How to Homeschool First Grade in a Relaxed Homeschool

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Homeschooling first grade is so much fun. It’s a perfect age to continue a gentle study of basic school subjects while still having plenty of free time in the day.

I like to sprinkle in a little bit of math and reading while making sure our homeschool plans focus on creativity, fun, and exploration.

Here is what first grade looks like in our homeschool.

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Homeschooling First Grade

When moms have to begin homeschooling first grade, it is tempting to begin to overthink the homeschooling day. There feels like a lot of pressure to start formal lessons whether or not your child is ready for them.

But after homeschooling four kids, I can assure you this isn’t the case.

Focusing on homeschool games and creative exploration can still be the goal as you homeschool first grade. Embrace the freedom that still comes with homeschooling these young ages!

Of course, there is also nothing wrong with a 1st-grade homeschool schedule if that works best for your lifestyle. I love a good schedule as a backbone for our plans, even if it isn’t something stick to every single day.

Room to Explore as a Priority

In our homeschool, first grade involves a lot of play, space, creativity, and fun.

It looks like the outdoors as much as possible. It includes skateboarding, bike riding, running, and throwing rocks in the river.

It looks like exploration. It involves snap circuits, marbles, play-doh, and baking.

It looks like building and creating. It involves Minecraft, blocks, legos, and race tracks.

Sometimes it involves making a non-toxic playdoh recipe together.

It looks an awful lot like game-playing. It involves Chess, card games, Mastermind, and Blink. I keep a ton of our favorite games around so there are always games handy for everyone.

First-grade days involve a lot of laughter and giggles and play with siblings. We have often gathered at the local coffee shop to enjoy snacks and play our favorite games. Other times I allow plenty of creative play in the house as the siblings create and invent games to play togehter.

Sometimes creativity just happens. Other times I create it.

I lay out a certain game on the floor or cover the table with art supplies. Other times I have to sit down to explain things, like the rules of chess.

I consider exploration and engagement with the world around us more valuable than the book work at this age.

While I definitely believe in the power of play, we do have a plan for formal academics.

Homeschooling First Grade: Language Arts

Language Arts is a good topic to use homeschool workbooks to accomplish your goals. You don’t have to avoid workbooks – they can be a great tool, especially if your kids love them.

Reading/Phonics.  We will continue working through The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. (TOPG) He is learning to read fairly easily and that has made my job easier. His lesson takes 5-7 minutes to complete and they are very low stress.  Bob Books and early readers will also be incorporated on various days when we need a break from the phonics lessons. And of course, I will continue to read him picture books on various topics all year long.

He is learning to read fairly easily and that has made my job easier. His lesson takes 5-7 minutes to complete and they are very low stress. Bob Books and early readers will also be incorporated on various days when we need a break from the phonics lessons. And of course, I will continue to read him picture books on various topics all year long.

Sometimes we read at our table.  Other times we read on the floor.


Recently, he needed a break from the phonics “program” so we began reading stories from one of our readers. Moving to an “easier” book has built a lot of confidence in his reading ability. We will stick with it for a bit.

If you are new to teaching reading, you can learn more about sight words vs phonics and make the best choice for your child. Remember, you can incorporate aspects of both philosophies and methods into your homeschool

Another important aspect of his reading curriculum is our read-aloud titles. We will read his sister’s 5th-grade book list aloud as a family this year. While he does not do the copy work his siblings complete, he does listen and participates in the discussions we have.

Spelling/Phonics.  Daniel is working through Explode the Code, book 1.  While this is a phonics program, I consider it a spelling program when used with my early readers.  He also has to do a decent amount of writing, so it works well as additional handwriting practice.

Handwriting. I have basic lined copy work pages for him. I write a sentence for him and he copies it. He knows his letters but needs to work on using lower case when writing. We keep it simple.

I often let him pick the phrase or words. Sometimes he makes changes.


Writing.  Throughout the year, we do poetry assignments and he dictates them to me. He does the actual writing any time he would like, but it is never forced.

He dictates stories to me every Friday when we do Freewrite Friday. While the girls free-write on the topic, he draws a picture then dictates his story once the other kids are finished freewriting.

(This is a new practice for our family. I admit that I wish I had started this sooner with my older children. The freewriting books are absolute treasures!)

Homeschooling First Grade: History and Science

History.  Our entire family is studying the Early Modern Age using, Story of the World Volume III. He listens and participates in discussion with our entire “class”.  Each chapter includes map work and coloring. I often check out library books at his level to reinforce our history topics. We get together with friends once a month to do crafts and activities based on this curriculum.

We are also going to attempt to use the Homeschool in the Woods Time Traveller Series: Colonial Life. I hope to do this simultaneously with Story of the World (SOTW). SOTW is the story of the ENTIRE world, but my boys (1st and 3rd) have not focused on American History at all. I hope to add in units from the Homeschool in the Woods on Colonial Life and The American Revolution once they are introduced in SOTW.

Science.  Our entire classroom will study Anatomy and Physiology this year using Apologia. My first grader will participate in the readings and discussions at his own level and work on age-appropriate activities in his notebook. Every chapter has activities and labs, so he will participate in those with us. Science also includes field trips throughout the year, including the Orlando Science Center, this year.

He keeps his own notebook, recording things as he is able:


He is an active participant in our labs and activities. Who doesn’t want to make a candy cell model?


Field Trips. We love to learn outside of our home. I try to make as many plans for field trips as I can reasonably fit in our crazy schedule.

For our relaxed homeschool, my plan to homeschool for first grade has looked like a little bit of academics sprinkled with a whole lot of creativity, fun, and exploration!

More Elementary Homeschooling Help

The Best Homeschool Planner to Organize Your Year

Homeschooling Third Grade

Gameschooling: My Master List

9 Elementary Homeschool Resources that Will Rock Your Year

Over 30 Graphic Novels Your Elementary Schooler Will Love


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