Advice for first year of formal school

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Author
  • Hello,

    My oldest daughter will be 6 in October and we are going to be beginning our formal homeschooling. We are moving to Tennessee and I believe she is required to start school this fall. She will be in Kindergarten according to the school district but as far as I can tell it’s year 1 for Charlotte Mason homeschools.

    I’m wondering if I should do a minimal kindergarten and start formal year 1 with first grade or if I should let her kindergarten year be her year 1. I don’t want to rush her and appreciate the benefits of a delayed start but don’t want to swing too far the other direction and hold her back.

    My daughter is currently reading at a 3rd or 4th grade level, writes, has a long attention span and is probably ready for a 1st grade level math.

    Thank you for reading my long post! I appreciate any wisdom you have to offer.


    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Don’t try to do everything from the beginning or you’ll burn out!</p>

    Thank you for your wisdom!

    I don’t think I was very clear in my original post. I’m wondering if I should be doing year one since she will be 6 soon after the school year starts or put it off another year until year one lines up with first grade (according to the state of Tennessee).


    If you and she are ready you can always start year one and then just see how it goes. The beauty of HSing is being able to adjust as necessary, moving forward in some subjects and slowing down in others. I tend to lean towards waiting, enjoying those early years without the pressure of formal school, but CM lessons in the early years seem like such a natural part of the day that they don’t really seem like school work.

    More than anything just keep an eye on your little one and how they are handling things. It is easy to start out full steam a head and you and student excited, but for some the excitement wears off and the pace can need adjusting. But once again that is the beauty of homeschooling, easy to adjust. You might find first grade takes two years or a year and a half. The early years are so easily adjustable while so much learning continues.

    I tend to tell people, if they ask what grade my child is in, the grade compared to the general public school age even if they are a head in some subjects, grade level for other subjects, or a little slower pace in other subjects. It all evens out in the end 🙂


    For Kindergarten:

    Help with cooking/baking
    read aloud – great books!
    Library trips (if yours is open)
    Field trips (zoos and botanical gardens are the best)
    Nature walks/nature collections
    Hands-on math (counters, money, measurement while baking, etc…)
    Caring for pets

    If you would like a curriculum, Five in a Row!


    @sarah2106 Thank you for your thoughtful response. I tend to lean towards waiting as well I just wasn’t sure if there was a downside to that. I know age 6 is often mentioned in CM as a time for formal school to begin and I wasn’t sure if people typically start right then or with the public school.


    Yes! This is what we do! I’m just having a hard time deciding when I add in more and begin year 1. Would you wait until she is in 1st grade according to public school? She missed the cut off for kindergarten by 6 days so she will be old for her grade. This year was very informal even so she learned to read and write because she wanted to. I’m go back and forth about the decision. My next eldest is almost 4 and mostly tags along with her big sister so one part of me wonders if I should wait a year so she can just join us in year 1.


    Every family is so different, which means that there is no one “right way.”

    My children are 30, 26, 23, and 15 yr. old twins. I changed my philosophy with my youngest 3 and all 3 have done better in every area than my older 2.  We started Kindergarten at age 6. Our school days looked like what I described above until around age 7-8. At that point we taught them to read (after many years of reading aloud) and started a math workbook. Even though my youngers learned to read later, they jumped ahead many grade levels that first year. Everything just clicked  much faster, if that makes sense.


    I would meet her where she is at in each subject each year, but call her grade level what the public school would.  Having skipped a grade with my son and moving him back with his outside activities, such as church classes, it caused problems with his peers.

    My daughter graduated early and wasn’t ready emotionally, which didn’t go well. She is gifted, and like many gifted, she has trouble with adulting. So I’m now biased:)
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>With my other children I am sticking with public school grade levels officially, but using whatever level is appropriate. Hope that helps! CM is a great choice and easy to adjust to each child’s needs.</p>

    @lovinmyfam thank you for your explanation. I needed to hear that! That’s what I want for our family but doubt creeps in when I talk to others and compare what they are doing with what we aren’t doing.

    How did you handle creating structure in a more unstructured learning environment? My daughters get a lot of free time to play (inside and out), create, explore, read or look at picture books. I’ve noticed that if I don’t bring them back to me by having everyone gather for stories or activities their behavior suffers. I’ve since started having a morning time where we read the Bible, pray, read poems or other books, play board games, do an art activity, bake etc… my focused time and attention while baby sister naps seems to be just what they need. What worked for you?

    @retrofam thanks for taking time to reply. I appreciate your perspective on what grade they are in and I think I will follow that advice. I notice that my daughter is very on par with a five year old emotionally and even if she is advanced in other areas. I definitely don’t want to discount the importance of emotional intelligence and self regulation. Thanks for writing!

    It’s so hard for us moms to just relax in how and when we teach our children because of what society expects! It sucks!!! I just want to teach my child in a relaxed, enjoyable environment. I want my child to love learning, to seek knowledge and enjoy doing so.  But the worries and expectations of others sometimes affect my rhythm. Since, you got great replies just wanted to let you know you are not alone in this dilemma.


    I echo the advice of do what works in your home over “matching” either public school or strict Charlotte Mason. We love CM, so I was tempted to wait on formal lessons… but honestly my kids thrive on formal. We keep it short and I keep an eye on attention and just transition when needed. But it created structure and routine that made our day less chaotic and enjoyable. We started at 5… but a lighter load.

    If your not sure I’d try to layer things in slowly, with high attention to how everyone is adapting.


    We are in this same situation and I am leaning towards starting with Enrichments and getting into a routine along with Math and Delightful Reading 2. Then as we are comfortable we will add in additional subjects at whatever pace fits my son at the time. We plan to school year round for the most part and will probably only start with 3 maybe 4 days a week and build up if we need to so I feel like Year 1 will last us long enough to get through what would be his kindergarten year and his first grade year. I have been stuck on which history to start with as well and this stretched year will easily allow us to add in books from another period if we choose to so we could start With Ancient Egypt for our official lessons but touch on American history with good books in our spare time! In many ways I am learning to see this extra year as a huge blessing and a chance to get our feet wet and test the waters to have a better idea of what will work best for our family going forward!!!!

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • The topic ‘Advice for first year of formal school’ is closed to new replies.