After the first article in this series, you are probably getting a little more comfortable building your own curriculum for your first grader. If you missed the first article, be sure to sign up for articles to be delivered to your RSS feed or email and never miss another!
I thought it might be helpful if you could *see* what our day looks like, so this second article is a snapshot of one day with my first grader.
Click HERE to see the spreadsheet that I created for our daily schedule. The column marked “Anna” is for my first grader. Justus is nearly 11 and uses the ACE Curriculum for his school work. Caleb is 3 and is mostly learning along with Anna. Elia is 1 and keeps us all smiling!
All the children wake up at 7am and begin their morning routines. My first grader likes to use an alarm clock and is already able to get out of bed right when her alarm clock goes off and begins working on her morning checklist. This includes smiling (yes, I really put that on their checklist!), making their beds, brushing teeth, reading their Bibles, etc. All four children have a checklist on their closet door.
I created a document on my computer for the AM and PM routines and printed it in color, AM on one side and PM on the other side. Then, I laminated it and punched a hole in the top. I tied a long piece of yarn through the hole at the top – the other end of the yarn had a dry erase marker attached to it. The middle of the yarn got wound around the knob on the closet door. This way, they can flip the checklist depending on which side they need.
I could have used pictures for my non-reader, but his big brother helps him with the list and I figured it would help him get used to those words more quickly.
Part of my goal with the checklist is to enable my children to get themselves ready in the morning without me having to remind them or walk them through each step. With four children, it was getting rather time consuming to have to remind each one, “Okay, now brush your teeth.” “Did you make your bed?” “Pick up yor pajamas off the floor.” If eventually everyone can get themselves ready in the morning, that frees me up to make breakfast in a more timely manner and helps my stress levels!
After everyone is “up and at ’em”, we eat breakfast together. Anyone that did not get to read (or look at for my non-reader) their Bibles may do so during breakfast.
We do chores for about 30 minutes after each child takes their breakfast dishes to the sink and rinses them. Each child has one or two consistent chores for that day of the week and one or two additional chores based on which area of the house needs the most attention. We all work together in the same room of the house and have a great time together.
Then, it’s outside time for about 30 minutes. The kids usually play together on the screened-in porch while I wash and fold laundry as our laundry room is right off the porch.
At 9am, we “officially” start our school day!
For my first grader, each subject has a 30 minute time slot built into the schedule. This includes transition time and time to bring out materials, etc. In this order, we cover Bible Story/Memory Verse, Math, Social Studies, English/Word Building/Penmanship, German, and Science.
One of the best tools I have ever used is “Quiet Play Time”. For children who spend every waking moment together, this is an invaluable piece of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love it that my kids are best buddies as they work and play side by side, day after day. But, sometimes, they just need a break from each other. This is especially true for my two that are the closest in age. They are 16 months apart and play wonderfully together. If they go the whole day without any time apart, there are lots more squabbles by the end of the day than normal. One of my 30 minute time slots is for their quiet play time. They go in their own room and play with their own toys in whatever way they want to. Then, they are ready to come back together and share and work cooperatively again.
After lunch, Anna has some time alone with me for reading. This is our “Literature” time. We snuggle in together on the couch and bring out some books and really dig in. Sometimes, I have books that are her reading level and she reads to me. Sometimes, I have a reading text book that I found at the library and we go through all the questions and additional literature activities. Sometimes, I bring out a book that is a bit beyond her reading level and read to her, stopping often to talk about what it happening in the story.
She then goes to her bed for some independent reading and resting time. Anna is only 4 so a nap/rest time is still in order. If she were the regular 6 or 7 year old first grader, I would probably not give her a nap but let her have some free play time.
Then, comes our regular evening time. She is pretty much done with “school” at this point, though we still have structure to the rest of the evening. Since it isn’t necessarily what you would call regular school, I won’t go into detail here but take a look at the schedule I posted above to see what my first grader does in the evening.