Planning First Grade For Your Oldest Or Only Child

I have been thinking a lot about planning first grade as I am finishing up first grade for the second time, this time with my middle child. Going through this grade again made me think especially about the differences in doing this grade with a first (or only) child, and doing it again within a larger family dynamic.  So, if you are planning for first grade for your oldest or only child, I want to encourage you that you have quite a bit of leeway, to keep it simple, to not overplan and to make sure you are including some very fundamental things that may not have much to do with those letter stories or the math gnomes!

Oh yes, please be sure to include form drawing, knitting, crafts for the season, harvesting.

Yes, you want to go through the math blocks.  Yes, you want to introduce the letters – but many parents I speak with have oldest or only LITTLE GIRLS who are already reading.  So I say, concentrate on the artistic end of drawing the letters.  Let them write a sentence for each letter and practice really good handwriting, if your little girl is bent that way.  You can start word families in the last block or so of first grade; sight words generally are better left until second and third grade unless your child has a prodigious memory and is already doing it.  Let your child read for pleasure, but you continue to read aloud to this child too.  Make music and sing!  Do chores and work around your home.

But please schedule time for the most fundamental skills of first grade:  movement and getting the child in his or her body, time out in nature, and social interaction with other children.  Does your child do well with only one other child?  What does your child do in a small group?  Are they good with children older or younger or not?  Do you have a community you do things with? 

Do plan lots of time to be outside in nature.  It would be well-worth your “school time” to drive to the woods or to the lake one morning AND one afternoon a week and just be.  Even if you do ‘formal school’ three mornings a week for an older or only first grader, especially one that is already reading, you will be fine.

It is tempting to go ahead and plan a crazy, very structured year.  I would go the other way.  Take days off to play in the snow or out in the rain.  Take time off for festivals! Festivals don’t go away in first grade!  Again,  especially in children like these little girls I often see, they often need the balancing of time in nature and often need help socially and emotionally to learn how to be a friend, how to relate to people, how to be a bit more steady.  And nearly almost ALL of the children I observe these days still need to help to “get into their bodies” in the first grade.

There are many beautiful things out there on people’s blogs for first grade, but please, please take time to just live.  Many veteran Waldorf teachers and veteran homeschooling parents would say you do not need a curriculum for first grade at all, but I had a friend remind last week that when one is walking this first journey for the first and possibly only time, curriculums give one a jumping off place.  In the schools, Waldorf teachers have the benefit of teacher training, and of other faculty to talk to about how this journey goes.  We don’t always have that at home, and  I do feel in general comparing Waldorf school in a school environment and Waldorf homeschooling is like comparing apples and oranges.  So maybe that curriculum would be helpful to you, but just please don’t forget life.  Smile

Many blessings and much love,


12 thoughts on “Planning First Grade For Your Oldest Or Only Child

  1. Hey Carrie,
    I am starting to think about the nuts and bolts of planning first grade (although he is not my oldest or my only ;)). I do plan to keep it very loose and really concentrate on the arts, movement and handwork. My first grader has been reading for awhile (self-taught), but he definitely needs the will-building skills that a proper introduction of the letters will provide. I am looking forward to telling the Grimm’s fairy tales and having my 5th grader hear them as well. I think 2-3 formal days will be plenty for grade 1 – at least that is what I am thinking at this point.
    Hope you are well.
    Sheila Petruccelli

  2. This is so timely! With a great disappointment in our public school kindergarten, we are moving to homeschooling in the fall for first grade and I was beginning to get very scared and stressed, wanting to make sure I do it “right.” Thank you!

    • Robyn,
      It is sad to say I have heard from many parents that they were extremely disappointed in their children’s kindergarten experiences. Welcome to homeschooling, it really is a lot of fun!
      Many blessings,

  3. Hi Carrie,
    Please could you talk more about children ‘getting into their bodies’? I have a feeling this is relevant for my 5 year old.

    • Kathyrn,
      This is VERY relevant..Lots of back posts about this to chew on. I think if you just put “movement” into the serach engine on this blog, many posts will come up. The early years of ages birth through seven are ALL about movement and protecting the twelve senses. I will try to write something soon that is updated, concise…:)

      Many blessings,

    • Thank you very much. Not knowing what we were doing to begin with 🙂 we have parented from a strong verbal perspective in the early years…now trying to make some changes for our first, and do differently with our second. I will enjoy reading your back posts, and anymore to come 🙂

  4. I am replying here, because I don’t know where to send this question to you.

    We started homeschooling this year, but as I am trying to learn how my child learns I see that the way I planned to go is just not compatible with him. I am interested in giving Waldorf a go, because I think it might fits him better. There are many aspects of waldorf that are already incorporated in our lives(movement, outside, knitting and such), but I think I am ready to give a formal block a go. I don’t want to buy a curriculum just to try it out, but I have NO idea how to run these blocks. Where can I learn more about this, and gather the information I need to give this a try? thank you

    • Melody,
      I suggest you start with the free files at Marsha Johnson’s Yahoo group…You will have to join the list in order to access the files, but there are many blocks sorted by grade so you can see exactly what a block looks like without purchasing anything. The other thing you might consider is a phone consultation with either Christopherus or Melisa Nielsen at A Little Garden Flower in order to get a handle on your planning.
      Congratulations and welcome to the wonderful world of Waldorf homeschooling!! Are there any Waldorf homeschoolers near you? That would be another place to pick up information…There is a networking page on the Christopherus Website that lists Waldorf homeschooling groups by state and country. That might also be helpful to you.
      Many blessings,

  5. Carrie, I can’t tell you how much I love this! Absolutely beautiful. I’m having a great summer planning first grade for my oldest and I’m struck by how many of my goals for this year are the same as they were for kindergarten (time in nature, creative play, storytelling, and tons of movement). We’ll be doing main lessons 3 mornings, spending one morning at a local farm, and spending lots of time playing!

  6. Pingback: First Grade Homeschooling: The Essentials!

  7. This is very much what our year was like with Maya last year (eldest). Now I’m really struggling with what second grade should look like for her this year. She is a precocious reader, so we spent last year outdoors, celebrating festivals, learning handclap games and jump rope, etc. She caught on to knitting. She drew a lot. We sang and played. Now I’m left wondering if she is “behind” in math or otherwise this year!

    • Kyrie my dearest friend,
      I think you had a wonderful first grade year, and second grade will be wonderful as well! I think math skills really are based upon life experiences in the first few grades, and it is based in movement, so I love how you laid that foundation for math right there and with all your experiences in cooking, baking, crafting. Second grade is such an easy time to start out with a short introduction to all four processes through a story that speaks to you and your little one, and then to move forward from there…
      You are a wonderful mama! XXOO

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