Review of First Language Lessons by The Well-Trained Mind

Well, believe it or not, we are actually getting some homeschooling done with an almost 7 week old in the house!  My new son is a very sleepy baby and has been very calm during homeschool time for the most part as long as he is napping/being held.  Today was actually the first day I put him in the baby carrier for a bit during school and bounced around as he was a bit fussy. He has been very newborn-y and has really just loved being held and cuddled with blankets.  This is completely unlike my first son who barely napped and needed constant entertainment from the very beginning.  (If we were still breastfeeding, I probably wouldn’t have time…but like with my first son, I had low supply and we had to supplement and now we are just on formula.  Low supply plus cluster feeding resulted in a somewhat traumatic breastfeeding experience thats for sure…But I digress.)

We are currently finishing up the Common/Proper Nouns section of First Language Lessons Level 1 (put out by The Well-Trained Mind) and are on Lesson 45.   I am not crazy about the curriculum but I also like it enough to finish the book.  What I like about the book is that it is fully scripted and requires little to no prep.  I also like how we sit together and do the lesson and its not just another worksheet.  Lastly, I like that it is a gentle introduction to grammar.

The main thing I don’t like about it is that it is incredibly repetitive/simple, especially for an advanced/gifted Kindergartner.  Even at Lesson 44, the book is still requesting the student to repeat the definition of a noun three times.   We stopped doing that long ago!  Often the lessons just take a few minutes and I’m not always sure my son is learning anything.  The book has spent 45 lessons on the difference between common and proper nouns.   He got the concept long ago and I’m just going along with the curriculum in case the creator knows something that I don’t about information retention.  (I have only skipped a couple of lessons.)  Even though I’m sure most people, including myself, don’t always remember what a common and proper noun is, its a very easy concept to grasp.   The enrichment activities and lessons also include very simple exercises regarding proper nouns such as writing the names of aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.  This just seemed a little un-interesting and we often skipped these parts.  My son got the concept and I didn’t want him wasting his limited attention span on practicing writing their names, etc. to further drill down a concept he already understands.

We have enjoyed the poetry memorization.  My son is a great reader and has memorized each poem easily after just a few readings.  There was just one poem so far that is a bit long and might require more effort on our part to get him to memorize!

Honestly, I think my son learns more from workbook pages and drills than the learning style required by First Language Lessons.   As soon as we finish this, we are going to start the Rod & Staff Grammar Curriculum…I think my son is ready to start the book at a slow pace.

I’m really not sure of a better introduction to grammar and confidence builder with regards to grammar than First Language Lessons.  Its just a little painful to get through because of all the repetition and lack of variety in lessons.

Hope this helps someone!

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Homeschooling Kindergarten: The First Month in Review

Despite being pregnant, the first month of homeschooling kindergarten has gone pretty well.  I feel like homeschooling is one of the only things I can actually do right now!  I’m sure we will have to slow down for a few weeks as the baby will be here next Friday, but I’m so glad we got started in early August to get a good routine down before the big change.

Since I know other homeschoolers enjoy seeing what other families are doing…This is what we are doing for Kindergarten.  Technically, this would be considered advanced/accelerated Kindergarten, but nonetheless my son is registered for “Kindergarten” this year.

So the first thing I have been doing each day is writing out our agenda for the day.  We check it off as the day goes.  So the lists below are exactly what I put on the daily agenda for my son.   We don’t always get to do “read aloud” during the school day, but we have three different books going right now so reading gets done at some point.  My husband is reading The Horse and His Boy to our son when he puts him to bed, I am reading Little House in the Big Woods to our son when we do read aloud or I put him to bed (can’t always now due to pregnancy symptoms), and my son himself is reading Farmer Boy (also by Laura Ingalls Wilder) but will ask me to read to him from that too.    We each have our own book to be in charge of…strange, but true!

The first book we read and finished during school was Mr. Poppers Penguins.  We were doing this each day for read aloud until my pregnancy got a bit harder and we had less time.  Initially, I had printed out a study guide to go with it and my son was also doing out loud comprehension questions about each chapter, but I decided to get rid of that because we do that already for Writing With Ease 1 (narration every other day) and I didn’t want him to get burnt out.  So now we just read together.

Schedule on Monday / Wednesday / Friday (These are our “full” school days. Also, transition time and getting my son to focus makes things take way longer sometimes.  A few times, I’ve been surprised at how quickly we got it all done.)

  • Breakfast
  • Prayers
  • Brush Teeth / Get Dressed
  • Start School (School Prayer, Saint’s Life (one from Prologue of Ohrid), Bible Memory Verse) (10 min)
  • Geography (Classical Conversations weekly review )(5 min)
  • Handwriting (Getty Dubay Italic Book B) (5 min)
  • First Language Lessons 1 (5 to 10 min)
  • Writing With Ease 1 (5 to 15 min)
  • All About Spelling  (10 min)
  • Break / Lunch or Lunch /Break depending on time
  • MCP Plaid Phonics Level B worksheet (5 min)
  • Rod and Staff Math Level 1(10 to 20 min) – supplementing with Horizons and Singapore 1 workbooks
  • Read Aloud sometime during the rest of the day
  • Piano Practice sometime during rest of the day but not on Fridays (10 min)

Tuesday

  • Classical Conversations
  • Math (10 to 20 min)
  • Piano Practice (10 min)
  • Read aloud

Thursday (This is also a shorter day due to afternoon activities, but what we do might vary)

  • Breakfast
  • Prayers
  • Brush Teeth / Get Dressed
  • Start School (School Prayer, Saint’s Life (one from Prologue of Ohrid), Bible Memory Verse) (10 min)
  • Handwriting
  • All About Spelling 1
  • Phonics
  • Math
  • Piano Lesson
  • Little Gym

Once my son gets in the routine of homeschool kindergarten and things are taking less time, we will add in some more “elective” subjects such as art, science, and foreign language.  My son asks to do science and I keep telling him I will buy him a curriculum in December if he does a good with the first half of the year.  When I first started homeschooling my son…just starting school, which included a short school prayer, reading a Saints Life and doing a Bible Memory verse could seriously take up to 30 minutes due to his distractibility.  Now it only takes 5 to 10 minutes so I know as time goes on we will finish our subjects more quickly and have time for more “fun” subjects.