As we wrap up our homeschool year, I wanted to share our fourth grade homeschool curriculum choices with you. We have tried many things this year, but these were the main curriculum items that we ended up using on a regular basis.
Can you believe it? It’s the end of the year! My older kids are still finishing up their history, but we’re taking a break from almost all other subjects for a few weeks. I’m still having them do some personal reading, and we have some review items that we’re working on a few times a week, but the bulk of their school studies are over or on hold so they can enjoy the beautiful weather and some family time!
As I did with my first grader, my 10 year old fourth grader used a paper planner this year. Each Sunday, I have filled in what I expect him to complete for each subject and each day during the week. Along the top, I labeled each column with the name of the subject or curriculum item he was expected to do. Each row represented a different day of the week, Monday through Friday.
If we were too busy to do school one day, or perhaps we were out of town or had a house guest, I would simply mark a line through that day’s row. If we had a day where we wouldn’t be home much, I would lighten what I expected them to do each day and usually double up on other days. I tried to have an idea of how many assignments or days per week I wanted him to work on something and then work that into our schedule for the week.
This method of scheduling worked beautifully for us this year. I was able to really plan out our school assignments in a way that was easy to get done. It also created clear expectations for my kids on what I needed them to complete. They got the satisfaction of crossing things off as they got done, too.
As with the rest of the kids, he also had a milk crate which contained all of his books, workbooks, planner, and writing utensils he would need. This made it easy for him to go straight to his little box, get what he needed, and start working each day.
Our curriculum choices stayed the same most of the year. My fourth grader, Michael, thrives on schedules and certainties. I knew with him that I had to just pick what we would do and do it.
For language arts this year, I began him on Writers in Residence and Readers in Residence. These do not have to be used together, but they compliment each other very well and reference some of the same books throughout the assignments. Debra Bell has laid them out very well, and in a very structured sequence.
Unfortunately, this was a struggle for my son. He is not naturally drawn to language arts topics and skills, so he had a hard time this year. The writing assignments flustered him, even though the instructions were very detailed. He did not complete either book, but the author has said that it is perfectly fine to pace it slower for students in the younger age range of her program. Fourth grade is definitely on the lower end, so we were doing about 2-3 “days” of assignments per week. I had to stretch many of the assignments further than the book suggested.
Next year, we’ll have to use a different curriculum for him. I just shelved these books last week, so he got through a good portion of each book. I’ll probably bring them back out for him to work on again at a later date, maybe in about a year.
For spelling, we picked up the book Spelling Power (affiliate) used. I assigned Spelling Power to him about 3-4 times a week. The way this program works is that you test your students on spelling words and only have them work on what they MISSED. We adapted it to fit us by giving the spelling list, and once he missed three words, we stopped. At that point, I had him go through the 10 steps listed in the book to review each word, and then had him write the words three or four times and in a sentence.
Once we got to those 3 words missed, I would just mark it in the book in pencil so we could pick right back up the next time at that part of the list. When we did spelling the next time, I would first review the words he had missed last time, and then introduce the new words. If he did a lesson where didn’t miss any words, or if he got to the end of the list without missing anything, he was just done with spelling for that day.
For review, I assigned him about 8-10 games to play on Spelling City. Every week or two, I would go through all the words he had missed doing Spelling Power and put them into lists of about 10 words each for him to review on the website. I left 2 lists open for him to work on at any given time. Throughout the school year, I also put up spelling words that went along with his astronomy as well so he could practice some other words, too.
I also require 10-30 minutes of personal reading every day. This can be pretty much whatever he wants. I don’t require any kind of assignments to go along with that. I want my kids to WANT to read, so I like to have at least one part of the day with no pressure!
Teaching Textbooks has worked beautifully for my family. My son has really enjoyed working on the computer to complete math lessons. He finished up Teaching Textbooks 5 during this school year. He’ll work on the next level next year as this approach has been the quickest and easiest one for both of us.
Teaching Textbooks has automatic grading, so I didn’t have to worry about teaching the lessons, administering tests, or grading any work. It was all part of the program already! It has colorful graphics and a light and fun learning atmosphere. Teaching Textbooks is one of our favorite things ever!
For history, my son has been working on Explorers to 1815 through Veritas Press Self-Paced History with his older sister. They allow siblings to work together for the same price, as long as you understand that they will be sharing the responsibilities of test-taking, reviews, games, watching the videos, and so on. This worked out fine for most of the year, but as they’re nearing the end of this, there’s more fighting about who did the most work and if it is fair for them both to get credit.
Next year, I won’t have any students using VP History, and it makes me sad! Veritas Press has done an AMAZING job with their self-paced courses. I may combine my current 4th grader with my current 1st grader to do this history again the school year after next, when they are in 3rd and 6th. Until then, we’ll be doing something different for the upcoming school year.
We finished the brand new second edition Exploring Creation with Astronomy curriculum by Apologia this year. I purchased a supply kit so that I would have zero excuses when it came time to do experiments. They really liked it, but my 4th grader said he wished that there were more experiments toward the end of the year. He really wanted to do more rockets and maybe make an explosion or something!
We also used a variety of other things throughout the school year for computer and typing skills. Ultimately, they weren’t a large enough part of our curriculum to earn a permanent spot int he planner, but I’m still thinking about doing so for the next school year!
Now that summer is almost here, I’ll definitely keep my kids working on academics. I want them to work on math, personal reading, and a little bit of writing throughout the summer. The school year never really ends because they’re always learning. 🙂