As I have stated in several past posts, we do not follow one set curriculum. We are very eclectic with our choices. I also do not follow each curriculum exactly the way the curriculum recommends. I tweak each one to work for each child. We have not gotten into all of our subjects yet with my older two kiddos. We are easing into the year this month.
Last year, my littlest guy worked through Melissa Neilson’s first grade Waldorf program, Waldorf Essentials. He was only in kindergarten but I felt the material would be good for him. Now starting first grade, what do I do? He is not ready for the saints and the second grade curriculum so I had to look for something else. I decided upon the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Primary Arts of Language Writing Program as our main lesson book.
I am 90% sure that he has dysgraphia as my oldest son and I do. He still has a difficult time orienting letters and numbers, spacing letters, and getting his thoughts down on paper (yes, I know he is only 6..smile). The PAL’s program begins with letter formation using stories to give clues for the letters. We used Handwriting without Tears for my older kids and it worked fairly well. However, my little guy could not grasp the concepts for some reason with the HWT’s verbal commands. I was concerned how the new program would work. Well, so far he loves it. He is enjoying the writing portion of his lessons and he is writing his letters beautifully and in the lines! Small steps make a big difference in later years.
The writing program also uses fairy tales and folk tales to teach writing as does the Waldorf first grade curriculum. PALs uses a new story each day. This is where my tweaking comes in. We are reading a story one day and drawing a picture, painting or sculpting. On the second day, he dictates the story synopsis to me and I write it down. We are doing a two-day cycle with the story. The PAL’s writing program also recommends All About Spelling which we have done in the past. We are trying out Apples and Pears this year. I have not started it yet, as he is just now getting his letters down. We plan to start it soon.
He is very motivated to start reading more this year (we used some rivalry with this one and it worked). He has not been very interested in reading up to this point. His motivation seems to come in spurts. Right now, his motivation is high as he has a cousin who is reading fairly well and he want to be able to read like his cousin. We are using the reading program called Dancing Bears. So far, it is very straight forward and carrying over into other areas. Hopefully, he will remain motivated and be reading like crazy by the end of the year.
Let’s hope the excitement of the past two weeks will continue as we move into more structured days. For now we are getting our creative juices going and trying to find a new rhythm that will work for us during the school year.