My daughter made huge strides last year, progressing about a grade level and a half in her language skills. Though her dyslexia struggles still have her about half a year behind, I’m very excited about her progress and expect to see her continue to improve this year. She also struggles with ADHD and some learning anxieties, which create some challenges for us both. She’s my Dory (from Finding Dory). Honestly, that little cartoon helped us to empathize better with some of her memory-issues and accompanying anxieties and helped her to feel normal about those struggles; she identified immediately with that sweet, cheerful little fish. She’s very smart, very creative, very right-brained, and I love her unique view of life and everything around her. With that said, choosing her homeschool curriculum for 4th grade took me a little more time and research; but I’m pleased with the final result, and she can’t wait to get started—which is a really good sign! Here are our choices for next fall.
Our Homeschool Curriculum for 4th Grade
- Tapestry of Grace, Year 2 (Lower/Upper Grammar)
- Visualize World Geography
- A Reason for Spelling C
- First Language Lessons 4
- WriteShop Junior, Level E
- Math Mammoth 4
- (Science) Some Body board game, Hit the Habitat Trail board game, miscellaneous books and encyclopedias
- Abeka Cursive Writing Skillbook
- Funschooling Journals
- Latin for Children A
- Foreign Languages for kids Spanish (aff. link)
As a family, we homeschool classically with a literature-rich curriculum. It’s not the typical solution for a family with ADHD/dyslexia challenges, but using a literature-rich curriculum has been ideal for us and offered a lot of advantages for my kids, including my daughter. Tapestry of Grace saturates my children with a variety of engaging literature: read-alouds, audio books, historical fiction, graphic-rich nonfiction, and lots of accompanying hands-on projects.
Because of the nature of how Tapestry of Grace works, I’m able to work between levels and select the exact books that fit her reading ability and interest. For engaging fiction, I’m able to challenge her with some upper-grammar titles (3-5th grade); for more information-rich texts, I can keep her at a lower grammar level (1-3rd grade). I’ve also assigned her some lower level fiction to read-aloud to her younger brother as extra practice. Many of these are old favorites from our first time through this material when she was in kindergarten, so she’s excited to see these books again and to share them with her little brother.
We will be using Year 2 covering Middle Ages to the colonial period, a year full of knights, Vikings, Reformers, Renaissance artists, explorers, and colonists. Our Bible, worldview, writing, literature, and art studies all tie into this history period. And this year offers a lot of potential for my art-loving creative child.
We’ll also be using Visualize World Geography once a week, a program that teaches children to identify countries around the world through creative stories and pictography. When we first opened our product, my kids had half the Middle East learned in one sitting. These stories and pictures really click with my high-energy, visual learners. The program is quite a bit pricier than your typical geography program, but it’s not your typical program. You could easily use it multi-year with your whole family.
Spelling is my daughter’s nemesis; her dyslexia makes traditional spelling curriculums not just impossible, but an absolute misery. Consequently, we took some time off from spelling and worked on some dyslexia therapies at home with Dyslexia Games curriculum and some dyslexia apps. This year, however, after nearly two years, we will be trying a formal spelling curriculum. We will be doing the equivalent of third grade spelling, still adequately challenging for her without triggering any learning anxieties. A Reason for Spelling is very creative and non-traditional in its approach, offering a lot of various activities for kinesthetic and visual-spatial learners, (read my complete review of A Reason for Spelling here) which is the only reason I’m even considering it for her. We will be using it at our own pace. Though the curriculum is meant for you to select appropriate activities and move through a list a week, we will be doing all of the activities and moving on when we feel ready. In one sense, this is a transition year for her to ease into some spelling instruction.
For grammar, we are continuing with First Language Lessons 4 this year. I love that this program is both challenging and largely done orally, with minimal writing compared to many other grammar curriculums. We skip most of the dictation and copywork exercises because I feel she is getting plenty of that in other areas. But the grammar itself is so easy to do (we finish a lesson together in about 10 minutes) and gentle, while not compromising quality at all. I love this program, and highly recommend it.
While I love the Writing Aids program with Tapestry of Grace, specifically because I can tailor the assignments to my daughter’s specific level of ability, I am supplementing this year with WriteShop Junior for my daughter. What appealed to me most about this program is its use of games to introduce each writing concept and creative crafts for the final presentation of the writing piece. WriteShop Junior is very creative and fun, which will help to calm her writing anxieties. We made progress in this area last year, very slow progress, with me scribing most of her writing for the majority of the year. This year, I’d like her to gain more confidence and independence. I wanted a program that would make the writing process fun. This definitely fits the bill while still teaching age-appropriate writing skills and concepts. We will not be doing everything in the program and will be progressing at our own pace since I still want to use the Writing Aids to integrate our writing with our history studies.
This last year I switched my daughter’s math curriculum from Christian Light (which my son uses and loves) to Math Mammoth. She’s done very well with it and will be continuing with the fourth grade level of Math Mammoth this fall. It appeals to her visual-spatial learning style, providing lots of graphics for instruction and problem-solving. I also love the grids that the curriculum provides to help her line up her numbers when she’s working multi-digit problems. Copying numbers and lining them up in columns correctly can be very challenging for her.
I do work the lesson side-by-side with her. She needs me for the initial instruction of the concept (we read through that together), and I have her read the directions out loud for each individual exercise to ensure (1.) that she’s reading it and (2.) that she’s understanding the directions before she begins. She also needs companionship to be motivated. While this can be a little frustrating when I have lots of demands on my time, I understand that this is a real need for her to avoid getting anxious over challenging material and to help her stay focused. Again, Finding Dory helped me to understand this need she has; just as the character Dory is afraid to go places by herself because of her short-term memory loss, my daughter is afraid to head into the unknown for similar reasons. She needs my presence, not to hold her hand through the assignment, but just to assure her when she starts to forget.
Because of her learning struggles, science has not been a subject we’ve really emphasized in the past, at least not in the “traditional” sense. She’s watched lots of science shows (Magic School Bus, Wild Kratts, Bill Nye the science guy) and performed experiments from science kits, but we haven’t tackled a formal science plan for her. However, she’s really expressed an interest this last year. I will have some science books for her to read, and then as a reward for getting through the reading she will get to play a science game with one of her brothers. I’ve picked up Some Body anatomy game for the first half of the year and Hit the Habitat Trail for the second half of the year.
I’m also using Abeka’s Cursive Writing Skillbook to supplement science with some copywork and glossary skills. This is by far my favorite Abeka product. Part of the book includes a short animal glossary that the student uses to look up information to basic questions and complete brief paragraphs. Another part of the book covers information for each state with an index that the student uses to look up the information and write it onto the corresponding page. While yet another part of the book includes quotations and Bible verses for different character traits. Abeka assigns this during the third grade year, but we typically use this book over a couple of years. For my son, we used it during his third and fourth grade years. For my daughter, we will be using it for fourth and fifth grades. This year, she will be completing the section on animals; next year, she’ll complete the state information as part of our history studies. What absolutely thrills me is that she is so excited about getting to use this book, she already tabbed it with sticky notes! I love it!
To help motivate her through her reading in all of her subjects (because we do a lot of reading and audiobooks), I’ve been using the funschooling journals by Thinking Tree. I give her a selection of books to choose from, she picks the book she wants to read and completes her drawing or copywriting activities in her journal. She loves her journal! So this is a win for both of us. I use the journal for both her history and science reading, and she adds a few of her favorite free-time books in there, too. These journals allow her some measure of control in an area of learning that can feel very out of her control at times. She will be finishing the Homeschooling Journal for Creative Girls that she started at the end of last year, and then I also have the Devotional Homeschool Journal for Christian girls. I love these! It’s such a fun way to encourage and motivate a young learner. This company really understands kids with ADHD/dyslexia. All of their products have been exceptional. And even though we do not follow the model of unschooling, it’s been a perfect tool to supplement our classical model.
My daughter is in love with the Spanish language and has been wanting to learn to speak it for awhile, but with her dyslexia challenges, finding a program for her has been really challenging. Most that I’ve tried require a lot of writing, which is a deal-breaker. But I’m really excited about the subscription website ForeignLanguagesforKids.com (aff. link) that we will be using this next year. It teaches Spanish through immersion with a series of videos, and very little writing required, which I think will be perfect for her. We will be learning Spanish with this program as a family as a part of our “fun Monday” routine.
Additionally, she will begin some light Latin studies. We’ll see how this goes. It was something she wanted to attempt because big brother does it. And since we do believe in the importance of classical languages, I’d love for her to get a foundation here. In spite of her struggles, she’s smart, and I definitely don’t want to sell her short. She will be doing Latin for Children A for 15 minutes daily, but very modified. She’ll learn the chants from the video and CD and work through the activity book available as a supplement to the program. We will not be using the Student Book for a whole lot, and I probably will not be quizzing her.
She will also be continuing with karate and piano lessons, and possibly some pottery or art classes. We also participate in an assisted living ministry twice a month, which has been a great experience and confidence builder for her, giving her the opportunity to be in front of others and to be well-received regardless of her “performance.”
Homeschooling dyslexia is extremely challenging; there are really good days and really rough days. But as with all things, it’s not as much a disability as it is a packaged deal. Sure, my daughter has some real struggles with school, but she also has the ability to see the world and its wonders in a way no one else does. She helps us to see life differently because of her unique gifts. Her weakness is also her strength, and I wouldn’t change her for anything. Putting together her homeschool curriculum for 4th grade has been both challenging and exciting, though I have no doubt I will have to make adjustments throughout the year. But like my little Dory has learned, we “just keep swimming.”