Getting Started with French – A Review

In our homeschool, one of my weak areas is foreign language. Despite taking three semesters of Spanish in college, I can barely greet you in Spanish. Let us not even discuss my accent. Needless to say finding resources and curriculum to help my children experience, enjoy, and master a foreign language is important. When I heard that Armfield Academic Press has a foreign language resource, Getting Started with French, I hoped that it would be a helpful tool for my daughter, Mary, a high school junior.

Getting Started with French is a beginning French resource that works well for self-teaching students of any age. Whether it is used by a homeschool student like my daughter or an adult with a desire to learn French, anyone can quickly and easily put this program into practice.

Armfield Academic Press has other foreign language resources: Getting Started with Spanish, Getting Started with Latin,and soon they will have Getting Started with Russian.

How to Use This Book

Before handing Getting Started with French to my daughter, I did a read through on the “How to Use This Book” section at the beginning. This gave me a clear understanding of how the program worked and confirmed that my daughter could use this independently.

The set up is broken down into daily lessons that introduce new words, offer grammatical information, and translation exercises. One of my favorite aspects of this program is the free audio files that you can download. Being able to hear the correct pronunciation by a native French speaker is so helpful! My daughter found that the audio files were clear and easy to understand. She also noted that the pace or speed of the speaker was helpful.

The goal of Getting Started with French is mastery so you are encouraged to work on the lessons daily but to take time to review as needed. Practice speaking with your family in French or translating English text into French are great ways to work on review and repetition.

One way my daughter worked on review and repetition to build mastery was to utilize classic children’s literature. Our library had a few books such as Goodnight Moon and The Three Little Pigs available in French. We checked those out and she practiced translating the words into English. It was a bit more challenging than expected but a fun way to practice what she was learning.

Getting Started with French offers flexibility for your style of learning and setting your own schedule and pace. While the presentation is simple and user friendly, it is an effective approach.

You can preview Getting Started with French to get a feel for how the program is set up.

Mary’s Thoughts

Since Mary works independently I have very little interaction directly with this program but discuss what is being taught with Mary to keep an eye on her progress. Here is what she has to say:

I found Getting Started with French very easy to use. Since it can be used by all ages, I was worried at first that it might be too simple and not challenging or helpful. But that wasn’t a problem at all. It encouraged you to take your time and to not rush. It was very easy to understand the lessons and what was being taught. I found it very helpful in understanding the masculine/female gender usage and the pronunciations guides were very helpful for me. Mary – 16

Overall we are both very pleased with this program. I love the approach used and that Mary can work on it independently. Being able to set her own pace and schedule is a huge plus for Mary. She likes the flexibility that it offers.

As a homeschool family with a wide range of ages, I love that it can easily be used by different ages. I have Getting Started with Spanish on my to buy list. I think it would be a great addition to our Group Learning and be a fun family learning experience. Maybe I can finally get the proper Spanish accent?  Oh, and it is a non-consumable resource which is always a huge plus for our family. Just give everyone a notebook and we are set to learn a foreign language or two!

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}
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ArtAchieve – A Review for Every Artist

When you look around my house, you will naturally see books, books, and more books. You will also find sketch books, drawing pencils, watercolors, and more all throughout the house. One of my daughters hopes to one day illustrate children’s books so I am always on the look out for books, tutorials, and other resources to help her. ArtAchieve has allowed us to use and review their Entire Level 1 online art course and Lydia has been the primary student. I’d love to share her experience with you.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
ArtAchieve has five levels of art instruction available online. They do increase in difficulty and skill as you progress through the levels. We chose to go with Level 1 because the lessons were fun, we had all supplies readily available, and I could invite younger ones to join us at times. You can select any of the lessons at any level and learn more details about what that lesson will present to your student. Not only are supplies listed but also the approximate time the lesson will take to complete.

 

Another great aspect to the ArtAchieve lessons is that you can choose to dig deeper into the subject matter. In Level 1, Lesson 3,for example, is The Hungarian Insects. If you wanted to explore the subject a bit more, you are given links to resources that help you learn about the history and geography of Hungary. A list of picture books by Eric Carle on insects is suggested and a great way to showcase great art work. Science and writing suggestions are given as well. While we didn’t utilize all these cross-curricula resources, it is nice to have that option.

ArtAchieve has FREE lessons available. The lessons on Simple Lines and Shading are beneficial no matter which level of ArtAchieve you begin with.

How did Lydia use ArtAchieve Level 1?

Initially, I had two of my daughters using Level 1 of ArtAchieve: Lydia, 12 and Hannah, 10. Hannah completed a few lessons if she found the picture interesting but Lydia was my devoted student who I really had in mind for this course. Lydia used this independently and most often worked on her art in the afternoons. She would look over the lessons to see what supplies she needed, find a quiet spot, and create a masterpiece. She usually completes one lesson a week. She has looked over the other levels and is eager to give them all a try.

I really liked using this course. Well, I didn’t really enjoy the lesson on shading but it is an important skill to have. This would work really well for younger children as well because it is easy to understand. What you are doing is explained really well. The warm ups that you do are helpful and good practice. It was fun. Sometimes the videos were a repetitive in the beginning. And I didn’t like the words on the screen being read at the same time. I can read faster and like reading it for myself. Lydia – 12

There were a couple of afternoons that some of my younger ones (8 and 6) wanted to create a masterpiece of their own. They would wait for Lydia to finish and then copy her work. With a bit of guidance and encouragement, I think they could work through Level 1 quite well.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we were quite pleased with ArtAchieve Level 1.  The video instruction gives clear, easy to understand explanations. I loved hearing the instructor comment on how no two creations are going to look the same. This is your art. In a house with all of the children constantly drawing, sketching, and creating, we can easily find ourselves comparing our creations a bit harshly.

I appreciated the Warm Up activities for the lessons. I think they are really helpful for the student to get a feel for the lines, curves, and angles that will be used in the art work for the day. Very simple but very helpful.

Crew Members were able to review Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 of ArtAchieve. So take a moment and see what others are saying about Art Achieve and the various levels of art instruction.

 

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
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Building Essential Skills – A Review

One of my goals in homeschooling is to encourage my children to love learning; not just for a few years but for a lifetime. A key to that love of learning is having strong foundational skills in the basics. Learning is much more enjoyable when you don’t have to struggle to understand what you are reading, right? There are so many ways to teach, reinforce, and review these essential learning skills. One resource we are currently using and reviewing is the Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage.

What is the Complete Home Learning Suite?

From Kindergarten to Grade 6, this Learning Suite provides learning activities in six subject areas:

  • Math (K-6)
  • Reading (K-6)
  • Spelling (1-6)
  • Language/Grammar (3-6)
  • Geography (3-5)
  • Science (K-3)

In each subject area of learning there are a wide variety of learning activities depending on the grade level of your student.

Why the Complete Home Learning Suite Works for Us

1 – As a mom of nine children ranging from high school down to toddler, time is a precious commodity. Keeping track of where everyone is and how they are doing in various subjects and learning areas can be challenging at times. ESA has made tracking my students progress so simple and easy. I can very quickly pull up the reports for my various students and see what they have been working on and how they are doing. A quick glance at the overview report usually is all I need but I can get a more detailed look if needed.

2 – Flexibility is a must and the Learning Suite gives that ability to us. My child may need Grade 2 Math but can read at a Grade 4 level. Not a problem. Your child is not locked into one learning level or grade but can flow from grade to grade depending on the subject and skill level of your child. This also works well if you notice your child needs to bump down a grade for a bit of review of math facts or a bit of phonics review.

3 – Students can work at their own pace without pressure. The learning activities are not timed with Essential Skills. If working on math facts is going a bit slow one day, it is not a timed activity so the student does not have to rush to finish. If a passage needs to be re-read more than once, the student can take all the time they need.

4 – There are no on-screen distractions. This is a huge plus for me as a mom. I strongly dislike online resources that have a “song and dance” mentality to motivate children to complete the tasks. I have no desire to monitor gold coins, games, and other “motivators”. There are no ads or links that could lead my children away from the ESA site and onto other areas of the internet.

5 – You can reap the benefits of this resource with just a little time each day. I am a firm believer that young children need to be outside playing in dirt instead of glued to a screen. About four days a week, the three children who are using ESA rotate using my computer to complete their learning time. The times can range anywhere from 10 minutes to 20+minutes depending on the child, the day, and the activity they are working on. In as little as 10 minutes a day, much can be accomplished. The program naturally moves the child from one activity to the next.

My Children’s Thoughts

During the past several weeks, I have had three children actively using ESA’s program: Hannah (10), Sarah (8), and Samuel (6).  Here is what they have to say about the Learning Suite.

“It is fun and I enjoy doing it. My favorite part is grammar.  I really like grammar and comprehension.” Hannah – 10

Hannah is solid on her reading and math skills so for her Essential Skills was just a fun extra. She has spent most of her time with grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension. She dabbled a bit with map skills and had a good challenge there!

“I like reading. It helps me learn more words so that I can understand better. The word searches are my favorite.” Sarah – 8

While Sarah can read well, she is not confident in her reading. So the reading activities have been a great boost for her in that regard. She also is required to spend about 10 minutes working with math as well. It might not be her favorite but she will survive.

“I like it. I wish I could do Hannah’s math. I’ll say one more thing. Reading is hard.” Sam – 6

Like Sarah, Sam has mostly focused on reading and math. While he may say reading is hard, he is doing really well. Since he is finishing up Kindergarten, he alternates days between math and reading instead of doing both in the same day.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we have enjoyed using The Complete Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage. It works well as a supplement to our learning and helps build confidence and mastery of skills in a short amount of time each day. Customer service is excellent and they are quick to respond to any questions or issues you may have.

No matter the method that you use in your homeschool, the Learning Suite can be a fun way to reinforce skills. If your children attend public/private school, the Learning Suite can be a quick, easy way to keep their skills sharp over the summer break.

Essential Skills Advantage Review
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