Education Uncategorized

First Grade Homeschool Curriculum

It is that time of year when homeschooling families are starting to think about their subjects and curriculum for next year. I have been knee-deep in curriculum research for a few months and I have finally taken the plunge and ordered all of my curricula.

This year we homeschooled part-time because M was in a local forest school program here. We focused on reading, math, and handwriting. We also recently joined a piano class which we’ve added to our homeschool subjects. Moving forward to next year we will also be adding history, science, literature, and grammar.

A big part of my homeschool research came from the book A Well-Trained Mind a Guide to Classical Education at Home. This book is my homeschool bible! It is full of amazing resources and practical advice. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in a more classical approach to your homeschool. Disclaimer: This book does have sections dedicated to religion if you are planning to be a secular homeschool family, like us, just skip over that part if you want.

Susan Wise Bauer has many recommendations in the book and I am planning on implementing quite a few of them. For first grade these are the subjects and times for those subjects she recommends:

  • Reading: Skills 15-20 minutes a day 3x/week
  • Reading: Literature 20-30 minutes a day 3x/week
  • Grammer: 10-15 minutes a day 3-4x/week
  • Writing: Penmanship 5-10 minutes a day 2-3x/week
  • Math: 30-40 minutes a day 4-5x/week
  • History and Geography: 60-90 minutes a day 2-3x/week
  • Science: 60-90 minutes a day 2-3x/week
  • Foreign Language: 30-45 minutes a day 4-5x/week
  • Art & Music: 30 minutes a day 2-3x/week

I will say that Bauer says history, science, foreign language, art, and music are not “core” subjects and if you don’t get to them in the first grade it is definitely ok. She says you want to focus mostly on the core subjects: reading, writing, grammar, and math.

“The first grader is learning all sorts of foundational skills from scratch: reading, writing, putting sentences together, keeping track of the dates, telling time, adding, subtracting, and so forth. If the child misses some ancient history [or science, foreign language, art & music] he’ll pick it up in fifth grade, ninth grade, or independent reading. If he doesn’t learn to read, write, and understand basic mathematical operations, he’ll be hampered for years. So in the early grades give priority to reading, grammar, spelling, writing, and math.”

With all this in mind, I am going to share the curriculum choices we’ve made for our first-grade year.

Reading: Skill: We are using the All About Reading Level 1. We did The Good and the Beautiful (religious) Kindergarten Prep which M enjoyed and did a great job with so we started level K once it was finished, however, we were really butting heads with it. The lessons go really fast and they basically start reading words in the first lesson. After some research, we settled on AAR level 1 because the lessons move WAY slower. I am talking about a lesson that can take 6 days to get through sometimes. I love the slower pace and there are a lot of games to help cement the learning. M learns better with games than book learning and sitting and slogging through lessons was making me CRAZY!

Reading: Literature: We will be reading a lot of books in conjunction with history and science. Bauer says “Books, even in the early grades, ought to be sources of delight and information, not exercises to be mastered.” We will read books and after we will make a narration page. A narration page will entail M retelling what the book or chapter was about and I will write his sentences down or he can draw a picture of what we just read and I will write down a sentence about the picture. Obviously, we will not do a narration page for everything we read, sometimes we will just read, do an oral narration and move on.

Grammar: We will be using First Language Lessons for the A Well-Trained Mind Level 1. This will be done mostly orally due to the fact that first graders don’t have the fine motor skills to write long traditional workbook-centered grammar work. The goal of grammar in first grade is to make them familiar with the rules and conventions so they become second nature in later grades. This curriculum is very easy to follow and lessons will take a very short amount of time, 5-10 minutes. We will start with nouns, pronouns, and verbs and end with introducing sentences.

Writing: We will use Handwriting Without Tears and copy work. The idea behind copy work is to copy out sentences from good writers to practice the look and feel of properly written language.

Math: We will continue with the Singapore Dimensions. I really enjoy this curriculum because it is fast moving so it keeps M’s attention and there are a lot of games and activities to help cement the learning. Dimensions is a spiral approach that assumes the child learns best when practicing skills at a basic level, moving to another skill, then coming back to the first skill and practicing it at a slightly deeper level. Dimensions is also a conceptual program focusing on teaching mathematical thinking from the very start to produce an understanding of the way math processes work.

History: We are using the Story of the World Ancient Times as our jumping-off point. There are some religious aspects in the Ancient Times book (I haven’t looked at later eras) that we will be skipping, but I like the way it is laid out and I am ok with organizing it to skip what doesn’t suit our family. In fact, the book laid out chronologically what happened in history so the book moves around a lot from different countries/civilizations. I chose to reorganize it for our homeschool. We will do it by civilization, meaning all Ancient Egypt is together, all Ancient China is together, all Ancient Greece is together, and so on. In the “textbook,” you read the chapter to the student and then there is a separate teacher book and student pages. The teacher pages have different activities, more in-depth books, and discussions about maps for the student pages. The history lessons will look something like read, narrate, color, map, activities, read more. The goals for history in the early years are to give an overall sense of the progression of historical events from ancient times to the present, to develop skills in reading and writing, and to teach geographic awareness.

Science: We will be using REAL Science Odyssey Life Level 1. This curriculum is broken down into 3 sections The Human Body, The Animal Kingdom, and the Plant Kingdom. I loved the idea of this science curriculum because of all the labs. As I’ve stated before M is a very hands-on learner, he enjoys learning all he can and getting his hands dirty, so the labs I think are going to be right up M’s alley.

Foreign Language: Arabic. Abe’s dad is an Arab and he and his wife’s first language is Arabic, which they speak to each other and the children often. It has always been my goal for my children to learn at least some basic Arabic. Having said that Arabic is HARD to learn so this will be a VERY slow process. Moving into first grade we will focus on the names, sounds, and how to write the letters of the Arabic Alphabet. We will also have Abe’s dad come and speak with the children in Arabic a few times a week. This will supplement the youtube songs/videos and books we will have them read to the kids. I know it will be a long process and it will take a lot of time but I hope they will thank us for it in the future.

Music and Art: M will continue on with piano lessons and we will try to include some music and art study in our morning time. As of right now, I do not have a specific curriculum picked out for this. We might use a little something from Tree House Nature Study and a little something from Youtube.

Now that I have shared all our curriculum choices I know you are wanting to know how long we will spend on each subject and what our general outline of a day will look like. A few notes before I show you our plan, we are planning to only homeschool 4 days a week (no school Fridays). This table is for the fall term and depending on how well we get into this groove then we will add in our foreign language and art/music (other than piano). I also reserve the right to change this as I see fit once we actually start homeschooling. Alright without further ado here is our plan for the fall term: 

AAR (20 min)AAR (20 min)AAR (20 min)ARR (20 min)
Grammer (10 min)Writing/Copy Work (10 min)Grammar (10 min)Writing (Narration) (10 min)
Math (20 min)Math (20 min)Math (20 min)Math (20 min)
HWOT (5 min)HWOT (5 min)HWOT (5 min)HWOT (5 min)
Liturature (20 min)Liturature (15 min)History (narration) (45 min)Liturature (copy work 1 sentence) (45 min)
History (copy work 1 sentence)(45 minutes)Science (45 min)Piano (45 min)Science (narration) (45 min)
Total Time2 hours2 hours2 hours 45 min2 hours

So this is our road map for next year of homeschooling. Next time I will write about how I am organizing Story of the World for history next year. Have you picked out your homeschool curriculum for next year? Do you use any of our choices? If you do I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment. As a newbie homeschooler, I am always willing to learn from more seasoned homeschoolers. Talk to you soon!


By So, I'm a Mom Now...

I am a mom of two with a passion for many things ranging from home remodeling to reading, from shopping to child behavior. I love sharing things I find and love and generally helping others feel happy and successful. This is what I aim to do with each and every post I write and all the content I create. I hope to help you find things to make your motherhood journey a little smoother. Follow along.

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