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The Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum: A Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide, Part III The First Year
Parents Must Work With The Young Child 1-on-1 The 1st RC Year
- As previously mentioned, RC does not contain phonics instruction materials, but phonics flash cards as well as for math facts are provided.
- At this stage, the young child receives encouragement, direction and support from parents and older siblings. They work with him or her directly, and as the young student develops and matures, they are expected to begin doing most, if not all of their work independently.
- The goal for them is to become independent learners.
- Parents are instructed to read to the child often, and their young student is expected to practice reading aloud daily.
The Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum is not based on grade levels, but is a self-paced system in which the student progresses according to his or her own ability and study practices. For the first year student just beginning to embark on their educational journey, phonics, learning to read and math facts form the foundation for self-study.
The young child is taught the English language phonetically, that is according to sounds that are associated with letters and groups of letters. This is the beginning of learning how to read. Once the child masters identification of letters and numbers, they are ready to begin the first year of formal instruction. For some children this is about 5 or 6 years of age, for others this could be a bit older, or as young as 4 years of age. The age you start a child on their formal studies is largely determined by their readiness. If you are a homeschooler, you have the benefit and luxury of allowing for some direction from your child.
Writing Road to Reading: The Spalding Method
Obtain Phonics Materials First
Whether you purchase the Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum, or are putting the curriculum together yourself, you will need to obtain phonics materials. There are several programs of high quality from which to choose, that are popular with homeschooling families. Here are a few very good ones that come highly recommended :
Saxon Phonics - Covers spelling, reading fluency, phonetics, the alphabet, decoding, penmanship and comprehension. Saxon Phonics and Spelling is research-based and emphasizes an incremental approach. Appropriate for children in grades K-2. Award-winning curriculum.
Bob Jones University Press, Phonics and English (faith-based curriculum) - Includes grammar and creative writing in addition to the other usual topics found in a typical phonics program. Listening skills are emphasized. BJU phonics program starts at the K5 level and continues through 3rd grade.
Phonics Pathways - A very helpful resource written by Delores Hiskes. Includes games and activities in addition to lessons.
Happy Phonics - Primarily uses games to teach the basics of phonics. Most supplement with another program.
Hooked on Phonics - Many people should be familiar with Hooked on Phonics, as it was launched with an intensive marketing campaign back in the 90's. It is an award-winning phonics program. A mobile app for iPad and iPhone is now available as well.
Writing Road to Reading, The Spalding Method (WRTR) - WRTR is highly popular with homeschooling families using the classical education approach. Many homeschooling parents do find it difficult to implement this evidence-based, award-winning curriculum. Emphasizes critical thinking. Covers grades K-6. Warning: expensive to implement.
Free Phonics Resources
If finances are tight or you are waiting for your materials to arrive, you can use a few of the many free resources available for teaching phonics to children beginning to learn how to read.
What Research Indicates:
- Reading aloud to your child is necessary for getting him or her ready for learning.
- How many words your child knows by 5 or 6 years of age is a primary indicator of future success academically and career-wise.
- Less than 1/2 of all young children in the U.S. are read to on a daily basis. This statistic is more profound among the nation's poor children, where only 34% of them are read to each day.
American Academy of Pediatrics on The Benefits of Literacy
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading aloud to children as early as 6 months of age. Reading to children from infancy promotes brain development and increases progression of literacy skills early on, particularly language and speaking. Emotional and social development are also positively affected.
RC Booklist for 1st Year:
After gaining some mastery in phonics, the child is ready to begin working their way through the RC booklist. The books for the 1st year RC student are to be read in order as follows:
The Life of George Washington in Words of One Syllable (very advanced reading)
These are the first 5 books in the RC curriculum. They are in the public domain, so they are free to print and use for your homeschooling purposes. You will notice that some of the books are quite advanced. It is important to keep in mind though that RC is a self-paced curriculum and these need not be completed during the 1st year, but can be done according to the student's ability. In addition to the required reading, you'll likely want to include some other books and that is okay too. Some decide to substitute books for some of the ones listed, or wait to read some of them until later when the child is better able to read them. Be sure to include books for reading aloud to the child.
Writing and Mathematics Lessons
In the first year, the RC student engages in penmanship practice and copywork. With copywork, the child might copy a poem, a short reading passage or even a verse of scripture. They might also be asked to orally narrate, that is talk about what they just read. This would be done in place of the daily essay that the older child completes.
In the early years, mathematics consists of learning the math facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They should be able to count to 100 at least, and identify numerals and shapes. Use flash cards, provide practice worksheets and timed tests. After they have mastered the basics of math, the student is ready to begin formal math instruction. You can choose any math curriculum, however Dr. Robinson suggests starting with Saxon Math 54 and continuing through completion of Calculus.
There are also other math materials that produce stellar results. Among homeschooling families some of the top math curricula include: Singapore Math, Math U See, Teaching Textbooks and Ray's Arithmetic. Ray's Arithmetic books can be found online for free; they are excellent mathematics texts published at the turn of the 20th century.
- Ray's New Primary Arithmetic for Young Learners - This is the 1st book in the series.
Helpful Math Resources Online:
math-drills.com - free math worksheets of all kinds!
kidzone.ws/math - online timed quizzes, brain teasers and math worksheets
According to Dr. Robinson:
"When this year has been completed, with some teacher help in learning phonics and understanding arithmetic, the student is ready for self-teaching."
"Each school day consists of math, followed by writing, followed by reading."
"Knowledge is in books."
"The single most important thing that homeschool families must keep in mind is this: Children learn by example."