Friday, August 19, 2011


We've been living our homeschooling plans for a few weeks, lightly at first and then in the full schedule, and we've made a few adjustments to the original plans. As I explained in that original post I don't feel locked into our lesson plans, but I do need a plan for the quarter to provide a bit of structure for our family.

First up: Successes so far...

Math. We are using Singapore 1 and we both love the set up. It is visually uncluttered, the amount of problems per page are perfect for Ender, and it has great pacing and learning through hands on work before doing the workbook pages has been key for us. One of the big questions I had about choosing a math curriculum was about whether or not we would actually need the teacher's manual- after all, how hard is first grade math?

I have to say- DEFINITELY invest in the teacher's manual. Not because the concepts are difficult, but because it includes so many different ways to incorporate math games into your lessons. There have been just a handful of lessons that we've needed a little more written work and I've improvised some problems on the white board for him to do, but otherwise I'm very happy with this curriculum so far.

Handwriting. LOVE LOVE LOVE Handwriting Without Tears. This is the first time ever Ender hasn't complained about having to write! I required very little writing of him last year and he always disliked it. He is using the Kindergarten book right now and if he keeps up his self-established pace he might make it all the way through the first grade book also this year!

Phonics. We've continued with phonics work in the Victory Drill Book, but Ender's fluency in reading has really taken off in the last 6 weeks so I'm backing off on the phonics for a bit. We'll still use this book for practice if I come across a problem in his reading, but right now he's reading out loud to me for 5-10 minutes every morning and 5-10 minutes for his dad in the evening and doing really well.

Science. This plan has been so delightful that it's been the inspiration for the changes I made to our history program. We've been working with our first quarter theme of ponds and creeks, reading, going outside, narrating about animals and facts that we're learning and it's just been so much fun. I do think we're going to revisit this theme again for a week in the winter and then another few weeks in the spring and summer to really understand the lifecycle and changes.

Ender has been reading from the Christian Liberty Nature Reader 1 for some of his independent reading and we've been using the K reader for narration material.

Fine Arts. Violin practice, art (some structured and some free) and composer study is going well. I so haven't gotten the artist study thing together yet. We may ditch it for this year, but we'll see if I can get that going next quarter.

Now the changes...

Language Arts. I'm refocusing our plans to literature. We were planning some literature yes, but as I thought more about what I wanted our first grade to look like, the more I felt like our plans just weren't as literature-rich as I was looking for. Instead of having "lessons from literature" I wanted to actually read the literature. So we've put the formal grammar learning off a year and instead I've inserted a unit on Fairy Tales, another on Tall Tales and another on Fables. We're also reading longer chapter books aloud together, but I feel like this approach is going to be much more what we're looking for this year.

I was kind of on the fence about including these this year anyway, but because of the above changes I did decide to forgo First Language Lessons and Writing With Ease this year. I like the curriculum and I think we could work through it slowly this year, but after working some with the material I think he'll retain it better next year and we won't have to go so slowly. Instead I'm pulling the beginning principles from WWE and having Ender narrate once a week to me after one of our read-alouds. I write down the narration for him and he illustrates. Mid-year we will likely move to using his one sentence narration as copywork.

History. As I wrote above, our science plans have been such a great match to our family's style of learning that I decided to pick a history topic for each quarter and then to read widely on that topic. After much debate back and forth (between me and my husband) and then finally a post from Jen that was perfectly timed for our discussion, we decided to hold off on the chronological progression a la Well-Trained Mind approach to history until 5th grade.

Right now we're focusing on people and places in history and specifically in areas where Ender is interested. So, yes we've been learning about Egypt this quarter (mainly pyramids) at Ender's request, but we're also going to spend time with a few of the American founders next quarter and on to a tour through the 50 states before taking a quarter to work back through the continents and make sure we remember the main points that we learned last year in addition to some new ones.

I'm keeping the geography section of our social studies in tact, because both Ender and I have been very excited to do that work and read from that book list.

I will likely share booklists as we complete "units" so that I can include only sources that we found useful.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you are having a wonderful year. I have been homeschooling for 12 years and still change things up every year depending on the child. Have fun! xx


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