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Curriculum for 1st, 3rd, 6th grades that can be done independently?

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I would love any and all suggestions for specific curriculum that works well for kids to do independently (any subject). I've been homeschooling for 6 years but normally spend a lot of time working with each kid individually. I'm a bit of a control freak and my kids are extraverts who enjoy learning with me. For the upcoming school year, we will have a lot on our plates and I will need them to do some things on their own. Hit me with your suggestions! Thank you.

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At those ages, my kids could read independently and watch documentaries independently.  By 3rd grade, my older could do his math (Singapore) and grammar (KISS) independently. And by 6th grade he could do his violin independently. My younger son could not.  So, I've not had a whole lot of luck with independence in young children. 

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Welcome! I see by your post count you are new.

In my experience, 1st and 3rd grades really can't be done independently. BUT, the good news is that you can easily knock out the core subjects (math and language arts) in under 3 hours for both -- 1 hour for the 1st grader and 1.5 to 2 hours for the 3rd grader -- and anything else they do will be icing on top. If your students all are working at grade level and don't need any special additional tutoring, then you can probably spend 1 more hour a day doing the needed 1-on-1 with the 6th grader, for a total of 4 hours of focused homeschool time on your part. That could be done from 8am-12noon, which leaves you the rest of the day to deal with the additional things you will have on your plate next year.

If at all possible, streamline the children's outside activities (i.e. driving here and there) so you can focus on staying solid with the basics / core subjects, and they can use supplements for the "content" subjects while you deal with the life circumstances that are requiring you to have them work more independently. If you need more time to deal with whatever is stressing your schedule, then perhaps consider hiring a tutor or a retired homeschool mom to come in for 2 hours 2x/week to take on some of the needed 1-on-1 time for you. BEST of luck in finding the balance. Warmest regards, Lori D.

1st & 3rd grader supplement ideas
- listen to audio book
- basket of books at or below her comfortable reading level for self-reading
- education video or computer game or educational website
- "fun pages" of age-appropriate mazes, very simple word searches, logic puzzles, and other printable activities
- sticker book, dot-to-dot book, paint with water book, etc.
- Rush Hour Jr. or other solo hands-on logic puzzle
- put together a jigsaw puzzle (50-100 pieces are a good amount for this age)
- explore with a basket of art supplies (clay; markers or stamping markers; construction paper/scissors/glue; downloaded/printed craft project; etc.)
- learn to sew or crotchet or other hand craft and let her loose on some very simple/basic patterns/projects
- a manipulative and a go-along solo-working workbook (like, cuisenaire rods and Picture Puzzles with Cuisenaire Rods; pattern blocks and Math Discoveries with Pattern Blocks; geoboards and downloaded printed pages; tangrams and puzzle card set; etc.)
- a page or two out of Miquon math as a supplement to your spine
- age appropriate science kit
- a few pages out of Brain Quest or Complete Book of 1st Grade or Kumon workbooks

6th grader supplement ideas
- workbooks -- ONLY a few AND ONLY if the student actually *learns* from workbooks
- educational videos = Science, History
- reading = solo reading, listening to audio books
- writing = Wordsmith Apprentice, Cover Story, or workbook
- practice musical instrument
- work on art project, hand craft, hobby, etc.

Edited by Lori D.
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I get needing independent work. I always have babies and one on one time is hard to come by sometimes. I will proceed, assuming this is not, like, trolling or anything and is an earnest request.

My best suggestions for your first grader are:

- Handwriting workbooks, like HWOT (also good for a third grader, though you will want to check periodically to make sure cursive form is correct if doing cursive, which I really flubbed once); you can just tell them to do a page and circle the best letter

- math online practice with a good site, like math mammoth (only 1x per week though, for fun/drill)

- ABC Mouse for a 1st grader is certainly not a full curriculum, but can be fun and a bit educational

- audiobooks, including a little cozy spot for them, or classical music cd-and-books like peter and the wolf, carnival of the animals, etc.

For 3rd and 6th grade, I would have everything independent, with mom being available to trouble shoot and check work. Give them the spiral notebook method, with their books in a basket and their notebook with the day's assignments on top. It might say for a 3rd grader, though, "read pages 3-10 and come narrate to me" whereas the 6th grader might have "read pages 20-40 and write a one paragraph written narration/summary in your history notebook and timeline the dates."

Having a busy time in life means, for me, leaning on the textbook-and-workbook approach instead of a more creative approach. But it does teach independence -- you just have to make sure the kids are doing the work, and able to do it accurately, and that you are on the ball about correcting their mistakes and helping them so they don't fall into the cracks. But my kids like taking ownership and they don't like mom "teaching at" them or lecturing. They like having a basket with only their stuff in it, instead of being grouped with the other little kids.

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Christian Light is designed for the student to be as independent as possible. It is more teacher intensive for the younger grades. Obviously a 6 year old can't do everything independently. Other curriculum that I know of that a child can do mostly independently:

Developmental Mathematics

Explode the Code

Rod and Staff English Grammar (This is not designed to be used independently but I have used it that way.)

Rod and Staff Spelling

All of JacKris Publishing Language Arts: Growing with Grammar, Soaring with Spelling, Winning with Writing, Digging into Diagramming


Susan in TX

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A typical third grader can do CLE independently, and certainly the sixth grader could. The first grader is the one that needs your assistance. CLE is very helpful to the teacher, and depending on your state, you may be able to adapt or drop the social studies and science to focus on the 3 Rs.

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I would try to streamline as much as possible for the next year.  Choose a single topic of history and have the Sixth grader read aloud a section in a history book to the other two then keep a journal of something learned each day (third grader can do this too and the first draw a picture if they don't write easily).  They can all watch a video together.  Veritas Press has self paced history curriculum that the oldest could do and the youngers just watch.  Do something similar for science.  They can learn together for the extrovert bit.  They can read independently and keep a book log.  Let that be enough for this year.  Any art/music/PE/etc can be purely interest driven.

Then, you have to cover language arts and math.  Writing could just be a daily journal for the younger two.  Depending on the oldest's skill level, require a weekly/monthly paragraph/essay on a topic of their choosing.  Take this through the editing process.  Have them type the final version and read it to the family.  Again, it could be enough for this year.  Plenty of time in middle school to do formal grammar, etc.  I am assuming your children can read and write on their own, if they can't, no independent learning curriculum is going to happen.

Just keep going with your math program.  If you are already used to it that would be easier on you than trying to learn a new thing.  Ace Paces and Christian Light Education are intended to be more independent though if you need something new.  CLE is probably the better of the two.  All of them can do Xtramath.org for math facts review on their own.


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On 6/18/2021 at 4:06 PM, Bethany said:

I've been homeschooling for 6 years but normally spend a lot of time working with each kid individually.

Might help if you list out what you're already using. It also matters whether these dc are strong or reluctant readers and what organization system they're used to. 

I've had seasons like this with both my kids, and I tend to value the educational power of BOREDOM. Also the growth potential with WORK. You might choose some character goals instead of academic and create structures that help you hit them. Then it won't matter how little or much history you got done because you'll still be accomplishing your *real* goals for the year. 

I would have a 6th grader use some kind of typing software, write something daily, and do Teaching Textbooks math. The writing could be prompts, required narrations due by the end of the week, a program like Wordsmith Apprentice, or even with the Beautiful Feet Geography. Suggested character goals could be working from a list, doing chores without being told, showing compassion, showing initiative, etc. They can go to the library once a week and find books to use for narrations for science, history, biographies, etc. The world will not end if they do not do a curriculum. 

I would also have little qualms with a year of audiobooks and crafting, no curriculum at all. Maybe even no math if you really want to get wild. Language scores and math (for word problems) actually correlate really well, so more time listening to audiobooks (3-4 hours a day!) will potentially improve math word problem scores. 

The 3rd grader I would just have read and do TT math daily. Require one dictated narration a day about something they read. A handwriting page.

The 1st grader I would take 30 minutes and teach. If you don't have 30 minutes, then maybe find a grandma or sitter. Or enroll them in a school. 

We've been pretty crazy lately. I did 3 months of treatments for my head and now we're dealing with my dad's health. Coming off covid that's a lot of discontinuity. My ds has had major access to audiobooks and has grown in *character*. We've working on things like working from a checklist. An older student can go back and see things a fresh way, going through a spine to make up ground on history or science. Pudewa also suggests the year of audiobooks thing. Since this is a WTM board, I tack on the importance of narrations and developing narrative language. My ds has ASD2 and needs work on that, but it should go well as he's now getting older. Sometimes it's not that they're learning but that what they're learning is *different* from what we thought it would/should be. My ds assembled furniture to go in my dad's apartment, reading and following the directions, asking for help, sticking with it when frustrated. Those were big deals! And they're skills that make him employable. So getting confidence and life skills can be good too.

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For the 3rd and 6th graders:

Cle math, rod and staff spelling, daily grams, rod and staff science (some ye content in grades 5+, but not in an obnoxious axe-to-grind kind of way that oozes from every page), pentime handwriting

Some other stuff that comes to mind but I haven't used: essentials in writing, math u see, EM daily science

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bju press dlo

Reading eggs/Math seeds for 1st grader




Veritas self paced


Workbook programs I haven’t seen mentioned:



Evan Moor (they have a “homeschool bundle”) 


christian liberty press 

Certain programs from Masterbooks appear to be independent. 



I don’t necessarily recommend any of these, they are just options I’ve stumbled across in the past.  





Edited by AnneGG
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These are some amazing ideas, thank you everyone! The kids won't have to do everything individually, but this year will be different because I'll be working part-time. I just won't have as many hours to teach them. I appreciate all of these recommendations!

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I use The Critical Thinking Company when I need something that can be done independently. We've never made an entire program out of it, but I've used it to fill gaps or for a season of busy.  At different times we've used Reading Detectives, Red Hot Root Words, Inference Jones, Editor in Chief, Language Mechanic, Balance Benders, Mind Benders, Science Detective, and World History Detective.  Some are just thinking games, some are supplements, and some, like World History Detective, could be made into an entire year's program with minimal effort.  There is a lot that you could use with your 6th grader and probably your 3rd grader. The first grader would be more limited and would need to be able to read well before they could use most of it.  They also have math, but we haven't used it.  

Evan-Moor workbooks, Handwriting without Tears, and the Soaring with Spelling programs are all independent.  Handwriting is always the first thing that my kids learn to do independently.  Even-Moor has a workbook about maps that I have my kids do in K or 1 as part of social studies, but mostly we used it for reading comprehension, spelling, or editing practice.  

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On 6/18/2021 at 6:40 PM, Susan in TX said:

Rod and Staff English Grammar (This is not designed to be used independently but I have used it that way.)

Rod and Staff Spelling

I would disagree with you about that. 🙂 Rod and Staff specifically wrote most of its materials to be used independently (with exceptions for some subjects in 1-3 grades). Some years ago they did a survey of the schools which use R&S materials and learned (I'm sure they weren't surprised, though) that most of the schools were multigrade, one-room schools, each with a single teacher who didn't have time to have discussions and do projects and all that stuff; they only had time to quickly go over homework and make the next assignment. So they began revising their materials with that in mind. All of the English texts, math 4th grade and up, spelling from at least 4th grade up, and history contain everything the children need to know. Teacher manuals don't contain any new information, even though there are scripted oral class lessons that can be used.

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