By Janny Jackson
Disclaimer: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that I may earn a small commission from, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. You may read my full disclaimer here.
This school year, just as with every new school year, I am reflecting and reevaluating on what has worked and what didn’t work as well the previous year.
My fourth grader (!!) is very bright and quick to pick up new concepts. He excels at reading, math, and grammar but he struggled heavily this past year with writing. So much so that it became a burden and led to many, many struggles between us and with his schooling. It’s never been his favorite, even though I have tried numerous different ways to make it a more enjoyable experience.
Regardless of his feelings towards it, it still needs to get done. This is a conversation I have had and will continue to have with him. We will focus on perseverance with writing, and my hope is that with continued learning and exposure he will learn to love, or at least not despise as much, the process of creating his own writing.
This year, we are continuing with some curriculum that has worked well, and changing things up a bit in some other areas.
He will continue this year with Handwriting Without Tears and working on perfecting his cursive.
We also love 180 Days of Spelling & Word Study workbooks and have used them for years. They focus on grouping words with the same sound blends together and using them in the proper context in different ways, such as fill in the blank, alphabetical order, analogies, synonyms and antonyms and so much more. These workbooks are great for extra practice and reinforcement.
I changed their math curriculum last year to Math Mammoth and it has not disappointed. It is a no frills approach to math, with tons of practice and quick testing after each chapter to make sure the concepts learned have truly been grasped. The creator Maria Miller also has free YouTube videos of her actually teaching the math concepts, and links are provided for additional online help and practice.
Shurley English is…dense. We did not finish level 3 this past year because of this reason. It was a huge learning curve for both my son and I. I stopped midway through the year to do a review with my son on everything that had been taught, as well as to help him create a fun, interactive grammar notebook that is great for a refresher when needed. Though he did pick up on the grammar lessons fairly quickly and with ease, the writing portion was not his favorite. Because of this, we will finish level 3 and move onto level 4 this year, just using this curriculum for grammar lessons, and will use a different curriculum for writing.
I am so excited to start Writing and Rhetoric with my son this year. This curriculum is a series with a classical approach to teaching writing. It uses the approach of breaking down and copying the works of successful writers, so that you in return can do the same for your own writing. It is a very gentle approach that builds upon itself. I have heard great things about this curriculum and am praying that this is a more fitting approach to writing for my son.
Here is a little of the description: “The Writing & Rhetoric series method employs fluent reading, careful listening, models for imitation, and progressive steps. It assumes that students learn best by reading excellent, whole-story examples of literature and by growing their skills through imitation.”
Believe it or not, I actually ran out of books for my son to read last year. It’s a great problem to have! He loves reading, and I love books, so researching what he will read this year was a lot of fun for me. After he completes a book, he fills out a book report sheet giving me a description of what he read, with a drawing and rating of the book. I always look forward to reading them. The book reports are also a fun addition to his portfolio at the end of the year and are so sweet to look back on!
I am almost positive I will have to buy more books for the year (I totally don’t mind!) and will get more for him as he reads through these.
Another thing he will do this year is a FLVS (Florida Virtual School) art class, as we have done in previous years. I love outsourcing this class for him, as he is able to learn from a teacher live or watch the recorded class, and follow along with the assigned craft. He has created some awesome artwork that I loved so much that I framed and hung it in his bedroom!
And last but not least, I will be signing him up for Night Zookeeper. I have heard amazing reviews about how effective it is at helping with reading, writing and spelling, and I think my son would benefit greatly from it while also having fun!
This journey is one I would do over and over again if it means I get to learn alongside my kiddos. I enjoy teaching my son, but I also enjoy growing with him as we homeschool together.