Friday, June 15, 2012

Pearson Homeschooling - Reading Street


Are you looking for a reading curriculum for your children for next year?  I will be reviewing Reading Street, which I received to use with Paige (5th grade).  I will try to provide as much information as possible so you can make a decision as to whether this product will work with your child(ren).

Pearson Homeschool is a branch of Pearson School PreK-12 Education.  The homeschool branch of this company has given a great deal of thought to how their products will work in the realm of homeschooling.  They provide reading programs, math programs, science, and social studies.  They also try to make their products affordable, understanding that the typical homeschooling family does not have a lot of money to spend on curriculum.  I will speak to the Reading Street curriculum which I used and leave the other products to you to view on their site.

The grade 5 Scott Foresman Reading Street bundle includes a student edition package (2 volumes), a teacher resource DVD, "Guide on the Side" instruction book, an ExamView CD for creating tests, and a parent guide.  All of these items are included in the bundle when purchasing from Pearson Homeschool.  The price is $124.99.  There are quite a few items that could be used in conjunction with this reading program that can be found at the Pearson School Reading Street Common Core page, but they are not necessary.

The Scott Foresman Reading Street curriculum is used from 1st grade through 6th grade, each year being slightly different based on the needs of the students in those grades.  After 6th grade, curriculum from Prentice Hall is used.  There is also Reading Street that teaches grammar and spelling.

Paige is probably my most difficult child to teach.  She has her own idea of what she likes and does not like to do when it comes to school.  If she does not like something, she fights me tooth and nail to do even a little bit.  This curriculum was no different.  It did not work for us, although part of the reason could be that it is summer and we are not doing a full course of school right now.  There are, however, a lot of things I do like about it.  Chances are it would work for you much better if you have a child who is a little less head strong.  <sigh>

The parent guide explains the purpose of each component.  It talks about creating lesson plans.  While lesson plans aren't provided, the table of contents provides a breakdown of what is taught for each unit during each week of the unit.  You can use these as a basis for creating your lesson plans.  There is a chart in the "Guide on the Side" that gives you a "pacing schedule."  Of course, as a homeschooler, you know that you adapt to the needs of your child and may not find this pacing schedule useful, but it is there if you would rather have everything planned out for you.  I had a hard time understanding the "Guide on the Side."  It is really geared towards a classroom setting.  The whole Reading Street curriculum is for sale on the Pearson PreK-12 education site.  Pearson Homeschool seems to have just taken this curriculum from the PreK-12 education site.  While the price is significantly reduced from the education page, it doesn't seem to be geared specifically towards homeschoolers.  For me, it is too much like the type of curriculum a public school teacher would use.  There are a lot of activities for 2 or more students or an entire group.  The "Guide on the Side" provides support for grouping and managing small groups, research-based routines, embedded professional development, and so on.

As a homeschool teacher, I am not looking for anything to complicate my teaching.  I have become pretty adept at adapting a bare-bones curriculum to my children's needs or developing my own curriculum.  There are homeschoolers who would rather have the year mapped out.  This curriculum might be a great one for those of you in this group.  I really am not sure the "Guide on the Side" is needed.  Perhaps something else could be written that would be more appropriate for homeschoolers.

The teacher resource DVD has a lot of things on it that are for a group of students, but it also has practice books for each unit.  I do like these.  They are simply worksheets that teach more concepts about grammar and writing and are usually based on the main story in the unit.  There are worksheets located under the Digital Whiteboard Transparencies section of this DVD.  There are student and teacher sheets.  I would print out the student ones.  The teaching methods and stories are current.  There is a story about Bethany Hamilton, the surfer.  There are activities that require looking up web sites.  Of course parental supervision would be necessary in this case.  In the text, there are a lot of activities for reading and giving directions.  One is about folding the flag.  Who ever learns that anymore?  I love that that is included in this book.

This curriculum includes spelling, grammar, writing, reading, comprehension, etc., and includes a lot of activities, especially with the teacher resource DVD.  I would recommend the parent read the stories first that are included in the book and be ready to either skip them or discuss them with your child(ren).  One story talks about a Chinese tale of the origin of the earth.  There are a lot of stories, however, that teach concepts that work very well if teaching from a Christian perspective, things that all people should practice, like gratitude.

I have obviously not been through the entire curriculum with Paige yet, but because of the wealth of information and abundance of learning activities that are included in this curriculum I will continue using it.  Hopefully once we enter into the formal school year with all other subjects being taught she will be more inclined to work through this book.  I will not use the "Guide on the Side."  I find no use in it myself.

I feel like this review will never end.  There are truly many wonderful things about this curriculum even though it isn't geared towards homeschoolers.  It can most definitely be adapted.  There are science topics, historical topics, folktales, beautiful illustrations, life-saving reading like one about survival tips, sports history, cultures around the world, poetry, etc., etc.

With that all being said, I'm not sure I'd spend $124.99 on it.  I don't usually spend that much on any one curriculum.  If you are looking for something, however, that includes all areas of language arts and can be used for other children you may have who are younger, this is definitely something you should look into owning.  The DVDs are invaluable, but, like I said, the "Guide on the Side," for me was pointless.  I just don't spend that much time trying to read something like that.  I like my curriculum to be fairly self-explanatory as to its use.

Read what the rest of the Crew had to say about Pearson Homeschooling at

DISCLAIMER:  I receive this product free of charge in order to provide an unbiased review.