07 July 2012

Homeschooling: First Grade Edition

We started our new school year this past Tuesday, July 3rd. I did not intend to start until at least August 1st, maybe September 1st, but Agent E had another agenda (as she often does). I expect to "do school" year round eventually, but we were kind of taking a bit more time "off" now (or so I thought) because of that whole moving and settling in thing. Apparently, though, she's had enough of a break and now she's ready to get down to business. So I'm going with it. First grade: it's on.

Dress up time
For this year, we are still not following any particular curriculum. Child-led learning seems to be working well for us, so we are continuing with that "method" for now.

Not long ago someone gave E on of those big grade level workbooks that has a bunch of worksheets and puzzles divided into sections like spelling, reading comprehension, xyz math skills, etc. Given her penchant for a good printout that she can look at, fill in, decorate, and talk about, it's a big hit. The pages tear out easily, and so she will randomly take one or two, complete them, and put them in her folder. I know this wouldn't work for every six-year-old, but E likes this. (She also likes things like flash cards, in a the-only-kids-who-like-flash-cards-are-those-who-don't-need-them sort of way.) She enjoys the sense of accomplishment: "I finished the whole section on fractions and now I'm moving on to maps."

This may seem like a weird method to some, but it works for her. And it's not our only tool, of course. I asked her what three things she would like to concentrate on for the next few months of school. This, obviously, would be in addition to the regular library visits, outside exploration time, computer time, independent reading time, and general helping around the house and life skills time. We talked about it, and I offered some suggestions so she could narrow them down. 

Our new playroom
She concluded that for first grade she would like to concentrate on the 50 states, weather, and Spanish. For the states we'll probably do a state-of-the-week sort of thing. (We actually did this with countries at the beginning of last year, but then we kind of got off track.) We'll make weather our "science" for the year, likely in a series of unit studies. Spanish? I studied it in high school, which wasn't that long ago (cough, cough). Okay, it was eons ago. And I'm probably going to need more help than what Dora and Diego can offer. But we'll figure it out as we go along. That's pretty much what we do.

I know this may sound super organized to some and completely willy nilly to others. But that's how we roll. We find things we are interested in, we study them for a while, we tweak what's not working with our routine, we move on. Toward the end of Home Kindergarten we got pretty lax as far as formal instruction. I don't think we'll completely swing over to a hard and fast daily schedule of specific subjects, but I think we'll be trying a little more structure in the next few months as far as what we study. Either way, I think she will still learn what she needs to know.

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