2019-2020 School Year Plan for First Grade (with the youngest!)

posted in: homeschooler, journal 3

Again with the pesky grade levels. Geneva will be seven in November, and although she would be entering first grade if she were entering school, at home she’s in first-and-a-half grade.

Just one more reason to love homeschooling.


Geneva is already nearly finished with the first Math-U-See book and will likely finish Beta this school year, too. So I have Beta and Gamma ready on the shelf for her. Finishing Beta isn’t a goal I have for her – I don’t care how far she gets, just so long as she gets consistent practice.

We love Math-U-See, and it seems to be working swimmingly for all our students, for all 11 years we’ve been homeschooling so far.

She is also using xtramath daily for math fact drill. She’s still on her addition facts there.

Reading (Language Arts)

No more phonics! Yay! Geneva is reading and just needs practice to gain fluency.

One thing I know now after having 4 fluent readers is that the reading practice she needs comes best from multiple sources and is done in multiple modes. We don’t need one reading session together and that’ll do it. Here’s how I’ve built in reading practice for her:

  • Read a memory passage aloud straight from the Bible in Morning Time
  • Following along and reciting catechism answers from the Psalter in Morning Time
  • Reading the copywork/handwriting sentence that also counts as spelling
  • Reading one book to herself per day (15ish minutes) that she narrates to me afterwards
  • Listening to an audio book or read aloud and follow along (following along with the singing in a hymnal counts, too)
  • Read aloud from a slightly challenging book with someone (ie me) who will coach her over the hard words
  • Lots of free-choice easy reading

So obviously some of these things are happening in other areas of our day: Morning Time includes reading practice, handwriting includes reading, bedtime is the perfect time for easy reading.

For the other reading, she’ll listen and follow along with the Bible Reading Challenge on the YouBible app which makes following along super simple (and is easy-tap for doing the next day’s reading).

For her reading and narrating, she’ll read a chapter in The New Children’s Bible then come tell me about it. I had started her out on Wondrous Works of God by Starr Meade, but switched it out because her narrations were not good. She could read the words, but the story was told with a level of interpretation and connection and abstraction that she’s not ready for yet. She needed a simple story version.

For her read-aloud with me time, we’ll work through reading through the My Book House books.

Notice that everything I assign (ie not the free easy reading) includes content that in itself is also worthwhile. That’s what it is to give a classical education at this phase. That and that alone, pretty much.

Then, this year, I’ll simply watch and direct if needed. When she’s board, will she pick up a book? When she’s waiting, will she pick up a book? When she ought to be doing her chores, does she pick up a book instead? If so, she’s becoming a reader. If not, I’ll strew and I’ll hint and I’ll woo toward choosing books.

Related: Raising Readers

Knowledge of God

So, obviously we’ve already covered this in the reading section, but in addition to the Bible Reading Challenge; reading and narrating a Bible story book; and participating in Morning Time with its Scripture, catechism, and hymns; we will also one day a week do “theology with mom” on the couch together. The primary purpose of this time is to prepare her to make a profession of faith and become a communicant member. I’ll help her practice articulating the gospel from different questions or starting points, and we’ll go over what the membership vows mean and why they’re important.

Knowledge of the World

Six and seven is still young to be adding in subjects and book work. Six and seven year olds need to be growing and expanding their interests more than gaining particular knowledge.

Keeping the goal (interest) in mind, exposure rather than instruction is the focus at this age.

Geneva will join in with her seven-year-old friend for about 30-40 minutes of Elementary Lessons: Artist study, Shakespeare (because it’s fun), a little geography, and maybe history (if they like it, they can stay, if they don’t then it means they aren’t ready and can wait until next year – better not to force it and kill the love that ought to be natural).

Bringing it all together

Geneva will have a checklist, primarily because she wants one and everyone else has one. It’s more my reminder sheet than hers – to the extent she’s able to use it, that’s all bonus and not a demand I’d make of a first grader.

She is also taking piano lessons and has “xtra piano” on her list, which is the name of a folder on my iPad with Rhythm Cat, Treble Cat, and Bass Cat apps to learn note names.

She might need some extra options for things to do while the rest of us are doing schoolwork, but I did get her a “reading journal” that she can use at her own discretion at the table while I’m working with Ilse & Knox.

If she seems to be at loose ends and needing direction during our school day, then I’ll add in browsing through the field guides and choosing an animal or plant to copy into her notebook or drawing something from Draw Write Now. But if she decides to use that time to play Lego or Playmobil or dolls, or go out and ride her bike, then that’s perfectly fine, too.

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3 Responses

  1. Kimiko Nabors
    | Reply

    I love this description of your first grade plans for this year. I have a question – How do you decide on the sentence for your girl’s copywork/ handwriting/ spelling sentence? I have a son who is almost a year older than Geneva and I want to do copywork, but get lost in knowing WHAT to do. Thanks.

  2. Elisa Stapp
    | Reply

    So my son will also turn 7 in November, is going into first grade but we kind of already did a gentle first grade last year, is almost finished with MathUSee Alpha, can read…. I enjoyed reading your post! My question is, do you feel like it’s “okay” to skip phonics now since he is reading even though when we stopped for the summer we still had most of the first grade Phonics Museum left to cover? He just read My Father’s Dragon and it’s two sequels in three days. My gut is yes but everyone I’ve asked think it’s bad to skip phonics.

    • Mystie
      | Reply

      I focus on teaching my kids to read, not on finishing a curriculum. I find that often any missed phonics gets addressed in spelling, so it’s totally ok to move on to spending time on practicing reading rather than finishing a program. :)

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