This is a general subject-by-subject overview. For actionable Do-Aheads for 4GRD, CLICK HERE.
ART: The first half of the year, you do the McIntyre lessons. They are easy enough for me to teach and paced slowly enough for the kids to still enjoy it. (Next year, not so much.) The second half of the year, you do “schools of art” with cards. It’s important to know that this is not an exhaustive tour of art schools, or even the most “important” schools. It’s about seeing similarities when certain “schools” are grouped together. This is a concrete exercise that expand the child’s ability to observe and remember. Even the “name the artist” drills aren’t about memorizing important artists. Many of them you’ve never heard of. But by trying to memorize the artists for works that are all painted in very similar styles requires VERY close observation and memory.
GEOGRAPHY: This year you map the USA over and over. (This routine is also repeated in 6GRD with Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Near East and Greece in 7GRD. I haven’t seen anything further along.) You will also complete a USA map skills book and review all of the mountain and river facts from last year. There are also some regional stats about largest states/pop/electoral votes. Those will not be repeated next year, but the rest is.
HISTORY: Pioneers and Patriots and lots of supplementary books. Many are too hard if your child is a “normal” reader. Many cannot be found on audio at all. I am lucky enough to have Madeleine and Kateri on cassette, but the Magellan book and the Cross Among the Tomahawks and several others are unavailable. Be ready to read aloud! You go from Leif to Washington this year. Some of the books are repeats from previous years. My kids love them still.
LANGUAGE ARTS: ILL is busy this year! Lots of composition and dictation. I highly recommend the Writing Manual and Language Arts Overview. It tells helps you give more instruction on composition and shows you where all of the writing skills fall in the K-12 curriculum.
LATIN: Prima Latina is an introduction to grammar and Latin. If you care about nouns and verbs and stuff, it’s here, not in your Language Arts book. Don’t skim over it expecting it to come up in ILL. It might be there some, I can’t remember right now, but I KNOW it’s overt in Prima Latina. If you, like me, think that grammar before 6GRD is best taught with youtube Schoolhouse Rock, then don’t feel you have to emphasize it. Also know that you need to be SERIOUS about memorizing the prayers. The sayings and forms and vocab are all re-introduced next year, but the prayers are NOT. It is assumed that you nailed it this year and are ready to “review” them every other week or so. So there’s your emphasis, if you wanted one.
MATH: Yay, Saxon. Boring, but effective. If you did Abeka last year, the first few months of this is going to be a breeze, mathematically. You can focus on what it means to read instructions, write out the problems on your own paper (yikes!), and all of that. If the addition/multiplication facts are nailed, you get to skip a lot of the facts drill in the lessons. It is assumed that you do the lesson as written: facts drill, lesson explanation, lesson exercises, and mixed review. You can, of course, skip any of that you wish, but know that it’s not going to be made up anywhere else in the assignments. Also, we have found that a certain point kids may get really overwhelmed with the volume of the mixed review. We do 1-15 on today’s lesson and 16-30 on tomorrows. The grouping is usually consistent enough that this reviews the skills every other day. We have not found odds or evens to be as consistent.
MUSIC: This is a weird year for music. We still do the Hayes worksheets, but the playlist is SHORT. The selections themselves vary in length. We like this year a lot, though, because we really get to know the music. Pachelbel, Vivaldi, Bach, Corelli, Handel. Lots of those guys are in your old Music Masters CD’s.
POETRY: Like every year after this one, we love all of the poems but one. This year, it’s “Spring” by Tennyson. It’s like a pile of nonsense words to us. We’re just a pack of Philistines. Maybe third child is the charm! We’ll try. If not, we substitute something fun and naughty, like the full original version of “There was a little girl” that has the line “and spanked her most emphatic!” Just FYI, other school resources recommend printing out or having Mom write in the poem for the notebook, if it’s a burden for the child. Then he can just work on the illustration.
READING: Assuming your child isn’t struggling with reading, the history selections are separate from this. However, some of the history selections are so advanced that he might need both periods to get through the history assignments. For the free-ish reading time, we are supposed to use selections from the 2GRD booklists.
RELIGION: This is Part III of the No. 1 catechism. See this post for the overview. Also, we finish up the Old Testament. Schuster vocabulary is not easy, but it’s kind of fun. We read it aloud as a family. It is intentional that the language patterns are old-timey and hard. Getting the ear tuned in on that stuff opens up a world of great literature later. And, this is the only time before 7GRD (haven’t taught it yet) that you get into all those meaty OT stories after King David. Wait, maybe you do it in KGRD for a minute? I can’t remember. Also, there are some very short oral reports. I skipped them in the past, but the kids really like them. They are so proud to “teach” the key details to the family. The amount of assigned reading is WAY more than needed to get the report details. That threw us off. It’s different from the “presentations” we all grew up with in public school. Two minutes or less. No stress. The “reading about your saint” for days ends up being reading practice and a source of more “filling his head with noble stories”; the child might “bubble over” with a story that really caught his fascination during his report, but it’s not required. Just the facts are fine in our house.
SCIENCE: This year is an Abeka year. Very similar to last year. All my kids like these books. Some resist the bird drawing, but I remind them it’s not about artistry as much as attention to detail. If they really can’t draw a lick, I will let them color. But I expect them to REALLY get the colors right. No cheating just to “get it done.”
SPELLING: Writing Road to Reading. You will be doing it through 6GRD. That vast majority of the English language DOES follow rules. Most people just don’t know them.