Charlotte Mason Homeschool First Grade Recap (Take 2)
(Please note that I have linked to the book lists on the AO website to respect their licensing terms and the hard work they’ve put into such an amazing curriculum which they offer for free. Books that use affiliate links here are not listed on the AO website.)
It is much to be wished that thoughtful mothers would more often keep account of the methods they employ with their children, with some definite note of the success of this or that plan.CHARLOTTE MASON, HOME EDUCATION
Overall, C did very well this year and I love AmblesideOnline’s very gentle but also very beautiful first “real” year of school for her. B pointed out after we were done with our final exams that this is the last time I’ll do Year 1 and that, of course, made me a little sad. But I’m also excited for what’s in store for us in the future as Year 2 contains some of my favorite books from the AO book lists so far.
She made progress in so many areas, including her handwriting, math, and reading, and it’s been fun to see which areas of her educational journey interest her the most. She is so open and very positive about school, which is a big difference from her brother who has had his struggles with it. I hope this part of her never goes away.
This was also our last year in our homeschool co-op as it ended in May and will not re-start in the fall. I am sad about this as it’s been such a rich and wonderful experience for us at times, but I’m also excited to be able to plan all of the things we do in our homeschool rather than sharing that responsibility with other co-op moms. I am so, so thankful for the experience of being in the co-op not only for the relationships that grew from it (for both the kids and me) but also for the very sound footing it gave me in the world of homeschooling. When we started, B was just beginning Year 1 and I was pretty clueless about a lot of it. It was so helpful to be able to see simple things, like other kids narrating, in action so I knew what we should be doing in our own homeschool. I had pictured us being part of this co-op for many years, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
And now on to the recap!
You can see an overview of what Morning Time looked like for us here. For our Morning Time read-aloud this term, we read through part of Dallas Lore Sharp’s The Spring of the Year at just about 5 minutes per week. Because I wasn’t completely consistent with Morning Time, I don’t know if adding this was a good idea or just another “thing” to do, but the kids did enjoy the readings. We also worked on the habit of attention, but, again, consistency with Morning Time made this disjointed and I don’t know how helpful it was.
We did struggle a little with Morning Time this last term especially toward the end because our school days were going later and later, so my quick solution was to skip Morning Time. I also felt like our days went a little more peacefully when we didn’t do it, so I’m trying to figure out how to move forward with that. While I don’t want to get rid of it entirely as that time is when we cover our hymns, folksongs, composer, and picture study, I know something has to change. As Nancy Kelly says, “Keep cutting back until there is peace in your home.” That’s what I aim to do next year.
I’m also torn on continuing with Laying Down the Rails. It worked so, so, so well with “health” and “order,” but for the more abstract ideas, like “courtesy” and “attention,” it’s not as helpful to us. So I may just focus on the more practical habits….it’s a dilemma.
As I didn’t follow the AO year 1 schedule for Bible for the first part of the year with B, this was the first time I did it in its entirety. Other than a few weeks here and there being really light on the number of verses we read, I think this schedule worked well and gave a good cursory glance at the “real” Bible for C. I am looking forward, though, to diving in more deeply with her next year using the Paterson Smyth commentaries!
It was fun going through the Our Island Story readings again and C responded well to them. I didn’t end up doing any kind of timeline of kings and queens with her this year, but I’m not ruling it out for the future. There was trouble remembering all of the names, as so many of them are very similar. I know for a fact that the story of King Alfred burning the cakes stood with her as she brought it up a few times after we read it, but during her exam when I asked her to tell one story about him, she couldn’t other than that he fought in a lot of battles. Still, she was very engaged with the readings and her narrations during our lesson time were very good.
I think the readings we ended up doing from Trial and Triumph (we skipped the first five due to content) were good and the story of Augustine and Gregory particularly resonated with her.
I do think Fifty Famous Stories Retold is good to include just to give a very brief introduction to various historical figures, and she particularly liked the story of Dick Whittington, but I think because this book isn’t an ongoing story, she didn’t engage with it as much as the others.
The three books I added to read alongside the d’Aulaire books worked so, so well. I really wish I had done more research into adding these when I was going through Year 1 with B. I did also plan to take a trip up to Golden to see Buffalo Bill’s grave and museum as we did when B finished the book about him, but we didn’t make it this year as COVID restrictions were still in place at the time and it frankly didn’t sound like a lot of fun. We did, however, make it up to Fort Laramie and Register Cliff in Wyoming, both of which are also mentioned in the book. I had mentioned in B’s Year 1 recap that I would have liked to have gone to the Plains Conservation Center, which we still haven’t done, but we did make a trip down to Rock Ledge Ranch last summer and I think that was also a great way to experience the history of our area.
C finished her first BFB map, so now we have two Paddle maps to go on the wall in the basement. Paddle was a success as it was with B as well and I’m so glad this book is part of Year 1. After each week’s reading, we entered in city and state names as well as places where major events occurred (following the map on the last two pages of the book) on the map and then added more to the line of Paddle’s travels. I think this definitely helped her picture his journey well.
She also did well with the additional readings from the Long’s and Charlotte Mason’s geography books.
She’s been looking forward to reading the Herriot book ever since I read it with B for his Year 1 and Burgess has long been a favorite in our house, so this subject also went extremely well! I love the Burgess book in particular as it introduces different kinds of birds in very natural ways. You don’t really realize you’re learning real bird habits and patterns while you’re reading it, which I think is the essence of a living book.
For the Nature Study part in Term 1, our co-op learned about trees, so I also included the Nature Study Hacking: Trees guide at home. I was happy with this decision as it really helped us stay consistent with our nature notebook entries and the kids were very engaged with the activities, but then decided not to do it in Term 2 as I wanted to cut back on things. Instead, we did the activities in co-op (winter constellations in Term 2 and insects in Term 3), but then she also participated in the Special Studies topics I did with her older brother. She absolutely loved learning about rocks and minerals in Term 3, so I think this was a good way to include her. However, I do plan to use the Nature Study Hacking guides with her next year as I think they’re perfect for Form I students.
Her handwriting, writing posture, and pencil grip did improve over the course of the year, and I feel this was due to her doing one page of copywork every day. We did not tackle cursive this year as I did with her brother as she’s still a little wobbly on manuscript, but we may dive into it next year.
We did not end up finishing Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but we only have about ten lessons left, so we’ll finish that over the summer. We also didn’t end up getting to Bob Collection 2 or the Little Bear books. We had a schedule of three, 15-minute lessons from that book per week and then a reading from Bob Collection 1 once per week (which we did finish). Because of the length of the lessons, however, there were many times we didn’t make it through a full 100 easy lesson, so those were spread out over two days, which is why we didn’t finish the book. She was six months younger than her brother was when he first started learning to read, so that could be part of it, but all kids learn differently so I’m just going with the flow. She has made excellent progress and even though she’s slow at the lessons, I hear her sounding out words all the time outside of our lesson time, so I know she’s well on her way to reading proficiently.
We did not finish RightStart Level B, so we’ll finish the last 30-some lessons that we do have over the summer. I was actually expecting this as once I started limiting math time to 20 minutes with B, he was not finishing an entire book during the school year either. Her math progress was so, so good, though, and I think she will be much better at it than I was in elementary school!
Spanish was another area I struggled with for this term. The Wyoming Department of Education took all of their Salsa materials down, so I no longer have access to the extra activities. I’m not sure I should pursue something else at this point (possibly a return to the Cherrydale book?), or continue on with the videos and do our best. I know they’re learning, but I felt that the activities added a good interactive element.
C really enjoyed our poetry books this year. She was already a fan of Pooh, which we read during her kindergarten year, so the A.A. Milne poems were a hit. She also loved the poetry collection in Term 3 and I loved that she was being exosed to different poets as well as different types of poetry (and the book is just beautiful!).
We covered Shakespeare partially in co-op (which I taught to the lower form students) and partially at home, following the AO schedule. She liked these plays and I have truly developed an appreciation for the Lambs’ versions as they give such a good summary of the plays.
All of the literature books really were a hit and she narrated everything very well. She particularly liked the series from Just So Stories about Taffy and her dad.
I was not as consistent as I would’ve liked to be with her personal timeline as I often forgot to grab some photos for her to use to draw pictures each week, but we did fill quite a bit of it out. We’ll be continuing this next year as well.
Recitation was really an experiment for us this year as it was very different than how I had done it in the past. I was not good about switching out her recitation pieces mid-term, but she did get new ones each Term. I read one of each of them to her each day and I know that they stuck as many times she’d recite them along with me. I hope to be better about not only switching them out mid-term next year.
She enjoyed our Picture Study time this year, which we did both in co-op and during our Morning Time, and I think liked Vermeer especially.
In the beginning of the year, I scheduled time into our lessons for her to work on her drawing, but she eventually got to the point where she asked to just do it on her own. Generally this was done even before she did her copywork, so I know she enjoyed this time. She actually took many of the things she learned to draw in the book and incorporated them into larger pictures of scenes and it was neat to see her creativity come out in that way.
This year for Composer Study, we listened to the music of Hildegard of Bingen, Giovanni Gabrieli, and Henry Purcell. Most of this was done in co-op which was a little challenging as I think most of the teaching was really better for older students (she was the youngest one in our co-op this year) and went over her head. We did listen and talk about the music at home, so I do feel good that she had exposure to these composers. Because our co-op has ended, I’ll be teaching Composer Study next year and I’m looking forward to finding ways to make it engaging for her as well.
For our hymns this year, which were chosen in co-op, we sang “Now, My Tongue, the Mystery Telling,” “Humbly I adore thee,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry,” “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” and “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” (which was challenging as I grew up singing it “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”).
For folksongs, which I chose for our co-op, we sang “Now, O Now I Needs Must Part,” “Go No More a-Rushing,” “Drive the Cold Winter Away” (this was definitely a favorite for me), “Old Maid in the Garret” (which added a little levity to our year and the co-op kids enjoyed :)), “Lavender’s Blue,” and “The Parting Glass.” I thought the last one, referencing a tradition offered to guests leaving a house later at night after an evening of visiting, was fitting for our last folksong of the year as well as the co-op.
C enjoyed both of the handicrafts we did this year which were cooking and origami. Cooking was our Term 1 handicraft and she shared that with her brother. In Terms 2 and 3, he did soap/wood carving, so I pulled out the origami book I had done with him in Year 1 and we did two activities per week. She also did quite a bit of it on her own, which was encouraging to see.
We got through Routine option 1 from Swedish Drill Revisited II by doing Swedish Drill twice per week. On Tuesdays we would review a routine, which was her favorite part as she often called out the routine for B and I to do. On Thursdays we reviewed the newest exercise we had learned the week before and then learned a new exercise as part of the routine we were working on at the time. This schedule worked really well for us and we’ll continue this next year. She did struggle with keeping her body still and not staying at attention, but I feel that’s very age-appropriate. We’ll keep working on that as well.
And now on to Year 2!
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