Homeschool 5th Grade Curriculum Choices 2019-2020

Homeschool 5th Grade Curriculum Choices 2019-2020

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

Today I’m sharing my homeschool curriculum choices for the 2019-2020 school year for my 5th grader, along with why I made these choices for this particular child.

Before jumping into our curriculum choices, though, please remember that you and I may be working toward different requirements for homeschooling, depending on where you live. So please inform yourself about your local homeschool laws! (I talk more about the importance of that here.)

Ok, on to our particular choices…

(Our general weekly schedule is toward the end.)

2019-2020 Homeschool 5th Grade Curriculum Choices

Group Subjects

In years past, I tried to save time in our days by doing history and science as a group. This worked pretty well for our first few years of homeschooling, but became more difficult as the boys grew older and their personalities and learning preferences became more apparent.

Last year, after defining what I know of their Learning Preferences so far, I realized that a group environment was not an ideal way for any of my boys to learn. So I let go of the group paradigm for the most part. For now, we still do our memory work (religious studies, poetry memorization) and read-alouds together.

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Individual Subjects

Bible

5th grade curriculum choices

My 5th grader reads one devotion from One-Minute Prayers for Boys each day independently. I chose this book because the devotionals are short and clear. He writes the verse from that day’s prayer on a whiteboard at his desk, then writes a little prayer of his own into a journal.

5th grade curriculum choices

After he finishes One-Minute Prayers for Boys, he’ll work out of Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible for Kids. I chose this book as an introduction to Bible study for my oldest because I thought Kay Arthur’s inductive Bible study method would appeal to my interactive learner. If it works out, will continue with other Kay Arthur kids’ Bible studies. If not, I’ll probably create my own copywork/journaling Bible curriculum for him.

5th grade curriculum choices

We’re also working on memorizing the books of the Bible as a group, but Spoken Word learning is my son’s weakest learning method. So I created some copywork worksheets for him to accompany our group work.


Math

5th grade curriculum choices

Math-U-See has been a staple in our homeschool from the start and has been a good fit for my oldest, so I decided to continue with Math-U-See Epsilon. I chose this curriculum because I like its mastery approach to teaching math, and also that new concepts are introduced only once a week or so (the way we use it), with intervening days being dedicated to practice and review.

You can see my review of Math-U-See here.


Literature

5th grade curriculum choices

After completing basic phonics instruction two years ago, I switched my oldest to using a reading list that I curated for him. He was a reluctant reader, so I required him to read for at least 30 minutes a day and tried to find books that I thought would interest him.

Mission accomplished! He now says that he looooves to read, and reads a lot on his own. So this year I decided to try out the Literature Units created by Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler. My goal is that my son will learn to read more closely and thoughtfully. I chose Erica’s literature units because my oldest is an interactive learner and really loves lapbooks.

As for our specific choice – I looked through the lapbooks Erica has available and selected a few that I thought might interest my son. Then I let him choose. But I know my kid and his love of candy, so I knew that he would choose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 😜

After he completes his current choice, I’ll guide him in choosing another one of Erica’s literature units.


Grammar

5th grade curriculum choices

We started using IEW’s Fix It! Grammar series last year. I wanted to try it because its unique approach to grammar (editing and marking up one sentence a day in a continuing story) seemed perfect for my interactive learner. We liked it so much that we are using it again this year. It’s a very good curriculum as-is, but it became excellent for us when I customized it by creating checklists for my son to guide him through the daily editing and marking process.


Spelling

5th grade curriculum choices

My fifth grader has used All About Spelling since we began homeschooling, but it didn’t work as well for my second grader and I had to find something new for him. I ended up choosing Spelling Power, so decided to use it with my fifth grader, as well, since I was buying it anyway. I chose Spelling Power because it looked like I could customize it to suit my son. And bonus: it’s supposed to be the only spelling curriculum I will ever need!

After receiving the book and reading through the lengthy introduction, I saw that they highly discourage customization of the program. Honestly, that kind of made me chuckle and kind of made me roll my eyes because no curriculum is perfect for every single student as-written. But I gave their method a go, just to see.

I’ve realized that no, my instincts were right, I need to customize. So we’re still in the process of finding just the right way to use Spelling Power that will allow both of my older boys to progress in their spelling skills without loads of angst and frustration.


Handwriting

One of my son’s delights is jokes/humor, so I was thrilled to come across Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles. Students practice writing words from jokes and riddles in cursive, then write the jokes and riddles themselves in cursive. Students can even cut out the jokes and riddles to create a booklet.

See my review of Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles here.

We started using this workbook this summer and will continue using it until we’ve completed it. He’s also writing out the final draft of some of this writing assignments in cursive, so I’m not sure yet if we’ll need to find something new once he’s done with this workbook.


Writing

5th grade curriculum choices

We’re continuing using IEW’s Student Writing Intensive, Level A since we didn’t finish it last year. This is another very good curriculum that became great after I customized it by creating checklists and graphic organizers to fit my son’s preferred learning method.

Once we’re done with Student Writing Intensive, we’ll probably try IEW’s All Things Fun & Fascinating.


Science

I really didn’t have it in me to do a lot of science experiments this year, so I wanted a science curriculum that didn’t have science experiments as an integral part of the program. I also wanted to allow my son to continue with more delight-directed learning for science this year since I plan to move him to something more rigorous next year.

Since one of my son’s Delights is Minecraft, I decided to let him choose Skrafty science courses. He chose to start with geology. He should finish it in a couple of months, so if it goes well I’ll let him choose another course.


History

5th grade curriculum choices

For history, I chose BJU Press’ Heritage Studies 5. I’ve taken a unit study approach to history in the past, but really wanted a basic textbook curriculum this year to give myself a break. I like Heritage Studies because it approaches American History from a Christian worldview and has a colorful activity manual. I was also happy to discover that it includes mapping, vocabulary, and suggestions for hands-on activities.


Technology

5th grade curriculum choices

My fifth grader will continue learning about coding with a DK workbook – Coding with Python and JavaScript. Last year we used DK’s Scratch workbook, and it was very well done. So we’ll continue with DK as my son learns “real” coding.

I don’t know that we’ll finish this workbook. Coding is something that requires a certain personality, way of thinking, and level of maturity. If my son ends up hating it, I probably won’t require him to complete it. So I’m seeing this more as an exposure to computer coding.


Spanish

5th grade curriculum choices

We tried using Flip Flop Spanish last year as a group. While I really like the hands-on way this curriculum teaches Spanish, learning as a group didn’t work for us.

5th grade curriculum choices

For this school year, I decided to have my oldest learn Spanish on his own. I wanted to use Flip Flop Spanish since we do have it, but wanted to adapt it to allow my son to work independently and with a written element. So I’m experimenting by creating copywork worksheets based on Flip Flop Spanish. I’m also recording phrases for my son to listen to and repeat using the voice memo feature on my phone.


Typing

5th grade curriculum choices

My oldest used Typing Instructor for Kids to learn how to type a couple of years ago, but he came to me a few months ago and said that he was struggling with typing and felt like he needed more practice. So I put Typing Instructor back into the rotation. He loves the games and looks forward to typing practice.


5th grade curriculum choices

Extracurricular

Cub Scouts – My fifth grader will continue with Cub Scouts this year. I was somehow surprised by how much learning happens in Cub Scouts. The many shared experiences are a great way to make friends, and it’s also good bonding time with Daddy since my husband deals with all the Cub Scouts stuff. This coming up year will be exciting for my oldest since he’ll be moving up to Boy Scouts!

Homeschool Co-op – We recently joined a local low-stress homeschool co-op that focuses on social activities like park days with some educational opportunities thrown in. Just another way I’m trying to socialize my kid. 😜

Those are our homeschool curriculum choices … for now. I usually evaluate how things are going in December – adding, subtracting, and/or changing as needed.

5th grade curriculum choices
Homeschool 2nd Grade Curriculum Choices 2019-2020

Homeschool 2nd Grade Curriculum Choices 2019-2020

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

Today I’m sharing my homeschool curriculum choices for the 2019-2020 school year for my 2nd grader, along with why I made these choices for this particular child. Of all of my kids, these are the choices that were the most difficult for me to make because my beautiful blue-eyed boy really hates working one-on-one, but he’s not quite ready to work independently. So sometimes it’s a Struggle. But I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Before jumping into our curriculum choices, though, please remember that you and I may be working toward different requirements for homeschooling, depending on where you live. So please inform yourself about your local homeschool laws! (I talk more about the importance of that here.)

Ok, on to our particular choices…

(Our general weekly schedule is toward the end.)

2019-2020 Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2nd Grade

Group Subjects

In years past, I tried to save time in our days by doing history and science as a group. This worked pretty well for our first few years of homeschooling, but became more difficult as the boys grew older and their personalities and learning preferences became more apparent.

Last year, after defining what I know of their Learning Preferences so far, I realized that a group environment was not an ideal way for any of my boys to learn. So I let go of the group paradigm for the most part. For now, we still do our memory work (religious studies, poetry memorization) and read-alouds together.

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Individual Subjects

Morning Work

2nd grade curriculum choices
2nd grade curriculum choices
2nd grade curriculum choices

Morning Work for us is a binder that includes calendaring activities and any other work that either can be done quickly or doesn’t really fit in anywhere else.

For now, all I have in his Morning Work binder is a set of calendar pages that I’ve created for him in order to get accustomed to the way a calendar works. He also writes out the date in order to sneak in some spelling practice for days of the week and months. Besides, writing out the date is something that he needs to learn how to do.

Later on this year I plan to add some copywork/tracing of geography terms and maybe some history vocabulary.


Bible

My second grader reads one devotion from 365 Devotions for Kids each day independently. I chose this book because he loved The Beginner’s Bible, my absolute favorite Bible storybook. He loved The Beginner’s Bible last year so much that choosing 365 Devotions for Kids seemed like a no-brainer.


Math

Math-U-See has been a staple in our homeschool from the start, but my second grader decided that he didn’t like using the math blocks that are integral to the program. So I went on the hunt for something different for him.

I landed on Horizons Math, which is new to us. I chose this curriculum because it’s colorful and provides a variety of activities each day, which I thought would appeal to my second grader. It’s a spiral approach to teaching math, which is not my preference, but at this point the best math curriculum is the one that gets done while causing the least amount of drama in my house. 😜 We’re still getting acclimated to it, so not sure yet if it will meet my drama-free objective. 🤞

If you do choose this curriculum for yourself, you may want to pick up the worksheet packet, too, so that you don’t have to make copies of the many worksheets at the back of the book.


Reading

When my second grader completed the second grade level of Hooked on Phonics last year, we started reading through this I Wonder reader and will complete it this fall. I chose it because it has character-building stories, and was not disappointed because it has sparked productive conversations about behavior, habits, and heart matters. I also like that it includes both short stories and poems.

After completing this reader, my second grader will switch to a reading list that I’ve put together for him. The reading list is comprised of books that my oldest read when he was at this reading level, so we have most of them in our home library already.


Grammar

This is another new-to-us curriculum. I chose Evan-Moor’s Grammar & Punctuation for Grade 2 because it addresses one grammar concept at a time and then provides several days of varied practice for that concept before moving on to something else.


Spelling

This is my biggest fingers-crossed moment right here! We’ve used All About Spelling since we began homeschooling, but my independent second grader hated all of the one-on-one work it required, even after I customized the way we use it. I chose Spelling Power because it looked like I could customize it to cut out most of the one-on-one work and allow him to work independently. And bonus: it’s supposed to be the only spelling curriculum I will ever need!

After receiving the book and reading through the lengthy introduction, I saw that they highly discourage customization of the program. Honestly, that kind of made me chuckle and kind of made me roll my eyes because no curriculum is perfect for every single student as-written. But I gave their method a go, just to see.

I’ve realized that no, my instincts were right, I need to customize. So we’re still in the process of finding just the right way to use Spelling Power that will allow my son to progress in his spelling skills without loads of angst and frustration.


Writing

My second grader loves stories and fun pictures, so I chose Usborne’s My First Story Writing Book for him to give him an introduction into writing. I chose it because it covers the basics of story writing, like characters and setting, in a fun and interactive way.


Science

I really didn’t have it in me to do a lot of science experiments this year, so I wanted a science curriculum that didn’t have science experiments as an integral part of the program.

I chose the Carson Dellosa Interactive Science Notebooks because they are a fun, hands-on way to learn and organize new science concepts, they make suggestions for simple “experiment” types of activities that I can handle in this season of life, and they provide a way for my student to process what he’s learned in his own way.


History

For history, I chose BJU Press’ Heritage Studies distance learning curriculum for my independent second grader. I’ve taken a unit study approach to history in the past, but really wanted a basic textbook curriculum this year to give myself a break. I like Heritage Studies because it approaches American History from a Christian worldview and has a colorful activity manual.

I initially purchased just the textbook and activity manual without the distance learning option, but quickly decided to add on the online portion since my son really hates receiving instruction one-on-one. He very much enjoys having the instructor on-screen rather than in his face. 🙄


Art / Handwriting

There are only so many hours in the day, so the subject of art has low priority in our homeschool. And my second grader, who struggles with perfectionism, refused to draw anything. It’s cool with me if art isn’t his thing (it’s not my thing, either), but drawing and sketching went from a mere Dislike to a Difficulty and stumbling block in his other studies.

So I chose Draw Write Now to get him started on drawing since I used it with my oldest in the past and it worked well for him. Sometimes you just have to go with what’s worked before and hope for the best. My oldest also hated drawing to the point that it became a problem, but after working on drawings in this book once a week, he got over it and doesn’t hesitate to make his own little sketches. I’m hoping and praying for similar results with my second grader.

We’re using these Draw Write Now printables from 1+1+1=1, which include the handwriting portion of this art/handwriting curriculum.


2nd grade curriculum choices

Extracurricular

Cub Scouts – My second grader will be continuing with Cub Scouts this year. I was somehow surprised by how much learning happens in Cub Scouts. The many shared experiences are a great way to make friends, and it’s also good bonding time with Daddy since my husband deals with all the Cub Scouts stuff.

Homeschool Co-op – We recently joined a local low-stress homeschool co-op that focuses on social activities like park days with some educational opportunities thrown in. Just another way I’m trying to socialize my kid. 😜

Those are our homeschool curriculum choices … for now. I usually evaluate how things are going in December – adding, subtracting, and/or changing as needed.

2nd grade curriculum choices
First Language Lessons Review

First Language Lessons Review

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

First Language Lessons is a language arts curriculum published by The Well-Trained Mind Press. I’ve tried Level 1 of this curriculum for the first grade year of my two older boys, although I did end up abandoning it before the year was out. I’m not sure yet if I’ll try it with my youngest.

 

First Language Lessons Review  

First Language Lessons is a parent-led, scripted language arts curriculum. It contains ## short lessons (should be about 15 minutes), and each lesson shows a back-and-forth conversation between parent and child about grammar topics (nouns, common nouns, proper nouns, verbs). Most of the lessons consist only of a script, but some suggest copywork or work in a picture study.

Besides the script, the other major portion of First Language Lessons is poetry memorization. Poems are introduced in lessons, with reminders to practice the poems throughout the book.  

While First Language Lessons does seem to contain all of the elements of a good language arts curriculum, I found it to be awkward and clunky to use as written, for some of the following reasons: 

  • Students are expected to answer questions from the script in complete sentences, which I found got in the way of the conversation that I was supposed to be having with my child, and created an unnecessary complication for my young student. I quickly abandoned this expectation.
  • Examples used to describe parts of speech were also unnecessarily complicated and sometimes required pre-reading from the parent in order to make it applicable to the student. For example, students are taught that nouns can be a person by going into various family relationships (talking about brothers and sisters, but also your mother’s brother’s children being your cousins, etc.). It got confusing very quickly, and got in the way of the point of the actual lesson.
  • Students are not taught one thing at a time, for example that a noun can be a person. They are then given a complicated lesson on family relationships. So lessons often ended with both my child and I feeling a bit bewildered.
  • I felt that poetry memorization was somewhat rushed, and ended up abandoning the suggestions in the book and going at our own pace with the poems.   

To whom would I recommend First Language Lessons?    

(Based on Learning Preferences and Three D’s I describe in earlier posts.)

  • Recommend to…

    • Students that prefer the Spoken Word learning method since it’s the primary (by far) learning method used.
    • Students that do well with receiving instruction One-on-One because First Language Lessons is written as a scripted conversation between parent and child. 
  • I would NOT recommend to…

    • Students that strongly prefer any learning method other than Spoken Word, if using this curriculum as written. (See my best tips below).
    • Students that have a strong dislike for One-on-One learning, if using this curriculum as written. (See my best tips below).
    • Students that are not yet comfortable with abstract concepts (like common noun and proper noun).
    • Students that are not yet reading – may want to focus on basic language arts skills, like writing sentences, first.  

My Best Tips for Using First Language Lessons 

As written, I feel like First Language Lessons is appropriate for only a specific type of student – one that has a strong preference for learning methods focusing on the Spoken Word. So I would recommend using it only as a spine, meaning using its progression through parts of speech as a guide, and supplementing with worksheets and activities from Teachers Pay Teachers or Pinterest.

I also recommend getting these printables of the poems, laminating them, and using them for memorizing at your student’s pace. If you have a student that prefers Written Word or Visual learning methods, allow them to read the poems with you.

    The Last Thing You Need to Know about First Language Lessons 

    Many parents may feel like they need to customize First Language Lesson heavily in order for it to be effective for their students. This could be a positive (getting an inexpensive base to a language arts curriculum that the parent can customize for their own child) or a negative (wondering if the work required to customize is worth it, or if it’s better to purchase a curriculum that more closely fits the student’s preferred learning methods and therefore requires less customization).

    Homeschool First Grade Curriculum – Mid-Year Update

    Homeschool First Grade Curriculum – Mid-Year Update

    We’re about halfway through our school year, so I thought it would be a good time for a little update on how we’re doing with our first grade curriculum choices. If you’re interested in all of the specific curricula that my first grader is using this year, please watch our current curriculum choices video.

    We did make some changes in our group subjects, so check those out, too!

    Homeschool History – Mid-Year Update 

    Homeschool Science – Mid-Year Update

    But today is about my first grader. We had one big change, a couple of successful completions, and a plan for an addition to our first grade curriculum choices before the end of the school year.

    Biggest First Grade Curriculum Fail – First Language Lessons

    My first grader’s biggest change has been that we stopped using First Language Lessons. If you’ve seen my curriculum choices video, this won’t surprise you. I was ready to let it go a long time ago. It’s a curriculum that I tried with my oldest when he was in first grade, and we dumped it that year, too. At the time I thought that the issue was a difference in learning styles, and that was definitely a problem. But this second time around, I realized that the main issue with this curriculum is that it doesn’t teach from the known to the unknown, which is an educational tenet that I live by. We do continue to use the poetry memorization selections in our group learning, but the rest of it just didn’t work for us.

    Instead, I switched my first-grader to Kumon Writing Grade 1. He’s working out of it twice a week, so he should finish the workbook in March. Do I love it? No, not really. I feel that it’s too advanced for most first graders to fully absorb the information, but, truth be told, I think that it’s ridiculous to teach grammar above basic sentence structure at this age. Grammar is a state requirement for us, so we’re going to stick with it just to check the box. But I’ll most likely find something much simpler for my youngest when he’s in first grade.

    Biggest First Grade Curriculum Win – The Beginner’s Bible

    My first grader is almost done reading through The Beginner’s Bible. This is my favorite Bible storybook because it simplifies Biblical stories for children without dumbing them down or adding extraneous fluff. My first grader has loved it, too, and has changed so much in his view of God. Before reading the Biblical story for himself, he’d been pretty resistant to spiritual things. That has all changed in a big way, which just goes to show that God understood the power of storytelling before we all figured it out.

    Success – Spelling You See

    My first grader completed Level A of Spelling You See before Christmas. He’d begun it about midway last year, and I decided to complete it this year. Level A is pretty different from the upper levels of Spelling You See, lacking a lot of the uniqueness that Spelling You See is known for, and I didn’t love it at the end. Teaching spelling rules works much better for my kids so far.

    My first grader is also maybe halfway through Level 1 of All About Spelling. I’m resisting the urge to fly through this curriculum. Even though my first grader could already spell the words we’ve covered so far, I feel that it’s important to acclimate him to the systematic approach used by All About Spelling in order to give him a good foundation for our future spelling work.

    To Be Started – Writing

    Since my boy has been learning some about writing in his handwriting, spelling, and grammar curricula, I’ve been holding off on doing more in this subject area. But after he completes the Kumon Writing workbook in March, I do plan to try a couple of WriteShop Primary projects with him. After doing WriteShop Primary with my oldest last year (check out my WriteShop Primary review video), I feel like I have a grasp on the general ideas and strategies implemented, so will adapt them and do a scaled down version of the suggested lesson plans. I’ll work with my son to choose the projects that interest him…I know that the shape book is high on that list, so we’ll probably begin with that.

    I hope that you’ve enjoyed this peek into my first grader’s year!

    (You may also be interested in how my pre-schooler’s and fourth grader’s year is going.)

    Homeschool Update - First Grade Curriculum

    ** This post contains affiliate links.

    Homeschool 4th Grade Curriculum – Mid-Year Update

    Homeschool 4th Grade Curriculum – Mid-Year Update

    Now that it’s February, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at how things are going with our 4th grade curriculum choices this year. (Check out my video sharing this year’s curriculum choices.) I’ve already published a couple of posts about two of our group subjects, complete with successes and failures.

    Homeschool History – Mid-Year Update – where I tell you about a free printable that my fourth grader is using for his science studies)

    Homeschool Science – Mid-Year Update

    Today I’ll share some thoughts about how things are going with my fourth grader, along with our biggest success and biggest failure so far this year.

    Something New – Mental Warm-Ups

    The first thing my fourth grader does each day is work out of his Morning Work binder, which contains calendaring and copywork materials. This fall I also added a mental warm-up section. It currently contains analogies, simple word searches, and logic problems. The purpose of the mental warm-ups is to get my son to sloooowwww dooooowwwwwn. He tends to rush his schoolwork and not pay attention to details, which results in careless mistakes. I thought that starting out the day by doing work that requires him to slow down his thinking could help him in other subjects. It’s hard to be sure, but it seems like it’s helping.

    Successful Change – Math

    This year I moved my fourth grader from Teaching Textbooks to Math-U-See. He’d used Math-U-See in first and second grades, but I switched to Teaching Textbooks for third grade. I thought he would enjoy the lessons online, and I liked the idea of not having to check his math work.

    I was so wrong! The lessons on the laptop totally didn’t work for my non-auditory learner, so I had him read the lessons and do the work in the workbook. That seemed to work well, he was getting A’s on every assignment and seemed pretty confident.

    And then he had trouble one day, so I sat with him to go over the lesson and watch him work. That’s when I noticed that the confidence he had after completing a lesson was totally not there while actually doing the math work. This surprised me because, based on his grades and the fact that most of each lesson was purportedly review, he should have had a lot of confidence in doing the work.

    After digging deeper, I attributed this disconnect between his lack of confidence in math last year and his great grades to the fact that new concepts do not have enough practice problems. Out of the 20+ math questions in each lesson, only a couple of them pertained to the new concept just covered, and they were often not even the first couple of problems! So there’s a full page describing a new concept, and then instead of getting to practice that concept themselves, the student is given questions that might not have anything to do with that concept.

    So yes, Teaching Textbooks has a lot of review questions in each lesson, but I contend that they’re not really review because the student wasn’t encouraged to learn new material well. Instead, I felt like my student had to go through the stress of re-learning each concept over and over again. This wasn’t immediately apparent to me because Teaching Textbooks gives a student multiple chances to get a question correct before it’s marked as wrong.

    When it was time to make our 4th grade curriculum choices, we couldn’t wait to move back to Math-U-See! I did change the way we use it. Instead of doing one worksheet a day, I give each of my boys two worksheets – one for practicing that week’s new concept, and the other containing review questions. So he’s doing pretty much the same number of questions that he did with Teaching Textbooks, but actually has the chance to internalize concepts before moving on.

    New Favorite – IEW

    This is our first year using IEW resources and I was curious about the hype. But I’m now a convert and have a deep and abiding love for IEW resources! I would say that the IEW philosophy is the educational version of “gentle parenting.” The resources we’ve used so far are intended to be low stress for the student, but still give great results.

    • Fix It! Grammar – Grammar has been a struggle with my fourth grader. While he has learned to enjoy reading, he does not have a natural bent toward a love of words. So he really couldn’t care less about parts of speech. Fix It Grammar works for him because the focus is on a developing story, not boring rules. He doesn’t have to memorize any rules because he can refer to the included flash cards at any time. And the lessons are short because he works on only one sentence a day. And it’s working! I’ve noticed that he refers to the cards less and less, and he’s learning so much. This one has been a big hit for us.
    • Student Writing Intensive (Level A) – I’ve gotta be honest – the name really scared me. I assumed that the great results people got with this program would be attributed to a high-pressure curriculum. And it’s totally not that. You can move through this curriculum as quickly or slowly as your student needs. Since my fourth grader is not a natural writer, we’re taking it pretty slow, and I’ve even purchased extra source material. I love that it teaches note-taking via the key word outlines. I have had to change my thinking quite a bit. Parents are encouraged to help as much as needed (you can’t help too much! they’ll tell you when they don’t need your help!), and to edit drafts without comment or lecture (they’ll internalize your corrections during the re-write!). This took some getting used to, but I now see the wisdom in those suggestions.

    Biggest Failure – Code Ninjas

    Even though I made a living doing software development, we enrolled my son in Code Ninjas because I thought he might have fun meeting other kids with similar interests. Unfortunately, the location we chose was not well-run, which caused several frustrations. Also, the kids were required to attend for either one hour or two hours at a time, which was super boring for my son – partly because of the uninspiring environment, and partly because of the distractions around. Add to that my opinion that it’s way over-priced for what you get, and we decided to cancel our membership after a couple of months.

    Since then, I’ve had him working in his Coding with Scratch workbook (similar) once a week. It has been a much more positive experience. He spends the same amount of time or more that he would have at Code Ninjas, but he is learning more and having more fun with coding. And we don’t have to drive anywhere! #introvertwin

    Biggest Win – Cub Scouts

    Yes, I’m counting Cub Scouts as part of our 4th grade curriculum choices! We liked the idea of putting the boys in Cub Scouts both to make friends and to learn responsibility. I’m glad to say it has exceeded our expectations! They are learning so much, everything from respectfulness to health and safety. My husband and I have a deal that he handles the Cub Scouts since I’m busy with homeschooling, so it has been great for the boys to spend that time with Daddy. It has been more involved than we expected, but we’ve seen it as an opportunity to take part in a positive community experience.

    I’ll probably have another update at the end of our school year (this summer, since we school year-round). I hope that you enjoyed this peek into my fourth grader’s school year so far!

    (You may also be interested in how my preschooler’s and first grader’s year is going.)

    4th Grade Curriculum Update

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