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How do you do school with your first grader?


joysworld
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We are trying to figure out a groove for our school year. At first, we did all of our subjects at once, but it was hard getting him through it all without me pulling my hair out.

 

We do math, reading, and copy work. daily. History and science are two to three days a week, one of those days being at our co-op. We do not do history and science on the same day. For reading, I'm having him read about four pages from 'Toad and Frog'. For math, I'll teach a concept, and maybe he will work a 2-4 problems once I've taught the concept. If he doesn't get the concept, everyday for math, we just keep going over the concept until he gets it. Once he gets it, he will do two pages from his sm wb. For copy work, he writes one, maybe two sentences a day. He also does math drills just a few minutes a day with flash cards. Up to ten.

 

Since our days were so hard, I tried breaking up school into shorter segments through out the day. He HATES this, because it means he keeps getting interrupted when he's playing. He says he wants to do all of his school together, but it's torture for both of us.

 

Suggestions?

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My dd's attention span has improved a lot and we're doing more in one sitting now but when we were working on first grade stuff our day was broken up. I did it in a set/scheduled way so she would know what to expect. It usually went something like this:

 

First thing in the morning: Bible, Handwriting, Song School Latin for 10 - 30 minutes

 

Lunch time: Math, Geography Songs, History for 10 -30 min Sometimes we watched our MUS video while eating and then did the work.

 

Afternoon or Evening: Either mid-afternoon or right before dinner Language Arts (Spelling, ETC book, FLL, WWE) etc. 15-30 minutes. We didn't do everything every day. We just worked for 15 to 30 minutes and started the next day with whatever we left out the day before.

 

She read a lot on her own so we didn't have a need for scheduled reading time. We varied what we did at each time slot by the day. We always started with Bible but the rest of it moved around.

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I don't know if this will help, as it sounds like we have different student types, but I can share what has been working for us.

 

I organize our daily schedule in "brain power" order. Math comes first, as it makes my girls think the hardest; then handwriting, spelling / phonics, reading, writing, and grammar; after that I schedule in things like history, science, Latin, art, etc. This seems to help all of us, as by the time they are getting tired, we're moving into subjects that require less mental effort on their part.

 

We keep lessons pretty short. Math is by far our longest stretch, lasting 30 - 45 minutes. (If my girls didn't love it so much, I would shorten it to 30 minutes tops; however, they consistently beg for more. :001_huh:) Handwriting is 5 minutes; spelling is 15 minutes; writing is 5-10 minutes; grammar is 5 - 10 minutes; reading is about 15 - 20 minutes. They do grammar 2-3 days/week; all other language subjects are daily. History and science each happen twice a week.

 

We have what we call "brain breaks" after math, then after our language arts block, and then of course for lunch. I put on music that my girls love and ask them to dance, or else send them outside to run around for 10 minutes or so. Snacks happen at this point as well. Those breaks give me a chance to shift gears and get ready for the next chunk of lessons.

 

We quit at noon. Whatever didn't happen by then, didn't happen -- it will wait until the next day.

 

They know that free time in the afternoon is "their" time. Sometimes an art project that they have been begging for will happen in the afternoon, but they see that as a bonus, not as something that is detracting from their play time.

 

This approach has been working for us all so far. :001_smile:

 

ETA: We also have Fridays as a flex day. We do a math lab; grandma teaches them French; grandpa does shop lessons with them; we go for nature walks, etc.

Edited by Lynnita
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We follow a similar schedule to yours. Generally we do about an hour and a half right after breakfast and then they can play until lunch. Then we do a little more right after lunch or sometimes during nap time (rarely both) and that is enough to finish up. I, too, have a difficult time interrupting play, but meals are a natural break-time so I try to build on that. Sometimes we can get stuff done *while* we are eating, like I read and then they narrate.

 

I've started doing math 4 times a week and on the fifth day we do a little logic, or play a game (or I just try to get everything else I need to do done :tongue_smilie:) Also, I think we do copywork just 4 times a week - whenever it comes up in the various language arts components. My dc read-aloud to me 3 times a week, but they do a lot of reading on their own, so this just lets me check phonics, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc.

 

So the schedule is consistent, but there is some variation in what we do on different days and I try to leverage those times when they are at the table of their own accord. ;)

 

HTH

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I am hs a K'er and a 2nd grader and our scheudle looks like this:

 

9:00am - grammer, writing (copy work), spelling and reading out loud to me - we bundle all this together and it takes about 45min for my 2nd grader and about 20 min for my K'er (he just does reading).

 

I switch between the two of them so they each get a small break when I am done with them and working with the other one.

 

Around 10 ish or 10:15 - I bring them all to the table together (along with my 3 year old) and we have a snack while we do ETC and Handwriting - usually just a page or two of each.

 

They then get a 15 minute break.

 

At 11:00pm - my 2nd grader does his TT3 all by himself and I work on math with my K'er for about 20 min.

 

My 11:30 we are done and they all get a big break until we eat lunch (12:15ish) and again after lunch while I put their brother down for a nap.

 

At around 1:00ish we do about another hour of work depending on the day. On Mondays and Tuesdays we do 30min of History and 15 min of Geography. We do nothing in the afternoons Wednesday. On Thursdays we do a co-op gym class and Science. Fridays we do Science and Art.

 

It is hectic and we don't always get it all in but most days it goes like the above.

Edited by agarnett
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My dd has to get all school work done before getting any TV or computer time. She is allowed to play in between subjects unless we have somewhere to go. If I am having trouble keeping her attention, I will sometimes make her take a break, mostly for my own sanity. She doesn't like it, because she thinks that she has done something wrong. But sometimes at that age, they can only go for so long. But because she cannot get screen time until it is all done, she has some motivation to keep going.

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Last year for first grade, we did two school sessions - morning session right after breakfast, which had a lot of our skills content (math, grammar, reading, etc.). I tried to alternate subjects that required writing and subjects that did not. Once we finished those 3-4 subjects (and I used curriculum that didn't take long - math was about 20 minutes, and then grammar was 5-10 minutes, reading was 10-15 minutes on his own, etc.), we'd take a 3 hour break. After lunch, we did the rest of the subjects while littles were napping. ;)

 

We did math everyday (usually one section of MM, so 2-3 pages, but not assigning all the problems, and I'd scribe for him part of it if I needed to), grammar 3 times a week, WWE 4 times a week, copywork on the days that he wasn't writing in WWE, history 3 times a week, science 2 times a week, spelling everyday... I think that's it. :tongue_smilie:

 

ETA: Like tracymirko, we have a "no screens" rule until ALL schoolwork is done for the day. That goes for all the kids in the family, though I will sometimes make a Blue's Clues exception for the littles if DS1 absolutely can't concentrate because they're being wild. :glare:

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Since our days were so hard, I tried breaking up school into shorter segments through out the day. He HATES this, because it means he keeps getting interrupted when he's playing. He says he wants to do all of his school together, but it's torture for both of us.

 

Suggestions?

 

:bigear: If you figure it out, let me know. We are stuck in the same situation in that ds says he wants to do all his work at once, but in his world that still translates to not working for more than 30 minutes.

 

Honestly, if it doesn't involve Legos or play ds just doesn't want to do it, and I'm at the point where I think he just needs to get over it.

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We have the no screen time here as well. I'll give the breakfast and lunch school work a try and see how that goes. We usually have breakfast, the brush teeth, get dressed, do chores then play some, then school. Maybe it would work better if we eat breakfast, start school while eating and then finish, then have him brush teeth, get dressed, then chores.

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We have the no screen time here as well. I'll give the breakfast and lunch school work a try and see how that goes. We usually have breakfast, the brush teeth, get dressed, do chores then play some, then school. Maybe it would work better if we eat breakfast, start school while eating and then finish, then have him brush teeth, get dressed, then chores.

 

Yeah, try different schedules. I found that my son CANNOT concentrate at all on school work if he plays between breakfast and school. So if we don't start until 9 or 10am (after doing breakfast around 7:30ish), school is going to be a chore all day long. :glare:

 

OTOH, some kids need to burn off energy before starting school. They're all different! My son is not a wiggly boy and never has been. I mean, he'll fall out of his chair and drop his pencil, but he's not bouncing up and down while doing his work. :lol: My DS2 is a wiggly one. He may need to run laps around the yard before doing school. We'll see. :tongue_smilie:

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I'm also in the camp that says whatever we don't do before noon can wait until tomorrow. Of course, there are always exceptions. We will do "fun" stuff after lunch-art projects, science experiments, etc.

 

Our generic schedule is:

 

Daily -

Language (Reading and Spelling are done daily, Grammar on M and F, Write Shop T-TH, Handwriting when we have a few extra minutes since I also use AAS as handwriting practice)

Math - RSB

 

MWF - SOTW

T and TH - Science

 

Reading does not always take place during school time. Sometimes we will read a story after lunch or while dinner is cooking. Then it is just fun reading and not school in his mind.

 

As for the order of our day, I have my routine, but some days if I'm having a hard time getting him started I'll show him everything we have to do that day and let him pick what we start with.

 

Also, if we don't stop for a snack at 10:00 it turns into an ugly scene in no time!

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I just started having mine come to the table dressed and ready for the day. Over breakfast I read the KJV (for the language) and catechism and memory verse (we have music for this!).

 

Immediately after breakfast DS either works from his Thinking Skills workbook or does handwriting practice.

History reading followed by HOD's corresponding "Rhymes in Motion" to get our wiggles wiggled out.

Spelling copywork (for studied dictation).

Storytime (I read, he narrates).

Grammar lesson & Writing copywork.

Latin (with music!).

Math.

Phonics review (on the couch).

SNACK TIME

Optional recorder lesson before free play.

LUNCH - I read poetry & Mother Goose rhymes (we memorize some).

Then the little ones go down for naps and DS writes his spelling sentences from dictation and then reads to me before running off to occupy himself while I get some quiet.

 

Science here is interest led and is indistinguishable from "free time" and pervasive so not something I schedule at this time. Basically my key thing is to break up writing work with listening or active work.

 

This has come about from months of trial and error and much frustration (with neither of us wanting to do school at all). Now I have a schedule on the fridge and DS works better when he does not get to play first, it's mostly not broken up, and he knows what to expect. Also, music and things he likes have made a difference. He wanted to learn an instrument so it's on my schedule. He wanted to do the readers - I let him. He enjoys copywork/dictation better than a workbook or list for spelling so that's what we do. He loves our read aloud so I'm careful to do it daily. I'm letting him learn cursive as per his request. He knows that if he's cooperative through math and phonics, the sooner he eats again and gets to play his recorder or run off to play. ;)

 

I understand exactly where you are right now and hope you both find your groove soon!

Edited by SCGS
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I have a K'er and a 2nd grader. We have two sessions each day. The morning is mainly seatwork, and in the afternoon we do reading, history, & art/music. Anything that requires any substantial amount of reading aloud has to be done during my 18-month old's naptime. If not, I am bombarded with board books and loud protests that I'm reading history and not Goodnight Moon. However, even if a loud toddler wasn't an issue, it works pretty well for us to be at the table in the morning and on the couch in the afternoon. We usually take about an hour and a half for lunch and playtime in between.

 

I guess I should add that my K'er doesn't work all morning. It takes about 30-45 minutes for him to do all of his seatwork (the time being largely determined by how often we're interrupted by my toddler climbing up on the table and grabbing pencils), and then he is free to play. My 2nd-grader usually has about an hour & a half in between.

Edited by petepie2
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Our schedule is less determined by the needs of my 1st grader than it is by (a) my job and (b) my two-year-old.

 

After breakfast we do Writing With Ease and spelling. That takes about 20 minutes. I usually take a break after that to read to my toddler or play with him. Then we'll do our Five in a Row lesson, because Colin can participate in the story and sometimes the activity. Math is our second period of concentrated tablework. We usually go for 30-45 minutes. Then, most days, I go to work.

 

We have two longer days, one where my husband is home all day and one where I'm home all day. We save projects and trips for those days.

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I work full-time from home and have an older dd that is having trouble with first grade noise. :)

 

On Sunday night, I setup a daily folder for each day we do school during the week. My dd likes knowing exactly how much work she needs to accomplish during the day. I put the pages she needs to do with me (math, reading, memory work) on one side and the pages she can do without me (phonics worksheet, handwriting, copywork, word maze, drawing page) on the other side of the folder. If I am busy, she works on her own or plays. If I am available, then she works with me until her work is done or I have to get back to work. We have anything that requires me reading to her either before or after work (science books, literature book, history story).

 

She can take breaks, plays, plays outside, or anything she wants to do except watch tv and play on the computer during "school" time because our school day covers the same hours as my work day. If she works straight through, she is done in less than an hour. Most days, she's done before noon. Sometimes, she doesn't finish until I am almost done with work. Some days, she spends her extra time in books or art projects, but most days, she looks like she's spending the whole day playing.

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We've been in the same schedule/groove for Kindergarten as well and it seems to work out well. Only had some minor re-arranging of subjects and time slots. We school 4 days a week but our schedule remains the same daily:

 

The girls get up between 5:30 and 6am.

 

7:30am - BJU English, 1 or 2 pages (~10 minutes)

then my big girl can play on JumpStart until breakfast

 

8am - breakfast and I read aloud our Bible story. Shortly after breakfast, dd completes the activity page in BJU Bible Truths that goes along with the story

 

9am - craft (Carol's Affordable Curriculum summer craft pack)/art (~ 30 minutes)

 

10am - snack/story time (~20 minutes)

 

11:30 - lunch

 

12:30ish - quiet time

 

about 45 minutes to an hour later, big girl comes out. We used to work on science after quiet time but I moved that to evenings.

 

(no official school work in afternoon but the girls will do their own "unschooling" stuff)

 

8pm-ish - small girl goes to bed and I work on math and/or science and reading until it's close to 9pm. I also read aloud a chapter book at bedtime.

 

-And of course, the "scheduled" items don't last an hour so they go off and play and do their things. My girls operate very well on a schedule and I am thankful that we found something that works for us! Hope you do too!!:001_smile:

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Could you maybe try two sets of work? Do your daily stuff first thing in the morning right after breakfast and then after lunch would be your history/science/anything else you only do a few times per week. Then your work times are pegged to meals so that he doesn't feel like you are interrupting his play time. If it were me I would also separate the time you learn and practice new math concepts from the time you spend drilling facts.

 

We divide our day in half mostly because I work in the afternoons/evenings and my husband gets home mid-afternoon, but it works really well with DS1. I school about 3/4ths of our work in the mornings and then DH finishes up anything we didn't get to in the afternoon. I work a lot of hours Monday-Wednesday and so DH does more school work on those days but I only work a few hours on Thursdays and Fridays so generally DH doesn't have any school to finish up those days or it might just be having DS1 read out loud or something like that.

 

I organize our schooling by the amount of writing required since that is DS1's criteria for difficulty. We start with 2 things that require writing, then do 1 or 2 things without any writing, then something else with writing, etc. Writing consists of 1 page in HWT, 1 very short sentence for copywork (usually something like "Cows live in barns." from DWN) and then whatever math writing he has from SM1A. I write/type his narrations, but I'm hoping to get 1 short written sentence out of him in the second semester for those narrations.

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We do everything all at once in a 3 hour block in the afternoon during the other children's nap/rest time. It saves my sanity to get the core subjects done while there is relative peace and quiet.

 

We do all of L/A and then take a break. So, first is copywork, then spelling review from the words learned the day before, she reads aloud something to me and then I read aloud to her (poem or literature). We do narration pages 2x a week. We finish up with our new Phonics Road lesson for the day.

 

During our "breaks" I have her run around, tumble, do jumping jacks, bounce on a yoga ball - anything that will expend energy. She is always allowed to get up and hula hoop during our lessons if it is possible (when she isn't required to write or read).

 

We then move on to math, which takes a good 45 minutes. We are using two programs and I take a mini-break between the two. We start with Sinagpore, I teach the lesson, she works in her workbook. We then complete one McRuffy lesson which is generally very short and takes 10-15 minutes at most.

 

Long break! 20 or so minutes for her to play or do whatever she wants. Snack, bathroom, etc.

 

We finish with either science or history and we do geography work with the map and work on Beginning Geography daily at the very end for 5-20 minutes depending on if the others are up from naps and ready to join us.

 

We save all projects and experiments for the weekend to be done with Daddy and we also typically do art and music on the weekends when DH is home and can pitch in with the two little ones.

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It's funny how reading other posts makes you remember things you've learned that work/didn't work. I've also found that event though w e split work up in to 2 or 3 segments during the day we really need the first block of work to be started during or immediately following breakfast. If she plays first the whole day doesn't go near as well.

 

I'm in the same situation as others who mentioned that the broken up schedule is more about them than their kids. I teach her at the office where my husband and I have our own business which means I have work to do....and we get interrupted a lot! I've found that if we do the first block of lesson work first thing after breakfast before play she is focused and when we finish she plays independantly for the hour or two before lunch. If we don't do it she interrupts my work every 30 seconds saying she's bored. Incidentally, this was true even when she was 2 1/2 or 3 years old when we first started Bible reading time and learning letters. The independant play wasn't quite as long but she still played well by herself for a while and I could get a few things done.

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We start our school day with Bible and read-aloud all together, followed by a group activitiy like art, tea-time, music etc. Then, more reading with the younger three including history or science.

 

After that, I have a block of time with my first grader doing his math, phonics, handwriting, LA. If he had something to do for history, like a picture/sentence etc, he does that next. Then, he is free to go and play. So, basically he hardly gets a break in all that time, but we move through different types of activities. I find this to work well for him.

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I *think* I've finally figured it out!! At least for now:) I made a binder with five tabs. Each tab stands for a school day. In each tab I wrote down all the assignments for that day. We start school right after breakfast, and he has to at least do two subjects. Then we do school right after lunch. He gets wii time or computer time only during the movie for my youngers quiet time. So the more school he has to do after lunch, the shorter his game time is. This has motivated him to do most, if not all of his school right after breakfast. If he starts playing around or what not, I don't nag him or berate him. I just tell him that we'll put the rest away fro after lunch. This is a great motivator. It also helps him not feel so overwhelmed for school because he has a list of everything that has to get done, and so it's set and he doesn't have to wonder how many math pages or how many reading pages, etc. He also really enjoys crossing things off. Thanks for all the helpful advice:)

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Happy to hear that 1) I am not alone and 2) you figured out a solution!

 

I recently started taking mini breaks every 30-45 min of no more than 5 minute duration. We do jumping jacks, stretches, finger exercises, get a glass of water, bathroom break. I've been able to stretch class out an extra 45 min so can now do all the subjects I had planned.

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