Looking for 1st grade homeschool curriculum? You’ve come to the right place.
I spent 10 years as a 1st grade teacher and I can confidently tell you that 1st grade is the best grade! I absolutely love how these little people come into the year with raw knowledge and awkwardness that blossoms into such a beautiful love of learning.
Many kids officially learn how to read during 1st grade, making the potential of it daunting for parents. But just wait until you get to be a part of that moment when the light bulb clicks on and they suddenly take off. There’s nothing on earth like it!
How do I homeschool my 1st grader?
Before we dig into my suggested 1st grade homeschool curriculum, let’s talk a little bit about the best strategy when it comes to teaching a 1st grader. The important thing to remember is that a 1st grader is typically 6 or 7 years old.
Every parent KNOWS that a typical 6 or 7-year-old doesn’t sit still much, and yet we seem to think this is a problem. It’s not! The problem is teachers, the system, and unfair expectations. God made 6-year-olds to wiggle, giggle, and explore. Let them do that. Don’t tie them down to a desk all day!
In the rest of this post, I’ll give you practical tips for all the things you need to know to homeschool your 1st grader, but promise me you won’t forget that one of their top needs is to be able to run and play. Deal?
What are the subjects for 1st grade?
Let’s start with the typical subjects you’d see in a 1st grade homeschool curriculum. If you went to five different homeschools and peeked in the window to see what they taught for 1st grade, you’d see everything from kids who never sat at a table to do any kind of formal learning to kids who had 7 subjects with formal textbooks each day.
Here are some typical 1st grade homeschool curriculum subjects:
- Social Studies
- Home Economics
- Fine Arts
But don’t let that list scare you. The main focus in 1st grade should ALWAYS be reading and math. These are the two building blocks for the other subjects. When you focus here first, you build a foundation that will set your kids up for success for years to come! I’ll show you practically how to do that below when we talk about each subject.
But first, we need to make sure you are legal. It’s very important that you consult with your state requirements. The most reputable place to find these laws is the HSLDA website. Note that I didn’t say to ask your friend who has been homeschooling for many years (that’s a big mistake- look them up yourself).
Most states are pretty light on requirements for elementary school. Some have general guidelines for core subjects. Occasionally, you’ll find a strict state that requires specific hours to be completed. Again, the only way to know what rules you have to follow is to check the site yourself.
One thing to note is that even if you are required to teach science, for example, it doesn’t typically say you must use a textbook that covers 180 days’ worth. As homeschoolers, we have the freedom to teach the way our kids need us to teach them!
How many hours a day do you homeschool?
I know you are wondering about this because everyone does. It typically takes 1-2 hours to complete a 1st grade homeschool curriculum. Isn’t that wonderful? In the classroom setting, kids are expected to focus and pay attention for much of the day, but at home, you don’t have to do that. There’s no need to stand in line, sharpen 28 pencils, or participate in that fire drill one more time.
At home, your 1st grader gets undivided attention on his/her level, so it really only takes 1-2 hours to get everything done. If it’s taking longer than that, chances are you are frustrating your child.
Of course, this doesn’t mean your child is finished learning in 1-2 hours a day and will waste the rest of the day vegging in the land of no knowledge. If you encourage enriching activities (and limit screen time), your child will literally NEVER stop learning. Kids at this age are like sponges. They can’t help but learn!
1st Grade Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum
How to Teach Reading
All About Spelling
I start all of my kids in All About Spelling. This is how I teach them to read! Yes, I know it says “spelling,” but this is the strategy that works best for actually teaching reading (not the coloring and cutting out of worksheets). Plus, it’s a hands-on program that takes 10-15 minutes a day- perfect for the 1st grade attention span.
We typically do level 2 in 1st grade, but if you didn’t do level 1 in kindergarten, just start there. You’re not behind. The levels don’t even have to take one year anyway. You’ll catch up just fine!
To complete the reading part of 1st grade homeschool curriculum, focus on fostering a love of reading with exciting read-alouds that you share together, and their own personal book box. We spend 15-20 minutes in our book boxes at first and then gradually work up to at least 30-45 minutes by the end of 1st grade.
You’d be amazed at how much they will read if they can have some control over what they get to read! Of course, the more you practice reading, the better. You can even have a morning book box time and an afternoon book box time.
We tackle a new book or story together (until mastery). I have the child read the book out loud to themselves FIRST and then they read with me. This is a HUGE time saver for you as they get to practice sounding things out without you feeling impatient. It’s also good for their confidence level.
Next, they spend the rest of the time practicing books we’ve already mastered. This is crucial for building fluency and comprehension, so don’t put those “easy” books aside.
Here are some of our favorite beginning readers:
Personally, I believe this simple method outlined above teaches everything I want my kids to know when they are little. But sometimes you have a child who really WANTS to do more. In that case, go ahead and dive into All About Reading. It’s a great complement to what I’ve suggested above.
One more thing you might consider. We love to use Reading Eggs as a fun supplement. It’s a systematic method for teaching reading using a computer program. It’s not free, but it’s great fun. The kids don’t always realize they are learning, and mom can focus on the others during this time, too. That’s always an added blessing for little ones who aren’t independent learners just yet.
Here are some other great reading resources for first graders:
- Best Children’s Audio Books Your Family Will Love
- Is it too early for my child to read chapter books?
- Good Horse Books for Kids
- Free Printable Homeschool Booklist For Every Age Level
This is the one subject that often tips parents over the edge, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Grammar is simply learning to understand how sentences are put together to convey a clear thought. When your kids are first learning to read, grammar is relatively irrelevant to them. That’s understandable. However, it quickly can become a natural part of the conversation.
For little ones, focus on subject-verb agreement. At this stage, learning to say, “The dogs ARE in the backyard,” is important. It also helps them learn to recognize the linking verbs which are largely sight words (don’t follow traditional phonics rules). You don’t need a curriculum for this. Just do it naturally as it comes up.
Next is the discussion of nouns and verbs. Teach these two simply and help your child see that every sentence has to have both parts. This way they can answer questions in a complete sentence and learn to write (more about that below).
1st grade homeschool writing curriculum should be informal and fun. Let your kids keep a journal to record fun events and information they learn, or to respond to a great book they read. Don’t fret about spelling and grammar. This isn’t the time. Of course, you can help them if they ask, though.
When my children first learn to read, I give them a spelling dictionary. A few times a week, they have writing time. I give them a journal with blank pages and they draw. After they draw something, I ask them to write a sentence about what they drew. If they ask me how to spell a word, I look it up in their spelling dictionary and circle it for them. Otherwise, I never correct for spelling…I simply let them write. Sometimes I suggest a topic, but most of the time I do not.
I don’t like to do any type of curriculum before 4th grade. This is a great time to focus on handwriting, which is just the formation of letters. You might also take a little time to teach the make up of a complete sentence as described above.
1st Grade Handwriting
In handwriting, practice makes perfect. Generally at this age, parents have their children practice a lot or do copywork. Copywork is simply when a child copies written text onto paper.
Copywork is an essential skill that has pretty much been phased out of the public school experience. However, it provides crucial tracking skills, and spelling and language practice that aid in the development of WRITERS. Not handwriters, but actual writers…those people who can successfully craft a 5-paragraph essay without a tirade.
How? Copying excellent quality language cements the patterns into your brain. So, when you select copywork, select something excellent. In our home, we often use the Bible or lines from excellent pieces of literature. (Idea: have your kids copy one verse from Proverbs each day.) We’ve used the curriculum above from Simply Charlotte Mason and loved it! I also absolutely love the Write Through the Bible Curriculum for this!
1st Grade Homeschool Math Curruculum
There are probably 100 great 1st grade homeschool math curriculum options out there. But if you skip to that, you’ll miss the point. Math is a subject systematically built on tiny blocks of information. If you miss the foundation, the top will crumble. Period. Sadly, this is why so many kids struggle in math.
MATH MASTERY IS ABOUT BASICS.
Take the time to lay the foundation and be sure you get a 1st grade homeschool math curriculum that makes this the focus of elementary school. The two skills we focus on are skip counting and basic addition/subtraction facts.
We start skip counting as early as possible with fun jingles and songs. My personal favorite is the skip counting songs written by Classical Conversations. You can get them in this app. It’s not free, but it’s no more expensive than a CD and you can still play it in the car. I also found many skip counting CDs on Apple Music with a quick search. Just make sure you stick with one and go all the way to skip counting by 15’s. Don’t stop at 2’s and 5’s.
My older kids were vigilant with learning skip counting and, as a result, learning multiplication was easy. My son wasn’t as vigilant (ok, mom wasn’t on the ball) and we quickly realized multiplication was a much bigger struggle until we went back and did it right. Laying the foundation here is key!
For addition/subtraction math facts, daily practice is required. Be careful because most math curriculums do not cover this in-depth enough. They move on to other topics and kids are lost. Don’t let that happen. Focus here EVEN if nothing else gets done. Remember, math is cyclical, and the same concepts are taught year after year. They just go a bit more in-depth as kids get older. If you focus on getting the basic facts very strong, the other stuff will be simple to pick up on.
We use Xtramath for daily fact practice. I’ve used so many different things, but this one wins every time because each child has a login and is able to practice the exact facts he/she is struggling with. The website is smart and that makes mastery much easier. Oh, and it’s totally FREE!
I’ve used many fun programs and apps in the past (like Math Bingo), but this program far surpasses its rivals in that it’s tailored to the specific facts your child needs to work on. It’s like personal flashcards with a built-in accountability system to go along with it.
Christian Light Education
We have loved using CLE for math in the early years. It’s great at building a strong foundation and helping kids with math facts. It’s also inexpensive, which is a plus. The lessons are laid out to teach in an independent format, which is also high on my list of priorities.
It’s not colorful and “fun” according to some, but I’ll be honest, my kids have never once noticed or complained about that. Color in math doesn’t seem to make it any better or worse. (Haha)
CLE comes in little booklets for the child to use throughout the year. The entire goal is to help kids gain independence! And it’s strong in math facts, which is very important. They are the foundation to math success (adding, subtracting, etc.).
1st Grade Homeschool Science Curriculum
When the kids are little, reading should be your focus, and science curriculum should be super laid back. In fact, for years our “science” class was digging into a pile of amazing books while cuddled on the couch. Each week I’d carefully select nonfiction books sharing all about fish, elephants, or really, anything interesting. And the kids loved it!
This helps you focus on what is most important at this stage: growing strong readers. When mom holds her little ones on her lap and reads aloud, kids hear beautiful language, learn the organization and structure of language, and eventually begin to desire to read those words on their own.
Some of our favorite homeschool science books have been…
We’ve also really enjoyed homeschool science videos. Kids gravitate toward the screen, so why not use it for good stuff, like learning? We have so many great ones like these…
We also have a subscription to Pureflix where we can watch hundreds of educational titles.
Homeschool Science Notebook
We keep a notebook where we will note some of the things we have learned from our reading and exploring in a science journal (think composition notebook with blank pages). Don’t get too overzealous about this. It can be a killjoy. Just allow your kids to draw or write something that interests them.
Sometimes I have them narrate facts to me and other times I don’t. Let it be natural and fun!
I know this method is a little non-traditional, but remember, there is a reason we didn’t go with the traditional school option anyway, right?
1st Grade Homeschool History Curriculum
This is the age to lay a great foundation that cultivates interest and excitement for the history of God’s world. I recommend staying away from curriculum. Instead, read living books, go on field trips, and explore things. This is a great time to talk about missions, different cultures, and people in our community (like the role of firefighters and other jobs in the community).
It’s easy to weave these topics into your day using great read-alouds or short simple studies. I would also recommend the use of audiobooks. They are engaging and teach so much! (See our list of audiobooks to help get you started.)
Have each child keep a notebook and draw or write about what you read or where your family visits. Make sure you take lots of field trips! Visiting the local library, police station, or a local ethnic grocery store definitely counts!
Bible Curriculum for 1st Graders
Our Bible studies teach on a wide variety of topics including sibling relationships, the power of our words, contentment, guarding our hearts, and more!
Our goal is to get kids into God’s Word in an effective yet fun way. We hope to equip kids with the tools they need for a lifetime of engagement with the Bible.
We’ve designed our Bible studies for all age levels, including 1st graders! You and your 1st grader can dive into God’s Word in a simple yet powerful way.
Even if they aren’t yet a strong reader, kids can learn important truths about God and how He instructs His children.
How many sight words should a 1st grader know (and all the other things you wonder)
Perhaps the biggest struggle with piecing together a homeschool curriculum is the fear that we aren’t teaching enough or that our kids aren’t learning the right things. We literally stress ourselves out over questions like, “How many sight words should a 1st grader know?”
If all of this sounds overwhelming, let me give you a simple tool to help. The Primary Assessment Pack is a printable tool to help you keep track of all the skills your 1st grader accomplishes, including sight words.
Primary Assessment Pack
The goal of this tool is to help you create your own curriculum confidently by providing a checklist of needed skills!
It comes with a simple video for each level to help you evaluate where your student is and how you can help them grow. It’s easy to use and will give you the ability to see how your child is doing without relying on a standardized test.
More Christian Homeschool Curriculum
Click the image below to find more homeschool elementary curriculum and to learn how to choose the best Christian homeschool curriculum.
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.