"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Monday, January 21, 2013

What the Curriculum Looks Like

Everyone (and I mean everyone) knows that I have been fretting over homeschooling for an age. The first steps were easy. Send in the LOI. Send in the IHIP. Don't send kid back to school after Christmas break. That was the simple part. But then...?

I had, seriously, no idea what to do as far as curriculum was concerned. As I've stated before, we have a lot of learning materials in this house. I mean, a lot. A lot. But I had no idea how I was going to splice them together and create something workable, or how I was going to supplement what I didn't have. Frankly, at this juncture, I'm not sure why I was so panicky, but I realize not every mom who launches into this is going to have all this amazing stuff on hand simply because she always knew she'd want to have it on hand. (That's my excuse. If I saw it, and I knew in my lizard brain that I'd need it, I'd get it.) I have always had this undercurrent of you will homeschool that I have never quite ignored, no matter what. This has always been the plan. And I have never been more thankful for that subconscious knowledge!

So I thought I'd put together a list of our materials for Moms who need a clue. I know I needed a clue, so I'm hoping this will help someone.

The most important part of all of this is that I keep record (in a day planner) of everything she does, every day. This helps me keep track of where she is, what she's done, and what we have left to work on. I have a checklist I've made of what needs to be covered this grade, which I pieced together using the New York State core curriculum standards, as well as resources such as What Your First Grader Needs to Know.

First Grade 

We work through these at her pace, which is pretty fast. Usually 4-6 pages a day with auxiliary instruction where required on the whiteboard or scrap paper.

We read every day, that's the most important part. She reads, and I read. Sometimes my reading is followed by listening comprehension questions if I feel like she needs to sharpen her focus, other times I just let her listen for listening's sake. We have a home library of roughly 700 books, so it's not hard to just pick something up and roll.

I made flash cards that we add to every time we learn something new from the books. She loves them. Just like with Math, we go through these books at her own pace.

All of this is constantly supplemented with hands-on experiments, all the time.

Social Studies
I found this one the hardest to find a kickoff point from. I wound up going with the NY core, which has mostly self/community and map/geography as the 1st grade standards.

Art is all about discovery this year, I have no set curriculum for it and that's fine. Every week we're working with a different medium, sometimes it's more arts-based (watercolors, colored pencil, etc.) and sometimes it's more craft based (knitting, sewing, multi-media, etc.) As we move into world cultures I will create projects to complement where in the world we're learning about.

For the first two weeks we had classical music on all the time (I keep the Nook plugged in at our work table, helps if I need to Wikipedia something really quickly, and also I have Pandora on pretty much all the time.) Once we start moving into the world cultures I'll be making stations of cultural music to complement where in the world it is we're learning about.

Phys Ed
  • Weekly Gymnastics classes.
  • Yoga indoors when too cold outside. (Shanti Generation Yoga Skills for Youth Peacemakers on Netflix.)
  • Outside for at least a half an hour when cold, much much more when warm.
  • Free dancing (typically combined with Music-time.)
  • We have a park with a playground in walking distance, for the warm months.

Following the state core in sporadic units (not daily.) For adults all of these things should be teachable without a curriculum as they are mostly common sense, hehe. Topics include fire safety and prevention, bicycle and roadway safety, nutrition, cooking, basic hygiene, and health care. 

Home Ec
It feels silly to even quite include this at her age, but I find I include her more in chores now that she's home. I have stuff I need to get done, and she's home to help, so she does. She puts her own laundry away, helps me fold cleaning rags and things and put them in their homes. She washes some dishes, tidies up around the house and takes responsibility for her bedroom. She also feeds the cats daily and gives them fresh water. In addition to chores, she helps with cooking and I have been teaching her basic knife skills, to complement this. She makes grocery lists and crosses off items when we're in the store. In the winter she helps with shoveling and salting, in the warm months helps with gardening.

  • Gymnastics.
  • Girl Scouts.

End of Year Testing

So that's that, and I hope it helps some frantic someone out there who has no idea what to do with themselves!

Just keep telling yourself; I've got this.

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