First, some context: Essentials is a great next step for students who have completed Foundations if they are ready to begin going deeper with spelling mastery, grammar, and vocabulary. Essentials is also a starting point for older students who are new to Logic of English. Learn more: What's the Difference Between Foundations and Essentials?
Now, some tips!
1. Know when to start. If your child is eight or under when you finish Foundations, you may not want to start Essentials right away. It is designed for older students - ages 8 to adult - and the lessons feel much more "grown up" than Foundations lessons do. They also get into much more advanced spelling and grammar concepts than Foundations does. If focusing more on reading for awhile and continuing to practice the phonograms and a few spelling words through occasional games feels like a better fit, consider doing that first and beginning Essentials when your child is ready for a more advanced spelling mastery focus. If you think your young student is ready for Essentials now, go for it, but be sure to set a reasonable pace and play the games frequently to provide sufficient review and keep things active and fun. (See Tip 5.)
2. Use the Placement Test. Essentials has three levels of spelling lists and application to choose from in each lesson in order to provide the appropriate level of difficulty for each student. These are not based on grade, but on ensuring that students are able to practice the phonograms and rules most effectively by using them to spell words they do not already have mastered, and this varies by child. While many children coming from Foundations find Level B the right fit, others use Level A or C. The Placement Test is there to help you find the right fit.
3. Know what to focus on. In Essentials, you'll learn the remaining Spelling Rules and review the phonograms and rules taught in Foundations. Even though there will be some familiar concepts in each lesson at first, you'll shift the focus to thinking critically about the spelling of our words and building spelling mastery. Essentials will also introduce new parts of speech and dozens of new grammar concepts, and it teaches new prefixes, suffixes, and roots in the vocabulary lessons, including over a hundred Greek and Latin roots introduced in Level C. While in Foundations your focus is on developing familiarity with the phonograms and rules, getting comfortable with how they work in words, and developing fluency in reading, in Essentials you'll take the application of these tools to a whole new level.
4. Understand the 5 Parts. Each Essentials unit is divided into five parts, each of which is designed to be taught in a day or two (or whatever works for you).
Part 1 includes Exploring Sounds, Phonograms, and Spelling Rules sections. For students who have already completed Foundations, there will be concepts in Part 1 that are familiar that you will be able to move through quickly (at least in the first half of the curriculum). There will be other concepts that are new (in the early lessons, but especially in the second half).
Parts 2-4 will include almost all new content for Foundations students. This is where students take the phonograms and rules they have been learning and begin working on more sophisticated and analytical spelling work (Part 2), grammar and composition (Part 3), and vocabulary (Part 4), as well as building spelling mastery with the words they have analyzed by using them in games, dictation, and the vocabulary and grammar lessons.
Part 5 is a check for understanding and review.
5. Set a reasonable pace, and play the games often. Essentials was designed for ages 8 to adult and is particularly focused on meeting the needs of older students who may struggle with reading or spelling but do not want a babyish curriculum, so it has a very different feel than Foundations. However, the lessons can still be quite fun as long as the teacher pays attention to the attention span and energy level of the student, keeps instruction an appropriate length, and provides lots of activity and engaging practice by playing the games.
I can't tell you how many times someone has told us that Essentials is less fun than Foundations and then, when asked how many of the games they were playing, said that they were skipping them because they didn't seem important. With young children, we recommend choosing an amount of time that works well, setting a timer, and stopping when it goes off. The next day, begin with a game, and a review of the new concepts you were working on if needed. Then begin where you left off.
There are several games in each unit, as well as in the Pre-Lessons. You can find a list of all the games found in each Essentials Teacher's Guide in the index in the back. Hundreds of additional games and practice ideas can be found in the Logic of English Game Book.
6. If needed, skip the grammar the first time through. Essentials teaches a lot of grammar, and it may be too abstract for some young students or too much extra material to think about for those who are still developing basic reading and spelling skills. See the Creating Your Schedule section of the Essentials 1-7 Teacher's Guide for more guidance.