Wednesday, March 26, 2014

First Grade

In School Education, Charlotte Mason writes about 1st grade (page 272 of Volume 3).  Her words are in bold:


Class Ia.––The child of six goes into Class Ia.; he works for 2 1/2 hours a day, but half an hour of this time is spent in drill and games. 

This means that a six year old child at a CM school spent 2 hours on academics.  Contrast this with today - a first grader at the public school where I teach spends 5 1/2 hours each day in the classroom.

Including drill, he has thirteen 'subjects' of study, for which about sixteen books are used.

Students did not study all thirteen subjects every day. Some subjects, such as math, were studied daily, while other subjects, such as brush-drawing, were studied once a week.

He recites hymns, poems, and Bible verses; works from Messrs Sonnenschein and Nesbitt's ABC Arithmetic; sings French and English songs; begins Mrs Curwen's Child Pianist, learns to write and to print, learns to read, learns French orally, does brush-drawing and various handicrafts.

All these things are done with joy, but cannot be illustrated here. Bible lessons, read from the Bible; tales, natural history, and geography are taught from appointed books, helped by the child's own observation.

The curriculum outline for Programme 44 1a lists 15 subjects:

1.Bible
2.Writing (Mason called the subject of learning to write by copying the writing of others "transcription," however many in the homeschool community use the word "copywork."
3.Natural History (Science)
4.Geography
5.French (Students in Charlotte Mason schools studied 4 foreign languages, including Latin. We are teaching our almost-three-year-old Spanish because it was my husband's first language. In the early years, foreign language should be taught orally.)
6.Number (Math)
7.Picture Talk (Art Appreciation)
8.Drawing (Art)
9.Tales (Literature & History)
10.Recitations (of poetry and Bible passages)
11.Reading (Phonics)
12.Music (Piano)
13.Singing
14.Drill (Physical Education.  We are doing dance.  Our almost-three has been taking a combination ballet and tap class for seven months.  The class is a "Mommy & Me" class - or, in our case, "Daddy & Me.")
15.Work (Handiwork) (Programme 44 lists needlework and carton-work, which, from what I can ascertain, is similar to origami.)

Our plan in each of these subjects is to read him the passage for the lesson (a good long passage), talk about it a little, avoiding much explanation, and then let him narrate what has been read. This he does very well and with pleasure, and is often happy in catching the style as well as the words of the author.

First graders should be read to, as opposed to reading (or struggling to read) the text for themselves.  Reading to learn comes after one has learned to read. 


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