Written by Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom
I‘m a newbie when it comes to homeschooling. This can’t be overstated enough — those of you who feel completely green at homeschooling, count me among your throngs.
While we have a very nomadic lifestyle, I actually thrive quite a bit on structure, so my homeschool plans reflect this. Part of this is preemptive: I also have two other little ones, a business to run, a book to start, speaking engagements, and travel plans. If I don’t somewhat structure our school, I’m afraid it’ll never happen.
So. Here are our plans for first grade this next year.
We will most likely sign up for Classical Conversations this next year. I like its emphasis on memory work, even though this next year’s subject matters won’t exactly align with what we’ll learn at home. I value the basic act of memorization, and the content will eventually come in handy at some point.
The other main reason for our involvement will be to socialize — we’ll be in a brand new city, and it’ll be a helpful way to meet people.
Learning words: Grammar, Writing, Handwriting, Spelling, and Reading
I really love Peace Hill Press. I love their philosophy of education, their materials, and the people behind the scenes. So ultimately, most of my resources come from them.
I plan to use Writing With Ease and First Language Lessons for grammar and writing. I admittedly haven’t used them yet, but many of my friends have, and in flipping through these texts, I think they’ll serve us well. We’re going to ease into this gently.
Tate learned cursive in kindergarten this past year, so I’m going to just keep going with it. I use StartWrite software to create our own handwriting practice pages. We mostly do Bible verses, poems, and quotes to aid our memorization.
We’ve used Spelling Workout this past year, as part of our after-schooling activities. It’s nothing fancy, but it works. We’ll start with workbook B next year. We may veer into All About Spelling, after reading Heidi’s glowing post.
For reading, we’ll do lots of quality read-alouds and provide plenty of solo free reading time. Hooray for library cards!
Learning the world: Geography, History, Foreign Language
Understanding the world is a high priority in my educational philosophy. It is vital to me that my children understand geography and cultures, not only because we travel a lot, but also because the world is shrinking. One of my favorite reasons for us living overseas is that it gives our kids a unique, global perspective on life.
For history, we’ll use Peace Hill Press’ Story of the World, volume 1. I love the emphasis on learning history chronologically, so we’ll study Ancient Times. We have the audio version, so we’ll listen to them in the car, check out books at the library, and create a master timeline.
For geography, we’ll copy maps repeatedly, improving cartography skills slowly over time. We’ll make this our major focus on geography, but we’ll also include Operation World as a text, exploring a new country every couple weeks or so. This is something we’ll do as a family, since we all love exploring the world and its myriad cultures.
I asked Simple Mom readers what foreign language Tate should study this next year, and I agree with the consensus — whatever she wants. She’s currently interested in all things French — the food, the language, the wine making process (no idea why!), Madeline, you name it. So we’ll be doing French 1 on Rosetta Stone as a family — not only because she wants to, but also because French is a genuinely useful language worldwide. It’s one of the mostly widely-spoken second languages, and we could live anywhere in the world, literally, in the next few years.
I used Rosetta Stone when we lived overseas and had great results with it. I also used it to help teach English to Albanian students in Kosovo about ten years ago. It’s expensive, but I’m a fan nonetheless.
Learning how things work: Math and Science
Because Kyle and I both work from home, often working on projects together, he has agreed to take on primarily teaching math and science this year. Otherwise, I simply won’t have time to write.
We’re going to explore plants, animals, and the human body (life science) using mostly the library and creation. But our main texts at home will be DK First Animal Encyclopedia, Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia, and Green Thumbs. We’ll keep this pretty low-key and interest-led, which shouldn’t be a problem, since both Kyle and Tate enjoy learning these things. We also have the Planet Earth series, so we’ll use that, too, just for fun. And nothing can beat walking outside, collecting bugs, and seeing what happens.
Learning other stuff: Bible, Art, Music, Home Ec, and getting out the wiggles
Peace Hill Press sent me their new Bible curriculum, Telling God’s Story, and we’ve already used it a little bit. I love it! I really appreciate how the curriculum starts with Jesus, His life, and His teachings. It keeps Him as the center and foundation, and the lessons provide lots of opportunities for discussion throughout the week. It’s also flexible — we can study the same passage every day for a week, or we can just do the lesson for a few days. There’s plenty of activity ideas to pick and choose. We’ll keep using it in the fall.
Tate enjoys drawing, so I’ll do my best to kindle this interest of hers with Drawing With Children. We’ll also study an artist each semester or so. None of us in the family are musically inclined, but we do love listening to it, so we’ll also study a different composer each semester.
I want our kids to leave the house knowing how to bake bread, balance a checkbook, and sew the basics, so home ec is important to me. Tate has chosen cooking for her first course — so this year, I’m looking forward to Spaghetti, Scrambled Eggs, and Smoothies 101. (This mostly involves her helping me cook dinner.)
We’ll probably join Bend’s Park and Recreation and enjoy living in a beautiful location! We love being outside, so Tate may join a hiking group or some other sport. Or we may just spend lots of time together, running around.
Finally, Tate is traveling with me to the Middle East this fall, which will undoubtedly provide myriad learning opportunities, as well as good mother-daughter bonding time. I genuinely look forward to our next year together, exploring the world.
Alright, more experienced homeschoolers — what are some good chapter books for a six-year-old, for both reading aloud and solo reading? I need ideas.