Recommendation needed: 1st grade (native) English curriculum for independent study

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Recommendation needed: 1st grade (native) English curriculum for independent study

Postby vay » Sun Oct 07, 2018 22:27

My daughter is attending local public school, but her English level is way beyond what they are doing in her English class at school. I want to pull her and teach her myself during the time allotted for that class - her teacher agrees with this plan, but of course I need to have a study plan. And here's the thing: while I've taught EFL for two decades now, I've never taught it as a primary language! Can anyone recommend a good curriculum?
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Re: Recommendation needed: 1st grade (native) English curriculum for independent study

Postby Toad » Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:02

wow - that's tough, because English Language for native speakers is taught very, very badly in most schools. The main aim seems to be to inspire overwhelming hatred of the language. I don't recommend you copy any of them.

Can you focus more on literature? IMO the most effective way of moving from basic knowledge of the language to expert level is to read a lot and write a lot. There are no shortcuts. If you can find books and topics that are age-appropriate, I don't see that it needs to be more complicated than that.

If she's going to have to sit the traditional-style exam which consists of labelling verbs, nouns, prepositions etc., you can introduce that while reading actual English sentences in real books.
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Re: Recommendation needed: 1st grade (native) English curriculum for independent study

Postby Dragonbones » Tue Oct 09, 2018 21:09

Good question, Vay. We homeschool the whole curriculum, and Dragonbabe handles the structured part of the English classes, which are based on Sylvan's Language Arts, and Scholastic Success. I’ve not used them, and can’t say whether you’ll like them, but she has taught a lot of kids, so if she likes them, they’re probably worth checking out. If you find they’re too easy, speed up your use of them until your daughter is doing 2nd grade stuff or higher. If hard, slow down a bit. The structured stuff I use isn't English, for the most part, so it wouldn't help to share it.

The value of using those is that they give you already prepared materials (important if you have a super busy schedule or have no idea how to proceed), and they generally hit the topic from a variety of angles (capitalization, titles, recipes and their parts, instructions and their parts, stories and their parts, riddles, rhymes, songs, verbs, adjectives, nouns, punctuation, diminutive and augmentatives, reading tables of information, invitations, personal letters, interviews, legends, poetry, short stories, gender, number, theater, literal vs figurative, on and on and on), some of which you may not have considered using.

They also give you structured curriculum to get approval from the local teacher or school, or in our case, for an entirely homeschooled curriculum (they’re only a small part of our total curriculum of course). She adds tons of her own stuff to that, and is very flexible and creative, but I have no idea how to share that with you.

On top of that, you add your own ideas as they come to you, and lots of regular reading (local libraries have plenty of English books for kids).

I do a lot of unstructured teaching for our boys in English, and here are some of the ideas from that:
Keep lists of new words the student encounters in your own notebook, and make an effort of finding ways to repeat the exposure to those words – in your own speech, in little exercises (reading or writing, crosswords, word searches, matching pics to words, using the memory game with blank namecards from the grocery store to match words and meanings, words and pictures, etc.). Some of this is from my teaching other languages to our kids, but it works just as well for English. Each week search for some information for kids online, e.g. plant basics one week, animals the next, fungi the next, then the solar system, volcanoes, and so on. Each week, a new country to explore, a new species, and so on. Make it fun, but informative. Buy more books, the why does it work? and what is? type. And use them. Get series she likes, like the Worst Witch, or Magic Treehouse. Pick up classics like Charlotte’s Web and so on. Read them together, until she’s ready to read them on her own. Gift easy books that she likes, in a series, one by one as rewards for good behavior, so that reading becomes something fun, something to look forward to (for our older son that’s Geronimo Stilton, Beast Quest and Magic Treehouse). Allow her ‘her time’ for reading whatever she’s into, out of a home collection or regular library borrowings. Make sure there’s a part of her reading that is never obligatory, so as not to kill the joy of it. Make sure part of her learning is fun. Light the spark of her curiosity, and encourage her to explore, and guide her in finding some of the answers on her own (this ability is nurtured over time, so more guidance is needed at first).

I agree with Toad that it is important to read a lot and write a lot. But writing a lot is tough on a 1st-grader, and the structured, simple and fun tasks in some workbooks can help. There are some workbooks themed with popular cartoons like Miraculous (Ladybug and Cat Noir), Peppa Pig, and so on. Watch some on Netflix or download, and find out what inspires her, then get grades 1 and 2 for that theme (they tend to be overly easy books, so getting the higher grade also is helpful). We also read and write haiku, other poetry, brief stories (with room to illustrate)… and I do reading of Harry Potter 1 with definitions and illustrating space incorporated (download a copy, go through and bold likely new words, add parenthetical explanations if desired, and add a paragraph sized block now and then of space, and when she hits it, she gets to illustrate what she’s just read). Writing can be both printed and cursive starting from first grade in our experience. Use 'shaping' (psych concept) here and elsewhere rather than a total crackdown on all errors, which can be demoralizing. Use lots of praise, not only criticism. But not only praise.

In addition to READING Harry Potter 1, we also provide audio books of the series through #4, plus other classics, and the Story of the World series, which I am careful to add commentary to, frequently, to correct inaccuracies and biases. But it is engaging, and thus worthwhile.

It doesn’t hurt to learn to label verbs, nouns, prepositions etc., but that’s more 2nd grade, and the structured curriculum materials will get you started on that later; then you can reinforce that topic (slowly, over time in 2nd-3rd grade). It’s a bit too abstract for many kids at first, and there’s no need to push that one IMO.

Also, for me, a particular language (e.g. English) isn’t just about “English”. It’s about teaching EVERY topic IN English: time, cardinal numbers, series, patterns, 1- to 2-digit subtraction and addition, schedules, ordinals, money, length, odd and even, doubling and halving, tens and hundreds, the calendar, civics, nature, the environment and health, self-identity, needs vs. desires, how needs change, rights and responsibilities, making decisions, respecting diversity, cooperating, competing, division of labor, sharing, expressing feelings, reporting abuse, personal hygiene, a balanced, healthy diet and exercise, personal info and info privacy, the neighborhood and school, seasons, life changes, similarities and differences between plants and animals, dangers and safety at home, in the street, at school, and with plants and animals, rules and safety, discerning natural versus industrial foods, and eating at home, conserving water, energy, food and the environment, reduce, reuse, recycle, habitats and activities of animals, light and heat, materials, a few basic chemical elements, simple history, simple religion, , simple art concepts, simple geometry, , music, drama, geology, astronomy, botany, biology, evolution, zoology, simple physics, first aid, cooking, and so on. Set aside about an hour a day of your own time for prepping, and rotate through these, and you'll be fine.

Just providing a list of basic topics you intend to rotate through on an ad hoc basis along with some structured materials and some statements about your philosophy of teaching and your goals will probably suffice. You'll find out soon enough whether you're making material too easy or too hard, or too boring, and adjust as you go. Be firm about instilling a routine, but keep a folder full of easier, fun materials on hand to draw upon when she's a bit under the weather or unmotivated. Use rewards when she completes a certain amount of material. I use blank namecards of a certain color, and hand out more for cleaning a room, etc., and then the boys get to exchange a certain number of those for a new fun book, or sometimes an ice cream or some screen time.
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Re: Recommendation needed: 1st grade (native) English curriculum for independent study

Postby Dragonbones » Sat Oct 13, 2018 09:35

By the way, you can check out those and other English curriculum books at e.g. Caves bookstore; there's one near Neihu Costco and another up in Shilin across the street from Maji square, which in turn is across from the Fine Arts Museum.
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