Teaching First Grade from Home – Update One

It’s Friday and our first week of homeschool is done. I teach L downstairs on M/W/F, and grandmother M teaches him T/TH. (That means we alternate being with G on those days so it’s been really good for both boys.) After L makes his bed, eats breakfast and brushes his teeth, we head downstairs to the “classroom” and get to work. We are there until the normal time that school would end at 2:20. During our day we have certain subjects we study, along with quiet reading time, reading aloud, learning Latvian with M, math, recess, writing and things he chooses like researching coins.

This is all going so well thanks to how he already been “set up” to learn all of these years. L is already patient and good at listening and following a schedule. On the first day we started homeschool, L was super concerned about the schedule and following it.

As a guide, I printed out the expectations that a first grader should know by the end of the year. As I carefully went through the items, I could see the parts that Ms. B already worked on and I could confidently make many of the checkmarks already. For the rest, we are gradually touching upon everything that needs to be worked on. We’re also working on skills for second and third grade since everything is so connected.

A great way to do all of this is of course, worksheets. And how do you get them? There’s a lot of free ones you can print, but we have had some extra help! My aunt was a first grade teacher and her daughter followed in her footsteps and is also a first grade teacher. They have been sending thoughtful worksheets in the mail to L for fun since last year. It all began with some Thanksgiving and Christmas activities. Now during our isolation, they sent over the real deal – we have a ton of sheets for telling time, counting money and more. Thanks Aunt Vickie and Miss Jenny!

For everything else, I ordered some extra ink and got to printing. A handful of sites we have really found useful so far are:

Dad’s Worksheets https://www.dadsworksheets.com/ This site has anything and everything you might want for all ages, from math to different kinds of lined paper. Thanks, DAD!

A Well Spring of Worksheets https://www.awellspringofworksheets.com/ This site is just for Kindergarten, but I found that having a membership was well worth it for this highly organized collection of worksheets. There are many worksheets for handwriting which L needs a lot of help in still especially for lowercase. I also like the reading comprehension sheets. It doesn’t hurt to go over concepts that already make sense and fine tune them.

When L was in Kindergarten I learned about Teachers Pay Teachers https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/ when I would look for things to help him, and also G for worksheets and schedules for kids with autism. Many things are available to download for free – and just from browsing through the categories you can get a lot of ideas.

I also decided to sign up for a month to Education.com – their site is really easy to use and has hundreds of worksheets divided by grade and subjects. So far we have printed most worksheets from here. For me it gets pretty addicting to choose and print them every week. I did have to order more ink today for our little workhorse – the HP DeskJet 3755.

Another cool thing I found was a site called Vooks which I could sign up for free for a year as a homeschooler. They are awesome videos of children’s books. The library is kind of limited so we will be done watching the interesting ones for older kids pretty soon.

Our local library system offered resources too. Tumblebook Library has so many free items to download.

Overall, it has been easy thanks to L’s attitude. He is just a studious guy (most of the time!) and wonderful learner. The best part of today is that for reading aloud, instead of reading a story, we watched Marc Brown read a story from his own home in isolation. (Marc Brown created Arthur and it’s still L’s favorite show.) We turned the lights off and watched him read and it was such a special moment. While there are troubles in the world right now, and we aren’t sure when we’ll go back to school, we are all enjoying this quality time with L and giving him so much attention that he deserves. I’ve enjoyed figuring out what to work with him on, what subjects he needs help in next, and seeing how happy he is to work at his own pace.