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Can first grade children really learn to read with an online video-based homeschool course?
My 6-year-old (fastly approaching 7), just started new homeschool courses with the Ron Paul Curriculum. She’s moved up from Reading 1 to Reading 2, and from Math 1 to Math 2. I am extremely proud of the progress that she has made and many of my fears about her ability to learn from online video-based curriculum have been assuaged.
Math 1 and 2
The instructor for both Math 1 and Math 2 is Paul Ramirez. At first I was skeptical of his no-nonsense, dare-I-say “dry” approach to teaching math to very young children. I thought to myself, “Won’t they think this is boring? Don’t children need to be entertained? Don’t they need to be tricked into learning by doing math disguised as fun and energetic activities?”
I was so wrong. All 3 of my older kids love listening to Mr. Ramirez. They find his hand drawings, story problems and counting objects to be immensely relatable and interesting. They appreciate that there is nothing insincere or condescending about the way he talks to them.
Mr. Ramirez is not putting on entertaining airs. He is teaching math as though to intelligent and capable people who would like to learn about math. Sometimes our efforts to speak to children on what we think is their level can backfire. Most children are excellent judges of character when it comes to that kind of thing. Most importantly, in this case, my 6-year-old is learning math.
Reading 1 Results
Okay, so I knew math was going to be an easy transition, but what about reading?
The instructor for Reading 1 is Barbara Picard. Mrs. Pickard’s expertise shines through in every video of Reading 1. She knows what she’s doing. She’s a seasoned teaching veteran with the credentials to prove it.
Mrs. Pickard is just such a… teacher. I mean that as a compliment. If I were making a movie about an awesome first-grade teacher I would cast her. I know, I’m doing a terrible job at articulating what I’m trying to say, but you know what I’m talking about, right?
Kids probably come up to her everywhere she goes because they can sense that quality about her. She knows kids and they can tell. She makes them feel heard, seen and understood.
Didn’t I say kids are good judges of character?
Even though her teaching style is very different from Mr. Ramirez’s, my children like her just as much. In fact, if you were to ask them what their favorite course is, it changes from week to week. It is great that my kids are being exposed to different teaching styles.
As I said before, the most important thing I can say about Mrs. Pickard is that she taught my 6-year-old to read. I would like to think that I deserve some credit for my participation in this journey. We did more reading and phonics activities than strictly what was in the curriculum.
However, I also don’t want to discount this fact. This course works, you guys.
Ah, yes, Reading 2. This course has been… highly anticipated in this household. Why, you ask? Oh, no reason. It’s just that I’m the instructor for Reading 2 of the RPC. Yeah, you read that right.
We’re only two weeks in, so I can’t give a full assessment of my course in terms of how well my child learns from it, however, so far so good. She understands the grammar and has been able to complete all of the worksheets with minimal help from me.
Her favorite part is the journal. She is disappointed that there are only three a week instead of one every day. There’s a writing assignment every week (this is one of the defining features of most RPC courses) and I didn’t want to overload the kids with too much writing.
I look forward to sharing more about these courses as my daughter goes through them. I’ll also let you know if there are any glaring mistakes that I need to fix or if we do any supplementary activities.
I’ll leave you with this transcript of an actual conversation between my 6-year-old and me.
6Yo: Remember how I told you that your course is my favorite?
6Yo: I forgot to give you a warning. (complete with judgmental glare)
6Yo: It’s only my favorite if I get to write in my journal. No spelling tests.
Me: Okay. That’s fair.