2016-17 Homeschool Curriculum and Schedule for 4th and 11th Grades
Well, these children of mine keep getting older and I find myself with a sophomore in college, a high school junior and a 4th grader. My homeschool became a boy school last year – and I’ve come to enjoy planning with active boys in mind! Take a peek at our homeschool curriculum and slightly improved schedule…
Homeschool Curriculum in Four Terms
Our little homeschool is changing its look just a bit this year to better meet the needs of our busy schedule and to better fit in with my boys’ learning styles. We’re still eclectically Charlotte Mason. We still follow (a somewhat slower-paced) four-year history and science cycle. We still start our day with family morning time.
The biggest change has to do with the way I’m arranging our year. For the first time ever, we’re working in four distinct 9-week terms. One of these sweet boys of mine needs to see an end in sight, and the other boy happens to need distinct deadlines. Working in 9-week chunks of time offer us both.
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Morning Time in Four Terms
Every morning of our school day begins with a family morning time. All three of us read the Bible together, practice Scripture memory, play some brain training games (also called drill time), and *NEW this year* we read Shakespeare, poetry or famous speeches together. (Some recitation happens with poetry and speeches, too.)
Each 9-week term will focus on different things for brain training and the Shakespeare/poetry/speech time. Do you remember how I used to do different morning time activities each day of the week? We used to do a geography activity on Monday, math drills on Tuesday, Latin roots flashcards on Wednesday, etc. Well…this year, after Bible time each term will have its own focus.
Term 1: We are doing a math drill Monday-Thursday AND we’re working through Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Term 2: We’ll play a geography game M-Th AND work on poetry & recitation.
Term 3: We’ll do vocabulary building activities M-Th AND read Shakespeare’s Henry V (unless we need to finish Julius Caesar.)
Term 4: We’ll work on timeline games/drills M-Th AND work on recitation of famous speeches.
Fridays all year: Morning time looks completely different on Fridays. We read a living literature book that demonstrates Biblical principles and play a Bible game or do a Bible drill; we play a brain training game that doesn’t fit into the focus of any of this year’s terms; we read and narrate an Aesop’s Fable; and we watch/read about/discuss current events.
4th Grade in Four Terms
Some of Eli’s curriculum will be consistent all year long. Some will be taught within a term. I’ll try to explain.
Eli’s daily schedule will always include:
- Morning Time
- Language Arts
- History or Science
- Read Alouds
Since I’ve already mentioned the morning time plan, I’ll move right on to math. Three days per week, Eli will be using Saxon 5/4. All year long, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will find Eli doing a lesson from Saxon. Also all year long, Tuesdays and Thursdays will find Eli doing living math. The living math lessons ARE separated into terms.
Term 1: Geometry and Logic & Critical Thinking
Term 2: Measurement and Problem Solving
Term 3: Graphing, 100’s Chart, and Logic
Term 4: Fractions, Patterns, and Problem Solving
So, this term Eli’s math schedule might look something like this: Monday – Saxon; Tuesday – symmetry with pattern blocks and a logic puzzle; Wednesday – Saxon; Thursday – measuring angles around the house with a protractor and a critical thinking worksheet or two; Friday – Saxon.
For language arts, none of Eli’s curriculum will be divided into terms. He will alternate daily between cursive copywork and typing. Then, we will work through the Logic of English Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and some fun writing exercises Thursdays (and some Fridays.) Every day he will also read silently for 25-30 minutes.
Science lessons take place Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Monday and Wednesday lessons ARE divided into terms.
Term 1: earth
Term 2: water
Term 3: sound, light, color, and heat
Term 4: magnets, electricity, simple machines
Fridays are nature study. When the weather is stinky on Fridays, Eli will do one of these Mystery Science lessons instead.
We’re doing history lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays. History will not be divided into terms. We’ll finish up Story of the World: Ancient Times and move right into Story of the World: Middle Ages and the Activity Guide.
So, this term Eli’s science/history schedule might look something like this: Monday – read book about the water cycle and draw a digram of the water cycle; Tuesday – read a chapter from SOTW, narrate, and complete a map; Wednesday – read a book about how we get drinking water and take a trip to the water treatment plant; Thursday – read a supplementary book from SOTW and complete a project from the activity guide; Friday – take a nature walk looking for signs of erosion noting things in the nature journal.
For music this year, Eli is taking drum lessons. Yes, it’s very loud in my house all. the. time. Artist and composer study take place on Fridays. These lessons are going to be much more casual than in the past. This year, we’ll work through the Children’s Book of Art one two-page section at a time. As we complete artwork inspired from the book, I’ll have a selection from the Classical Music Masterpieces CD Set playing in the background. We’ll occasionally read children’s biographies of famous artists and composers throughout the year as well.
I know this sounds complicated, but take a look at the weekly schedule on the chart below. It’s VERY easy to plug the plan into our weekly lessons. We’re actually getting school finished faster AND getting so much more done!
I forgot to add our daily read aloud to this chart! I read to Eli every day. We don’t have a plan. We just read until a book is finished and then grab whatever strikes our fancy next. (I filled the shelves with some new boy books this year *post coming soon*, so we have plenty of wonderful choices!) Occasionally, we have two books going on at once – usually one of the books will go along with our history studies and the other is a “just because” book.
High School in Four Terms
For Caleb, our terms mostly serve as set deadlines rather than a switch in focus. In other words, he will be sticking with the same curriculum for most subjects the entire year. By the end of each term, he has certain goals that are to be met with the workload in each subject.
Bible & Character – 1/2 Credit
Some of this credit comes from our morning time Bible reading and Scripture memorizations; some will come from various Bible and character studies he’ll do on his own; and some from church studies.
Geometry – 1 Credit
Teaching Textbooks Algebra II worked SO well for Caleb last year that I didn’t even consider a different geometry program! He’s already several lessons into Teaching Textbooks Geometry and we’re both loving it.
English III – 1 1/2 Credits
As usual, high school English finds me piecing together this, that and everything in between. Throughout the year, Caleb will be working on bits and pieces of Let’s Eat Fifi, Learning Language Arts Through Literature, High School Literature and Composition, Writing With Skill, and some of my own lessons. You’ll notice that some of these resources are the same as last year. When you piece together several things, there are lots of left-overs to use the following year!
You’ll also notice I’m assigning this one and a half credits. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going note this on the official transcript yet. We’ll have to see how everything pans out in the end. Caleb will be reading a lot this year. He also needs some fine tuning in writing, so we’ll be spending quite a lot of time on it. Besides the Shakespeare, grammar, etc. already planned, he will also be studying intensely at some point for the ACT. Likely, by the end of the year, I’ll give him (1) English credit and (1/2) study skills credit, or something like that. The workload may even be enough for me to assign (2) credits in the end.
Chemistry – 1 CreditWe’re taking the non-traditional route to chemistry and I’m excited about our plan. Caleb is already several lessons into Chemistry 101. Once he finishes all the DVD lessons and quizzes, we’ll move on to The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe then Carbon Chemistry. You may like to read the reasoning behind my choices in this post about what to do when the science curriculum isn’t working.
American Government – 1/2 Credit
I love the A Beka American Government curriculum! Caleb will be finished with this course by Christmas.
Economics – 1/2 Credit
Caleb will complete the Economics for Everybody DVD’s and Study Guide during the spring semester. You might like to see my review at The Curriculum Choice. I’ve written before about how we expect our high schoolers to have a full credit of economics. Since my son completed the first semester’s set of work in a previous year, he only needs to do the second semester’s set of work this year.
Guitar – 1 Credit
This boy is s.e.r.i.o.u.s. about guitar. I’m really very proud of him! Considering all the practice time, lessons, and church gigs, I’m pretty sure he could earn two or three or even four credits for guitar. Lucky for him, I’m a mom who won’t let him ditch all the other subjects just yet. So one credit it is…no matter how many hours he spends preparing to play in front of thousands and thousands of fans someday.
Mercy. This was a long post. I hope it isn’t too confusing. My goal really was to try to lay out our schedule and curriculum clearly, but I’m afraid I’ve left you with glazed eyes of overwhelm. Please don’t be overwhelmed. Be encouraged because you are blessed with the freedom to organize your homeschooling days and choose curriculum to meet your own family’s specific needs in the here and now.
I offer these glimpses into our homeschool every year NOT to tell you how to “do school” in your home, but to show you what’s working for us at the time. If you go back through all the previous year’s curriculum and schedule posts, you’ll see every year looks a bit different from the rest and the curriculum that worked for one child may not have worked for another.
Do what works for your family. Be inspired by the ideas of other homeschooling families. Be inspired by the basic framework of an educational method. But, in the end, make your homeschool uniquely yours and you’ll find so much joy there.
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Thank you for laying out your schedule. Three weeks in and I am already throwing out my schedule. Too much academic stuff, and not enough family, fun learning. Seeing your fourth graders schedule has really helped me to refocus my ideas going forward. Thanks for the inspiration.
I’ve been there before, Andrea! I hope your new schedule works better for you this year.
You always inspire me and I find a lot of encouragement in your posts. I can’t fully explain the depths of how the enemy wants to derail me with comparisons. I’m determined this year, with my 8th and 10th grader, will be one of our best. Thank you.
Never compare. You’re right, that’s what the enemy uses to make us feel unworthy and unsettled. I’ve prayed you WILL have a great year!
Thank you! I always love looking at your plans. It inspires me! We are doing similar planning this year to try to avoid some burn-out. I am taking it month by month with my first and fourth grader. September is a focus on the Civil War in history and weather for science along with our normal math and language arts requirements. Next month I will change it up! Right now I am thinking of doing an artist study and intro to Spanish instead of history and science (though we will continue our weather journals a few times a month). I hope this works better for us.
That sounds like a wonderful plan, Rachel! Let me know how it goes. 🙂
Cindy, Your posts always breathe some new ideas in my tendency towards a monotonous day. I have missed our phone consultations, so perhaps we are due for one soon! I am looking forward to your post on some boy books. I would love for you to comment on those “fun writing exercises” you do with Eli. My boys think “fun writing” to be an oxymoron. Also, what vocabulary building exercises do you use during Term 3 with Eli? Timeline games? Thank you for helping me these past years…you have no idea how often I have gone back to our notes from our consultations. I hope we can meet one day! Sincerely, Kim Hanysak
Hey Kim! It’s good to hear from you. 🙂 Yes, we need to talk again soon.
Here are some writing links that will give you a few ideas for the fun writing lessons:
Write Your Own Book is a new-to-us resource that Eli is loving.
I don’t have all the vocabulary resources together yet, but I’ll be sure to write a post of what I’m using when the time comes! 🙂
Hi Cindy, I’m new here – I was looking for info on High School and came across your post about changing up high school science. I have a Freshman and a 5th grader, both have dyslexia and various learning challenges. We are really struggling to get things done with our high school schedule. We just cannot seem to get everything in on a day. We are only one month in and I feel exhausted! We are CM influenced in our approach, and in the past years we have always done our subjects like history and science together. Now with High School I felt I should separate them – my high schooler is not independent yet and still needs assistance in certain areas. Your post was very helpful to see what you are doing and how much you are assigning. I would love to see a daily schedule for the High School years, as this is the area we are struggling in. Would it be possible to give me an idea of how much they do everyday?
Lisa, I ought to write a post on a day in the life of my high school son. I’ll try to get to that soon!
Bible/memory – 15-20 minutes per day (he attends SS, church, youth group and Bible study each week, too)
Math – approx. one hour per day (1 full lesson of Teaching Textbooks)
Language Arts – approx. 1-2 hours per day (might include reading, writing, discussions, worksheets, etc.) He isn’t a fast reader, so I don’t overload him on the # of pages to read each day. He reads fewer books than his sister did per year, but that’s okay. He also isn’t a fast writer, which means he writes less volume than his sister did. I strive for understanding and technique, not a lot of work.
Science – approx. 30-60 minutes per day (this is often still with me and we go until his brain is full – which often means we don’t move at breakneck speed) Again, real comprehension is the goal.
Am. Gov. – approx. 30-60 minutes per day (I try to push him through one section of the chapter per day with the expectation that he gives written responses to the questions at the end of the section. He gets one day to complete the study guide and another day to take the test.)
Guitar – approx. 1-3 hours per day (he pushes himself on this)
Thank you so much for sharing this! Half way through the year I am revamping our schedule, it is just too much. Do you have a list showing what curriculum you have used in previous grades? I have a 9th grade daughter and 4th grade son, and I am trying to embrace the Charlotte Mason method, instead of long days or boring text books. I purchased your Charlotte Mason method book so I am trying to learn this wonderful learning style, thank you!
Carolyn, I’m so glad it’s been helpful to you! I know what it’s like to revamp midway through the year because I almost always do some sort of tweaking myself. 🙂
I do have other posts! Not all of them are quite as detailed as this one, but I’ve tried to list out our curriculum choices each year for a long time now. You’ll find those posts by scrolling through this link – https://ourjourneywestward.com/category/curriculum-schedules/.
I hope your second semester feels more peaceful.
What did you use as your science spine for your fourth grader? It looks like a great plan!
Great question, Diane. NaturExplorers guides were the spines for the earth and water terms. We didn’t really use spine books for the 3rd and 4th terms. Instead, we just found library books, experiment books, and YouTube videos to fill in most of the learning. This kid really loves learning via technology, so searching for good YouTube teaching videos was a hit with him.
Thanks for this post! What a great schedule you have. I am also trying to simplify my homeschool life. I always wanted to have an organized schedule but in mine case it is all messy. It’s really important to have a scheduled plan to stay organized. I would love to be implement your ideas in future.
In CM, geography is stressed at least once a week. Did you implement that in fourth grade or wait until the later years? I don’t see it on the schedule and was curious how you worked it in. Thanks!
Stephanie, we typically cover geography during morning time through games, apps, literature, or memory types of activities. We work on mapping quite often alongside history. 🙂
Hello Cindy, I realize I am quite a few years behind but would love to know the resources you used for the living math days (Geometry and Logic & Critical Thinking; Measurement and Problem Solving; Graphing, 100’s Chart, and Logic; Fractions, Patterns, and Problem Solving). I have a nine year old girl so hoping to get something along those lines. Also can you share roughly how long each lesson took? I work full time from home sometimes twelve hour days and struggling to find a balance. Any insight is appreciated.