One perk of homeschooling is the flexibility to adjust and adapt our curriculum choices to best meet the needs of our children. We’ve enjoyed this freedom many times, but most recently as we transitioned from a relaxed language arts program to a comprehensive faith-based language arts curriculum.
(I received this product for free and have been compensated for my time, but was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. See disclosure for more information.)
As a general rule, I like the principles and thought process behind a relaxed, Charlotte Mason-like approach to language arts. That said, I noticed that my sixth grade son needed more help than that approach provides for his age. He was excelling in several areas of language arts, but missing how these components work together in reading and writing.
That’s why I welcomed the chance to transition away from the relaxed approach and try something different. I’ve had great success using Kindergarten Stepping Stones with my daughter and jumped at the chance to use another Kendall Hunt RPD program with my son. That’s how Pathways Reading and Language Arts entered our homeschool.
Pathways from Kendall Hunt RPD:
a Faith-Based Language Arts Curriculum
There are times when faith-based curriculum options get a bad rap. It’s almost as if there’s an insinuation that a Christian curriculum can’t possibly be a quality curriculum choice.
It’s often assumed that a curriculum that emphasizes biblical application and character development will be lacking in other ways. I’ve been reminded of why that’s simply not true while working through this faith-based language arts curriculum.
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In our short time using Pathways Reading and Language Arts in our homeschool, I’m reminded of why I love using Christian curriculum options with my kids.
Pathways allows us to naturally weave our faith into what we’re learning. It prompts us to analyze and discuss our reading selections through the lens of our Christian worldview.
The program challenges students to dig deeper and identify areas in their lives that need improvement. Most of all, it reminds students to see others as God sees them.
Pathways Reading and
Language Arts Overview
The faith-based layer in Pathways Reading and Language Arts is important to me, but the language arts instruction is equally important.
If I had to summarize Pathways with one word, it would be comprehensive. After spending years following a more relaxed approach to language arts, the thoroughness found in Pathways is a welcome change for my sixth grader.
The program is based upon the belief that students should not only learn how to read, but also acquire the desire to read, write, and learn. That’s accomplished through components and activities built around these key principles:
- Reading instruction to foster inquiry and a deeper student involvement in learning
- Reading comprehension that grows from systematic instruction and learning strategies that students apply to literature and content subjects
- Reading motivation to help students develop a lifelong passion for reading
- Selective Topics that support and encourage writing practice for different purposes and audiences
- Writing and expression that grows from reading and learning and helps create meaning for students
- Phonics skills that are developed through a sequential program of phonics that includes systematic, daily practice
- Spelling instruction that is systematic, coordinated with phonics instruction, and addresses the specific developmental level of each student
- Assessment that provides teachers with information and tools about student development, but helps students assess their own growth
- Spiritual growth and biblical application to help students make good choices
Like many other homeschool families, we thrive when books are the driving force behind our learning. We’ve found that to be true yet again through Pathways.
Each of the nine Pathways units highlights a theme book and uses that title to teach language arts in a cross-curricular format. This cross-curricular format easily integrates science, history, geography, social issues, and current events into themes.
We received Amos Fortune: Free Man with the Heroes unit and David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer with the My World and Others unit from Pathways Grade 6.
In the Heroes units, kids encounter characters — real people — through living books. The book selections bring these heroes and their challenges to life while pointing students to God’s power and love at work.
We certainly saw this to be true as we read Amos Fortune: Free Man. This historical fiction title shares the story of Amos Fortune as he started his life as an African prince, was forced into slavery, earned freedom, and freed others.
It does a man no good to be free until he learns how to live.”
– Elizabeth Yates, Amos Fortune: Free Man
While the Heroes unit focuses on literature development, the My World and Others unit emphasizes geography. As a part of the Christian Heroes Then and Now series, David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer lets students experience the struggles and adventures of missionary life in Africa during the 1800s.
Both of these selections have captivated and inspired my sixth grader. To say they’ve been a welcome addition to our bookshelves would be an understatement.
Daily Lesson Guides
The book selections for this faith-based language arts curriculum are wonderful, but the Daily Lesson Guides are what sets Pathways Reading and Language Arts apart from other curriculum options.
These guides start with book summaries and background information on the authors, but then move into overviews of each theme, and instructions for each section.
While this curriculum is also used in Christian schools, it’s homeschool-friendly due to the variety of extension activities and teaching suggestions included. Even better, Pathways provides suggestions for multigrade instruction — that’s a huge perk for homeschoolers!
Additional lesson planning support and preparation resources are available on the Pathways website. These are especially helpful because they provide alternate scheduling suggestions and information to help make the most of the Pathways curriculum.
We didn’t follow the session instructions in the Daily Lesson Guide too well because my kiddo got caught up in the books and read them outside of our “school” time.
Because of that, I found myself adapting these sessions quite a bit. I found that omitting the prereading and sometimes the reading portions allowed us to stay on track. That also freed up time for wonderful discussions about the books and Blackline worksheets included in each lesson guide.
My favorite faith-based part of Pathways involves the Blackline assignments. They are great for helping students see the biblical application in the reading selections and in their lives. For example, one of the Blackline worksheets in the Amos Fortune unit prompts students to read the Beatitudes and answer these questions:
- Which Beatitude are you most comfortable with? Which one do you think you reflect most in your life?
- Which Beatitude makes you feel the most uncomfortable? Which one do you feel called on to develop more in your life?
- What does the Bible tell us about how we should treat those less fortunate than ourselves?
In addition to these faith-based student Blackline pages, the lesson guides provide handwriting practice, grammar exercises, reading comprehension, and word study activities.
Pathways Writer’s Handbook
I mentioned that we’ve primarily followed a relaxed approach to language arts for the last several years. While I still see great value in relying on copywork and dictation, I can also see where that has left my son lacking in some areas. One of those is writing.
Not surprisingly, my son is happy to have the Pathways Writer’s Handbook by his side. These handbooks are student resources that contain tips and tools about the writing process and grammatical usage.
We’ve covered much of this on our own, but that Charlotte Masonish approach doesn’t necessarily build on the mechanics of writing or grammatical concepts at his sixth grade level. The example of good writing is there, but it can be difficult to remember details on grammar basics and composition.
Needless to say, my son is devouring the Grade 5+ Writer’s Handbook. The best part is that he’s not only using it for language arts assignments, but also for his personal creative writing projects.
He’s grateful to have the help with grammar, paragraph structure, spelling rules, abbreviations, and guidelines for writing on a computer.
Pathways Reading and Language Arts
Bottom Line: We are happy to include Pathways Reading and Language Arts in our homeschool days. The emphasis on spiritual growth and academic excellence in language arts has been a welcome change for my son.
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