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My oldest child will be a first grader in the fall of 2022. He’s an active and energetic boy. The classical model of education resonates with me, so that is what we’re striving for in his schooling. Of course, we tailor it to match each child. I also love the concept of exposing children to the finest literature, art, and music, so I borrow ideas from Charlotte Mason as well.
We will continue with Saxon and use Saxon 2. Saxon gets a lot of hate because it’s repetitive, but it’s thorough. My son likes knowing what to expect, and he definitely gets that with Saxon.
As a supplement, we use Kate Snow’s Addition Facts that Stick and Subtraction Facts that Stick. Her programs are more conceptual in nature, while Saxon is more procedural. Both are important for a well-rounded math education.
At this point, I plan to continue on with the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. It’s not flashy, but it gets the job done.
He knows how to form his letters, so we’re focusing on improving neatness. I have a handwriting book from A Reason for Handwriting, as well as a large collection of free or cheap handwriting worksheets.
We’ll use First Language Lessons, which is a gentle introduction to English grammar. It covers parts of speech, poetry memorization, narration, a bit of picture study, copywork, phone numbers, addresses, seasons, days of the week, months of the year, oral usage of grammar, initials, writing dates, and types of sentences.
I enjoyed Susan Wise Bauer’s lectures on teaching writing, which are available for purchase here. She says that you should only ask your student to do one hard thing at a time. There are several components to writing: coming up with ideas, the physical act of writing the ideas down, and the mechanics of writing. I appreciate her approach to teaching writing in Writing with Ease. In this first year, the student concentrates on copywork and narration. The copywork is taken from classic children’s literature, so the child can see examples of quality writing. Good writers are good readers. In my own life, I’ve seen the quality of my writing improve as I read more and better books. I’m looking forward to using this method!
I value memory work, but don’t want to be legalistic or competitive about it. Claritas Publishing has a beautiful collection of memory work resources. We will do their Cycle 1 this year. It covers geography, timeline, math, science, grammar, history, Latin, Bible, and hymns. Their history corresponds to the time period covered in Story of the World Volume 1, and their science focuses on biology.
I have ordered their memory work guide. We also plan to purchase a Cross Seven membership, which includes the Claritas memory work set to music, along with other resources to aid in retention.
I plan to follow a four year history cycle, in keeping with the suggestions in The Well-Trained Mind. We will begin with ancient history, using Story of the World Volume 1. I also have the activity guide. My children are all roughly two years apart. By doing the four year cycle, I’ll be able to keep them together for content subjects.
I decided to piece together my own science curriculum. The Well-Trained Mind recommends studying biology topics in first grade. We will cover plants, animals, and the human body. The science facts in Claritas Cycle 1 all relate to biology, so we will tie that in as well.
I will post more about this course of study as I develop it, but it will focus on the use of living books and regular outdoor adventures. My son thrives on outside time. We will supplement by watching pertinent episodes of The Magic School Bus.
My husband and I both participated in Awana clubs as children, which is a Scripture memory program. Awana sells their handbooks individually to families now, so I ordered the Sparks Hang Glider book for my son. I like how review is woven throughout the program. I was also a Sparks leader for five years, so it’s familiar and fun to me.
I read to my children out of the Bible each day. We use story Bibles as well, but reading out of the real Bible is non-negotiable. My favorite story Bibles are the Minno Laugh and Grow Bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible.
I use the term “the feast” for enrichment subjects because of the following quote from Charlotte Mason:
“We spread an abundant and delicate feast in the programmes and each small guest assimilates what he can.”
Her mindset was to expose children to the highest quality materials. She had a high view of man and of his capacity to learn. Each child has infinite dignity and worth and can gain something from the pursuit of wonder.
I decided to piece my own collection together. A full list will be forthcoming. I draw from my friend Holly, Heritage Mom, Ambleside Online, Sonlight, and my own fond childhood memories. At this age, I read aloud both picture books and chapter books. When possible, we will read books related to our history and science studies. However, I also want to enjoy stories that are just beautiful works of literature. I’ve learned a lot about the importance of classic children’s literature from Angelina Stanford and the Literary Life podcast.
My oldest and I spend some quality time together each day while his younger siblings nap. Once a week, I want us to have a fun snack and read poetry together. I have several poetry books we can reference. This time is meant to be purely for exposure, not memorization. First Language Lessons already has poetry memorization incorporated, and I don’t see a need to reinvent the wheel.
We adore composer study. We began doing it a couple years ago when my oldest was working through the Gentle + Classical Primer. Initially, I thought it would be too much for a 4 year old. My eyes were opened to the value of it though as we persevered along. My children have gleaned so much from their exposure to classical music. They’re beginning to recognize composers, and boys have a true passion for Peter and the Wolf. I’m putting together my own program for composer study. I’ll share more here once it’s finished.
While there is a vast array of picture study resources available online, I like to buy pre-printed materials. We have the Memoria Press First Grade Art Cards set. We’ll do picture study with the cards about once a week.
We will endeavor to learn the hymns included with Claritas Cycle 1. I’m also trying to learn how to play hymns on the piano. As we’ve learned hymns over the last couple of years, I’ve realized the challenge of finding recordings that feature just voices and basic instrumentation. Capitol Hill Baptist Church has some videos on their YouTube channel of their congregation singing hymns with a simple piano accompaniment. When teaching hymns to children, I’m trying to make sure they learn the words without getting distracted by a flashy arrangement.
First grade feels like the first year of “real school.” I’m cherishing our time in kindergarten, but I’m also looking forward to what’s next.