Monday, November 19, 2012

1st Grader?

It's kinda crazy, but somehow Lily is starting 1st grade tomorrow.

Did you catch that? FIRST GRADE.

I realize if she were in a traditional school and not homeschooled, she'd still be in her third month of Kindergarten, and that this is a really strange time to start a new grade, but she's all done with her Kindergarten curriculum, so instead of being bored to tears for the next 9 months, we might as well continue! (Even if the idea of having a first grader blows my mind.)

Onward and upward...

I think she's excited. I told her this evening that tomorrow she's starting 1st grade, and she gave me this funny look and asked, "But not at a school, right?" It's the first time I think I've seen her look down on the idea of being in a traditional school, which caught me off guard, and I want to make sure we avoid that sentiment. She and Jacob went to preschool two days/week and loved it (and so did I), so she definitely knows the difference between being home and being "at school." But up until now, she's always idealized school as a place where all you do is plaaaaay and you never have to learn anything - whether or not that's true - for what I assume are the following reasons:

A.) At preschool, they were more clever and experienced and sneaky than me at teaching the kids through play without letting the kids KNOW they're being taught while playing, and

B.) It was preschool. No one pushes you to learn how to read at preschool. Or do anything else you don't want to do. I don't have the luxury of letting her push that off into first grade. Sorry, kid, you've gotta apply yourself even when it doesn't come easily (like reading).

So I'm still not sure where the apprehensive question came from - I'm glad she's enjoying being home, but there's no assumption that she always will be. We're taking this "home learning" stuff year by year, which the kids know, so should we transition them to traditional school one day, they won't be surprised or unwilling.

The possible future school transition is the main reason I feel really weird starting her in 1st grade tomorrow. Does that mean if we want to send her to school next year, she'd start in 2nd, even though according to the calendar and her birthday, she would only be starting 1st? I certainly wouldn't want her repeating 1st in school if she's already done all the work at home. But where would we make up that extra time we lost, since we didn't start 1st at the beginning of this school year?

And the real question is, would she be mature enough for 2nd by next September, since technically she would only be starting 1st then? I'm not worried about her academically, but she's always been a little delayed maturity-wise, or in relating to other people, and I'd hate to see her struggling to make friends and feeling accepted. I already see how difficult it is for her with her regular little group of friends; it would break my heart to see it multiplied times 25 or however many kids would be in her class.

But anyway, future trepidation aside, I'm excited for her to start 1st tomorrow. She'll be using the "My Father's World" 1st Grade curriculum (she just completed MFW Kindergarten), which starts slowly, building on the Kindergarten concepts she was just taught, so I'm expecting it to be well accepted.

Here's the curriculum breakdown I'm expecting, for any interested parties...

From what I understand, History and Bible are tied together, covering major topics from Genesis to Revelation, and reading has a focus on the Proverbs. (I'm not yet sure how/where spelling is tied in...?) Plus, Jacob's preschool lessons from include a wonderful Bible program each week, so we're going to try to bring all of the children into both Bible lessons, if possible. Everything else is meaningless if the kids don't have a solid Biblical foundation underneath it all. We want the kids to not just be moral and good (which is hard enough), but children who love the Lord and seek to put Him first in their lives. Please pray that every day we will be good examples not just through what we say, but through our actions, which can be so hard when there are little eyes watching you and learning from you 24 hours a day!

For math, My Father's World 1st Grade uses "The Complete Book of Math, Grades 1-2," which goes through each concept in general and then at the end goes back through them all a second time in greater depth. Tomorrow, we start with patterns, which I'm sure our budding artist will love. Math is also scheduled to include pattern blocks, using the book, "Pattern Animals: Puzzles for Pattern Blocks" (plus a whole bunch of printable patterns I already had), and I'm sure we'll be throwing much more in there, including Cuisenaire Rods, using the "Cuisenaire Rods Alphabet Book" from Kindergarten. Science focuses on nature, using three little books, "Things Outdoors", "Science with Water", and "Science with Plants." I'm trying to have a good attitude about any possible upcoming experiments, though honestly if I could find a homeschool co-op that took science off my shoulders, I'd be one happy camper.

I'm very much looking forward to the art lessons, which use the book, "Drawing with Children" by Mona Brookes. That girl could just sit and draw, draw, draw all day, so I'm sure she'll love perfecting her mad skillz. I also got her one book from the "Draw Write Now" series for her to use in her quiet time while the younger kids (and Mama?) have nap time - I can just picture her taking that to the peace and quiet of her room and drawing away. Music uses an Introduction to the Orchestra approach, incorporating "Peter and the Wolf" and "Carnival of the Animals" CDs, as well as a musical instruments coloring and explanation book.

We will continue supplementing one lesson per day from, "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" (we're on lesson 64 at the moment), so that when MFW 1's reading section picks up in earnest, she'll hopefully be ready. We're also adding in "Handwriting Without Tears" - I started her on their "Letters and Numbers for Me" book (Kindergarten) last week, and she sat down with it and didn't come up for air until 19 pages later. Ummmm, OK. You can bet the 2nd book, "My Printing Book," was definitely ordered later that night. I also ordered books 1 and 1 1/2 of "Explode the Code" because I've heard such wonderful things about that program and honestly wanted to get on the bandwagon! They are more visual than "Teach Your Child to Read..." and I think that will really appeal to her if she starts struggling more or resisting more.

I'm still trying to nail down the following:
  • Do we get her piano lessons or just enroll her in gymnastics? Can't see doing both...
  • The best way to incorporate Spanish and German (and possibly Latin later)
  • Teaching typing. Have some ideas, need to make decisions...
Any other education gaps I need to fill? Just give me a shout.

I'll try to remember to report back after we are a little ways into 1st grade, and I definitely want to take the time to write about everything we're doing and have planned for that other little stinker, Jacob. But for now, it's 2:37 a.m. and I'd better get to bed since tomorrow is "1st day of school" (again) for our unique and creative little BIG girl, Lily.

PS There are so many beautiful pictures of Lily hard at work that I'd love to weave throughout this post, but there are just not enough hours in the day... *Sigh* Hopefully, words will paint a sufficient picture for now.


Dottie said...

I think that's one of the biggest advantages of homeschool - being able to move at their pace.

For typing, check out Dance Mat Typing. It's free and very popular for younger kids.

Amanda said...

Wow, go Lily! I hear you on the trepidation about traditional school. That's why we love where Wyatt is going, they have multi-age classroom and the 12 other students in his clss all range from kindergarten to second grade ages and levels. Some are behind, some are ahead, but it works really well. It is not technically Montessori but it is a similar concept. They even moved him to the next classroom for math lessons because he was going too fast, so now he is doing third grade math (!) but he is with his peers for the rest of the day. It sounds like you are doing a great job and I wouldn't worry too much about next year - if you decide not to homeschool you can always talk to the area schools (public or private whichever you decide) and tell them where she is and ask how they could accommodate her. The local public school here wouldn't even consider testing or pull-out until second grade so we didn't want to waste our (and his) time, not sure how it is there. I would just call around and ask. But whatever you do, don't try to slow her down for the sake of fitting in, she will be much happier going at her own pace - smart cookie! :)