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What should a typical 1st grader be able to do independently (for school)?


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I am thinking ahead to the fall. My son will be 1st grade and it will be our second year of home schooling. He reads fluently 2nd and some 3rd grade books (like magic tree house). In the fall my 4 year old will also be staying home. I plan to work with her on beginning phonics and handwriting and she'll sit in on our history and science (and any math she's interested in).

So- as I am already grooming my K'er for some independence in work (like handwriting, calendar), what during the school day can a typical 1st grader do independently? I am thinking of how to structure my day so he can be working independently while I do the one-on-one with her, like phonics and handwriting.

Also- how many years do you continue doing calendar and 100 chart with your kids? 2-3 years?

Thanks! :)

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Well I've never done calendar and 100 chart with my kids, it is just in their math curriculum.

For my 1st graders handwriting can be somewhat independent. They are usually starting HWT grade 2 in 1st grade, so they have letter formation pretty well by then. I usually sit nearby and glance over occasionally to make sure the letters are being formed correctly. Otherwise you should pay more attention during handwriting so they don't develop bad habits.
Math facts practice online can be independent. My kids read aloud to me in 1st, but maybe you can also assign easy stories for independent reading?

I am going to have a 1st grader and a 4 year old this year. I would do handwriting at the table with both of them at the same time, mostly helping the 4 year old learn to form letters while keeping an eye on the 1st grader. I would work on letter sounds with 4 year old while 1st grader did independent reading or math facts. And then while 4 year old plays, work one on one with 1st grader in reading and math.

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I never had much success with getting my kids to work independently at those young ages. They needed me at their elbows for everything (and sometimes still do :)).

 

I found it easier to allow one free time while I worked with the other. Free time consisted of puzzles, audio books, drawing and whatever other relatively quiet-but-purposeful activity we could find. 

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Quiet reading time.

My first graders just weren't independent. I've had four of them thus far. They did their seatwork right at my elbow, even if they could complete most of it on their own. I don't expect any different from my fifth one this fall. :)

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It really depends on their personalities. Dd could do copywork and coloring on her own. She's reading on her own. Ds would, for a time, do better if I left him to do his math. He still does ok, but prefers to be in the same room. For the majority of the time, I am right there with them while they work. I school them separately, but when we do school together, I give them instructions and then have them work independently at the table. I'm there and can see if they are having trouble or just daydreaming. I have tried letting one work on the computer while the other is in school, but that doesn't always work out. Ds can do Reflex Math on his own. They both get a little lost in Spelling City, but like it. And Grammaropolis is fun. I've ended up using those after school though because they would constantly run into the room asking questions or sharing their score. It became too distracting. 

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nothing substantial here either.

 

 

1 episode of Magic School bus would keep her entertained for the episode.

 

 

Now that we are toward the end of the year, for the past 2 weeks she can do 20 minutes of Math Reflex on her own.

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If it was my dd - she did some math pages and handwriting. She did some computer learning things. Also, independent reading.
My son will be in 1st next year. I predict he will be able to do next to nothing independently. He is not a fluent reader but it has more to do with his personality than that. He might be able to do a math page or handwriting page. I bet that will be it!! I hope to at least get him reading fluently so he could read some readers to himself or his sisters.

I haven't found that young kids can do much independently. At least mine can't!

My dd is doing a little more on her own this year -2nd grade. I hope to increase it a tiny but for next year.

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My first grader does copywork independently. I am usually in the room (or at least within earshot) so that I can keep him on task, if necessary. Although the majority of the time he will sit quietly for 5-10 minutes while completing the work. He forms his letters properly and is a consientious worker, typically.

He will also complete many math assignments independently after we have gone over the lesson together.

Explode the Code gets done mostly independently with only occasional questions.

He does his independent reading independently (obviously!) He does read to me every day, but then is required to read silently for at least 30 minutes. When he is done he tells me what he read about so that I am sure it has been done.

It will depend on the child - their personality and their ability to sit still and stay focused. My current first grader is my fifth, so I've run the gamut with personalities and abilities. But I will say that all of my first graders have been able to do at least one or two things independently. Like I said, I am always in the room or very near by if help is needed.

Only you can know exactly what your child is capable of doing :-)

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Nothing much unless they're very early and fluent readers like my oldest.  She could read like an adult by her 5th birthday, so that was weird and not applicable to normal situations. She read independently for hours a day at 6.  Mine all did a little handwriting/copywork independently at 6.  My middle did a little math independently at 6-she loved it and took to it quickly.  After I explained the concept, we practiced and she understood the directions, she could do a few workbook pages on her own. She wasn't ready to start learning to read until she was almost 8, so I had to read aloud everything to her for quite a while. They're all different.

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My DD in first grade could have independent reading time on her own by the second half of 1st grade, but that was it.

 

My DS can/will do short copywork or handwriting practice, math fact practice and sometimes other math workbook pages (he is accelerated in math, so that may not be typical -- he sometimes likes to spend 15 minutes on his own puzzling through a Beast Academy problem).  He can read Magic Tree House type books but is not confident and won't do it by himself.  He wants me there to help if he gets stuck on a word.  Sometimes he chooses on his own to write a story, but only when the mood strikes him, and I have a hard time capturing that writing interest in a way that is productive for school work!

 

If I need my 1st grade to be productively occupied, I will sometimes get him going on an educational game on the computer or iPad for 20 minutes....or just encourage him to take a break to play until I am ready for him again.  My older DD is very independent this year (maybe more so than is good for her!), so other than brief  moments spent doing a bit of K4 work with my next younger DS (he is only interested in a few minutes per day of seat work, which i am fine with for preK), I find am pretty available to work with DS7. 

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Mine were in PS for first grade.  By this time of the year, in addition to reading independently, they were expected to be able to write their spelling words, compose simple sentences using those spelling words, and write very rudimentary four-and five-sentence paragraphs on simple topics.  And of course do spelling and math worksheets.  From volunteering in their classes, I saw that the majority of kids had no problem doing those things.  Of course there were a few who struggled with staying on task.

 

We started homeschooling when my youngest started second grade, and he was capable of doing quite a lot of work independently.

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Mine can do a short piece of copywork and some independent reading by herself. I do also give her occassional revision work where I expect her to work independently - anything that has had any new teaching and I have to be there - but that is fair. And I don't want her doing busywork, so mostly I must be there. She does do some painting, drawing and even a few easier puzzles (logic etc) by herself. She can also do basic worksheets by herself - but I don't want her wasting her time with basic worksheets even if she can do them by herself.

 

The best though is to work with my 3 year old and send my 6 year old out to play - my kids are in and out the house all day and have learnt to come when they are called (most of the time). We have a fenced in yard though so they can play out there unsupervised. Otherwise some toys or computer games (sumdog etc), youtube videos or other educational videos are also pretty easy to set up.

 

Since first grade does not take so much time, I think its ok not to give any independent work. 

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My oldest will be in 1st next year but I find that my expectations for "independent work" is more gradient than black and white. So I expect her to do it "more independently" as time goes on. Right now that means that she can complete her copywork with only one or two interjections from me, instead of the beginning of the year when I would prompt every letter. 

Now I do require truely independent reading time from her - in addition to reading with me time. She is very capable as a reader but struggles with confidence so making her read by herself has helped tremendously in helping her realize that she can read.

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This year I have a ds in first grade and a dd who is 4.

My first grader can do handwriting practice on his own, and maybe...if we are having a good day...he can do some math practice on his own (just the worksheet part after we have already gone over the lesson.)

I have a 4 year old who I am starting to work with this year as well, but it takes so little time to do her one on one lessons that I just do it while my first grader is taking a break. He goes off to play for 20 minutes while I work with her, then comes back. She sits in on his history, art, science stuff if she want to. Honestly, the harder part is keeping her occupied while I do lessons with him because his first grade stuff takes a bit longer to get through.

ETA we have done various things for calendar throughout K and continuing for this year. We seem to do it for a bit, then it gets old, so we stop, then come back to it later....repeat. I will probably continue to do it in some way next year, mostly for my 4 year old.

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Idon't have time to read all the answers, but I've never consistently gotten my 6 yr old to do anything independently. If I'm working with DS4 at the same table he just watches us. I gave up because it was crazy-making and in the end faster to just work with them separately.

On his best days he can do a copywork sheet, or a Singapore worksheet while I am in the room but not staring at him (doing dishes for example). If I leave the room all bets are off, he will have stared into space the entire time I'm gone. Half the time when I'm in the room I have to remind him every two minutes what he's supposed to be doing.

I don't do calendar or 100 chart, so can't help you there.

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When my pre-schooler wants to do school, my olders either entertain themselves quietly or do their assigned reading.  My 3rd and 4th graders have some computer work they can do on their own.  I could probably give a 1st grader his or her copywork and have them sit in the room and work on it while I worked with a pre-K as long as they didn't get distracted by noise.  The same is true of the independent computer work, it depends on how your child reacts to noise/distraction.  Though actually, it is the pre-K who is mostly self-taught because he picks up stuff from the olders and asks them to teach him. 

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My oldest in first grade... reading. That was it.

Middle child... nothing. Well, I guess he can do some free reading on his own now toward the end of the year. That's it.

Youngest... At 4, he's been doing math mostly independently. He's kind of crazy though - unusually independent and focused, plus he can read well and follow directions. My oldest could read well also, but he still needed me to walk him through instructions in first grade.

 

But as a PP said, at those ages you can work with each child one-at-a-time and still be done before lunch. Read to your 4 year old to get some one-on-one time with Mom. 30 minutes first thing will fill up that cup. Then do the 1st grader's school, which in my house takes about 1.5-2 hours. By time your total schooling time takes long enough to worry about it, your oldest should be able to do some things independently, even if still sitting in the same room to be kept on task (ie, you can teach them their math lesson, then set them at a desk or table to complete the assigned exercises while you work with the other kid a couple feet away or at the same table).

 

Right now in the morning, I have all 3 kids do a CLE Math lesson at the same time (oldest is just doing it for quick practice, below his current working grade level). We do speed drills together, then they all start their lessons. I sit at elbow with my 1st grader. When he is at a section he can work on his own for a minute (like a set of 5 2-or-3-digit addition/subtraction problems with regrouping), I'll read the story problem to my 4 year old (if the problems were in HIS book, I wouldn't even have to do that) and dictate some numbers for him to write. The rest he does on his own. My 4th grader whips through the lesson by himself with no input from me, but again, it's all review for him. Kind of a math warmup to start the day. :) All 3 kids are close to each other, so I can easily help anyone that needs it. The older two have desks right next to each other, and the youngest has a desk a bit behind and off to the side.

 

Thankfully, my 4th grader has become quite independent this year. Hallelujah! :D Last year, he was really wasn't, so I did K stuff first while then-3rd grader read books, then I did the 3rd grader's school the rest of the time. K only takes about 30 minutes in my house.

 

 

Also- how many years do you continue doing calendar and 100 chart with your kids? 2-3 years?

 

Definitely not. They'd be bored to tears! I never did calendar or 100 chart with my oldest (though he had them in Saxon K and 1 at school - I didn't do them at home at all). I did 100 chart with my middle son for about a month when he was 4. Then he got the concept of place value and I dropped it. We still talk about place value, but I don't feel a need to use a chart with him. He's happily going through Beast Academy 3B right now in 1st grade, and he very clearly has a solid grasp of place value. I never did calendar with him, beyond what was in his math program on occasion. Stick a calendar on the wall and they'll learn how to use it pretty quickly outside of school time. I haven't done a 100 chart at all with my youngest, but he clearly understands place value within 100 already. He also is very good with calendar skills (yesterday - Monday - he said, "The day after the day after tomorrow, I have Learn to Play Hockey!" I had to sit there and calculate that, and yes, his hockey is on Thursday :D).

 

Not sure my kids are typical, but my middle son was slower to pick up calendar skills, and he still doesn't require 2-3 years of daily calendar work. :tongue_smilie:

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I tend to disagree with the opinion that youngsters can't do things independently, which usually puts me in the minority on these forums where a lot of families prefer to work closely. There's nothing wrong with working closely and choosing not to push independent work early, but I don't think that it's true to say those ages CAN'T work independently. I think it depends on what you use, how you approach it, and if you give them the skills, time and motivation to learn to work independently. Many (not all) kids who 'can't' work independently also haven't really tried because it was already assumed they couldn't, it's kind of a self fulfilling prophecy. If a child has never done independent work before, of course they will fail to do so the first few times, it's a skill that needs to be taught, not a natural ability, so please don't expect your 6yo to just suddenly be able to work alone, he needs to be taught how, intentionally and gradually. When I was being homeschooled as a kid, and the same was true for DH, our younger siblings definitely began independent work around those ages, successfully, as did our friends and their younger siblings. Unless you want to claim our entire group of 40+ kids were gifted, we must have been on to something. And kids at PS are doing work independently at those ages on certain things. I don't at all believe it is developmentally inappropriate for MOST kids (of course, some are not capable, you need to be aware of your own child's limitations.)

 

Here's an example of MY goals for MY family, given the way we do things and our environment. This won't hold true for everyone and is, to a point, dependent on curriculum.

 

The process is gradual and just as much a part of learning as the rest, so I don't have goals for where they start, but rather where they finish. By the END of K I would aim for fine motor (non handwriting) activities like Kumon workbooks to be done independently. I would also expect them to be able to sit with something like pattern blocks or rods or lacing cards and do them for a generous period of time without constant handholding/moral support or wanting attention and for mummy to watch everything. That's the first step, to get them feeling ok with mummy not watching every little thing done and not needing that constant attention.

 

By the END of 1st grade, for a child who is reading strongly, I would be aiming for

- Handwriting to be done independently (provided pencil grip and letter formation are solid! Don't leave them alone if they still might form bad habits, and watch them write regularly to check this. You should actively watch handwriting at least once a week, and be prepared to step back in if need be).

- Independent reading time should be established IF they are a strong reader (and it sounds like your child is).

- Be able to write a sentence or two without me present/prompting (we would discuss the content before and afterwards, I don't expect the whole assignment to be independent yet, but actually sitting and writing the sentence, including the choice of exact words, should become independent.)

- SOME science and history could be independent depending on the curriculum, this is extremely subjective based on goals, style, curriculum, goals, etc, so I won't give any further details, this area is very dependent on your specific circumstances.

- Math worksheets which are review can be independent. You definitely need to teach topics, and be present for the first few worksheets, but if you're using a curriculum with a specific 'review' sheet' that can become independent. Or a curriculum which covers the same topic for multiple days, some of the later days could be independent. Let me clarify, you should still check the math sheets immediately upon completion to ensure the child gets instant feedback, and if there's a problem you'll need to sit down and do more work so you can guide them through it and help fix the issue, including possibly writing new questions since the worksheet was already 'done'. Some families would rather do math together to avoid extra work/backtracking, and to ensure the answers are correct the first time and that's fine. But for our family and our goals, we would rather have them working on 'review' independently and then do more work if there is an issue with the review sheet than work them step by step through the sheet to get it right the first time. It's different goals and perspectives, that's all.

 

Hope that helps give another perspective :)

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I've always had my 1st graders do some seatwork independently.  Because I have a larger family and need time to work one-on-one with another child, I've always had  a small amount of independent seatwork starting in 1st grade. I usually set this out at my 1st grader's place at the table:

 

  • Explode the Code (2 pages front and back)
  • math fact practice sheets (1 - 2 pages, front only)
  • handwriting practice

Sometimes I need to give some short instructions before s/he starts and sometimes I need to follow up with corrections.  But it's a good 25 - 30 minutes of independent work.  I also usually have manipulatives, game or file folder activity that my child can do on his/her own.  Things like Tangram puzzles, pattern block puzzles, Cuisenaire rod activities, domino activities, state/world puzzles, logic games, etc. 

 

 

Hope that helps,

Lisa

 

ETA: After lunch, all dc, including my 1st grader, have 1 hour of quiet time, reading time in which they quietly, independently, read (or look at) books for 1 hour without asking mom any questions. :D Essential to my homeschool day. 

 

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I hope I am replying to what you are actually asking. My initial reaction was maybe 5 minutes at a time but I realized I was confining myself to what I consider my 6y/o's actual school. Since my 6 y/o is not a fluent reader I have to read directions in math. And obviously she can't work on reading independently. Her handwriting is fine, so copy work can be done in a couple minutes. However my 6 y/o is perfectly capable of sitting and working on a quiet independent activity for half an hour or longer if the activity is of interest to her.

Since yours will be able to read you might be able to get more independent work, since you won't need to read directions. I spend about an hour to two a day working with my 1st grader, not in one fell swoop.

If your goal is to keep your 6 y/o occupied, quietly, so you can focus on your younger one your best bet would be to find quasi educational activities of interest, but not so important that it must be done just right. My 6 y/o likes crafts, Draw Write Now books, some educational aps on my iPad. Since yours is an independent reader, that might be a good time to assign reading, either for independent lit or in science and history topics.

I have never had a specific calendar time, we just talk about it a lot in daily life. (What we have planned for the week, whose birthday is when, we do have a calendar they can look at.) We only use the hundreds chart when needed in math, haven't needed it for a long time. But it was never something we did regularly. I would think you could drop those once your kids master it.

Hope this helps. I have been dealing with a 6 y/o and a 4 y/o this year. It is fun, but can be a little tricky, because they always want to be together.

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Typical? Not much...my ds can do a handwriting page occasionally...but I often have to erase and make him redo it if he does it alone so we don't do that often. He can occasionally do a few math problems if they are review and I am close by to keep checking in.

My dd was not "typical" at that age and she was able to do handwriting, ETC and a math worksheet mostly independently.

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I have a 1st and pre-k4 this year.

My dd works independently in 10-15 min. increments in things like calendar/ weather chart / 100 jar & chart / # of day sheet, math workbook, handwriting, and doing illustrations for journal pages. I usually need to get her started though. It typically adds up to maybe 30 minutes a day. That's when I do one on one with my preschooler. He also has a lot of work I can start him on that he then work on independently. I do a lot of back and forth during Lang and math so that I am taking a few minutes to start one child on something independently and then working one on one with the other. It's been working.

My goals are however different than yours as are the levels my kids work on. My dd is reading right at grade level for example, so she's not capable of doing a whole lot independently, and for my preschooler, we are just doing basic stuff, like letter of the week / number of the day stuff, so he only needs about 30 min of preschool level one on one work a day.

I think your preschooler sounds like he's doing more k level work so probably would need more one on one time, maybe an hour, and your 1st grader is at 2/3 grade level so can probably work alone for an hour a day so I think it should work out for you.

Next year I am planning to start having my my dd do an hour of independent work so I can do an hour one on one with ds since they'll be in 2/k next fall :)

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Review math problems, I will make him do independently. He can read the directions just fine. 

 

Copywork and handwriting are all independent. CtGE grammar, I read one box and did one example of each then set him loose.

 

We are about early reading to make independent work happen. If he's reading then there are things that can be done independently.

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Independent reading - they can do it by themselves on coach, bed whatever.  both of mine loves to read when it is books they choose.

Handwriting - they like it and do it independently

Math - independent on doing the problems but I have to be nearby just in case.

Art - very independent at making a mess :)

Vocabulary workbook - independent but I have to be nearby if they need clarification

 

My younger is a day dreamer and I need to check on him randomly for him to stay on task. 

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I am thinking ahead to the fall. My son will be 1st grade and it will be our second year of home schooling. He reads fluently 2nd and some 3rd grade books (like magic tree house). In the fall my 4 year old will also be staying home. I plan to work with her on beginning phonics and handwriting and she'll sit in on our history and science (and any math she's interested in).

So- as I am already grooming my K'er for some independence in work (like handwriting, calendar), what during the school day can a typical 1st grader do independently? I am thinking of how to structure my day so he can be working independently while I do the one-on-one with her, like phonics and handwriting.

Also- how many years do you continue doing calendar and 100 chart with your kids? 2-3 years?

Thanks! :)

I have a 6 year old kindergartner this year.  While he can't do a whole lot independently yet, I do think by this fall I could expect 30 minutes from him, plus reading time.

 

Recently I made up a binder for him with 3 sections; one section is copywork, one is sheets to practice cutting, and one is his mental math sheets that he has already done.  About twice a week I need him to work on his own until I can start helping him, he works on his binder.  90% of the time he stays focused because he can play if I'm still not ready when he finishes.  He also reads on his own for about an hour a day most days.

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