If you don’t follow me on social media (Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook) or know me in person you likely haven’t heard the news… I decided to homeschool my first grader.
“What have I gotten myself into?” – something I’m sure every parent in my shoes has said to themselves
Reasons to Homeschool
Before I jump right in and let you know what I chose for our 1st grade homeschool curriculum, here are some reasons why I decided to homeschool.
Improve our Relationship
Every since the boy turned 2 our relationship has been a struggle. After my second was born (which put him at 3.5 years old) things just got even more estranged. Before we had children we desired to homeschool our children but when the opportunity for preschool presented itself (he was 4 years old at this point) I jumped at the opportunity.
I just needed a break from him. I thought maybe the break would help me to be a better parent, and at the time, maybe it did. Fast-forward two years later, I felt very detached, and felt that I had little influence in his life. I almost felt like I had given up some, that to be in a good relationship with him was too hard.
Cater to His Learning Style
Let’s face it, traditional education does not cater to a six year old boy’s needs. For example, when I would pick him up from school and chat with him about his day, the way in which he rated his day was how many times they got to go outside to play. He really didn’t care for much else.
I want Gabriel to learn to love learning more than anything, and I was not convinced (at all) that he was loving anything that had to do with learning. Sad! (Not blaming the teachers… it’s just how it is these days.)
Protect His Innocence
The thing that pushed me over the edge and helped me make the decision (or leap of faith?) to homeschool was that Gabriel’s innocence was not being protected at school. And frankly, neither was mine growing up. Far too young was I (and him?) exposed to explicit language and sexual perversion.
At some point yes, he will be exposed to all of this. For now, I want to protect him as we would protect a young plant in a greenhouse. Not until the plant has grown and can withstand the elements, will it be put outside. I hope to provide this environment and freedom for my kids.
1st Grade Homeschool Curriculum
Without further ado, here is all about the 1st grade homeschool curriculum I chose for my six year old boy.
What I was Looking For
I am a structured individual and therefore I knew I needed a curriculum that was structured and told me what to do. Maybe in the future, once I got my feet wet I would find less structure more appealing, but as a newbie unstructured homeschooling terrified me and I knew it would make be feel flustered 24-7.
I had no desire to be scouring the internet (or Pinterest, oh my) creating a magical, amazing curriculum. No thanks. I’d rather defer to others who know what they’re doing. Just tell me what to do every day and I’ll do it. End of story.
I decided to buy Sonlight’s (very expensive) 1st grade homeschool curriculum. I bought:
First Grade Readers
Horizons First Grade Math
Science A (4 day)
Handwriting Without Tears 1
Why I Chose Sonlight
I decided to buy Sonlight’s 1st grade homeschool curriculum for a few reasons. The first is that everybody who I mentioned Sonlight to said the same thing, “Oh that’s a good one. I (or so and so) really like it. There’s a lot to it, but it’s a quality education.”
Boom. Everybody likes it.
Another reason I chose Sonlight is because it is literature heavy. One thing I had not cultivated with my son (or kids) is a love of reading. I knew that Sonlight cherry picked some of the best books for each age/grade with the intent to create a love of learning and reading.
If I can teach him to love reading and learning, the possibilities would be endless.
What I Didn’t Like
I didn’t like Sonlight’s bible for their 1st grade homeschool curriculum. I can see how this bible would work for a more, ahem, mature 1st grader, however, for my boy that just turned six it just wasn’t working. It went right over his head, he wasn’t paying attention and I was wasting my time (and finding the whole thing frustrating).
Instead of trying to force it, I chose an easier bible called The Jesus Storybook Bible. Instead of going through each story, bit by bit, the Storybook bible simply presents stories from the lens of “God’s rescue plan”. And we really like it! Maybe next year I will attempt the original bible.
Another thing I didn’t like was their phonics, spelling, dictation, and creative expression/pre-writing program. The phonics seemed dry, my kid hated spelling words, and many of their writing prompts and copy work were terribly boring for my busy boy. He was beginning to HATE this part of our school day. No Bueno!
At the encouragement of my seasoned homeschool friends, I have dropped the spelling, stopped doing about half of the phonics and will be creating my own writing prompts and copy work. It is so important to me to create a love of learning and if he is hating something, believe me, he’s not learning. We will find a different way that works for all of us.
We have started writing letters to family and friends (he doesn’t even know he’s doing school work buahahaha) and using Sonlight’s sight word bingo. These two things are going quite well!
One thing I will be looking into is Explode the Code, a phonics curriculum, that kids seem to LOVE. Right now adding I’m not wanting to add anything else to my plate, but I’m definitely keeping it in mind for the future.
What Surprised Me
We are all alive!
The thing that stands out the most is that this whole homeschooling journey with a toddler and a newborn has not been as bad as I had thought it would be. Seriously!
Many times I thought that I had made a mistake, that there was no way I could do this and what was I thinking adding this to my plate when I just had a baby. But honestly, we are all alive and enjoying this journey. This has been way more fun and doable than I had first imagined.
I am learning!
I’m having a blast learning right along side my kids. The books, especially the read-alouds, are really fun. I feel like my brain has been reactivated from the mushy mush it has become over the years.
What I Struggle With
Of course, homeschooling is not all unicorns and pixy dust. There are definitely aspects to it that I have a hard time with.
I hate North Florida weather half of the year. And guess what? I live in North Florida. I struggle with getting outside and therefore, cultivating a love of the outdoors with my kids (at least half of the year). I overheat and get a bad attitude.
I REALLY want to incorporate more nature in our lives, but I just hate humidity and the heat. Any suggestions? Or am I a lost cause? Haha
Bits and Pieces
In a perfect world I would sit down with Gabriel and complete our school work in one fell swoop. Well, first of all, Gabriel’s attention span will not allow this. And neither will my new baby.
I have learned that to successfully homeschool in my current season of life, I have to live with doing bits and pieces of school as the opportunity presents itself.
And that meal times are great times for reading. And that Gabriel can do math on the kitchen floor while I cook dinner. And that homeschooling moms are multitasking ninjas. (I’m starting a #multitaskingninja campaign on Instagram. Join me?)
My Favorite Parts
One of my most favorite parts of homeschooling so far is our morning routine of bible reading, hymn singing and poetry during breakfast/first thing in the morning. Inspired by this post, I am attempting to be intentional about our learning culture in our home.
I am having a BALL singing out of my hymnal I bought on Amazon. And my kids sing along too, even though they don’t know most of the songs I’m singing. We’re having so much fun! And you know what? This would NEVER be happening if we weren’t homeschooling.
Gabriel’s Favorite Parts
When I asked Gabriel what his favorite part of homeschooling he replied:
- Science Experiments
- The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia (because of its QR internet links)
How neat is it that I get to encourage these interests and tailor his learning to HIM?
What I’m Excited About
I am excited about all the reading we are doing. The adventures and stories we read are really fun and sweet. My hope is that we are learning to love reading. We are on the right path!
Some like minded friends and I have started a small “adventure group” where we are meeting weekly to have… adventures outside. This group is new, but the friendships are not. Our kids are of similar ages and we all have the desire to create adventures and friendships. If this idea sounds fun to you, check out this post for some practical advice.
This will probably sound totally nerdy, but there are a handful of homeschool moms I follow on Instagram that are so cool. I want to beeee them. Their pictures are so pretty and their parenting/homeschool advice is spot on and inspirational.
They are all part of this Wild + Free… shall I call it a movement? They even have a conference which I oh so wish I could attend. At minimum, start following them on IG!
Above all, this whole parenting/homeschooling/life adventure I’m on is teaching me more about God and his grace. Never before has my humanity been so laid bare. My weaknesses shimmering while I work my tail off caring for my family.
Thankfully, God’s power is made perfect in my weakness. When I cannot rely on myself, but throw myself, in each moment, at God’s feet, surrendering to what he wants for each moment, God’s grace and power is sufficient for me.
Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
God’s design is to make you a showcase for Jesus’ power… not by getting rid of all our weaknesses; but by giving strength to endure and even rejoice in tribulation. – John Piper