Friday, July 18, 2014

What Didn’t Work For Us–A Look Back At First Grade Curriculum

I have been working hard on plans for Sammy’s 2nd grade year (our third year homeschooling).  While I have been working things out for next year, I did a lot of reflecting on what did and didn’t work last year.  You can see our curriculum choices from last year here

I wanted to share a list of things that didn’t work for us and why.  This is not meant to be a bad review.  Everything that we tried has wonderful reviews online.  It just didn’t work for either Sammy, or I!

  • A Reason For Handwriting AI LOVE this program!! I stuck with it for two years because I love that while the student is practicing handwriting they are memorizing scripture.  What an awesome way to hid scripture in a child’s heart.  So with that glowing review you might wonder why it didn’t work for us.  Sammy is left-handed and while the pages are perforated and can be easily removed from the book the setup didn’t work.  The word the child is suppose to be writing is on the left side of the page right under where a left-handed child’s hand is located.  So Sammy would either be lifting his hand up every letter to see which letter comes next or he was copying the word from the line above.  The line above would have been in his own handwriting and thus if he messed up a letter it would progressively get worse the further down the page he went.  So this program just didn’t work well for my left-handed child even though we both loved it!

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  • Song School SpanishSammy just doesn’t love to memorize things by singing.  I thought the songs were cute and the workbook did a good job of attempting to concrete the information, but it wasn’t a good fit for Sammy!
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  • Horizons Math Grade 1I almost hate putting this on the list.  Sammy learned a ton this past year.  He didn’t hate math or this program (neither did I).  The problem was strictly his retention.  He was not able to memorize his addition (or subtraction) facts by simply doing flashcards or worksheets.  He can do addition and subtraction quickly but not without counting.  I noticed when we played games he would remember facts that came up more frequently.  So we are going to give another program a shot (you will have to wait to see what that is)!
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  • Explode the CodeThese just became busy work.  We love All About Reading and will continue with that next year.  The explode the code books became busy work that Sammy didn’t need in order to retain the phonics rules.  I don’t want to become bogged down with extra work when he already understands a concept.  These books are wonderful and Sammy loved doing them but they were unnecessary. 
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  • Mystery of History Volume 1I love this program!! However, for Sammy it has just been WAY above his head.  He wasn’t remembering any of the information after the lesson.  He would sigh deeply when the history book came out and had a hard time sitting and listening.  We tried coloring during the lessons, we tried building, we tried more hands on activities, we tried a different time of day and still it just didn’t interest him.  I still love this program and will be holding onto it when Sammy gets older.  But for next year we are trying something different.

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I hope this was helpful to those considering their plans for next year.  If nothing else, I hope this is helpful for people to realize that you can love a program but it not be a good fit for you and your family!  I will be sharing our plans for next year later this month!  But I am really looking forward to the year!