The first day of school is an exciting moment for homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike. Keeping the momentum going and working up that initial excitement into a productive school year takes perseverance, determination, and some serious curriculum work – but the rewards are well-worth the effort.
Once kindergarten is over, public schools generally focus far less on play and exploration, and significantly more on reading, mathematics, and individual study in general. While this is understandable – the first grade curriculum requires significant progress in the main areas – you’ve got the freedom to go about achieving the requirements the best way you see fit.
If you want to homeschool first grade children, you need to understand the different requirements that they need to meet by the end of the first school year.
Another thing you have to understand is how first graders differ from kindergarteners, especially in their learning preferences. While the older they grow, the less predictable the general developmental variations, around the age of 7 children begin to show important preferences in how they learn – whether they’re the more active, hands-on, kinesthetic type of learner, or they’d much rather learn quietly, working hard on those nice little worksheets.
Once they finish kindergarten, some children will probably read pretty fluently – but there’s no reason to worry if yours doesn’t.
In fact, it’s only by the end of the first grade that a child is expected to be able to read short stories, while also sight-reading about 100 words.
First graders should also show critical reading subskills such as identifying the main idea and the events in a story, and being able to recall a sequence of events in the initial order.
When it comes to writing, by the end of the first grade a child should be able to write legibly in manuscript form, and use basic punctuation correctly – mainly, the full stop and the question mark.
Just like with language and reading, some first graders may already know how to do basic addition and subtraction from kindergarten. However, doing simple operations in the 1-20 range is not a curriculum requirement until the end of the first grade.
Your children should also be able to count up in ones, twos, fives, and tens, and write all the numerals up to 100.
Exploration and getting to know the environment are essential parts of the first grade science curriculum. Children will need to understand the way plants and animals are classified by simple characteristics, and they should also be able to understand the relationship between the sun, Earth, and life.
By the end of first grade, children should also understand the basic sequence of seasons, day and night, the different types of weather, as well as be familiar with the basic time divisions.
First graders should be able to conduct simple experiments such as dissolving different substances in water, and they should also know how to use basic tools such as different cups, jars, spatulas etc.
Unlike kindergarten and preschool, the first grade marks the beginning of the “official” school for you and your children. It’s best that you try to schedule a more stable timetable, giving your children a sense of learning in a more controlled environment.
To successfully homeschool first grade children, you’ll first need to include pens, pencils, notebooks and textbooks into your daily homeschooling practice – make sure your young ones know how to use them properly, and let them make full use of them!
Though a child’s attention span doesn’t magically increase from 20 to 60 minutes over a year, you can now try scheduling 40 minute lessons, and you should get your children accustomed to doing more in one sitting. Aside from the continuous play and exploration, individual writing work becomes an important part of a first grader’s school work – you’ll need to put in as much as effort as necessary to make sure your children write and read well.
Being aware of your little ones’ learning preferences is also crucial, since it’s an area that you really want to tap into. Notice their sensory preference – be it visual, auditory, or kinesthetic – and make sure you design activities that target it.
Aside from catering to sensory preference, it’s important to appeal to the brain’s full learning potential – whether we’re talking about social, emotional, language, or sensory learning pathways. The brain is designed to learn from a multitude of experiences – don’t limit its learning opportunities, but rather increase them as much as possible! Read with your children, engage them in field trips, get together with fellow homeschoolers, use learning games and activities, explore the world – your first grader will learn plenty, and you might also have lots of fun along the way!
If you’re about to homeschool 1st grade children, you’re in for a challenging, albeit exciting experience. It’s your first chance to really take control of your children’s education, focusing on their learning preferences, addressing their learning needs, and taking full advantage of every educational opportunity to maximize their academic success.
The first year is also crucial in that it’s the time when children acquire the basic reading and writing skills, so you need to work extra hard to make sure you meet those requirements. However, with plenty of study, work, and determination, you’ll get everything done – and the feeling you’ll get when you do will be memorable.