Home education has continued to be a huge learning curve for me, but every year that goes by God continues to give wisdom, courage, and peace in our decision to homeschool our children.
I started intentional toddler time with Sam when he was just shy of two years old. Because I knew we planned to homeschool, I started researching methods and philosophies of education long before I needed to actually implement anything. Throughout the last five years, my boy has grown, matured, and learned so much, and it’s all of grace that God is allowing fruit to sprout forth from the toiling and labor! Sam is thriving, and it is such a joy to be a part of his life-long journey of learning.
With that said, we decided to start him on kindergarten work last year at age four. He was fully ready and he’s always been a very eager learner. So, I figured I would just work slowly with him, never pushing harder or faster than he was ready, and just do two years of kindergarten. However, he turned five in January, and after that he just sky rocketed in his ability to learn new things, retain information, and focus for longer periods of time.
As I’ve taken time to evaluate where he is and where he’ll be in a few months when he turns six, we decided to move ahead with first grade this year. This was a very hard decision. We’ve prayed a lot, talked with several friends and homeschoolers, and weighed the pros and cons of moving him forward into first grade. But in the end, the only peace we found was in moving him forward full steam ahead. Plus, if you ask him, he’s in first grade.
This means I will be teaching first grade and preschool this year with a new baby underfoot! Or rather strapped to my chest because she will.not.let.me.put.her.down. Even so, I’m oddly excited about the challenge. This is what I always wanted to do, so hard or not, I’m thankful that God allows me to do the work of ministry in my home.
We’ve already started our new school year because the boys have been begging for a couple of weeks now to do school. Did I mention, eager learners? Plus it’s just too hot outside to do anything else, so why not? It’s going really well so far, and I can’t wait to see this new year unfold.
Because I’ve been asked countless times on Instagram what curriculum I use, I decided to pull a post together to see if I can explain what I’ve decided to use this year.
Some notes before we getting into the details:
We do a lot of our subjects together during “Basket Time” which we try to do in the morning, but sometimes it doesn’t happen until the afternoon. I’ll do a post later telling you more about “Basket Time” and the subjects we cover because it’s truly made our homeschool life easier. Really.
Basket Time Subjects:
- Scripture Memory
- Sam Readers
- Nature Study
- Hymn Study
- Picture Study
- Composer Study
Our curriculum choices are reading heavy. I loosely follow Ambleside Online Year 1. I make my own selections in books from the various curriculum we use to make it flow a little easier for me, but I use their plan as a guide.
Basket Time is the bulk of our homeschool day. It takes more of our time than anything we do at the table. It’s the heart of our home, and it’s something we all look forward to.
Even more than Basket Time, it’s important to know that we follow the idea of Charlotte Mason in that we give our children a buffet of subjects but we keep our lesson times short. We only spend 10-15 minutes on any given subject. Sometimes Math will take longer simply because Sam despises Math, so he drags his feet a bit getting through the material (and I only assign one lesson a day … ).
We will not be doing all of these subjects every single day. Or even every single week. I have crafted a rhythm and routine to our schedule – meaning we aren’t afraid of the immersion method of study at the neglect of another subject for a period of time. I keep a 10,000 foot view of the year and move rhythmically with the seasons.
Speaking of routine. I’ve also been asked for our daily routine, but I want to be sure what we’re doing works for us before sharing. I’m still tweaking it as I get used to being a mom of three kiddos. So, that might be a couple of more weeks.
There are probably more notes I can add, but we’ll just leave it right here. There’s always Instagram for asking questions, right? 🙂
Our First Grade Curriculum Choices
- Tot School Curriculum Choices
- Home Preschool Plan
- Revamping Our Home Preschool Plan
- Our Home Preschool Year in Review
- Our Kindergarten Curriculum Choices (K-4)
Subjects We Will Be Covering with Corresponding Curriculum Choices
- Reading – All About Reading Level 2
- Spelling – All About Spelling Level 1
- Grammar – First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 1
- Writing – Write Shop Primary A
- Handwriting – Manuscript Workbooks from the Dollar Tree (seriously!)
- Math – Math Mammoth Grade 1
- Literature – Ambleside Online, Year 1, Sonlight Reading Lists
- Science – Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy, Virginia Living Museum Membership
- History – Story of the World, Vol. 1, YWAM Heroes of History
- Geography – Story of the World, Vol. 1, explore various places through stories we read
- Art – Home Art Studio (Kindergarten), Art for Kids Hub (free YouTube videos) Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolios
- Music – Learn and Master the Keys (Piano Lessons), Music Study with the Masters (Beethoven), Hymn Study (goal to memorize 6 hymns this year)
- Bible – Reading one story a day from Egermeier’s Bible Story Book, Scripture Memory, and Catechism
- Extracurriculars– Karate, Swim Lessons, Science classes, and Spring Baseball
Further Thoughts on Each Subject
We love the All About Reading program! We started withe Pre-Reading in preschool and moved our way quickly through Level 1 last year and even started Level 2 last year. We’re just picking up where we left off this year with Level 2.
I cannot say enough good things about All About Reading. It has been a phenomenal fit for us, and the results for Sam have been amazing. I am blown away by his ability to read and comprehend. The lessons are easy to prepare and the teacher’s manual gives me plenty of information to feel completely equipped to teach my kiddos to read.
Since we’ve loved the reading curriculum so much, it was no question for me that we would also use All About Spelling. They recommend having the Pre-Reading and Level 1 Reading programs complete before bringing in Level 1 Spelling so that’s what we’ve done. Once we started Level 2 reading, we also started incorporating spelling lessons to work in tandem.
So far we are loving this curriculum as much as the reading one. I love how thorough the lessons are and there is a lot of review.
We completed about ten lessons of First Language Lessons, Level 1 last year, and I’m happy with how it went. I decided to start over with the book this year as a way to review what he learned last year.
The lessons are super short, and it works well with simply sitting on the couch and talking together about grammar topics. He hardly knows we’re doing grammar as a subject and that’s what I was hoping for at this stage. We incorporate this subject into Basket Time.
Write Shop Primary A came highly recommended, and we’ve completed one unit set so far. We really enjoyed it, and I can definitely see this fitting in with our overall flow for this new school year. The lessons are short and interactive which is where he thrives. Right now I’m doing the actual writing for him, but after this term, I hope to see him writing more of the sentences himself.
There is copywork incorporated throughout our curriculum choices. Our science curriculum incorporates copywork into the lessons which is great because it’s usually a selected portion of scripture. I can also choose copywork selections for him during Grammar work. When we don’t have any cross over, I will let him practice tracing letters from our dollar store workbooks.
Math is our least favorite subject. Give the kid a book and he will happily read with you. Tell him it’s time for science and he will shout with joy. Tell him it’s math time and the tears start immediately.
My goal this year is to overcome his fear of math. I’m learning that he hates details. He’s a creative spirit so focusing in on one problem at a time is hard for him to do. He also doesn’t like anything he’s not good at, so math is a true challenge for him.
We switched curriculum this year after a lot of research, prayer, and thought. I don’t even know how I discovered Math Mammoth Grade 1, but when I did I fell in love. I think it’s going to be a good fit in these early elementary years for Sam. We’ll see how it goes!
I wasn’t going to get a formal curriculum yet for Science. That is until Sam started asking every other day to learn about the solar system. I did a short unit study on the topic last year, but it did not fill his tank. He wanted more details, more information, and just more than I could give him. I discovered Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy and decided to go for it. This boy could not be more excited!
I desperately wanted to teach history in a way that’s exciting, enriching, and memorable, and I wanted to use living books. I just didn’t know where to start. As I researched, I discovered the term “spine” and it all clicked for me. I decided to get the The Story of the World, Vol. 1 as my “spine” for the next few years. Google the term if you’re not familiar.
We’re in no hurry to “complete the curriculum.” We’re just going to work our way through it a little at a time and just enjoy learning as we go. If we start and he doesn’t seem interested, I plan to shelf it for a year, but I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with it.
Much of Geography will be taught at random. We tend to use maps and globes often in our home. If a place is mentioned in conversation, we find it on the globe. If we read of a place in a book, we look at a map to see where it is in relation to where we live. We are also working on learning where all the states are in the U.S.
However, The Story of the World incorporates map work into the lessons, so this will be a handy way of doing a little map work in a more formal way. I think he’s going to really enjoy it.
One thing Sam tells me he wants to be when he grows up is an artist. I’m planning to do special art projects with the boys 2-3 times a month. Home Art Studio and Picture Studies will make up the bulk of our art study. Plus, we’ll read a lot of books about artists and visit art museums throughout the year.
My husband plays the piano a little, so he’s going to be teaching Sam to play piano this year with Learn and Master the Keys. We’ll also do a composer study of Beethoven along with memorizing six hymns and learning about who wrote each one. I doubt we’ll go too much in depth on any of it, but we’ll at least get him introduced to the topic this year.
I really want to write another curriculum study for my kids, but it’s just not in the cards right now. Therefore, I’ve decided to use Egermeier’s Bible Story Book for Bible reading time this year. The stories are short, but they pack a lot of details that other children’s story books don’t have. So far we are really enjoying it!
We’ll also continue with our scripture memory work as well as memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism together.
Our Preschool Curriculum Choices
Timmy will be three years old this school year, so we’ll be doing preschool together. He’s very excited! You can see my general scope and sequence that I use here for this age range.
However, I do have some intentional learning times planned for us this year.
Curriculum We Will Be Using:
- All About Reading, Pre-Reading
- Letter Sensory Bins
- Intentional Toddler Trays
- Sonlight P3/4 – I only bought the Parent’s Companion
- Ambleside Online, Year 0
- Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum for Toddlers
- Learning Toys
- Lots and lots of books!
That’s what we have planned for our year. What about you? What curriculum will you be using?
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