It’s been an interesting homeschool year for our family.
I don’t know what it is about fourth grade, but it wore me out with my oldest and six years later it’s getting me again with my youngest! I remember fourth grade being brutal for my oldest. In fact, that was the year we pulled him out of public school.
Let the record show. It doesn’t matter if you’re homeschooled or not. Fourth grade can still suck. Even from the living room couch.
I have to say, I’m super proud of my little guy. He’s had to turn some things around this year and he’s trying hard. I always tell him all I can ask for is a good effort and good attitude. Everything else will fall into place!
We’ve had a lot of trial and error this year, but I’m finally finding some solutions that are helping our homeschool.
A simple assignment book.
I cant believe it’s taken me six years to figure out that a spiral notebook makes my life easier. It’s so simple. I let my son pick out a basic one subject spiral notebook to use as an assignment book. Each day I write his assignments out by hand. Hand writing the list is key! I use different color markers and sometimes I even draw a little surprise for him depending on the day. Hearts for Valentine’s Day and four leaf clovers for St. Patrick’s Day. It sounds silly, but it helps get him excited about the school day. Believe me, my shamrocks are not impressive, but they put a smile on his face.
He checks off each assignment as he completes it and I sign off on everything at the end of the day. Having an assignment book has really helped him focus and transition from one subject to the next. Seeing a new color list or a little note from me seems to brighten his day. I catch him checking to see what color I wrote in or if I decorated it with anything cool. Last Friday’s list was grey marker. He was unimpressed.
I love Saxon Math. I’ve used it consistently with my youngest since preschool. It’s a comprehensive program and I trust that he’s getting a full spectrum of math. Now that he’s in fourth grade I can see the strong foundation it’s given him. All of the concepts are beginning to click and he’s getting it! That being said, it’s his least favorite subject and lessons can be trying.
Out of pure desperation, I purchased the DVD lessons over Christmas break. I figured, if anything, the DVDs would give him a much needed break from me. At first he hated them, but I stuck with it and continued to introduce them each day. Change is never easy and there were a lot of complaints in the beginning, but after a few weeks of encouraging the DVDs he began to prefer them over lessons with me. Using the DVDs has promoted independence! It’s become a bit of a confidence boost for him to complete his lessons without me hovering over him.
Consistency in our schedule.
One of the perks of being a homeschooling family is that we have so much freedom in our schedule. As much as I LOVE being able to skip school and go to Disney for the day, this freedom is both a blessing and a curse. Whenever I let our freedom of schedule get out of hand, I end up paying for it.
My boys do better with structure. Homeschooling has it’s freedom, but when there are too many interruptions it can be a negative. If something comes up that we want to do during regular school days/hours I’m never opposed to a field trip, but we just have to get our work done first!
Playing up strengths.
When I feel like we’re behind I have a tendency to quickly scrap the easy work to make room for the harder subjects. Spelling is easy to skip when you know your child can spell. Who has time for handwriting when you have seventy-five hours of long division ahead? Sometimes I feel like the easy subjects are just busy work and a waste of time, but that’s not true. When you’re able to work at your own pace, it’s so easy to move too fast. I’ve been trying to slow down and let my son enjoy the subjects that are coming easily for him. The confidence he picks up during the easier subjects trickles down to the hard work he has to put in for the tough ones.
Fourth grade has definitely been a challenge, but I know we’ll get through it. We always do!
Has there been a stand out tough school year for your kids?
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Adrienne is wife and homeschooling mom of two boys, one in high school and one in middle school. She's a Christ follower, runner, yoga lover, coffee guzzler and pursuer of sanity. Her family began the unexpected journey of homeschooling in 2009 and she's been hanging on for dear life ever since. Find her as @TheMommyMess on Twitter and connect with her on Facebook.
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