So far, my daughter and I have been taking homeschooling nice and slow but now that she is six, I’m ramping learning up by adding more subjects. We’re following the Classical model of education which I believe to be the most clear-cut and time-tested form of education there is (that’s just my opinion, there are other great models too). I’m following the book recommendations outlined in The Well-Trained Mind, which is a “guide to classical education at home.”
The Well-Trained Mind has been a God-send to me. This book guides me by providing a variety of book and curriculum recommendations and a suggested daily schedule.
The Well-Trained Mind explains that we are in the “grammar” stage of classical education, and thus focusing heavily on words: reading; writing; spelling; grammar:
The first four years of formal classical education are called the grammar stage because the students spends them learning the conventions and basic facts-the “grammar”-of each academic subject. In a way, the grammar of language is the foundation on which all other subjects rest. Until a student reads without difficulty, he can’t absorb the grammar of history, literature, or science; until a student writes with ease, he can’t express his growing mastery of this material
I hesitate to say Ava is in the “first grade” because a child’s development can vary widely; she could be reading “third grade” books but only writing “first grade” material or vice versa. This is why in Classical education is divided into levels for each subject rather than an overall “grade.” But for simplicity sake, we just refer to her being in the”first grade.”
Our Classical “First Grade” Curriculum
- The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (1 lesson per day)
I cannot recommend this book enough. We have been using it for the past 2 years and love it. Getting my daughter to confidently read is my #1 priority, so we do a lesson everyday.
- Independent reading (20 min per day)
- Reading aloud (at least 20 mins per day)
My husband and I take turns reading more advanced books to my daughter at bedtime. Right now they include Sounder by William Armstrong and the retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey. After these, we’ll dive into more ancient stories and myths like The Iliad and The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus.
- Modern Curriculum Plaid Press Phonics (15 mins per day)
- First Language Lessons (15-20 mins per day)
- Spelling Workout (15-20 mins per day)
These workbooks are amazing and I cannot recommend them enough. Even if you’re not a full time homeschooler and your child needs help with language skills, get these workbooks as supplements. You won’t regret it.
- Bible verse copy work (3x per week)
- Write simple letters to friends and family (twice a week)
Out of all the subjects, handwriting is my daughter’s worst one. She loathes it. She gets frustrated easily and storms out of the room quite often. If her penmanship doesn’t naturally improve while doing the two tasks listed above then we are going to try Handwriting Without Tears.
- Math-U-See (30 mins per day)
Math-U-See is a complete math program that is geared towards visual learners and parents who are intimidated by the idea of teaching math (that’d be me). We are using the Alpha program (single digit addition and subtraction) that comes with blocks, a teaching DVD, student workbook, teaching manual, and a test booklet. So far, we are enjoying all of it.
5. History and Geography
- The Story of the World (SOTW) and Activity Book (3 hours per week)
- The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History
For the first grade, we are learning about history from the beginning of 5000 B.C. and working our way on. We will learn about great men and women, wars, inventions, religions, and cultures. The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer provides a narrative story of history that kids can grasp. It, along with the activity book, is phenomenal. We love them. To supplement, The Usborne Encyclopedia was recommended by The Well-TrainedMind as well. We don’t have this encyclopedia yet but the Amazon reviews for it have me itching to get it.
6. Life Science
We will examine and describe animals for 20 weeks, after that the human body for about 10 weeks, and then plants for about 6 weeks using the books listed above. I will read to my daughter from the science book and she will narrate back to me two or three facts she learned and I will write down her answers. If she shows an interest in any of the topics, we’ll head to the library to get books for further investigation. We’ll also explore outside, gather insects in jars, observe them, and write down our observations.
Being that we are Christians, I love talking to my daughter about our religion, what it is, and why we believe it. She asks questions that I answer and I love hearing her open thoughts. We read this children’s Bible together and the SOTW is introduces her to other world religions as well. (15 mins per day)
Ava does a lot of coloring and painting on her own but she also uses How To Draw books to learn how to sketch. Lately, she’s been learning how to draw from YouTube. And I gotta tell ya, I’m pretty impressed…
For music, I play Mozart on Spotify while Ava is doing school work. Bam. Done. We could introduce an actual musical instrument but we’re gonna hold off on that.
I put all of her written work, pictures, narrations, and notes in a 3-ring binder that is divided into these subjects.
These next activities are special extras that we’ll do if we feel like doing them. No pressure, no timelines, just fun.
1. Personal Finance and Responsibility
My husband and I spent years paying off $60k of debt- do you think we are going to do everything we can to help our children avoid that same mistake? Not just yes but HECK YES! Why children are able to learn about sex “education” in public school but not a peep about responsible personal finance is nothing short of a mystery to me but it doesn’t matter, since I am in charge of my daughter’s education she is going to learn about working, saving, spending, and giving and we are starting now.
We’re using Dave Ramsey’s Debt Free Junior Program and like it a lot. Stay tuned for a complete review on it.
2. Build a Computer
My daughter got a Kano Computer Kit last Christmas and this year we hope to really explore it. The Kano is a computer that a child can build and code. The Kano is powered by Raspberry Pi 2 and comes with books, stickers, diy speakers, a keyboard, a case, an SD card, cables, and wi-fi. It can even connect to your TV and use it as a monitor. It’s really cool, guys.
3. Electronic Snap Circuits
The Snap Circuits 300 Electronics Discovery Kit is a fun way to introduce electronics to children. My husband and daughter break it out from time to time and go to town building doorbells, alarms, motorized fans, radios, and light circuits. There’s still a lot to explore as it comes with over 300 projects!
Last year, we were a part of a local homeschool group but this year I think my daughter would have more fun trying out organized sports and we’re looking to get into soccer.
Whew! That’s a lot! This is my daughter’s education so I’m trying to be a thorough as possible. Thanks for sticking with me. So, what about you? What do you have planned this year?
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