Are you confused by all the choices of curriculum out there for your first grade home school? The first step is knowing what not to do.
I know what you’re thinking. Can I really do this? What do I teach first? Will my child learn everything he/she needs to know? What should I buy for my first grade home school? Maybe I should follow a typical course of study or Scope and Sequence that outlines the courses covered by grade level. (I went so far as to order one from World Book!)
Just because your child has taken that so-called giant step from home schooling kindergarten to first grade, does not mean you must mortgage the house for a curriculum! So often parents panic and purchase things they don’t really need for their K12 homeschool. Or they try something that looks good only to discover it was not so good after all. I know. I’ve been there.
The key is to enjoy your first grader. Know that this precious time you have with him/her is going to go fast, so make memories you will enjoy together. Moving from kindergarten into first grade home school is really no different than moving from preschool to kindergarten. You just pick up from where you left off, continuing your reading and slowly moving into a curriculum when they’re ready. Notice I said they not you.
If you haven’t already, get a hold of The Three R's by Ruth Beechick
. Those little booklets are a wealth of information. And they are designed to take you through the third grade. I pored over and purchased a couple of different curriculums. But Mrs. Beechick's is the best in my humble opinion.
Annette and Garrett would sit for hours and read. Hard to believe my "babies" are now teens! Reading continues to be one of their favorite things to do.
For the most part we followed along with Mrs. Beechick’s suggestions all through grade school. Trust me when I say that this made homeschooling enjoyable, ridding us (me mostly!) of fears that were hindering our homeschool environment.
We would sit for hours and just read.
Using Honey for a Child's Heart
, we found ample reading material from the library. Those trips to the library were always a treat. We have the privilege of living near two libraries, so that made it all the more fun.
Another idea that helps them to learn new words is to have them sing along from a music book or hymnal. I ran across an old music text discarded from our local school. Keep a lookout, you will find one, too!
We also used phonics flash cards a lot. See if you can find The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding
. I did not really use her methods as they were too confusing for my little first grade home school children. But we did find the flashcards helpful. You could make your own from the samples she has in her book. It teaches phonics which is a must in my opinion. Our favorite sentence was, "Her first nurse works early." Notice all the different spellings for “ur”! (*Please Note* Her recent 5th Edition does not include the flashcards, but you can purchase them separately here.)
Again, go at your child’s pace. Utilize the cards when you see them beginning to read on their own. You will be amazed how much they pick up just by following along as you read to them.
Another great tool which utilizes phonics that I recently came across is Children Learning Reading. The system is super simple and extremely effective that can even teach 2 and 3 year old children to read.
Again, we followed the The Three R's
. Mrs. Beechick has a list of Sample Lessons and Bible sentences near the back of her Language Booklet from easy to medium to difficult. Remember this series is written for K-3, so using this in your first grade home school is perfect.
In a nutshell...copy, dictate, compare, repeat.
My children became good spellers just by following these simple steps daily.
Garrett is practicing his writing skills at Ye Olde School House. We made a couple of field trips there when the children were little.
This is the subject I really got hung-up on. We just could not get settled on one curriculum. I felt like we needed to do more. That was my first mistake. I was thinking I knew more than Ruth Beechick! Good heavens! I ordered Miquon, Christian Light and Saxon. What I discovered was that they created too much busy work without understanding a concept. No doubt these work for other families, but they didn't for us. They dragged us down with excessive repetition, making it a chore. We got back to the basics. We pulled out Beechick's “An Easy Start in Arithmetic” for K-3 and had fun. From going shopping to playing Monopoly Junior, your children will learn, too.
Utilize Flash Cards. We used an old box of flash cards that I used when I was kid. Can you believe it? But they worked!
If you really feel your first grade home school child needs to be more structured, give Math-U-See a try. That is the Math curriculum we finally settled into when home schooling middle school.
We did add a few things at this age just to make K12 homeschool a fun atmosphere. One of their favorites was Mark Kistler's Draw Squad
. He teaches students how to draw in 3D using fun lessons. In time, my children made more complex drawings using “Draw Today”. But for now, keep it simple.
Building Thinking Skills: Primary
helped them to develop their analytical skills that improved their academic performance later. Yes, it really worked! Each book in the series has a variety of activities.
Our favorite science
books were (and still are!) Usborne and DK. The illustrations they use to teach simple concepts even aroused my curiosity. You cannot go wrong with these books.
Do you still feel the need to go out and order a Scope and Sequence for your first grade home school? I hope not. You see, they will learn. Their little minds soak up more than we think.
Try the simple tools outlined above and your fears will subside.