Homeschool

Looking Ahead to First Grade

We are just a few short weeks away from finishing up a portion of our Kindergarten curriculum. We actually started this school year back at the end of July. We had all of our materials so we just dove right in. We’re still moving right along with math and reading but we are almost at the end of Sonlight’s P4/5 core. So, what’s next?

 

History and Geography

We were planning on starting Sonlight’s Core A at this point but we’ve decided to switch to Bookshark which is a secular version of Sonlight. They are actually owned by the same company. Sonlight has been around for many years but Bookshark is very new. Bookshark’s Core is now called Reading w/History and we’ll be starting their Kindergarten program soon and stretching it through the 1st grade. The main reason for this is to delay the later programs which introduce the harsher realities of history. There are some mature topics introduced in the 3rd grade program that many veteran homeschoolers recommend delaying until the 4th grade. Both Sonlight and Bookshark have age/grade ranges for each level. It’s easy to use the program with kids that are close in age. Skill based subjects such as math and language arts are still used at each child’s level.

 

Science

Science is included in Sonlight’s P4/5 program but it is separate after that. We will soon be starting the Science K program from Bookshark which explores biology, botany and physics. It comes with a DVD called Discover and Do. It’s a way for kids to see the experiments if you don’t have the time or desire to do them. We actually have had the DVD for the last year. The girls love watching it and they’ve done several of the experiments. I’m curious to see how they’ll do now that we have the actual curriculum to go along with it. Storyteller is really excited about science so I expect that we’ll fly right through it. Although it’s not a specific curriculum, we’ll still be going on nature study adventures which, of course, ties into science.

 

Language Arts

We are nearing the end of All About Reading level 1. Each lesson can take several days so it’s hard to predict when we’ll actually be done. I think she’ll be ready for level 2 around May. At that point, we’ll add All About Spelling level 1. We started All About Reading before deciding on Sonlight and it’s working so we will continue with it.

Sonlight and Bookshark offer a language arts program. The Sonlight program was revised for Bookshark. I’ve seen some good remarks about the Bookshark version so I went ahead and ordered it since it was a cheap addition to our order. I plan on using it to supplement our other language arts activities. According to Bookshark’s placement test and the Scope and Sequence, the 1st grade program seems to be a good place to start with her now. The reading part will be review for quite some time so we may not use it much. I’m more excited about using the writing and creative expression parts of their language arts program.

We’ve been using Peterson Directed Handwriting this year. There have been several times when I’ve questioned if it’s the right program for us but I keep coming back to it after researching other options. I really like the style of the letters and how they’re formed. What I find lacking are the lesson plans. We’re doing the pre-k/k program and there are no lessons past the first six weeks which are just gross and fine motor skills activities. After that, it just says to incorporate the technique into other language arts activities. It gives great instruction on how to form the letters and how to progress from air writing to putting pencil to paper but that’s about it. They offer an e-book workbook that you can buy separately that has practice sheets for each number and letter but it’s not like many of the other printing workbooks I’ve seen available. There are no pictures, games or activities which I think may be more interesting for her. This one is very plain. The workbook for the next level introduces writing words and increasing speed but it still very plain in appearance. For now, we’ve just been picking words to write each day such as the days of the week, months of the year, colors, number words and even princess names. There doesn’t seem to be any bells and whistles to this program (at least not at this level) but it’s working for us. This is where I’m expecting that Bookshark’s language arts program will fill in a bit with defined writing activities. Peterson Directed Handwriting is inexpensive so I will probably buy the first grade level soon and use it with the Bookshark materials.

 

Math

Math is moving a bit more slowly than I had expected as far as the number of lessons we’ve done.  We are a bit over half way done with the Horizons K program. It’s laid out as one lesson per day but some of them are quite involved so we sometimes spread them out over two days. I often see it mentioned that Horizons is one year ahead of what schools are doing. I’ve always wondered at what point it pulls ahead for those of us starting from the beginning. Well, I recently looked up what our school district says kindergarteners are expected to cover by the end of the year. We are able to check all but two items off that list. Those two items deal with subtraction which she is just now learning. There are even a few items on the 1st grade list that we’ve already covered so I’m okay with moving a bit slow right now. I think this program is working well for her so we will likely continue with it. I expect she’ll move on to the 1st grade level this fall.

I think that about covers most of our plans for the academic subjects for her first grade year . We’ll be starting history/geography, language arts and science from Bookshark soon.  We’ll add All About Spelling and move up to the next level in All About Reading probably around May. We’ll most likely continue with the next level of Peterson Directed Handwriting once I get a good look at the language arts program from Bookshark. First grade math will probably start in the fall which is when she would actually be starting first grade if she were in a regular school.

In case you haven’t connected the dots yet…it appears that we will just naturally fall into year round homeschooling. Each subject will end when it does and we’ll just keep moving forward. I don’t see us taking a long summer break like regular schools. It is crazy hot here that time of year anyway. Most people hide indoors for a good chunk of the day. I would rather take breaks as we need or want them throughout the year. We can take advantage of the beautiful spring and fall weather by taking extra time off then.  Even if the formal lessons are put aside for a few days or weeks, other learning opportunities like field trips usually fill the time just fine.

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