Oh no, not… Fourth Grade!


Why does fourth grade sound so intimidating?  Every grade and every age sounds bigger and older, with its own baggage, but there’s something extra intimidating about “fourth grade,” at least to me.  Fourth graders are just a hair shy of being finished with elementary school.  They’re in their last year of the grammar stage by classical thought.  Back in the old timey days, one of my grandfathers only made it through fourth grade.  Fourth graders are expected to be have all their basic skills mostly down pat.  They can read, they can write, they know most of the basics of elementary math by the end of the year.  In the modern school, fourth grade is the watershed testing year.

Whatever the reason, I’ll just admit that “fourth grade” that makes me nervous.  I’m not unhappy with our plan and while there are some skills I want the kids to build up, I’m mostly happy with where they are.  Yet there seems to be a lot of insecurity attached to this grade for me.  Which is silly, yes.  It’s an artificial line.  They would be in third grade in some other states.  And so on and so forth.  And yet…

In any case, here’s the line up I have planned.  We’re wrapping up our third grade year and will take a break at the end of August for a few weeks then start up again.

Writing: Brave Writer, as always!
We have a bundle of Arrow issues that we may or may not get to, though we’ll continue dictations from read alouds in that style.  We’ll continue with the Partnership Writing projects.  We have a good Brave Writer lifestyle routine going and we’ll continue it.

Grammar: MCT Island
I got a deal on the full Island level that was so good, we couldn’t pass it up.  We’ll read aloud the the books and do a little bit of the practice and exercises.  MCT can be a pretty in depth program, but I see it as supplemental to our Brave Writer lifestyle.

Spelling: All About Spelling
We only started this program halfway through third grade.  Mushroom will hopefully complete Levels 4 and 5 for fourth grade.  BalletBoy will wrap up 4 and hopefully complete 5 and 6.

Reading: Read Alouds, Required Reading from a list and…
We’ll definitely continue our required reading list.  The kids pick one book a month to read independently.  I also want to introduce closer reading and we may try Junior Great Books to do a close read of short stories.

Math for Mushroom: Beast Academy and the Key to Math books
Hopefully Beast will come out with enough books to keep us busy.  I’ve essentially traded the problem I had last year with figuring out what to do with Miquon ending to figuring out what to do with Beast Academy not producing books very quickly.  The Key to Math books have also been a nice fit for Mushroom.

Math for BalletBoy: Math Mammoth
BalletBoy is running his way through MM4a right now.  After trying several different things over the last few months, he chose to go back to good old Math Mammoth and I think it’ll stay his program all year.

Math Routine: Primary Challenge Math, Challenging Word Problems, Hands on Equations, Math Games, and…
At the suggestion of a brilliant friend, we’re going to try making a math routine with a different math activity every day, including math read alouds, videos, games and other things.  More on this later, I’m sure.

Science: Human Biology with living books and experiments
I’m especially looking forward to using Blood and Guts by Linda Allison, but we’ll use many different resources for this self-designed curricula.

History: Story of the World 4
Yes, after a two year hiatus, we’re moving back to SOTW4 for history.  I have yet to find anything for this level that even comes close for modern history in terms of its scope.  It’s by far the least Eurocentric one I’ve seen.  As always, supplemental resources will be essential for us.

Logic: Logic Liftoff and Logic Safari 2
We’ll continue to enjoy the Prufrock Press series for logic.  This is always a light subject for us, but I’m glad we do it.

Art: Various Stuff
I added one book to our resource set: Drawing Lab, since we loved Art Lab for Kids so much.  We will continue to attend programs at the museums, do art in conjunction with history, and let art come as it will.

Music: Piano Adventures
This is totally off my plate as the kids continue their lessons

Movement: Soccer, Ballet, and playgrounds

9 thoughts on “Oh no, not… Fourth Grade!

  1. I hear ya. My son started ‘fifth’ this year. Next year he will have a big decision as to whether he wants to continue to be homeschooled or try going to the local middle school (which makes me cringe at the thought, but I’m giving it to him as an option). So this could POTENTIALLY be my last year to have kids at home, and I have to make sure he’s ready for anything. Love your plan list.

  2. Found your blog through SH and love it! Our 4th grade looks pretty similar, so I can’t wait to watch and see what you do 🙂 And I totally agree 4th grade seems REALLY scary.

  3. I have a fourth grader also and am struggling with how to get everything done! What does your daily schedule look like to fit this all in?

    1. We don’t do a daily schedule, in part because our days are uneven – some are busy and others are not. I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but I tend to keep the big picture in mind – things like, we need to be finished with WWI by Christmas or we need to have gotten halfway through Sentence Island if we’re going to finish it this year – just floating in my head and I made adjustments based on that.

      I know sometimes lists like these can look intimidating, but many of these are things we don’t do every day. Logic and grammar tend to happen about once a week and are short and light. History and science reading is also not usually every day. We do a history project that takes up a real chunk of time only every week or two. Science experiments are also just once a week, thought it’s all afternoon. And a number of these things are really short. We set the timer for spelling and never do more than 20 mins. Piano practice is typically only about 20 mins. as well. The big time eaters are writing and math. I give us at least an hour for math. We do different things for Brave Writer every day, but if it’s a day we work on a writing project or have a poetry tea, then it needs a good hour.

      We also struggle to fit it all in. It’s a constant back and forth. Some days it’s joyful and fun, others it’s just pushing through.

  4. Your plans look fun. My daughter is about to go into grade 4 too. For some reason it doesn’t feel like a big one to me, but that could be because I seem to be becoming more and more unschooler-like as each year passes!

    We love Brave Writer too. I have a whole Pinterest board for Julie Bogart’s words of wisdom! I also ordered Drawing Lab recently having enjoyed 52 Art Labs for Kids. I hadn’t noticed it was intended for adults – it’s quite different, isn’t it? The projects look fun though, so I’m sure we’ll enjoy using it as much as we did the other book.

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