Teaching First Grade to a Four Year Old

As I mentioned the other day, F started First Grade a few weeks ago. Intellectually he is quite ready for the challenge, but there are a few places where I make some allowances and accommodations for his age.

Writing: First grade tends to be pretty writing intensive. The students are learning to write their letters and numbers in addition to needing to write the answers to both math and phonics/reading questions. The amount of writing can be daunting for a six year old and while F’s fine motor skills are pretty good for a four year old they are not as good as a six year old’s would be.

I sometimes have him tell me the answers while I write. I sometimes write parts of the answers with a highlighter for him to trace. In his phonics book we use pre-printed letters which are cut out and pasted into the answer blanks.

Length of Lessons: First Grade lessons should last about 20-30 minutes apiece for a total of about an hour and a half of school (Phonics, Reading and Math). Although F can concentrate for the full time he does much better if we split it up into two or three sessions. I’m experimenting with doing school for several short blocks with play or chores between them for a change of pace.

Memory: This is one of the places where being four instead of six makes learning easier. He is still at the stage where he memorizes almost instantaneously. We do memory every day but it is normally sufficient to have him repeat his new verse once a day for five days in order to learn it.

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