Monday, May 18, 2009

Planning for First Grade

I probably put as much thought into Samuel's afterschool curriculum as some mom's do for a full homeschool curriculum. I actually think the curriculum at his school is great and if for some reason he couldn't go there anymore, would use a lot of what they use. The only subject where he is at a different level than his class is reading, and I continue to use graded readers for that, alternating between the level one step ahead of his class (for confidence) and two steps ahead (for challenge).

However, I have dreamed of homeschooling my child(ren) since I was in college and accidentily found a book on homeschooling in the library stacks while doing research for a paper on math anxiety in girls for my Educational Psychology class. Now, I have one child and so far full-time homeschooling remains a dream.

While I sweat and plan and revise my curriculum, I never stay married to it, knowing that the essentials (and some of the non-essentials) are "covered" by the school. Still, a big part of my parenting philosophy is that the parents should be the main educators and influencers in their children's lives for as long as possible.

Therefore, I have already spent many hours thinking about the summer and first grade. My Kindergarten curriculum has been based in large part on "Home Learning Year By Year" by Rebecca Rupp (who also has some interesting teen fiction under her belt) with a little Sonlight, Tanglewood, and Charlotte Mason ideas thrown in.

I have two schools of thought for a Core theme, since he is attending a classical school and I want enrichment, not repetiveness.
Number One: Use the Sonlight Cores as my "spine" for history, literature, and reading. I really don't like the clutter of Usborne books though, and my library has most of the books anyway, so I'm thinking about getting the IG (Instructor's Guide) and Reader's Schedule from Sonlight and filling in with other books along the same lines when necessary, probably using Rupp's suggestions, as well as Tanglewood's book lists. I want the IG more for the order to read the books as opposed to a schedule, but also for some questions and activities. I'm calling it "Sonlight Lite".
Number Two: Keep doing what I have been doing for literature, poetry, and reading; that is, use the various booklists I have been using and just read what I can get from the library when I can get it. If he isn't taking to it, move that book down the list and on to the next one on our list, and keep using graded readers from the library. For history, just supplement whatever they are studying in school with books from the library and projects I find online.

For science, I want to continue nature study, but also place an emphasis on Life Science and possibly some Earth Science as well.

For math, I am thinking of ordering the Mathtacular DVD and the Rainbow Rock CD-ROM game from Sonlight, and continuing our living math readings and enrichment activities, including studying some of the great mathematicians in history.

For art and music, I am borrowing from Ambleside Online's idea of picture and composer study, but we will pick these together as opposed to using the ones designated by the site's schedule.

I am wanting to continue working on "Life Skills" as well as encouraging physical activity, but I have no plan for this yet.

So this is my overview and I'd love to see some comments from others who afterschool or who have other insight.


  1. The things you do sound wonderful, but I'm wondering when he has time for free play? I'm not trying to be judgemental, just curious and concerned. Play is just as important (or more so) than academics.

  2. Maybe it does sound like all he does is school! Actually, all of our reading (which is why I use a living book education style) is bedtime reading for 30 - 45 minutes before bed and that's most of "school" for us.

    Everything is extremely unstructured so he doesn't even know I have education in mind. I have just fostered his natural curiosity about things, so it's easy to wonder something aloud and then encourage him to explore that question. I figure school is structure enough. We don't even learn something every day at home. Some days are just fun days, or lazy days, or whatever we need days.

    The curriculum is just there as a guide for ME, so I can always have something on hand.

    Also, remember that he is not in school all day every day. Kindergarten ends on Wednesday, but it was only 2 days a week. First grade will be 3 days a week, but it is a long 3 months away.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. I see now. :) Thanks for answering my comment; I know it was quite nosey. :) He's a lucky boy.

  4. I strongly recommend MathTacular... but I'm highly biased [smile].

    I certainly wouldn't want you to get books that just clutter up your life, but having them on hand can be very nice. I know I would often flip through the Usborne books we had around the house when I was growing up.