I have three kids under the age of 10 in my homeschool. Can I say reading is a beast? I was listening to each of them read to me for 15 minutes a day. Three different books. Getting nowhere. I didn't have time to follow up on their reading, incorporate activities to enhance it, or listen for longer. If I was going to survive the year, I needed to adjust my approach. I wanted to find an integrated language arts curriculum to streamline our efforts.

Over the past eight years of my homeschooling journey, I've learned that integrating subjects tends to draw out deeper understanding in each of them than if they were studied alone. With my three elementary aged kids at home, I thought this might be a way to simplify their reading studies while integrating other subjects effectively. This is a challenging task to come up with on your own!

I love how God's timing is perfect. A new curriculum was presented to me that specifically offers integrated language arts. I decided to try out a couple of the Pathways Reading and Language Arts units by Kendall Hunt RPD and I'm so thankful that I did. My readers are loving learning and I am too!

I received materials for free and was compensated for my time in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. See my full disclosure policy for more details. 

What is Pathways Reading and Language Arts?

Pathways Reading and Language Arts is an all inclusive elementary reading program with integrated language arts. By giving students a variety of routes to become readers, writers, and learners, they incorporate award-winning trade books that children are excited about reading to equip them with the skills that they need.

The underlying premise of the curriculum is that students should not only learn how to read, but also acquire the desire to read, write, and learn. Isn't this what every parent wants? Pathways provides all students with the opportunity to become passionate learners, readers, and writers and the curriculum includes components and activities that address ten key principles:

  • Reading Instruction that fosters inquiry and a deeper student involvement in learning
  • Spiritual Growth that helps students make good choices in life as well as in reading content
  • Reading Motivation that helps students develop a lifelong passion for reading
  • Writing and Expression that grows from reading and learning and helps create meaning for students
  • Selective Topics that support and encourage writing practice for different purposes and audiences
  • Reading Comprehension that grows from systematic instruction and learning strategies that students apply to literature and content subjects
  • 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 not only provides teachers and parents with information and tools about student development, but helps students assess their own growth
  • Classroom Management that includes whole-class, small group, and individual student activities.

But is it really effective?

Let me just start off by giving you a bit of an insight into the crowd that I was going to test the curriculum on.

  • Reader #1 - Boy child - 5th grade. While he's a strong reader, he doesn't believe he is. Every time he begins to read aloud, his throat tightens up and his nerves take over. Reading is a terrifying sport.
  • Reader #2 - Girlie (pictured above) - 5th grade. In an attempt to avoid reading, she likes to distract me with her cuteness. She has struggled with reading for her whole academic career. She's embarrassed to read aloud because she always feels that she's behind.
  • Reader #3 - Girl child - 3rd grade. This girl was made for SPEED. She may not have any idea what she just read, but she can burn through a book in no time flat. This makes the older two think they're doing something wrong.

Tough crowd right? At first I was just going to use the materials with my middle girlie. She needed the most help. However, after looking through the program, I was inspired by the "reading partners" suggested for classroom use to do the same at home.

We each had our own copy of the book and took turns reading a paragraph aloud to one another. Something amazing happened. They all enjoyed reading time, and I saw them showing compassion on one another as each offered encouragement or support to the other. Reading together is now the highlight of our afternoon. Let me share some specifics ways that I think contribute to the effectiveness of the arrangement of Pathways Reading and Language Arts.

Builds a Daily Routine

Let me be honest—I did not use everything provided in this curriculum. I believe that's okay. Curriculum is a tool for the teacher not a slave driver. While they offer a myriad of options, you pick and choose what your students need to find success.

That being said, what I did find to be a huge blessing was ordering the ideas into a daily routine. I've always found that my students work better and longer when they know what is coming next. With a routine, you're sure to not miss any important element.

This is a sample big picture overview of a unit that corresponds with the book Socks, a 5th grade offering.

Since my homeschool schedule did not allocate as much time daily as the curriculum did, we just took a bit longer to complete the study. It was well worth it.

Equips the Teacher

Each daily lesson guide provides teachers with many helpful resources to make implementation of the curriculum successful. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Background Information - including book and chapter synopsis and author information

    This is an excerpt from the teacher's guide for Journey to Jo'Burg.

  • Subject Integration Inspiration - an overview of other educational pursuits that tie in to a particular book
  • Classroom Management - provides ideas for multi-grade instruction, help for struggling readers, a suggested timeline for the unit, and a book list for complementary resources.

Here is a sample of some of the books that are woven in to the studies while you read Socks. I love to display books for children to discover on their own. It really helps them take ownership of their education.

  • Spiritual Connections - tying the main idea of the book to a central Biblical principle
  • Whole-Book Activities - ways you can incorporate your reading into unit long projects that tie in to the story
  • Word Study - integrating diagramming sentences, learning vocabulary words, and incorporating those ideas into your writing utilizing The Writer's Handbook.

Integrated Language Arts

I think by far, the most effective aspect of this curriculum is the way that extension activities are integrated into the studies. While we were reading Socks, one of the extension activities was to write an episode in the life of the cat they were reading about. My middle girlie (struggling reader) took this idea and ran with it! She was so inspired that she ended up illustrating her story and creating her own illustrated book.

Think With Art

When you encounter inspiration like this, you can't get your kids to stop working on something. She put in extra time and energy into a subject that is difficult for her because she found a path that made her passionate about the learning.

She is currently writing a second book about a monkey. It's going to be a chapter book. {Insert squeal and mom happy dance here!!}

In Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story, the main characters go on a long walk. One of the integration activities involves participating in a Walk-a-Thon. When students are encouraged to engage with the reading in tangible ways, stories come to life.

Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with how the Pathways Reading and Language Arts have taken our reading, writing, and learning skills to the next level. It is so nice to have field tested activities that have been thoroughly thought through at my fingertips ready to implement.

I can't wait to see how the passion for learning continues to grow and develop as we continue to read together.

Connect with Kendall Hunt RPD on social media to receive encouragement and inspiration throughout the year:

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