I Need 1st Grade Curriculum Advice - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 01-22-2007, 02:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We are unschooling this year (kindergarten) but I feel like *I* need more structure, so I'm looking into a curriculum for next year. There's so many, though: What is your favorite (or least favorite) non-religious 1st grade curriculum, and why? I would prefer a complete curriculum (mostly because there would be waaay too many to choose from if I take math from here, science from there, etc. But if there is one program that stands far above the rest, but in only one subject, I'd be willing to look into it.) Thanks in advance!

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#2 of 13 Old 01-22-2007, 02:44 AM
 
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I'm looking as well, but in somewhat of a different situation. My dd has been attending a Japanese Kindergarten and will "graduate" in about a year. She has learned to speak Japanese and write Hiragana, but is probably a little behind others her age in reading and writing English. She does very well with structure since she is very spirited so I think a curriculum would be good for her as well.

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#3 of 13 Old 01-22-2007, 06:50 AM
 
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Two things:

1) It is rather easy to make your day more structured, without using a curriculum. Read books on the couch each day in the mid-morning, sit at the table together (writing, drawing, etc.) at the same time each day. Pick a different activity for each afternoon: painting, arts & crafts, playdoh/clay, science experiments (from a library book?), puzzles, board games/ card games, baking, etc. When the weather is warm, we have a different routine, we're out of the house more. Monday is beach day, Wednesday is park day, thursday is hiking day, Friday is library day. There are many, many activities you can schedule or add to your routine if you're simply looking for more structure.

2) All of that said, I can share my 1st grade curriculum thoughts. For my first grader this year, I am using SonLight (minus the religious books). SonLight is mostly a reading list. There are additional comprehension and discussion questions, but most of the questions are things I would ask my children without prompting. I've found that my DS has enjoyed approximately half of the read-aloud books this year, the other half he has merely tolerated. Although it is possible to purchase complete language arts and math curriculums from SL, I chose to do my own thing. My DS is using Explode the Code workbooks and reading easy-reader library books of his choice for phonics, and Miquon for math.

Next year, I am planning to use Winter Promise for all of my children (including the child who will be 1st grade age next year). Although it is a literature based curriculum (as is SonLight), Winter Promise has the reputation for being more hands-on than SL. It is a Christian curriculum, but we will leave the christian references out (I've heard this is VERY easy to do). In addition to using Winter Promise, I will add on the language arts and math programs that we are currently using.

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#4 of 13 Old 01-22-2007, 01:03 PM
 
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For first grade, I wrote my own curriculum. I used Singapore Math, but everything else I came up with on my own.

I was able to have the structure we needed (and we do need it in this family), and was able to completely control the content and pace. It was a great year.
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#5 of 13 Old 01-22-2007, 05:01 PM
 
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We're using Oak Meadow 1 this year. There are times I love it and other times that I'm not sure it's the right fit for us. I like the Waldorf inspiration behind it. I like the crafts, though we don't do many of the drawings/coloring projects b/c ds isn't interested, and all the emphasis on nature and home rhythms. My ds loves reading books and is interested in writing words/sentances more than the cirriculum offers, so we supplement with weekly trips to the library and "Handwriting Without Tears," which he really enjoys. It's his interest in books and reading that has me wondering if a literature-based cirriculum might be a better fit for him, but I love the relaxed learning environment that OM offers. It allows me to let ds lead the way and work on things he finds interesting, like bees and magic at the moment.

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#6 of 13 Old 01-22-2007, 05:16 PM
 
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You can also get a copy of "what your 1st grader needs to Know" and use it as a guide. Then you can get add in what you need like a math book or science.
The problem with complete curriculums is that often have one subject work great but then another is a total bust and you need buy something else that will work. Then you just wasted money KWIM?
That's why I like the general "grade guides" to give me an general outline and I fill in based on my son's needs.
This also allows you to move ahead or stay behind depending on their skills and not waste a "1st grade curriculum" when you really need a 2nd grade reading, 1st grade math, and 3rd grade science.

www.tanglewood.com has free grade level schedules that have reading lists and suggested math and spelling, etc books but you could easily use their schedules and add in what you want. Just another idea to show you options.

Rebecca Rupp has a good book about designing your own curriculum that is very helpful as well-check your library.

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#7 of 13 Old 01-22-2007, 05:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnR33 View Post
You can also get a copy of "what your 1st grader needs to Know" and use it as a guide. Then you can get add in what you need like a math book or science.
The problem with complete curriculums is that often have one subject work great but then another is a total bust and you need buy something else that will work. Then you just wasted money KWIM?
That's why I like the general "grade guides" to give me an general outline and I fill in based on my son's needs.
This also allows you to move ahead or stay behind depending on their skills and not waste a "1st grade curriculum" when you really need a 2nd grade reading, 1st grade math, and 3rd grade science.

www.tanglewood.com has free grade level schedules that have reading lists and suggested math and spelling, etc books but you could easily use their schedules and add in what you want. Just another idea to show you options.

Rebecca Rupp has a good book about designing your own curriculum that is very helpful as well-check your library.
This is a good start. We use ambleside and tanglewood together, really. Tanglewood has a build your own curriculum print off that you fill in (they have suggestions on their site) for different areas.

We are going to get Math U See for 1st grade math, use ambleside/tanglewood for literature suggestions, and we use the suggestions for the Well Trained Mind as the basis for Science (natural science-animals, plants, human body for 1st grade), history (Ancients), and such.

I also bought (and still have not received from Amazon after 2 months : )the Italic handwriting series and Phonics pathways (mostly for my preschooler and Kindergartener) and Spectrum Spelling.

And, really, we just ignore the religious stuff. I do read the kids "spiritual stuff", like kids meditation books, religious quotes about the earth (NA based, mostly) and we talk about myths and legends.

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#8 of 13 Old 01-22-2007, 05:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annethcz View Post
It is rather easy to make your day more structured, without using a curriculum.
And maybe a regular time can be set aside for you to plan activities - with a spot by your computer where you keep a notebook, a folder for clippings about local events, and a calendar, so that you can make your schedule personalized to your child's individual likings and needs rather than to the ideas of some commercial curriculum company.

Rebecca Rupp has a nice little book called Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School. She didn't write it with the intent of telling people there are certain things they should be doing at certain times - not at all - but with the intent of simply describing creative ideas for possibilities within the traditional scheme.

And E.D. Hirsh has a book called Books to Build On in which he recommends good books for various ages.

I think you can easily make your own plan that you'd enjoy a lot more than someone else's. Lillian
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#9 of 13 Old 01-22-2007, 06:26 PM
 
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I'm no help on curriculum advice...but here's the correct link to the Tanglewood people:

http://www.tanglewoodeducation.com/
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#10 of 13 Old 01-22-2007, 06:51 PM
 
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If you're looking for a good, inexpensive jumping board to use as you wish, I like the Comprehensive Curriculm of Basic Skills. It's really just a big workbook, with no need for more than 15-20 minutes a day.
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#11 of 13 Old 01-28-2007, 08:08 PM
 
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We use Virtual Academy k12 program and so far it's working really well for us- we are in the first grade year. I don't know if it's available in your state but you could check it out at http://www.k-12.com. My dh heard about it in an NPR story and we looked into it and thought we'd give it a try for the first year to see how it worked- so far we like it a lot. It's accredited thru the public school system, they supply a computer and all the "props", and hook us up w/ an actual certified teacher in the area who we meet with quarterly. The child doesn't do the work on the computer- it's mainly there for us to log in and get material, log in work done and assessment results. It may not be right for everyone, but it sure works for us and I think it's worth checking out all options. Before we looked into this curriculum my dh and I thought we'd probably unschool, as we didn't want to be held to 1 curriculum- this one works really well for us, though we do supplement and skip a few things according to our values and ideas.
hope it helps!
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#12 of 13 Old 01-28-2007, 08:22 PM
 
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You might check out Laura Berquist's Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, even if you don't lean toward a classical methodology. The book is a great resource for gaining courage to sort of go the pick-and-choose route, which might be just the ticket for you in terms of maintaining the freedom and flexibility you like but also gaining a smidge more structure. Berquist writes from a Roman Catholic perspective, which I did not find to interfere with the book's overall general usefulness. Your mileage may vary, of course.
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#13 of 13 Old 01-29-2007, 02:55 AM
 
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We use Enki Education for kinder right now (and will move onto 1st next year) and love it. It's a complete curriculum that is very holistic. It draws from Waldorf, UN International Schools, the "western" idea of skill building/practice, is heavy with arts and nature. It truly is a wonderful curriculum that really is much more than just a curriculum.

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