythm of Handwriting.
Use the materials in the Rhythm of Handwriting complete set to teach the lowercase letters before starting Foundations B.
For Foundations, order the level B books and all Foundations AB supplements not included in the Rhythm of Handwriting set.
Or, if you prefer, especially if you will use Foundations A with other students, purchase the Foundations AB Complete Set and omit Rhythm of Handwriting. Use the handwriting sections of level A lessons and the handwriting supplements included in the set to teach the lowercase letters before beginning B.

You may also wish to consider beginning with Essentials plus the Rhythm of Handwriting. Essentials and Foundations begin at similar points, but use a lesson style designed for different ages and have different emphases. For a detailed big-picture comparison of the two programs, see the blog article What's the difference between Foundations and Essentials?" To dig into the differences in lesson style and think through which your seven-year-old might enjoy more, see Do we want Essentials or Foundations?.

We strongly suggest cursive instruction along with Essentials.

What if my older student is a struggling reader?
Start with Essentials, along with cursive handwriting instruction. Any student age nine to adult, and most eight-year-olds, will find the style of Essentials lessons a better fit than those in Foundations. Essentials has multiple levels of application within each lesson and will be helpful for any student who would benefit from learning more about how English words work and why they are written the way they are, from struggling readers to strong readers and spellers.
For a detailed comparison of the two programs, see What's the difference between Foundations and Essentials?
With older students struggling with reading, consider supplementing Essentials with The Essentials Reader, a reading comprehension supplement with high-interest, phonics-controlled texts for older students.

We suggest Essentials.

What if my older student is a struggling reader?
Start with Essentials. Any student age nine to adult, and most eight-year-olds, will find the style of Essentials lessons a better fit. Essentials has multiple levels of application within each lesson and will be helpful for any student who would benefit from learning more about how English words work and why they are written the way they are, from struggling readers to strong readers and spellers.
For a detailed comparison of the two programs, see What's the difference between Foundations and Essentials?
With older students struggling with reading, consider supplementing Essentials with The Essentials Reader, a reading comprehension supplement with high-interest, phonics-controlled texts for older students.

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