Though my family unschools, we do appreciate curriculum resources now and then. My daughter will select something out of Hirsch’s What Your First Grader Needs to Know every now and then for us to read together. So when I saw Making the Grade: Everything Your 1st Grader Needs to Know at the library, I thought I’d check it out—and I’m glad I did so far.
This book is so much better than the former that I mentioned! Not only is it much more fun to read and look at—it also has so many cool ideas for going outside the typical classroom and learning in your own community. There are a bunch of field trip ideas, as well as variations on different learning experiences to let children pick and choose how they want to learn. Not only that, there’s a key quote at the beginning of the book that makes my heart sing: “Follow your child’s interests, as it will making learning fun and valuable.” YES! That is the whole unschooling philosophy! I would scratch out valuable since we all know what society deems valuable (money) and write in “meaningful” if it were my book.
And it will be my book, as I plan on ordering a copy for us to use. Did I mention the pages are also perforated for easy use? You can pick and choose what you like and just tear out what you want! And though you will find worksheets in the book, they are far from simple worksheets; most are pretty fun, and on the back they feature extra fun activities. For example, while learning about ee, ea, and ie sounds, there is a worksheet with six simple sentences that kids may or may not wish to do. On the back, there are two fun activities to choose from or modify—including word puzzles you can make or a flashlight game you can play. Imagine if school were taught this way!
I don’t mean to suggest school is where learning should take place; life already exists for that, which is why schools are silly. But learning should be fun and meaningful, and if schools hope to succeed at all they need to focus on methods like this rather than pass/fail, teach to the test, and other ridiculous measures that have nothing to do with creating mindful, compassionate, joyful, fulfilled citizens. Of course, that’s not the goal for most schools—or the government in general—anyway, is it?