Essentials is organized differently than many other curriculums to allow for adaptability and flexibility based on the needs of students. Therefore, pacing in Essentials will vary among teachers and students. The most important aspect when considering how to schedule Essentials lessons is remembering that each concept systematically builds upon previously learned material.
Structure of Essentials Units
Each unit of Essentials is broken into five different parts.
- Part 1: Essential Concepts: Phonograms, Exploring Sounds, Spelling Rules
- Part 2: Building Words: Spelling Journal, Spelling Analysis
- Part 3: Words in Context: Grammar
- Part 4: Words in Action: Vocabulary
- Part 5: Check Your Understanding: Review, Assessment, Dictation
The core concepts are covered in Parts 1 and 2 of each Essentials Unit. The words studied during spelling analysis will be directly applied during the grammar and vocabulary lessons in Parts 3 and 4. Last, students will have a chance to review the concepts previously taught and use dictation for assessment during Part 5 of the Essentials Units.
Completing an Essentials Level within a Year
If you would like to progress through Essentials at a brisk pace, you will likely spend more time on each part of Essentials, five days per week.
- One part: 45-60 minutes per day
- Complete one unit per week
- Finish one level and all 30 Units in about a year
- Best for students who do not need to complete the Pre Lessons or use the Essentials Reader
Completing an Essentials Level Across Two Years
This tends to be a more common approach, especially if you have a younger student or are new to phonograms and spelling rules.
- Divide each part of Essentials over two days: 30-40 minute lessons per day
- Complete the Pre-Lessons and Units 1-7 over the course of about 16 weeks
- Allows for more practice, review, and games
- Finish one level and all 30 Units over the course of two years
eLearning and Essentials
The scheduling needs for the Essentials Student Course will be similar to the pacing of lessons taught by a teacher or parent using the physical materials. However, since the lessons are taught for you using a video format in the Essentials Student Course, the lessons may progress more quickly, as the instructor will not have to learn the content as they teach the lessons.
Tips for Creating Your Schedule
- Use the Essentials Placement Test to place your student into the correct Essentials Level and determine if the Pre-Lessons should be completed before beginning Unit One.
- Spelling Analysis is an effective way to study words; however, it may be a tool that is new. Consider using our online Spelling Analysis resources to help.
- Learn more about how Essentials works by reading the Introduction provided at the beginning of the Essentials Teacher’s Guide.
- If you are splitting Essentials parts into smaller lessons, use a timer to schedule instruction. Set a time to begin and end Essentials lessons.
- There is a lot of review and practice built into the lessons for students who need more time to develop mastery, but if a child understands the concepts, it is okay to move more quickly and skip these sections.
- If you have chosen to add Rhythm of Handwriting or The Essentials Reader to instruction, plan to spend more time each day on lessons or spread out Essentials over more time throughout the year.
- Pay close attention to whether the students are mastering the material and may need to move at a faster pace, or whether they are getting overwhelmed and need more time for practice and review before moving on to the next concept.
Please keep in mind that these guidelines are tools, not rules. The best pacing and amount of time per day will vary. Essentials was created to be purposefully flexible so that it could be adapted to the needs of the students. Essentials pacing should be based on whatever works best for the age, attention span, ability level, learning style, and schedule of your students.