Sometimes a review turns up a program that solves a problem you didn’t know you had. When I took the opportunity to review the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum by Home School Navigator and their novel studies with interactive notebooks, I was mostly interested in the interactive notebooks as a way to expand our current novel studies. However, I found that my daughter was really thriving with the program and plan to continue to use it next year.
Home School Navigator is an elementary English Language Arts program that incorporates the various components of English Language Arts including read alouds, literature, writing/grammar, word study/vocabulary, and independent reading. They also incorporate computer skills into some of the lessons. Both my 4th grade daughter and 6th grade son used this product. It is designed with the highest level at 5th grade but I felt that the interactive notebooks would be a good fit for him.
When you log-in to home school navigator you choose which level your child will complete. You have one month in which to try out the various levels before you are locked into a single level. Once you choose a level to start you go into month one, week one, day one. At that page there are introductory videos for both the parent and student explaining the program. For my students I printed out the daily overview sheets and marked through anything that I did not require them to complete. Then gave them the five daily sheets so that they could use them to guide their work throughout the week.
I loved that Home School Navigator linked to videos of each read aloud book! This really helps limit the add on cost of ‘one more book’. It also allowed my children to complete this program much more independently. The one thing I would have changed about this part is that the videos were on YouTube. The videos were fine but we are always careful with YouTube because you never know what commercials will come up or what videos will play next.
For my son I had him do a few of the other activities each day but mostly he did the interactive notebook and independent reading of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I chose this book because it tied in well with our history program for the month and I thought it would be a great way to make those connections. The interactive notebook included bubble maps, vocabulary words, comprehension questions, and other literary components designed to be completed in a lapbook style. I thought it was very thorough without being overly repetitious. My son enjoyed the book and did well with the questions, though he did say that he would prefer to just answer the questions and not cut out all of the pieces and make the notebook. If he were younger and going to continue with the program, I would simply have him write the answers in his notebook. My daughter however, was disappointed that she did not get to complete an interactive notebook and is excited to have them as part of her work next year.
My daughter started in the first month of the 4th grade program even though she is almost finished with 4th grade because I wanted to get a good idea of how the program worked from the beginning. She completed most of the activities for each week except that I did not always make her complete the writing and computer skills portions. I had to help her with navigation on the first day and then (aside from overriding the parental controls that we use on the computer to allow YouTube) she was able to complete the lessons independently. The days varied to some extent but most days took her about 30–45 minutes to complete the online and written work. In addition, she was assigned 30 minutes of independent reading most days.
She enjoyed the weekly vocabulary work. For her level she was working on prefixes. Her one complaint was that the books were not longer, but I think that the addition of the novel studies and interactive notebooks which come in the following month will solve that issue. There are also poetry extension activities included in some of the lessons. We did not complete those during this review but are excited to do them as a part of our continued use of the program.
I think this program does a good job of offering a comprehensive language arts program that can be tailored to the needs of your family, or individual learner. If you are just looking for a reading program you can only use the reading components or you can mix and match components to suit your needs. This can even be decided on a daily or weekly basis, for example you may decide to skip writing on a particularly busy week or a week when your child is writing for another subject. It is laid out in such a way as to make it easy for an older elementary child to complete independently. Another benefit is the ability to use the record keeping component, especially for those families in states where such records are mandatory.
If you have an elementary aged child, I encourage you to take a look at the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum Home School Navigator. Their interactive notebooks are an included part of the comprehensive program and can also be purchased individually in their store. I am looking forward to using this program next year with my daughter as she completes the 5th grade level program.
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