Our son, Christian, is in the fourth grade.  CJ has a dreadful condition.  It’s one that affects many boys… He seems to be allergic to pencils!  Gasp.  Can you imagine such a thing?

Part of the problem is the boy is a perfectionist.  Every bit of his work is incredibly neat.   How wonderful you think?  Not so much.  The boy works so hard to do it all perfectly, he’s pretty much wiped out with hand cramps by the end of a sentence.  This cursive thing is a royal pain, and despite years of saying, “I won’t do it.”  I’m doing it!  I’m switching to Italics and taking Elizabeth (age 7) with us. 

Italics Handwriting

Italics Handwriting

So,  I thought I’d run through what we’re using for the fourth grade this year.

Saxon Math

Saxon Math

 

I know what you’re thinking… Saxon.  BUT, let it be said their homeschooling kits are fantastic.  Everything at ease and honestly, I like it.  I’ve used Rod & Staff for years, but as they do not have upper level mathematics, we have to switch over sometime.  Maybe it’s just my comfort level, the familiarity.  Maybe it’s that I can check Math off my list everyday without effort or thought.  Maybe it’s that I’m simply lazy.  At any rate, Saxon works well for us.  We use Rod & Staff up until we reach 5/4 level.  We started Ana with 6/5, but I really like the additional speed drills, etc.  Yes, I know I can get them from Rod & Staff.  I love Rod & Staff.  But we’re taking Christian to Saxon this year. 

First Language Lessons by Susan Wise Bauer.  Honestly? I can’t say enough good things about the program.  I love it.  I’ve tried a few and this is my favorite.  I wish she made a program that went all the way through middle school.  Love it!

FLL - Level Four

FLL - Level Four

Prima Latina is one of the least painful Latin curriculums we’ve used.  Ana has moved onto Latina Christiana.  We expect to finish up Level 1 yet this year and move onto Level 2.  We did invest in the flash cards.  I’m having them laminated.  Like they’d last as cardboard!  In this house?  The very idea makes me giggle.

Prima Latina

Prima Latina

And, finally, science.  Sigh.  Okay, let it be said that I haven’t yet found a science curriculum I love.  NONE of it just feels right… natural.  But, I do like the Apologia Creation series and I can live with it.  I wanted whichever science program we chose for the younger kids to institute notebooking a la Charlotte Mason, draw the kids in, have hands on experiments, be fairly interesting with great pictures.  Apologia does this.  Now, granted it doesn’t exactly fit in naturally, but we chose Botany as Spring is coming and I think we’ll get the most out of it.  We did own this once and I practically electrocuted myself making the Seed Starter.  Do NOT allow the aluminum foil to get caught up in the light fixture!  OUCH!

Apologia Exploring Creation - Botany

Apologia Exploring Creation - Botany

Most importantly, well beyond the scope of any curriculum, is our philosophy of education.  I believe in challenging my children.  More importantly, I believe they are capable of comprehending things well above and beyond what we think they can.  Kids need time and space to really try their hands at different activities.  Parents should be encouraging their children to find where God has gifted them uniquely.  How has he wired each child?  What is their gift?  How has he made them special?  They need free time.  They need to be doing narrations (putting their thoughts into a logical order and then speaking), they need to be writing and/or journaling, doodling, reading and be read to, asking questions, and being encouraged to seek answers.  They need hands on experiences, and time to build forts, and fresh air to breathe.  They need to have authority, rules, a routine.  They need balance in their little lives.  Curriculum is a very tiny part of what homeschoolers DO.  It is what we can provide that is invaluable.  We offer our children a life of learning, the gift of curiousity, and a true childhood where they have time to play, research, learn, and laugh within the structure and boundaries of a family.

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