Review of Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum. Every homeschool family I know is on the hunt for the perfect language arts and reading curriculum. I enjoy reviewing these programs whenever I get the chance. Recently we were given access to a one-year subscription to Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum. I used this program a bit with my preschooler, who is on the cusp of reading, and my eight-year-old daughter.
Home School Navigator was designed to help families create a rich language arts experience for their children. In total, there are six levels you can plug your children into. Each level is defined by a color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or indigo). The red level is intended for your typical kindergartner. Each color moves a child up a level of difficulty. A one-year membership will give you access to 36 weeks of lessons with daily reading and writing, lesson plans, over 50 instruction videos, activities, checklists. and more. You’ll also have access to an online portfolio and checklists for each child.
I first began the program with my preschooler in the red level. The website looks professional designed and is incredibly well organized. I have to say, even so, I struggled with navigating it. Moving back and forth to different areas of the website (like my dashboard, or between children) wasn’t intuitive. Scrolling down even a bit hides the navigation tools and overall I was left frustrated. Once I found we were into the lessons I couldn’t figure how to indicate something was indeed DONE. I was frustrated at first because it appeared to not record anything as DONE. I realized after all at the way bottom of the page there is a check spot. Once we finished a chapter’s worth of lessons I wasn’t sure how to move on to the next level. This program certainly isn’t something either of my children could figure out how to navigate alone. However, I certainly feel like this program isn’t aimed at families who would like to have their child work mostly independently with only occasional check-ins from mom or dad. This is definitely a program that will work very well for families want to sit and work with their children through their lessons, especially at the red level.
Speaking of the red level. What you’ll find when you log in and eventually navigate your way through to the first lesson is a list of physical picture books you’ll want to keep on hand for the duration of each month. You’ll find videos specifically labeled to the parents where the “teachers” of the program lay out expectations for the lessons to come. Other videos are marked as student lessons. Here you’ll see the teachers walking the children towards different aspects of the books, reading some poems or other parts of the lesson aloud, and teasing out key language arts concepts. These lessons looked very very much to me like the very lessons I used to teach to my groups of preschoolers and kindergarteners back in my days as a public school teacher. At this level I would say that these videos wouldn’t appeal all that much to your average kindergartener. We were trying to watch on my 15 inch computer screen and we found the elements of books and poems the teachers were trying to point to very difficult to see. Even though these videos are of excellent quality and obviously professionally made, the things the teachers were trying to point to were so small. I would suggest some of these videos be redone with BIG books and poems displayed in poster size. These videos are EXCELLENT for training a parent who has ZERO knowledge of how to interact with their children with books and poems.
Overall I found the red level to be too difficult for my preschooler. I thought it is geared for Kindergarten I thought it might work out because she already has a strong foundation of all of her letters and letter sounds. She is just starting to blend 3 letter words when trying to read. Her writing skills are not strong at all yet. Writing does tend to come later than reading in many children. Early on the program has the child trying to write out sentences and that was just not possible for her. She became discouraged so we did not press on. I did try to keep going with the books and other activities that are suggested. She was already familiar with a lot of them and continued to enjoy them.
For my eight-year-old, I decided to try the third grade (or green) level. I had such a hard time choosing a level for her because she is a voracious and very strong reader. The challenge I find in most language arts curriculums was one I was met with here as well. Most of my children’s reading levels are so high compared to their writing levels. In this case, we were reading books and doing activities that didn’t meet her reading needs but did challenge her writing skills.
At this level, every day begins with a 20-minute free writing exercise. I had to modify this almost from the start. 20 minutes is an excruciatingly long time for my own particular child. Writing for about 5 minutes is more her speed so we stuck to that. Most days there were Read Alouds, Reading Skills Practice, Writing/Grammar work, Vocabulary, Independent Reading, and a Poetry project to complete. If we had done the 20 minutes of writing and all of the parts of a lesson then this program would probably take us an hour or an hour and a half each day. Once assignments were complete I had the option to upload the worksheets into her online portfolio.
Overall my daughter enjoyed the program well enough. She liked the read-alouds though I rarely got the chance to read them too her before she read them herself. Some of the read alouds have videos where the story is read with accompanying pictures. She found that entertaining. The grammar and vocabulary work was manageable to her.
This is a solid program. If your family has recently left the public schools for homeschooling I think you’ll find a lot of value in this program. It could provide a great transition program for you as it very much models what language art instruction in the public schools looks like.