See the complete review in 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.
Foundations courses A through D comprise the beginning program within the Logic of English’s language arts program.
While it can be used with children ages four through seven, Foundations is probably ideal to begin at kindergarten level for most children. You will generally use two or more courses per year. The publisher suggests various sequences on their website, but the most common sequence will be to complete two courses per year. That means you might complete levels A and B in kindergarten and levels C and D in first grade. From there, you can move into Logic of English Essentials.
Some might recognize the underlying Writing Road to Reading philosophy for teaching language arts in Foundations. In her book, The Writing Road to Reading (WRR), Romalda Spalding promotes teaching reading, writing, handwriting, and spelling together for mutual reinforcement. WRR also has students learn all of the sounds for each phonogram at the same time. That means that when the letter “a” is introduced, students learn the three primary sounds the vowel is likely to make rather than just the short-a sound as is taught in most programs. These WRR strategies are included in Foundations. (Note that both these programs have roots in the Orton-Gillingham approach for teaching reading.)
In addition, Foundations helps children learn the way sounds are formed by the mouth, tongue, and voice box from the very beginning so that children develop awareness of these sounds by listening for the sounds, feeling how they are pronouncing them, and watching the teacher pronounce them.
Foundations recommends teaching cursive first rather than printing (called "manuscript" in Foundations), but it includes instructions for both so that you may choose which you prefer. They do this very clearly in the teacher’s manuals with side-by-side green boxes for cursive instruction and blue boxes for printing. You need to be sure to choose either the manuscript or cursive student workbook for each level.
Foundations is a thoroughly multi-sensory program, although it is left to the teacher to decide whether or not children are ready for handwriting worksheets in course A. Author Denise Eide points out that some children should practice forming letters with large motor movements while they are developing the requisite fine motor skills. Both large and small motor activities are included in the program with many interactive activities and games built into the lessons. Multi-sensory activities are presented both as basic learning strategies and as “Multi-Sensory Fun” sidebars that are sometimes optional.
Lessons are written for either homeschool or classroom instruction. There are occasional group activities for those working with a classroom group, but most activities will work with either a group or just a parent and one child.
Detailed lesson plans are scripted with instructions for each step of the lesson which makes it easy for the inexperienced teacher or parent. Some lesson preparation is required. Each lesson lists the objectives and materials needed at the beginning. In addition to the course materials, you will need a few items such as Lego® blocks (or something similar), markers, crayons, chalk, scissors, glue, and crackers. For course A, you will also create a “sensory box” using a shallow pan or box filled with salt or cornmeal; students can practice writing phonograms in the sensory box.
The program also comes with a custom whiteboard with a five-inch tall writing line on one side and rows of 1 1/16 inch lines on the reverse. The teacher generally uses the large line to demonstrate strokes and letter formation. Students practice in various ways. First, they “write” with their arms or fingers in the air, on the ground, in the sensory box, on handwriting cards (that come with the program), and on the whiteboard. Then they write with markers on the whiteboard, in the workbook, or on handwriting practice pages. Gradually they progress to writing with pencils and pens. Methods vary from lesson to lesson.
After every fifth lesson there is a review and assessment lesson so that parents and teachers can make sure students have mastered concepts before moving on rather than for assigning grades. Optional practice ideas are included for you to use as needed to address weak areas identified by the assessments.
Student workbooks are printed in full color. For Foundations A, some pages at the back of the workbook are used to construct readers. The student workbook is used within the context of the teacher’s lesson presentation and cannot be used for independent study. You will need one student workbook for each level in your choice of cursive or manuscript.
The Foundations program also requires other specialized items from Logic of English: Basic Phonogram Flashcards, Phonogram Game Cards, the custom whiteboard described above, Rhythm of Handwriting Tactile Cards (with raised, sandpaper-like strokes, letters, and numbers), and the Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference folder. (For the last two items you will choose either manuscript or cursive style.).... The publisher recommends a few other optional items you might consider such as letter tiles and Bob Books readers.
[Extensive descriptions of each level are in the complete review in 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.]
As with the Logic of English Essentials program, Foundations makes the Writing Road to Reading methodology easy to use without any training. It provides thorough coverage of language arts for the early grades in an integrated fashion that saves you the trouble of selecting separate handwriting and spelling programs.