Home Schooling for 1St Grade

Updated on June 11, 2009
A.G. asks from Portland, OR
17 answers

Hello ladies--
I'm planning on home schooling my son (1st grade) and was wondering what programs you would recommend as well as what websites I could refer to, to get more information. What's worked for you/what hasn't? The Calvert School program was recommended by a friend as something very staight forward and relatively easy to implement but I'm wondering what else is out there. Any info would be very appreciated. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thank you, ladies, for all your helpful suggestions and advice. I've decided to do a bit of a composit of things taken from here and there with a focus on Singapore math and science. I can hardly wait to get started!

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answers from Portland on

I don't know if you are looking for a program or just advice. If you are looking for a program that you can do at home but that gives you all the materials (books, science and art supplies, learning coach guides, etc.) and content that is needed for state standards, then look into Connections Academy. It's a virtual public charter school. I teach for ORCA - Oregon Connections Academy. I would be happy to talk with you about the program.



answers from Seattle on

If you live in or near Kent, Wa, there is a fantastic bookstore called the Children's Bookstore. It is full of teaching supplies and children's books. I highly recommend it.
This is its website: http://www.childrens-bookshop.com/

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answers from Seattle on

Oy....here come's the list. We're still getting dialed in, there is so MUCH out there. I'm not doing this to overwhelm you (promise!!)


Each of those 3 websites has either tons of info, or links, or both. So I won't repost it here... I'll let you poke around. :)

Homeschool curriculum reviews

My favorite resource book (**wish i'd found it earlier in the year!**) is
"Homeschooling: Take a Deep Breath, You Can Do This!" http://www.amazon.com/Homeschooling-Take-Deep-Breath-This...

This book is fantastic. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Curriculum-wise you've got a gaziilion and one options. Calvert is one of about 75 or so really popular ones. There are going to be some opinions in the following, because you asked for personal experience:

- You can do "school in a box" ... everything you "need", but nothing is personalized. So if you've got a grade 2 reader with grade 1 math... you're outta luck. This option has the absolute least flexibility, and is hands down the most expensive.

- You can do "school in a box"... but go subject by subject instead of by grade level.

- You can do "online school"... similar to school in a box, but you can go class by class or the whole hog. You can do an online monthly, quarterly, or yearly subscription. (keeps costs down, because you're not buying so much.You can do parental oversight, or have a "teacher" assigned. www.k12.com (ONLY ONE of may many online school curriculums) is the umbrella curriculum used by all the WAVA, CAVA type schools (Washington Virtual Academy, California Virtual Academy). You can sign up with the Academy and have it be taught online, or you can buy a subscription directly from K12 and teach yourself.

- You can create your own curriculum. (Some do. I tried for about 5 months and threw in the towel. I was spending about 50 hours a week reinventing the wheel (not including teaching time). Now I WILL create lesson plans, and projects, and unit studies, but I typically use what's already out there as an outline.

- You can use multiple curriculums, from different vendors. Actually easier then it sounds. Like Kumon for math, K12.com for history, Handwriting without tears for writing, Gifted&Talented Reading, Writing, & Math for english, CyberEd for science, the library for literature, Rosetta Stone for languages, etc.

- You can have outside teachers... From art class, music class, language class, soccer... to being in a co-op...hiring tutors...trading teaching days with another family...signing up for camps... etc.

- You can find lesson plans online (Like Pegs!), and national geographic, and and and...

- You can go eclectic ... otherwise known as all of the above and more (except school in a box): this is what most homeschool parents I know do, as well as myself. Not everyone does though.

NO MATTER WHAT...take it easy on yourself next year. If you're like me (and everyone else I've talked to who's done this), you will make every mistake in the book that first year. But, guess what? It's okay. So do all first-year teachers. Heck so do all new grad nurses, and priests, and lab techs, and, and, and.s So do all of us as mum's. We make a mistake, we learn from it, we fix it. (We might pull our hair out a little in the process, but that's just to be expected. It's why the powers that be grant most of us a full head of hair while our spouses get balder and balder. If we didn't have our hair to pull out in times of crisis, the human race might have perished long ago ;)

Good luck,
I'm around and about if you ever want to chat...but I am sooooo not the expert on any of this. Just learning at breakneck speed.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Medford on

Hi A.! congrats on your decision to homeschool! We are finishing up our ninth year. We've done several different things, but have stayed with pretty much the same methods. Have you researched Charlotte Mason? Her philosophy of education is wonderful, IMO!
Things we've used: Sonlight (loved it, a little spendy though), My Father's World (good), Well Trained Mind (good, but hard with more than 1 or 2 kids; book is worth reading), various mixing and matching, and we are now settled upon Amblesideonline.org - highly recommend checking this out!! Also, there's a blog called Higher up and Further in (you could google it) that is very good.

There are TONS of resources out there - if you have specific questions, feel free to email me!
Best wishes!
T. Payne

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Most districts provide home school support programs - and some of them are EXCELLENT --- I'd give a lot if I could provide Northshore Schools' home-school 'program' to my grandchildren--- but it's not my call-- drat it --. Check out the district where you live and see -- there is also a stunning wonderful program in Woodinville called Chyrsallis - that is nearly 15 years old ---more --- and is great ---.

aka- Old Mom

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Congratulations, A.! Home schooling is such a wonderful option, especially in the earliest years. You can support your child's unique needs and abilities in ways that public schools simply can't.

I hope you'll look at some material my husband and I have developed over 30 years – hands-on science and math labs using simple, everyday materials. Kids are crazy about DOING real science, working more or less independently at their own pace. Our little non-profit publishing house, TOPS Learning Systems, has become popular with home schoolers in recent years, inexpensive and accessible. You can see our website and sample dozens of free lessons at http://www.topscience.org/

We have several topics that are especially good for early elementary grades, and as a parent offering one-on-one support for your lucky little boy, you can actually use many of our materials at lower ages than the grades we have targeted (you can help him with the fine manipulatives, such as assembling simple equipment.)

To access our index of topics arranged by target ages (starting with the youngest), go to http://www.topscience.org/book_listings/bygrade-level.html . From there you can click on any title to get a description and a free sample activity.

I should mention that our site is pretty "clunky" right now. We've been working for a year on a new, more attractive, and much more informative site, which we hope to have running by the end of the month.

One other suggestion: Join a home schooling support group. Google will give you lots of options to explore. Find a group with goals and a philosophy that match yours. You'll get wonderful advice and support from people with real-life experience, and the best possible recommendations for curricula and programs.

Best of luck you you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'd like to second Peg M's reference to www.topscience.org. Their lessons are wonderful for homeschoolers who want to really get their hands "dirty" with science. All of their lessons use inexpensive, common household items, and encourage the kids to question and predict outcomes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

We're going to start using the classical model of education this year for first grade. I've found The Well-Trained Mind to be a great resource. This book explains classical education and gives an outline for grades 1-12. It also lists curriculum and materials recommendations for math, spelling, writing, grammar, etc.

Basically, they suggest teaching history, reading and science based on four time periods from the beginning of the world to the present day. Each year you teach from one of the time periods (in order, so that history flows and cause and effect is understood), and you cycle through the four time periods 3 times (over the 12 grades), adding more understanding and using more advanced skills each time around. So for example, while teaching the first time period in the first grade, you would also read stories from the Bible, ancient folk-tales from Egypt and China, and other classic works by authors who lived in that time period. You could also learn about the authors themselves. For science, you would study the things that people were observing during that time period; animals, the human body and plants.

It's a very well planned out system, and I like that I kind of have an idea of what we'll be doing in each grade through high school. Of course, choosing curriculum will be different for each individual child, and what works for one child may not be so great for another, but The Well-Trianed Mind offers a great place to start as their recommendations are partly based on the reviews of real homeschooling families.

Good luck in your search for what works best for your child. The many options for curriculum is one of the great things about homeschooling, but it's also one of the most confusing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I second the classical education model that Christina mentioned. We are starting K in the fall with our oldest and will be using that model. It is really fascinating as it was THE way to educate throughout history until the 1940's when they decided to "improve" the American education system.

Classical Education is based on the trivium, which is a three step process of learning.
In the early years (the grammar stage) the child spends time memorizing facts and building a foundation for later years of study. Since the child's mind at this stage is ready
to absorb information, this is the best time to fill it with facts. The child will be learning facts about math, science, history, and geography, rules of phonics, grammar, and spelling, English and Latin vocabulary, etc. Gaining these facts in the early years enables the child to move to the next stage in educational development.
In the middle years (the logic stage), the child begins an analytical and more thorough understanding of facts. During these years the child will build on the facts gathered in the
grammar stage. In the logic stage the child will begin to learn the cause and effect relationship between the facts being studied. In history your child will begin to ask, "Why
was the Revolutionary War fought?" "What events led to the beginning of that war?" "What could have prevented the war?" In science your child will begin to ask, "Why
does a plant need sunlight and water to grow?" " What would happen if the plant didn't have sunlight?" The child will use the scientific method to answer his questions. In Math,
the child will begin to use the math facts studied in more complex math equations. In language, the child will use the grammar rules, phonics rules, and spelling rules in his

In the high school years (the rhetoric stage) the child is ready for abstract thinking and articulation. In these years the student applies the facts learned in the grammar stage and the answers to the questions he has gained in the logic stage, as he learns to write and speak in a clear and elegant style. During these years the child should be encouraged to focus on an area of learning that interests them.

There is lots on info online about classical education and I would recommend you do a search if you're interested in finding out more.
I don't know where you fall religiously speaking but if you're interested, there is a group forming in the fall called Classical Conversations that is kind of like a homeschool group that meets once a week but so much more as there is a tutor that teaches us (the parents) what it looks like to teach classically (as they are teaching our kids) since most of us where not taught that way. They involve a lot of recitations using songs and poems and actions, etc. It's basically a full curriculum minus math and phonics which they suggest you find one that is a good fit for your child to do separately at home. It is a Christian based program though so it may or may not be a good fit depending on your feelings on the matter. If you'd like more info, check out www.classicalconversations.com or http://www.ccofportland.com/Home for the Portland group starting this fall.
There's also a free 3 day Parent Practicum being offered next week in Portland which you can check out at http://classicalconversations.com/registered/index.php?op...

Good luck with all your research in trying to find the best fit for your family!

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1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hi! I'm going to homeschool my 1st grader also. I'm in the process of registering for an online charter school called Connections Academy. Check it out. I've heard good things about the program. Good luck!



answers from Portland on

I have homeschooled for six years. i would recommend checking out www.villagehome.org

They have been great as far as providing resources, while respecting individual choices. They are also a great place to have your child in an accepting and supportive social environment.

Best of luck to you!

T. Nelson



answers from Portland on

I use WAVA which is online public school. I love it! It gives me all the curriculum and supplies for free and I have the choice to teach the lessons however I want or to opt out of ones I don't think are appropriate for my child to learn. There is tons of support and free field trips.

Oregon's version is ORVA (Oregon Virtual Academy) and there is also Oregon Connections Academy.

If you do full time with those schools, your child starting in second grade or whatever will have to take the state standardized tests, but if you opt to "homeschool" for even one class (PE) then he/she will not be considered a full time student and will be exempt from the tests.



answers from Medford on

I don't have first hand experience with homeschooling but my friend sent me this website that has lots of fun stuff on it:



answers from Portland on

I use Sonlight Curriculum. It is a fantastic curriculum and comes with a teacher's guide that is set up for 4-day or 5-day school. To get a look at it you can go to www.sonlight.com. I really enjoy it because it is a literature based approach to teaching. It is about reading great books with and to your kids. They have good science, math, geography, history, etc. But like to approach things with a book. Please check them out.




answers from Eugene on

I don't know much about home schooling, but a friend of mine suggests this one.....www.heartofthematteronline.com
It's a Christian based school. I don't know if this might be something you would be interested in. Good luck.



answers from Seattle on

We are using the Robinson Curriculum. It has a religious background but, of course you don't have to follow any of that if you choose not to. Our grandson, who is 9, in the 3rd grade and has ADHD, is doing advanced 5th grade math! It is expensive but, we believe, well worth it.



answers from Anchorage on

Sing Spell Read and Write is a complete language arts program and it's alot of fun. We used it for Kindergarten and we're using it again for first grade. They also have one for 2nd and 3rd grade. I also like Singapore math. Enjoy teaching your son at home it is so worth it! Best of luck to you.

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