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Our Good And The Beautiful Language Arts Experience: A Crazy Honest Review

The Good And The Beautiful Language Arts Review Pin

I have so badly been wanting to write this Good And The Beautiful language arts review…but I have also been putting it off.

You see, this curriculum is massive in the homeschooling community, and there are very strong opinions on either side about it.

The more I have used it, the stronger my opinion has become, and I am understanding why this curriculum is such an emotional lightning rod for people.

I am over halfway through the book with my youngest child, and I feel ready to lay it out there.

I’m aware it won’t be popular, but it so needs to be said.

This is what you will find in this over-the-top honest review:

  • Quick Overview Of The Good and the Beautiful
  • Why We Switched To TGATB
  • 5 Things We Love About It
  • 5 Things We Don’t Love About It 
  • What My Daughter Thinks Of TGATB 
  • My Final Thoughts

Real Quick Overview of The Good And The Beautiful Company

The Good And The Beautiful Course Book and Reader

The Good And The Beautiful is an affordable, faith-based curriculum that offers math, language arts, history, science, and handwriting for grade levels K-8. High school levels and pre-k level are not available.

It is known for having high quality artwork, an amazing book list, wholesome literature, and minimal daily prep time.

Unit studies are also a big piece of the identity of this curriculum. Families can purchase just a single science unit to try out TGATB before committing to a bigger purchase.

Public school and private school parents can take advantage of the supplements offered to round out their child’s education.

I personally LOVE that The Good and Beautiful curriculum offers free downloads of their math program and language arts levels. They seem to be very committed to making homeschooling accessible and affordable for everyone.

****Just a heads up that the curriculum is full color, so the free pdf downloads may be more expensive to print than you think. It is a nice way to preview the curriculum though!

The creator and founder, Jenny Phillips, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Good and the Beautiful does contain Christian content that focuses on high moral character, but the content does not fall under a specific Christian denomination.

Phillips’ Mormon faith is not present in the curriculum. As a Christian homeschooling mama, that is important to me.

Why I Switched To The Good And The Beautiful Language Arts Curriculum

The Good And The Beautiful Curriculum image with mini book

My 6-year-old was finishing up kindergarten last year on a high note. She was flying through this reading curriculum, but I could tell that she was getting a little tired of it. 

It does have a repetitive nature to it, so I thought I’d try to find her a new curriculum with a little more *sparkle* to keep things fresh going into first grade.

The Good And The Beautiful was running a wicked sale before rolling out a new edition, so I snatched up their language arts program.

I’ve always heard chatter about how fantastic (and beautiful!) the curriculum is, and I thought it was a great time to check it out.

As most of my readers know, I am a curriculum addict who does not want to recover.

What I Love About The Good And the Beautiful Language Arts

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1. All in One: Reading, Spelling, Grammar, and Writing In One Lesson!

This was a big draw for me. 

I really like that it blends a lot of different subjects that most homeschool families buy separately. The result is a huge savings in time and money.

With a 6th grader, 3rd grader, and 1st grader to teach, I was really drawn to slimming down how many separate subjects I was doing with my youngest.

****I already had a spelling program I was using, so I skipped those portions in the curriculum. You can read more about the spelling portions further down.

2. 120 Lessons And Done

completed check mark symbol

So many curriculums out there have a full 36-week/5-day-a-week schedule, That can be daunting to keep pace with.

I love that there is so much wiggle room with The Good And The Beautiful Language Arts! 

You could easily make it a 4 day/week schedule, leaving room for co-op, errands, appointments, etc. in your week.

3. Rotating Review And Lessons: Not Predictable At All

The lessons are so varied and different that you never know what you’re going to get when you flip open the book!

You will find picture studies, character stories to read for listening comprehension, simple games, independent work, spelling dictation, poetry memorization, and more!

The daily review also rotates so it does not become repetitive or predictable. Every few days your child is asked to go through sight word ladders, flash cards, or a timed reading list. 

And sometimes there is no review at all. 

4. Fun Ways To Get Through Reading Lists

Literacy Activity in Course Book

I really appreciate the cute things that are suggested to help kids have fun with going through a word list.

For example, one page called for the child to place a small snack (we used veggie straws) on each word after it is read correctly.

Another page had the student follow the words on a stone path to get into a “zoo.”

So simple, but so cute!

5. No Teacher’s Manual

Lesson 87 in The Good And The Beautiful Language Arts Course Book

It can be very tedious to keep track of two books and constantly be flipping back and forth between the two to find out what you’re supposed to be doing.

I really like that you can sit side by side with your child and just do what is in the course book. There are directions written in red to the homeschool mom, and the black text is for you to read aloud to the student.

There are also daily checklist boxes right on the page to help you keep track of what you completed in the lesson.

This made the curriculum so open-and-go friendly and approachable to use. 

What We Don’t Love About The Good And The Beautiful Language Arts

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This is sort of a searing list.

It might even be the most honest thing you ever read on the internet.

I’m fully aware it’s not going to win me any friends here, but I’ve got to put it out there, Homeschool Mama. 

1. Insane Expectations For Younger Children

overwhelmed bored homeschool kid

My kindergarten daughter was flying through her reading curriculum before I decided to switch to The Good And The Beautiful Language Arts.

As I said, she was getting bored with the format, so I decided to switch things up for 1st grade. We did the placement test and it turns out that she needed the kindergarten book. 

Because TGATB has kindergarteners doing things like:

  • learning silent e words
  • memorizing reams of sight words
  • learning phonograms like “ee” and “r controlled” words
  • writing full sentences that are dictated to them
  • and doing timed reading lists with a stopwatch 

As we started going through the book, I could not believe that anyone would think it was appropriate for a 5-year-old to work at this level. 

I have taught two other kids to read, so I am aware of grade-level expectations when it comes to reading. Kindergarten is usually about solidifying letter sounds, blending CVC words, understanding consonant blends, and maybe a handful of sight words (depending on your curriculum).

So if you are thinking of using this curriculum, please know it is a very aggressive approach to literacy…which is usually something homeschoolers try to avoid.

As you can imagine, I skipped or ignored a bunch of things in the kindergarten curriculum that I thought were insane – even for my 1st grader.

2. Spelling Program

spelling word image

The spelling program that is woven through the curriculum seems to be largely based on dictation.

That means that the student will learn to read some words, and in the same lesson, they are asked to write out the words on a piece of paper from memory. The curriculum assures you that the child will not be discouraged by you correcting all of their mistakes.

If they were simple CVC words, I would understand that. But many of the spelling words are sight words that can’t be broken down by sound. 

For example, words like “said,” “blue,” “come,” and “read” are included in the spelling lists.

I just don’t understand this methodology because it is hard for students to even write correct vowels at this age.

In fact, many kindergarten and 1st-grade curriculums skip spelling altogether (valuing a focus on reading first over spelling) or they use simple copy work to introduce spelling.

Instead of the TGATB spelling, we decided to use Spelling You See for my 1st grader and we’ve been very happy with the stress-free progress we’ve made so far.

3. Long Lessons

never ending road

Holy moly, the lessons can get looonnnggg.

Some of the lessons are short and sweet, but some have so many pieces to do that it could be over an hour long. Which is criminal for a kindergarten-level reading lesson.

As an example, Lesson 74 called for the student to:

  • Review the /th/ sound and read 8 /th/ words (bath, path, etc.)
  • Read a 5 line poem about a picnic (over 30 words long)
  • Do a 60-second reading word list challenge
  • Write 4 words that are dictated to them
  • Write 2 full sentences that are dictated to them (ex: Come take a bath.)
  • Practice identifiying /sh/ and /ch/ sounds
  • Read 16 full sentences reviewing the /sh/, /ch/, and /th/ sounds

I am mindful of how much my young child can reasonably be expected to sit and focus. I often cut the lessons in half or omit things in order to make them more enjoyable (for her and me).

4. Mini Books And Other Readers Have No Plot

Open Mini Book

It took me a while to figure out why my kid did not enjoy the little books that come with the curriculum.

One day it dawned on me that it was because there is no plot. Like at all.

Each page is about another little kid doing something like singing, playing, or praying. The pages do not go together as a book should. 

It does not tell a story. There is no beginning, middle, or end. 

I still have my daughter read them for practice, but I also add in Primary Phonics readers because they are so fun!

I want my kid to be excited to read, and they really deliver in that area. For example, there is a silly story about a man who can’t get a mole to leave his garden.

Another story tells about a dog who won’t behave on a bus. And another tells about a young circus elephant trying to fit in.

I do not understand why Jenny Phillips didn’t try to write something a little more engaging for kids. Especially when she had so many sight words to work with to build interesting storylines.

5. Multiple New Concepts Taught in One Lesson

confused homeschool girl

Young kids, especially 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds, do best when given one new concept at a time to chew on. 

The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts program seems to embrace that with how they roll in new lessons, but I started to notice that they are sneaky about adding in extra concepts.

For example, the lesson that first introduces “silent e” also includes words such as come, done, have, love, and some. 

It is already very challenging for young children to transition to long vowels, so I can’t understand why they would include these rule breakers in the VERY FIRST lesson. It is confusing and adds an element of doubt as kids try to break down their first silent e words.

We just did a lesson on /-ed/ being added to the end of words. The first lesson included ALL the possibilities for what that /-ed/ could sound like: /d/, /t/, and /ed/. 

I thought that was a lot, and then I saw that the list of practice words included: waved, saved, and shared. 

So then I had to stop and explain that the vowel is long because the “silent e” has been replaced with the -ed. That should be in another grammar lesson (at a different grade level actually).

Other lessons have had my child learning a new list of sight words on the ladder, a new phonogram during the main lesson, and then also learning new “challenge words” in the assigned reader. 

 It’s just too much for little ones to take in one lesson.

What My Daughter Thinks Of The Good and The Beautiful Language Arts

The Good And the Beautiful Langauge Arts Curriculum Spread Across A Table

“Mommy, um, I like it, but I don’t love it. Do you think we could look for something different?”

She went on to say that she thought the curriculum was above her head. She has so many different things to remember between the extensive sight word list (aka memorized letter pictures) and phonics rule breakers. I can tell she feels a bit stressed.

To be fair, her reading has progressed, but I don’t see the confidence and joy that she had with our previous reading curriculum.

I feel that is so much more important to focus on the long-term goal of reading for joy, than the short-term goal of “my kid is reading above grade level.”

The Good And The Beautiful Language Arts Would Be A Good Fit For You If:

  • You love the 4-day/week schedule option
  • Your kid is already a strong reader and/or has a strong language arts background
  • You and your kids love pretty things
  • Your child doesn’t get overwhelmed easily
  • Open and Go works for your teaching style
  • You know how to adapt a lesson to fit your child
  • Charlotte Mason-style things like picture studies and poetry memorization are your jam
  • You want a sight word heavy reading curriculum
  • You want to teach spelling from an early age
  • Your child has no problem sitting through long lessons
  • An all-in-one curriculum speaks to your heart and your budget.

TGATB Language Arts Is Probably Not For You If…

  • You want a strictly phonics reading program (minimal sight words)
  • You want a gentle, confidence-building approach to literacy that teaches one concept at a time
  • You think spelling should be focused on after strong reading skills have been developed.
  • Spelling/writing basics should be introduced with copy work, not dictation.
  • Exciting words are more important than beautiful pictures in a reader
  • You prefer lessons to be on the shorter side

Recap: The Good And The Beautiful Language Arts Review

final thoughts image

If you already use this curriculum and it works for you – awesome!

But if you have used TGATB and it blew up in your face, I just want you to know that it’s not because your child isn’t bright or that your homeschool isn’t good enough.

The curriculum is off the charts aggressive. 

Friends of mine have said that the higher levels of the program are also overwhelming to their children. It is just so much to do every day and kids get discouraged with feeling the weight of the expectations placed on them.

If you are considering The Good And The Beautiful Language Arts, you can’t say that I didn’t warn you before you started. 

I would encourage you to take it slow, utilize the placement tests, keep a close eye on your kid, and follow your intuition. You are the perfect teacher for your child and you will naturally know how to handle whatever comes up.

Have you tried The Good And The Beautiful? Drop a comment below and share your thoughts! 

Read Next:

Learing Language Arts Through Literature Pin

 

20 Comments

  1. SA Llewellyn says:

    I have and currently am teaching several students:

    I have used the Prep for K, and Kinder Lang Arts and enjoyed the ease in learning the alphabet and basic phonic sounds. At age 7, the child skipped forward in reading and we switched to Pathways for phonics review and Bob’s Books kit for reading. Next year we will move to a different curriculum that focuses both on reading, comprehension, and writing composition. For now, we wanted to focus on a great start to reading. We used grade 1 Math TGAB, it is ok. The variety is nice. Both Lang Arts and Math books are printed horribly small for early elementary students, grades 1-3 especially. My young students were distracted by the crowded pages; we had to cover the page sections with a note card or other blank paper to lessen the distractions. The math manipulative are nice, yet the clocks are too small.

    Age 15 student is working through TGAB Science and History. We will continue to use the history set as we purchased the 4 year set, but will change it up to use a different main curriculum and use TGAB history as a secondary addition for specific historical time periods. However, the literature/book portion of TGAB history set is excellent. We have enjoyed reading the literature/books portions together. The science sets we have finished are Motion and Machines; Water and Weather. These unit studies were ok, probably more okay for younger students grade 5 and below. We did purchase the older student journal books. The spread on the journal books was repetitive and was found to be rather boring for my student. The science experiments were set for younger grades and simply not engaging enough for middle school. I found myself having to locate and fill in with higher level experiments.

    Grade 4 TGAB Lang Arts is good in many ways including the literature books referenced. We liked the quick grammar review, and the art/geography included with full color pictures. However, if I was not familiar with grammar and how to teach it, I would find it confusing at best. Many of the grammar lessons are not clearly parent guided, or it is developed in a choppy way. I will not be using TGAB grades 5 and above in Lang Arts, but may purchase the lovely novels.

    The science and history programs have very little review, and I believe that could be problematic regarding the knowledge base needed in higher level science, history, and geography. It is rather difficult to assess what material a middle school age student is retaining without having to develop ones own review/quiz/test bank. I find that a little akin to reinventing the wheel and think it would be a nice addition for one to purchase/download if wanted.

    All-in-all I will not purchase the science and history programs again. However, I will purchase and recommend the excellent readers found throughout these programs. I also highly recommend the Prep Kinder and Kinder Language Arts.

    I have taught many students throughout my teaching career including my own homeschooled from PreK-High School. I personally would not be satisfied with the level of teaching from TGAB beyond grade 2, and find the font size found in the early elementary grades far too small and difficult for most students to navigate without distraction.

    The price is fair.

  2. Really interesting review! I’m not sure when this review was written but I’m coming at this in 2023. I homeschool in Australia, and was recommended TGATB through some overseas mamas. Overwhelmed by Ambleside, this curriculum to start out my kids was a lifesaver. Before doing the LA with my 6yo, we did love and complete the 100 easy lessons. Now she’s loving the TGATB LA for Level 1. It’s at that sweet spot of if being 75% too easy, with the odd concept or two that trips her up and keeps her humble haha. She is a confident reader, and so most of the “new” words she’s introduced to, she’s met with in all her other books she’s read/reading. My younger daughter who decided to just join in although she was on 4 going on 5, found the Level K LA book too overwhelming— as expected. We did one lesson at the beginning of school year and closed that book for about 6 months. We read books, did a few lessons from 100 easy which soon became boring and monotonous for her (this was not the experience with my eldest… my eldest loved the structure of 100 easy). I opened level K LA with my younger, and she took to it a lot better.

    All of this to say, in support to this review, don’t be afraid to close the book and just slow down and try again later, especially if you did pay for the curriculum! It might just be overwhelming today? FYI, we are also using TGATB Maths, and both my girls are doing the Level K. My older is speeding through it doing 2-3 lessons a day, while my younger is satiated at 1 lesson a day. It’s all about that feeling of enjoyment, and accomplishment, and a slight challenge to push through like you mentioned with your daughter’s first reading curriculum!

    I wish I had the tenacity, bandwidth, time and resources to continually flip through multiple curriculum… I’m thankful in any case. TGATB seem to work for us for now! But i’m appreciative of this review for urging me to prepare to consider a switch as they get older. Thank you for writing this!

  3. I forgot to mention my daughter is 6 years old. I’m also part of a coop school and we’re trying to pick a LA curriculum that would work well for kids 3-9 but I can’t suggest TGATB after my experience, I was wondering if we can do Jolly phonics for the younger group 3-6 and still figuring out what to do for the 6-9 group. Would love your advice!

    1. Lauren Schmitz says:

      Zee, thanks so much for the kind words about the review! It motivates me so much to hear moms are helped by what I write. As for where to go after 100 lessons, I would look into Primary Phonics (budget option) or Read Bright (premium option). Both are great options that will round out your child’s reading and take them to the place where they can start early chapter books. For LA, I think First Language Lessons from A Well Trained Mind would be wonderful for the co-op setting. Hope that helps!

  4. OMG, this is an amazing review. I honestly thought I was going crazy when my usually kind and sweet daughter would throw tantrums over LA, but now I feel like my every thought on the curriculum which I couldn’t put into words was said in this review. YES, it is super aggressive, My daughter struggles to read and it doesn’t come as naturally to her so of course the dictation spelling, constant mini books and long lessons (not to mention phonic cards PLUS sight word lists) would be overhwhelming. But I spent so much on it I kept wanting to go on…:S
    However I had enough of the frustrations from both she and I so I paused and we are now doing 100 easy reading lessons and that has helped SO much but I can tell she still doesn’t love LA. Do you have a recommendation of what I should do next after she finishes the 100 easy reading lessons and is ready to move to a new curriculum? I wanted to finish TGATB but only because I bought it, now I don’t care, i’m reading to move on!

  5. Hi! Found your article while searching for G&B alternative recommendations. I’ve used it with my sons (now 12 and 9) for 2 years and have experienced similar pros/cons. What have you tried instead? I’ve had better luck tweaking it based on my kids’ needs, but it would be great to find something that may be a better fit. I don’t find they need as much practice as the lessons suggest, so I shorten them and add in other activities in our day. Both of my sons also hate physically writing, so we practice the concepts in other ways too.

    1. Lauren Schmitz says:

      Hi Jenny, If you need an alternative, I would look into Learning Language Arts Through Literature. I also recommend trying typing lessons with your boys. That helped my oldest daughter tremendously. Everything changed when I allowed her to type her writing assignments. Hope that helps!

  6. This is SUCH a helpful post for me as I was *almost* convinced we would start my daughter with TGATB for level K. Wow, I am now convinced otherwise and I think it might be too much for my daughter. We have been working through a TGATB K primer… and some of those lessons even feel kind of heavy for a preschooler, I can see her get overwhelmed sometimes. Can you recommend what curriculum you followed instead? Looking for a gentle, phonics based LA/reading curriculum that is easy for my to manage with 2 preschool and toddlers in the home as well. Thank yoU!

    1. Lauren Schmitz says:

      Hi Michelle, We have really loved Primary Phonics. I have a full review of it here. We are about to start the last book and it has been so perfect, low key, and effective for us. It does not include LA, but at that age, I wouldn’t do LA. Just focus on learning to read, proper handwriting, and reading high-quality literature to her. There is loads of time for LA in the years to come. Hope that helps!

  7. Good review!
    If you are raised Mormon/Lds you can very much see the culture in the teaching style she uses. They lay out a huge plan and expect you to follow everything to exactness. (Read: Filter through it.) And that wouldn’t necessarily be bad thinking, but if it doesn’t fit well for you and your family it’s assumed it’s your problem and not theirs.
    My take…you described the curriculum correctly, as many would feel frustrated not seeing their children progressing well and thinking it’s the child’s fault when it’s not, it’s the program.
    Needless to say, we did not have success with the language arts program. Good luck and blessings to everyone else if it works for them. 🙂

  8. TGTB does have handwriting books for PreK and not sure why a high schooler would need handwriting books as they should already know how to write by then.
    I definitely agree that the older versions of their L.A. curriculum are a little much for younger kids. They’ve listened to parents and have changed those. The newer versions are much more littles friendly.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to drop your thoughts! I meant full lines of curriculum for Pre-k and high schoolers. Some homeschoolers try to use a curriculum (especially math) that they can carry through the teen years, so I try to note that in my reviews. Glad to hear that some changes have been made, and I look forward to reviewing the newer version.

  9. Sarah Price says:

    This was so helpful to read. We actually love TGATB BUT my 6 year old has had a hard time in language arts and now I have some insight as to why. She had done great with their math but would get overwhelmed easily in language arts and I was discouraged that she wasn’t grasping the concepts. I feel much better about it now that I have read your thoughts! We will probably still use it because of how easy it is and that it incorporates so much in one curriculum (my philosophy is keep things simple, let them be little) but I will give her more grace for where she is at and skip things that are too challenging and not feel like we are failing. Thank for for this honest and realistic review!

    1. Love to hear all that, Sarah! Glad the review was helpful! Happy Homeschooling 🙂

    2. I feel exactly the same way! We are on a similar journey with our 6yo boy. I actually carried the k course over to his “grade 1” year as I felt it was too advanced for him. It’s good to hear it’s not just him!

  10. We started with this curriculum this year also, and I also am using the previous version instead of their new release for my younger child. (Level 2) The new releases were specifically changed because of all the things you just mentioned: too much in scope and very advanced. I had read a Cathy Duffey review and she went into a lot of detail about the change and it actually influenced my decision to use the older version. I would recommend reading that to anyone needing more thoughts on this, or most any other program out there. What a help!
    I lightly reviewed the newer version as it has come out. They have changed the phonics approach, I believe, with new cards that are reviewed daily, and their video about it on the website details other points you may find of interest.
    I would agree that I don’t think the spelling approach is as mindful of rule breakers, etc. I’m also unsure if it is going to stick well, as it’s a part of many other concepts shown at once. I believe it is supposed to be in a spiral review format, so I’m thinking they will be on a review again later, but I’m not sure if it’s just in the general context or with a nod to the actual rule.
    Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that their newest version may be quite different, as they are changing all levels to address concerns such as yours.
    We are using the new 5th level as well, and the lessons are longer than I expected on some. I’m also thinking about the sentence diagramming that was just introduced (lesson 7) and realizing that it wasn’t a bigger deal for my son, but only because we have done it in some previous grammar-intense studies. (Junior Analytical Grammar 🧡) If we had not, I’m not sure how it would have gone, as it’s much more than subject and predicate. They tackle subject, predicate, adjectives, adverbs, and articles all at once. Hmmmm….
    I needed an advanced LA program, but your article will definitely help me continue on with a closer eye on the way the concepts are introduced. So far, we are not in new concept territory for most things, but I’m sure it won’t be long, so I appreciate the heads-up.
    We also have Hake (Saxon) Grammar and Writing 5th- that’s pretty great so far. It’s the exact opposite – no pictures, quick lessons, similar format to each lesson, but a wonderful approach and it’s a huge win at this early point. I actually photocopy it so he can highlight the answers to help him focus on the work rather than his intense dislike of physical writing.
    BJU (we did it in 3rd) is a gentle, steadily paced option that flips between grammar and writing. I felt it was thorough but not overwhelming. It worked well for us at that time, especially in their approach to explaining the concepts behind different writing styles or purposes. Just a thought for others. I am a curriculum junky, too, and I can’t help but throw out a few wins. There’s so much out there!
    I love your blog. I’ve been a reader for a few years and it continues to bless me. Thanks for your thoughts!!

    1. Emily, thank you so much for this comment! I love when people share their homeschooling and curriculum wisdom for other readers to find. And always great to connect with another curriculum addict 🙂

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