It’s been awhile since I’ve gone over our core subjects (reading, math, etc.) and shared what we are doing and how that is going. So I thought, over the next few posts, I’d give you a tour beginning with Oldest who is in first grade this year.
A Beka has been my go-to for reading, math, spelling, and handwriting for him this year. And for those of you who were along for the ride through all of our math frustrations last year, this year has gone incredibly smoothly so far.
Phonics: Oldest is using Letters and Sounds 1 for his phonics workbook. He works one side of a page each day on his own, learns a new flashcard phonics sound each day, and reviews his other sounds. Together, we go over the lesson for that day from the curriculum, and I have been following the curriculum more closely this year than last year, though I still don’t follow it to the letter. It does let me know when (and how) to teach syllables, homonyms, and alphabetical order. We also take a test once a week over his phonics and spelling. He spends 10 min. on his worksheet and 15 min. max on his flashcards; together, we probably spend 30 min. on reading and language concepts.
For his reading, I have mix of things I do. First, I have him read any related Bible work that fits in with our Tapestry history lessons. He reads out of the Seek and Find Bible, which has been perfect for his level of reading and understanding. Then, I’ll have him read any books from our Tapestry reading list that are on his level. If there aren’t any, then he will either read a library book (we’ve loved the Billy and Blaze series of books, and I throw in a few science-themed books here, too), or he’ll read from his A Beka first grade reader.
Spelling: We’ve used the A Beka Spelling and Poetry 1 book for this. He has largely tackled these lists on his own this year, while I supervise to make sure he is learning his list with the exercises provided in the book. If I test him and he did not learn the words on his own (which has only happened once this year with the “ight” and “ite” words, a tough list for him), then I take an extra week on the list and go over it with him everyday. Not only does this free me up a little bit, but it’s teaching him some independence; he’s learning to learn without my help.
Handwriting: He spends a total of 10 min. a day on this and works from two resources. First, he’s learning cursive this year out of the K4 book (shh! don’t tell him it’s K4) that I purchased his K4 year and then scrapped because it was too difficult for his motor skills at the time. He does one side of a page each day and will finish the whole alphabet any day now! I’ve also had him do some copywork from the Primary Arts of Language program that I reviewed earlier this year.
Arithmetic: I have really found A Beka to be much more consistent and enjoyable this year compared to last year. Everyday the amount of work is the same, and it allows us to keep a regular pace that seems much more realistic than last year. Each day he does one side of a page on his own (about 10 min. of work) and one side of a page with me during our “together” time. Together, we go over his flashcards, review and cover new concepts following the daily curriculum, take a speed drill (a timed math quiz), and complete his math work page. Depending on the day, this will take us 30 min. to 45 min. He also does Reflex, which I am still extremely impressed with. Not only does he still love this program, but I think it is also a key reason why math has not been the nightmare it was last year. I highly recommend this.
How do I organize his work pages? I have pocket dividers in a 3-ring binder with the days of the week marked on the divider. At the beginning of the week, I pull his pages for every subject out of his workbooks and file them into these dividers. I also place new flashcards in these pockets. We call these his “pocket pages,” and he starts each day with 30 min. to complete all of his independent work pages (10 min. for phonics, 10 min. for math, and 10 min. for handwriting). Later in the day, he has an additional 30 min. to review flashcards for phonics and history and to go over his spelling list.
*I want to mention one more thing here. He is not on the same lesson in every subject, which I’m totally okay with. He whizzes through all things reading and phonics; it’s his strength. Because of that, we actually began first grade phonics in March/April of last year. He is on lesson 104 in phonics as I write this. Math took us awhile to finish up because I didn’t move on until I knew he understood the lesson. Thus, we finished kindergarten math in August of last year. So that means, that we are on lesson 83 in arithmetic. Because I have done the same thing with spelling, taking the time we need for him to actually learn the words, we are on list 17, not the list that the curriculum says we should be doing. For me, the curriculum is a guide not a tyrant. I use it to help me stay on track, but I don’t let it dictate where we must be.*
And that’s our first grade tour of the core subjects. If you ever have questions, please feel free to email me. There is a link under my bio in the right sidebar. I’d love to hear from you!
What do you love to use for teaching the core subjects?