Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We Love 1st Grade

Yes we do! We are sticking to our same curriculum that we used for kindergarten, My Fathers World. I'm still so happy we found it. It is perfect for our family and the planning being done for us is perfect for this mama.

We started 1st grade over Christmas break (well Dan's Christmas break). We had finished K about 3 weeks before Luke was born and I decided to just wait on 1st until after Christmas was over. It really worked out perfect, just as all things do when God is involved : ).

This year in first grade Zachary will be learning so many things, and Emma and I are excited to go on the journey with him.

The whole year in Bible is based in Proverbs. Zach learns a verse a week, and copies the verse on the second day. He is getting much better at using lower-case letters instead of just resorting to upper-case as he did so often before we started school. He is learning sentence structure through copying his verses (capitals, periods, commas, etc.). Later in the year, as he is reading more, he will be reading a Bible reader on his own (so exciting!!) and then keeping a Bible notebook by writing about what he read and illustrating it. I imagine this will make quite a keepsake.

Zach is also diving into phonics, which is opening up his world of reading. He learns a new phonic rule every day and practices marking the words and reading them. This will lead him to the Bible reader soon.

We learn a new science concept every week. This week is rain. We check out many books from the library every week on our subject and read them throughout the week to enforce learning while having fun (this is also a part of school which is easy to do while nursing an infant).

Math is done very gently, or so it seemed at first. It really is quite full. We do our calendar everyday and talk about the number of the day. We put the number of the day on a number line. We add coins to his coin jar and count them, trading for larger coins when he can. We add beans to a bean cup everyday and when he gets ten, they get glued to a stick to teach him his 10's and 1's. He writes equations using these concepts for the number of the day. Each week we also learn a new concept (counting, comparing, adding, geometry, time, money, etc...). We also check books out from the library that enforce these concepts in a fun and practical way. (By the way, all the books from the library are suggested in the curriculum. Another great thing for this mama!! I just go on-line and reserve them and swing by the library and pick them up. So sweet!)

We also are doing a drawing program. This is also gentle and fun, and great for me too. This will help when we get to the Bible notebook for his illustrations. Do you know any adults that say they are a good artist? This program helps you learn to "see" what you create as your own original - no negativity.

So we are schooling Monday through Friday, with Wednesday being our Exploration Day. This means we use this day to do hands on "stuff" on our science concept for the week. We get outside and explore God's world. We sketch in our notebooks in the yard. We don't do any structured math or reading that day, but we do usually "play" with our pattern animals which teaches reasoning and math (but, shhh don't tell him). We also are learning art appreciation that day in two awesome books that are teaching us to look deeper and differently at some awesome paintings of both portraits and landscapes. And lastly we are doing music appreciation by learning about a different instrument each week.

Sounds exhausting, doesn't it? But it's not. It's really quite do-able, even with a four year old wanting to tag along and a baby nursing alongside. We get it all done in an hour or so each day, and if we skip a day, we've made it up on the weekends.

I still can't believe that I am homeschooling my children. I had never even thought of or considered homeschooling before Zachary was 3 or 4. I never knew anyone that was homeschooled. I find it odd that this is what we feel called to do. I really want a God- centered Christian education for my kids and I would have to have a full-time job out of the house in order to be able to afford a Christian school for them. I want to be the one raising my kids, not strangers. We do have to sacrifice a great deal by having me home, but it is so worth it. I am startled by stories from friends about what goes on in their kids public classrooms, and I am so thankful for this option to be the educator of these children that God in-trusted us with. God is so good, and he has a reason for everything that He does. I wrote recently on Facebook that if He leads you to something, He will see you through it. Yes, God is good. [I didn't even notice that I stepped up on my soapbox, I'll get down now. Please know that I am completely aware that every family is different. What is right for our family, may not be right for another family, and that is great.]

We start every school day in prayer. Zachary leads it. He often prays for family or friends that his little (huge) heart leads him to. Can I ask you to pray for us too? Pray that we are persistent and have the endurance that it takes to learn and to teach. Pray that what we do is pleasing to the Lord, first and foremost.

I need to have my camera more handy during school, but below are some photos of the end of Zach's kindergarten years. (I can't wait to do it again with Emma and then Luke!!)

This was our penguin week.

Zach's 100th day of school. He got to count out and eat 100 pieces of trail-mix.

Yes, we often school in our jammies : ).

I guess we do have a 1st grade photo. Multi-tasking mama/teacher. Nothing is better than school on the couch. Don't you wish you were taught this way? I sure do!

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