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Learning To Read: A Christian Light Homeschool Curriculum Review

Learning to Read Christian Light Homeschool Curriculum Review

Our sixth child is learning to read. She is eight years old and is showing signs of dyslexia. We have another older child with dyslexia so I quickly recognized some of those hallmark symptoms of learning differences. After spending the last year working through my usual, go-to Orton-Gillingham style reading program with her, we were still finding ourselves stuck in little progress, so I felt a change was needed. Enter Christian Light Education's Learning to Read Program.

My number one goal for all of my children has been to instill a love for reading, so my primary advice for parents working with struggling readers is not to cause the child to have anxiety concerning learning to read. Unless it cannot be helped, the last thing you want to do is make learning struggles apart of your student's personal identity. This can further hinder both instruction and self-confidence. In my opinion, a love of reading is even more important than confidence in reading ability, since one flows more easily from the other.

After reaching out to Christian Light Education (CLE), I decided to give their Learning to Read program a whirl. Friends of mine, like Tauna Meyer from The Proverbial Homemaker, have raved about CLE's Math Curriculum for years, so when I was offered the opportunity to review CLE's Learning to Read Program, I was prepared for the kind of quality I was going to receive, and I was not disappointed.

Features of the Learning to Read Program

I have only used comprehensive teacher texts in the past with large, accompanying student workbooks. Christian Light Education provides what they term Light Units for much of their curriculum which I believe psychologically allows children to feel accomplished as they work through each successive unit to complete the whole. It seems so simple, but it does give the student a sense of achievement in a way that larger workbooks do not.

In Christian Light Education's Learning to Read program each light unit contains eight lessons, one review for the test, and a short test to help one measure what the student has learned. The workbooks are mostly black and white, but are full of engaging activities to allow the child plenty of practice. I would say it takes us a total of fifteen minutes to complete one lesson. For a young child that is just the right amount of time to keep his or her attention.

I am a big fan of Charlotte Mason educational methods, and I believe what CLE has provided here in Learning to Read fits the bill due to its gentle approach to learning. A favorite feature of ours are the rhymes and stories that are provided at times in the teacher guides to help the child remember and retain the information learned. These are often funny and my older children get in on these to read the stories in funny voices which of course my eight year old loves.

The only drawback that I have seen so far in the curriculum is that CLE begins with print handwriting. I have always started my children out writing in cursive, so this was an important detail for me. CLE does provide cursive instruction in later grades, just not as the first instruction. This, I know, will not be an important issue for everyone.

Initially, my children noticed and enjoyed the hand-sketches that depict the wholesome lives of Mennonite families. We all found them refreshing and lovely. The girls are shown wearing modest dresses and performing the kind of household chores that are appropriate for girls learning to become keepers of the home. The mothers are shown wearing headcoverings (which we practice during Lord's Day worship). Boys are seen playing and helping mom or dad around the home. Many of the sketches show children on the farm and enjoying nature. These pictures were very engaging for my eight year old and created a lot of fun conversation during our lessons as she commented on them. Due to my personal love of Charlotte Mason educational methodologies these wholesome and nature-themed images were a big plus!

Purchasing Options

I am sure you are wondering what is included in Christian Light Education's Learning to Read Program. I was so excited when I received my package. Anytime homeschool moms receive new curriculum it is like Christmas morning, am I right?

Christian Light Education's Learning to Read Grade 1 includes the following necessary components:

  • 4 Primer Books - these are early readers slowly advancing alongside the material the child is learning. The pages are black and white, and depict Mennonite family life, children playing, and nature sketches.
  • 10 Learning to Read Light Units which introduce 35 basic sounds, practice in writing, drilling in similarities and differences, visual discrimination exercises, and more. 
  • 2 Learning to Read Teacher's Guides that are essential to the program and provide answers, as well as step-by-step instruction for the parent to instruct their child for each lesson.
  • 1 Set of Word Flash Cards
  • 1 Set of Phrase Flash Cards
  • 1 Set of Letter Flash Cards
  • 1 Set of Wall Flash Cards (Optional)

Each of the Flash Card sets help your student in learning his or her letter sounds and progress from reading letters, to words, to phrases. 

In total Christian Light Education's Learning to Read program costs about $150 which is comparable or better than other phonics programs on the market. Free shipping is available on orders totaling over $70. 

Christian Light Publisher's Beliefs

Christian Light Education's homeschool curricula options are broad. It is a Mennonite owned homeschool publishing company that offers comprehensive curricula options for K-12th grade, and I personally think they have some elective selections for high school that are both unique and necessary for the homeschool community. CLE provides very practical resources to train students for real life that I have not seen anywhere else. I have a shopping list a mile long for my high school students with CLE and my kids are excited about it!

Life skill instruction is an area that I believe other homeschool curricula publishers sadly neglect, but I think students are craving them. Hands on skills like carpentry, sewing, gardening, auto mechanics, home construction and upkeep, record keeping, etc. are all optional electives with CLE. Keep an eye out, because I will be publishing another personal review in August 2024 on their Horticulture Curriculum. My resident gardener was thrilled when she received that one in the mail!

Christian Light Education does infuse biblical teaching throughout their resources. As a 1689 Reformed Baptist, I greatly appreciated just how transparent this publishing company was concerning which curricula contained Anabaptist theology and history. This made it even easier to pick and choose that which I knew we would align with and pass over the few that would not. Want to learn more about what CLE believes, click here.

If you are unfamiliar with church history, Mennonites were born out of the Anabaptist movement, which does not align with our 1689 Reformed Baptist confession of faith. Therefore, I would not use their curriculum for our Church History instruction, I have no qualms utilizing Christian Light Education's curricula as it does not diverge so much with our confession in the same way that a Roman Catholic or Mormon curriculum would. I actually like CLE even more for its immediate transparency in its shop descriptions for where these instances occur.

Conclusion

I highly recommend Christian Light Education's Learning to Read Program. As I mentioned above, we found the curriculum to be a refreshing change of pace with great stories, lovely illustrations, and engaging activities. I have seen my eight year old improve in her letter recognition. The best reassurance I can give you is that my daughter asks to do her CLE workbooks. She thinks they are fun, and I see her improving. With each day her love of reading and ability to retain is getting stronger with the Christian Light Education Learning to Read Program. As for me as a teacher using this program, I like how short the lessons are, and yet they provide engaging activities that are easy for me to implement and help me to engage with my daughter. In a family of nine sometimes that one-on-one engagement can be hard to come by. I am thankful this provides me with an opportunity that nudges me to take a moment top have some fun with my growing girl.  She is sixth in a line of seven children after all. With a soon-to-be high school graduate, I am all too familiar with how fast that time flies. I am thankful for a little accountability to take advantage of it while I still can.

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