Category Archives: Fifth Grade Curriculum

Our Fifth Grade Curriculum: Spanish , History, Poetry, and Music

I’ve provided links to what texts we use.  Most of the links are from Amazon because that’s where I find the most reviews to read from other people.  I like to read reviews.  That does not mean I bought it from Amazon, though.  I don’t get any money from Amazon or anything affiliated with any of these texts.  I am more than happy to answer any questions anyone may have about any of these texts or what we do in general!


Spanish text we picked upWe continue to have the gift of a great, steady native speaking tutor who comes to our home twice a week.  She follows an old textbook that someone gave to me a couple of years ago.  Just something I picked up along the way that seems to work.  It moves a little fast over some topics, so we supplement with exercises from several Practice Makes Perfect workbooks I picked up at Barnes and Nobles and Amazon in the past.  Our goal has Practice makes perfect textbeen to transition to thinking and speaking in Spanish during class time, but it is painful coming.  One day at a time.  My daughter’s verbal comprehension is good, and the teacher speaks in Spanish for the class.  Moving through the book and worksheets is also par on course.  It is simply the speaking application which stalls, although I know this is quite normal.  Besides our formal lessons, we have  a wonderful college student who watches the girls when she can; she is also a native Spanish speaker and tries to speak only in Spanish to them.  Both our tutor and babysitter are great people whom we consider our friends.

I have lots of Spanish resources in my home that we rotate through.  This year Spanish, like most everything else in our home, was streamlined secondary to the birth of our final baby.  If you’re working Spanish into your curriculum, you may want to check out my other homeschooling posts on this topic.  Or ask me in the comments if that’s easier.

History and Geography

Story of the WorldStory of the World by Susan Bauer continues to be our “spine.”  Actually both of my girls completely read the assigned material on their own.  They enjoy reading it and move quickly through the assigned reading.  I supplemented this year with lots Gilgamesh the Heroof documentaries appropriate to the sections they were reading.  Some of the documentaries were a bit sketchy, and some were top notch.  In addition, we supplemented with audio tapes, like The Iliad, and books, like Gilgamesh the Hero and Greek Myths from Usborne.  History is such a fun, easy topic to teach.  Actually, by now, I teach little.

Geography is taught alongside history.  As the history book circles around to the same areas for different cultures, it is easy to hash and rehash geography so it sticks.  As we rehash the geography, I also take time to ask them what other named cultures existed in the same region.


This year, we took time to simply review all the old poems we have memorized.  I wanted to expand the poetry curriculum teaching poetrybeyond simple recitation by either learning about some poets and their poems or learning about poetry styles.  I probably just didn’t have time, but I couldn’t find a poetry text which satisfied what I was looking for.  I settled on Teaching Poetry:  Yes You Can! (Jacqueline Sweeeney) and Read and Understand Poetry, Grades 5-6.

read and understand poetryTeaching Poetry:  Yes You Can! is a fairly brief paperback text which unintentionally mirrors our writing program excellently (Institute for Excellence in Writing)!  Topics hit on include similes, imagery, strong verbs, nouns and adjectives, onomatopoeia, refrain and echo, choosing titles,and structure.  The author walks the teacher through how she teaches poetry, even going as far as to provide some scripting for you.  I like it and think it’s a great little find, but if you’re looking for a student-led poetry text, this is not it.  (I was kind of looking for a student-led text this year.)  If you want your kids to view poetry as an expression of self, this is your book.  If you want your kids to learn how to best make poetry express themselves in a memorable fashion, this is your book.  The author also provides lots of examples of student-written poetry to illustrate how to incorporate her topics into writing poetry.

Read and Understand Poetry, Grades 5-6 is organized by poetic themes, rather than topics to learn in poetry.  I was looking for something more structured along the lines of “Meter–what is meter?”; “Rhyming patters–what are the types of rhyming patterns?”; “Form–what is form?”; and so on.  This book hits on that, but not in a logical, sequential fashion like I wanted.  Instead, the book presents poems based around a theme, and then tells about the features used in that particular poem.  Nice, but not what I was looking for.  (At the end of the book, there is a little summary of terms, but still not what I was looking for.)  My kids actually like the book, and we will keep working through it slowly through next year.  My fifth grader felt it was just at the right level for her, and I’d have to agree.  I would stick with the recommended grade levels.  The book uses multiple choice questions and also open-ended questions to “test” understanding.  At the end there is a glossary of terms and poets.  This book is very much like what I would have used in my public school education (although now it meets the beautiful, magnificent, sure-to-make-our-kids-smarter requirements of Common Core–don’t we all feel better?).


Violin was a new endeavor, and my daughter loved it.  She has lessons once a week.  They’re loosely Suzuki method.  She continues to dabble in piano on her own, moving forward in spurts.  Last year we used piano theory books, and I liked them a lot.  But this year, although we still have them, I didn’t make time for them.  They got a little advanced for me, and so I need to find the answers or someone who can tell me the answers!  My daughter is also playing guitar now this summer.  It really all just sounds so beautiful.  I’m so lucky to have such music in my life.


We kept it narrowed down to dance, ballet and tap dancing.  And of course the music lessons.


That’s about it for our fifth grade curriculum!  This was the year where independence took off!  It was refreshing for me!  Take care and may your homeschooling endeavors flourish!


Our Fifth Grade Curriculum: Spelling

PhonicsI couldn’t find a lot out there on How to Teach Spelling and How to Spell, so hopefully if someone is searching, this will help!  I just like this program.  Nobody asked me to review it.  If you want a logical and progressive spelling curriculum which answers “Why?”–then this may be for you and your students.

How to Teach Spelling

How to Teach Spelling (by Laura Toby Rudginsky and Elizabeth C. Haskell) is not your typical spelling curriculum.  I suggest it for teaching in-depth English spelling and phonics with an emphasis on understanding.  Most kids don’t need this program, although struggling readers and spellers may benefit from it greatly.  If your child is progressing fine in reading and spelling and you’re content with your child being able to spell good enough so that spell check gets them by (and there is NOT a thing wrong with that), this is not your curriculum.  Spend your time and energy elsewhere.  I chose it probably for myself and my own curiosity in understanding our language.  Plus, I had a late reader and wanted to make sure we were proactive in her spelling and phonics foundation.

Early on in elementary school we tried other spelling and phonics curriculums; I just didn’t like any of them.  So I have put together a core of texts that I like and I circulate among them, using them to complement How to Teach Spelling and its workbooks called How to Spell.

Parent Prep Time Minimal But Participation Essential

How to Teach Spelling doesn’t require much teacher preparation at all.  One can even read the lesson on the spot and teach it adequately.  However, it requires a lot of teacher participation (but not necessarily much time), and I do not recommend it for teachers who cannot devote interactive time together with the student.  With a child who is not reading and spelling challenged, it doesn’t take much time, maybe 15 minutes on average, but it requires the teacher to at least orally quiz and assess knowledge.  Because I am one-on-one with my learner, I can move more quickly and don’t require lots of the writing the text recommends.

Tell Me What You Bought

  • The main manual where topics and concepts are presented in an orderly, linear fashion:  How to Teach Spelling  This is not a manual for the students.  It is written for the teacher.  There are 49 chapters, and they progress forward sequentially, with the most complex, difficult topics at the end.  For example, letter sounds and syllables come at the beginning, and more complex suffix rules and letter combinations come at the end.  How to Teach Spelling is based on, and meant to be piggy-backed with, an intensive reading and spelling program called Orton-Gillingham.  I am not trained in the Orton-Gillingham method, but I have still found How to Teach Spelling to be great.  It succinctly marches out all the topics needed to master English spelling and phonics in ONE text.  I don’t have to buy a new one each year!  There are many recommendations for drills, flashcards, and writing exercises.  My girls seem to catch on quickly to the rules and patterns, so I have not needed to do the intensive writing and memorization drills that How to Teach Spelling recommends.
  • The four workbooks:  How to Spell  There are four workbooks.  Workbook 1 is intended for grade one.  Workbook 2 is intended for grade two and three.  Workbook 3 for grades 4-6.  Workbook 4 is for grades 7-12.  My daughter started Workbook 3 last year, and we continued with it through much of this year.  Near the end of the year, we moved into Workbook 4.  The workbooks repeat themselves, as is customary for cumulative type materials, but the higher the level, the more that is expected with each topic.  In addition, more topics are covered.  The workbooks are black and white and pretty dry.  They do a great job listing the “rules” of our English spelling and phonics system, and they expect the students to learn them.  Then, practice work is provided.  Some of the work pages are just phenomenal, and others are just average.  Sometimes, I have to go on-line and find some extra practice pages.  There is a lot of writing required if the student does the workbook thoroughly.  I have found that we can escape the writing if I am willing to sit and quiz my child, only having her write what she doesn’t understand.  In this way, we also avoid “tests.”

Pros and Cons:

1.  It is not expensive.

2.  I can buy one text and four fairly short workbooks, and they will last me through all the years of teaching spelling.

3.  It is black and white.

4.  It requires lots of teacher participation and assessment.

5.  If the teacher cannot sit and assess, the curriculum will require lots of physical handwriting.

6.  It relies on learning rules for the English language (Yes, we do have rules.) and does not rely on simple memorization of word lists.  (For example, a student will understand when to use -ck versus -k at the end of a word.)

7.  It does supply sight words for those naughty, non-compliant words.

8.  All phonics and spelling topics are laid out in an orderly fashion in the How to Teach Spelling manual.  They are not arranged by difficulty level–but by topic.  However,  the manual tells you what is appropriate to teach to each grade level.  You have to pay attention as you teach from the manual.  However, the workbooks are by levels, and do not present more than is appropriate for each level of learner.

9.  The workbooks are succinct.

10.  I cannot find the answers to the workbooks anywhere.  Usually I know the answers, but I’ve had to look up a few.  I’m sure there must be answers somewhere!


Due to the new addition of a baby to our home this year, spelling occurred in cyclical fashion.  We’d do it for a few months on and then a few months off.  Most of it was by oral assessment based on the sequence laid out in the How to Spell workbooks, which my daughter completed on her own.  We pretty much just stuck to this curriculum for this past year.  However, near the end of the year, I assigned supplemental reading from Uncovering the Logic of English (I love this book.)

Please see last year’s spelling and phonics write-up for more!



Why Can’t I Keep a Lesson Planner?


UntitledHave you ever considered whether you’re a cyclical teacher (or learner)?  Is your lesson planner embarrassing, but somehow you keep your kids moving forward and digging deeper in a subject given enough time?  Do you teach to a point (or learn to a point), realize you’re hitting too many roadblocks in a subject, and choose to put it aside for a few months– or even a few years?  Do you often track and assess your child’s learning to see what has been retained and forgotten, re-teaching as needed?  If so, you may have a strong cyclical teaching style!

Cyclical Teachers May Beat Themselves Up

Cyclical teachers may beat themselves up because their lesson planners have gaping white spaces and they can’t keep with certain subjects more than a month or so at a time.  They cringe as they listen to other moms’ computerized lesson spreadsheets–because no matter how organized they are in so many areas of their lives, they just can’t follow that blasted planner.  And intuitively, they know it doesn’t matter, and they know their kids are learning–LOTS!  But what if the authorities come in and demand to see that steady, linear progression expected by the Western model of education?  What then?  And how do you explain your stop and go methods to another mom asking how  you do things?  I’m not talking unschooling here.  I’m not talking unit studies (although these probably fit well into a cyclical teacher’s methods).  And I’m definitely not talking about failure to have educational diligence and discipline, although until you recognize the cyclical pattern, it definitely feels that way.

Our Cyclical Style

Much of my homeschool curriculum is cyclical.  By this I mean we learn a lot in pre-determined, core subject areas for a time, and then we naturally wander away from them.  Because they are the core of our curriculum, we are always disciplined and return to them later. They are not forgotten or allowed to disappear indefinitely.  However, marching out a yearly, or even quarterly, lesson plan is difficult for me because teaching is attuned to our lives, schedules, interests, and development.  If fall festivals and Thanksgiving crowd out writing exercises, and I feel it is an appropriate lull, writing slips out until cold, snowy, winter days allow it to snuggle back in.  If I buy a Latin curriculum (which I did), but it’s not working in like I want (even though we love it), I save it for later.  I know I want my kids to be exposed to Latin, and they will be.

With a preference for this cyclical method, I selectively choose texts and ideas that can grow with us this way.  Texts and materials that I can scale up or down to my learner.  That I can put on the shelf for a year, pull them back out, and still have them offer us information and guidance–and get my money’s worth.  I actually prefer it if I don’t have to pore over choosing new core materials and books each year.  I desire a curriculum that can span years.  A cyclical method seems to fit my children’s natural learning tendencies, my natural learning tendencies, and my teaching methods.  (That  being said, our math, grammar, and Spanish flow on a more traditional linear method.)

Pillars of Cyclical Learning

I love our cyclical method, but I think there are a few pillars it requires.

  1. Pillar one:  Goals for all time ranges. (Short term goals, intermediate term goals, long-term goals, and final goals delineated for our selected core subject areas.  I almost want to say that my long-term and final goals are the most important here.  But that would neglect the short-term goals required to meet our long-term goals.)
  2. Pillar two:  Continuity.  (I could not ever entertain sending my kids to school because I function with a long-term vision.  I don’t shake my hands off on June 1st and say, “Well, I’m glad fifth grade is over.”  I have trouble thinking that way at all.  Right now my kids may have gaps in spelling and writing, but in two years, they will have hopefully caught up–and even surpassed what is taught traditionally.)
  3. Pillar three:  Dedication and commitment to always return to core subjects to learn more and delve more deeply.  (For example, one of our cyclical cores is poetry.  As young children, the kids memorized poems.  We continue to add more poems to our repertoire AND review our old poems for retention.  This year, we have added some discussion and texts to help us understand poetry elements.  We dabble lightly in writing poetry.  Eventually, I want the girls to study poets themselves.  We return to poetry cyclically, always adding more.)


I used to sheepishly listen to other moms describe their meticulous lesson plans and planners.  I bowed out of intense curriculum discussions.  I’ve kind of hung my head in shame sometimes because I can’t keep our writing and spelling lessons going all year-long.  Or poetry or history.  Now, mind you, I haven’t studied this cyclical learning thing, but I have definitely observed in our six years (long or short years, I’m not sure, haha!) of homeschooling that LEARNING IS CYCLICAL.  After finally recognizing my teaching (and learning) style as I prepared my series of posts on “Our Fifth Grade Curriculum,” I feel validated.  Linear learning has its place, but mostly I thrive on cyclical.  Up next in the “Our Fifth Grade Curriculum” series will be writing, a cyclical subject in our curriculum.

Are you mostly linear?  Are you mostly cyclical?  Are you neither?  Do you have another term to describe your methods?  Have you felt abashed at your lesson planner?  Have you felt undisciplined because you can’t finish the Latin or history book in a year?  Tell me!  Let’s share!  I know homeschooling is unique for all, and I love to hear about it!



Our Fifth Grade Curriculum: Writing

ahw-t_thumb_0Listening to my friends who “public school,” I’ve noticed a trend towards moving formal writing to earlier and earlier grade levels .  Never mind they can’t write cursive (I’m referring to the fact that cursive handwriting is being dropped from many public schools’ curriculums.), let’s force them to synthesize grammar, spelling, main ideas, building ideas, and abstract ideas.  Talk about boring and burn-out.  Even worse, sometimes they make them do it as a group project.  The most dreaded words EVER:  Group project.

Written communication is invaluable.  Thus, here am I writing to you.  But, I just don’t think pushing it younger and younger makes for better writing.  The loud voices didn’t ask me, though.  So here I am homeschooling my kids, for better or worse.  🙂

Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Writing Intensive

Our writing curriculum here at home definitely follows a cyclical pattern.  For a few weeks in a row, we will write grandparents and left-behind friends.  Then, we stop.  For a month, we’ll keep a journal going strong, documenting our days and dreams.  Then, we stop.  The Institute for Excellence in Writing program suits our cyclical style just fine.  It provides a video where a man named Andrew Pudewa walks the kids through getting started on formal writing.  There is accompanying written material to emphasize and practice what he teaches.

Last year in the second semester of fourth grade, after slamming through her grammar text in about a semester, I started with the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Student Writing Intensive.  The Writing Intensives (there are a  few levels) seem to be where most people start at in this program.  My daughter learned a lot, and I learned a lot about teaching her just by trying to watch the required videos with her.  (I have NOT managed, even as of yet, to watch the teacher’s video I purchased.  I feel like my limited writing skills still have been enough at this point with Andrew Pudewa’s wonderful guidance.  I do plan to watch it, however, by the time she enters about eighth grade.)  We managed to squeak through until almost the last assignment.  The beginning was more fun than the end.  If I had to do it over again, I would have waited to do it this year, her fifth grade year.  But I was excited and in a hurry.

Institute for Excellence in Writing:  Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons

This year, I decided to tie our history curriculum (we are doing ancient history) into our writing curriculum using IEW’s Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons.  Well, let me say, we move a lot more quickly through fun history than we do boring writing–so they don’t align too well anymore!  Ha!  What we do, we do well in our writing curriculum, but we have not gotten very far in the book.  I bought both the student manual and the teacher’s manual.  I’m glad I did that.

The Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons build on what we learned in the Writing Intensive listed above.  However, it is very nice that the passages are regarding what we have discussed in history.  I LOVE that reinforcement.  I am glad that we did the Writing Intensive first so I see the pattern that is followed by IEW’s program.  However, I like the Ancient History Based Lessons better because it has a few more worksheets to practice key concepts, because it is all in one binder already put together for me, the binder moves logically forward with just turning a page, and it offers some vocabulary to practice.  Plus, it builds even more deeply on the lessons we learned in the Writing Intensive.

There are several things I like about IEW in general that will keep it as our writing curriculum:

  • It teaches students how to outline, an invaluable tool to me in my pharmacy and medical school education.
  • It uses common language to help students understand how to enliven their writing:  use of adverbs, who-which clauses, sensory words, alliteration, and strong verbs.
  • It bans certain verbs which dull writing, calling them banned verbs.  Examples:  go/went, come/same, say/said, get/got.
  • It teaches how to choose titles.

Well, that’s about as far as we’ve covered this year.  I really like IEW, and I will continue revolving back to it in our cyclical approach to writing.  Our biggest impediment to writing is the physical act of it.  My daughter is allowed to type most essays, but even with a little exposure to keyboarding from her grandmother who taught that at the high school level, she still struggles to physically get the words on paper.  But, we’ll get there.  We will keep working through Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons, most likely finishing it in the sixth grade year.

Anyone care to comment on how they teach writing?  Anyone used IEW?  Which parts?  Did  you love it?  What strengths and weaknesses did you see?

Have just a super weekend!



Our Fifth Grade Curriculum: Grammar

I think this is the third year we have used the Easy Grammar System.  It’s about as dry as I am on a Sunday.  The black and white print stares at you like a gray, winter day.  Cut and dry like my grilled steak.  But, we all appreciate Easy Grammar’s conciseness, including my kids.  (My second daughter, in third grade, also uses the Easy Grammar System.)

It takes no prep work or reading ahead on my part.  Hallelujah.  Just turn the page and go.  Grammar takes about a mere 20 minutes a day, and we do it somewhere between three and four times each week, on average.

Many school subjects in our curriculum do not start and end with the traditional school schedule.  For example, math we are about 3/4 of the way through our book.  Spelling we just moved up to a new book.  And writing we are still at the beginning of a book.  I do not march my books and student assignments out at the beginning of the year, but I always periodically take measure of where we are at, what we are doing, and where we need to regroup.  In grammar, we pretty much follow a traditional year.

Grammar Choices

We use two texts from the same author, Wanda Phillips, for our grammar curriculum:

Easy Grammar: Grade 5 (teacher’s edition)

Daily Grams:  Grade 5 (teacher’s edition)

I will describe my take on them and how we use them below.  Please notice the student’s preference for gluten-free bread.  Too bad all curriculums (curricula) seem to like to make use of references to food.

Easy Grammar: Grade 5

2015-05-13 08.21.06 (1)

Easy Grammar: Grade 5 is the more traditional manual.  It succinctly explains grammatical concepts and then follows each concept with worksheets dedicated to that specific topic.  At the end of each unit are four “tests” you can use:  a practice unit review, a “real” unit test, a cumulative practice review, and a cumulative “real” test.  I do not all of these tests/reviews.  I pick and choose.  Sometimes we do the unit test.  Sometimes we do the cumulative test.  Sometimes we do both.  Generally, we do 3-4 pages of the manual’s worksheets a day, and we finish early in the school year (about 3/4 of the way through a traditional year).  After we finish this grammar book, we try to focus on writing more.

Please, it is important to note that there is a teacher’s manual and a student manual.  I buy the teacher’s manual for my daughter to use.  It is actually the teacher’s manual on the left side of the book and the student manual on the right.  The pages mirror each other–except the teacher’s side has a few extra teaching pointers and the worksheets have the answers filled in.  Make sense?  The answers to the student’s worksheets on the right side of the book are posted glaringly there on the left teacher’s side for the student to look at if they wish.  Obviously for some students, this just won’t work!  For some, it is no problem.  If it is problematic, you can buy the Easy Grammar Grade 5: Student Workbook for the student AND Easy Grammar: Grade 5 Teacher Edition to check their work and get teaching pointers.  Or, you can buy the teacher manual and make copies of all of the student worksheets and tests you want from the teacher’s manual.  However, if you hang your kids from the ceiling by their ears like I do for “cheating,” then maybe you can do what I do and just use the teacher’s manual.

Daily Grams: Grade 5

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Daily Grams:  Grade 5 is a workbook with 180 worksheets which build in a cumulative fashion.  It goes along with what is taught in the manual I discussed above.  Each worksheet has about 5-6 questions, and literally only takes five minutes (tops) to complete.  I like that one of the questions always requires the students to put together complex sentences.  I buy the Daily Grams:  Grade 5 Teacher Text, and this nicely places the answers at the end of the book (not like the main textbook I discussed first).  The Daily Grams Student Workbook does not come with answers.  Nine times out of ten I don’t need them, but it is getting to where I sometimes do!

If I happened to be really good at grammar, I could get by with just the Daily Grams and not even use the manual I first mentioned which teaches topics.  I could just teach the topics as they are encountered in the cumulative Daily Grams myself.  I be not that good.  So I buy the Easy Grammar text book with the answers AND the Daily Grams with the answers.

We do one or two Daily Grams pages each day we do grammar.  Sometimes I will pick and choose the questions they do, so they are not wasting time on material they know very well already.  We will finish the Daily Grams book on the traditional school year, but it takes us longer than the manual I first mentioned (Easy Grammar:  Grade 5).

One last thing I incorporate into Daily Grams is having them write the required sentence formation question in cursive.  That way they are frequently practicing cursive handwriting.


That’s it!  That’s our grammar!  Nobody paid for this review.  And I get no kick-backs.  It’s a sound grammar curriculum, but not pretty or exciting.  We will stick with it because I like its conciseness, thoroughness, and I really like Daily Grams.  I also like that I’m not needed too much.  In general, I’m not a good curriculum shopper, and this is working well for us.  If it’s not broke, I don’t look to fix it.  The enemy of good is better.  I feel like my kids will have a great grasp of grammar with The Easy Grammar System.

How about you?  Do you do formal grammar?  How’d you pick your text?  Does grammar take all year?  Do you do it every day?  Are you good at it?  Did you like it when you were a kids?


Our Fifth Grade Curriculum: Math

PicMonkey Collage (1)Oh, are we are at the end of the traditional school year?  Goodie!  We finally, at the end of fifth grade, have hammered out our fifth grade curriculum well enough for me to share.  It’s not original.  It’s not creative.  In fact, it looks a lot like our fourth grade curriculum with a couple of welcome additions, including a baby in the mix.  (So, currently, I have a fifth grader, third grader, kindergartener or kindergartner–whichever you prefer, and 9 month old.)  It has been an interesting, growing year.  Do you watch old cartoons?  A lot of times I felt like Wile E Coyote.  Or Tom.  Or Sylvester.  Yep.  Did.  Just call it, “The Looney (Home)School.”  That’s it.  But at the end of this year, I would be able to produce for the authorities documentation of education in the following areas:

  • Math
  • Grammar/Writing/Spelling
  • Spanish
  • History
  • Astronomy
  • Poetry
  • Music
  • Physical education
  • Lots of silent sustained reading

Onward to Math:  Saxon Math 7/6

We have used Saxon Math since we started homeschooling, and in fact, I used Saxon Math myself as a sixth grader on up till graduation from high school (except for geometry).  Boring and dry–but tightly and thoroughly knit.  My oldest daughter has been steadily working through the 7/6 book this school year.  There have been times when it proved too hard, and we slowed way down.  Then, something clicked in her brain, and it became “easy.”  So all year, we have moved through the book according to her mastery level, not my lesson planner.  Here’s what we do.

  • Start working in the Saxon Math book according to the lesson which best matches skill level.  Don’t just start the book at lesson one, unless that is where the skill level lies.
  • Moving forward through the book is determined by how well my daughter is scoring on the daily assignments.  If she seems to understand and is consistently getting most of the problems correct, I usually pick and choose the problems for her to do.  Or I may have her just do the evens or odds in a problem set.  At this pace, we are moving forward at a lesson a day.  If, however, she is missing several problems or doesn’t seem to understand concepts, we slow down until she starts mastering most of the problems again.  At these times, she will be assigned half of the problem set one day and the other half the next.  There have been times where we stop completely doing lessons for a week and simply do supplemental problems on concepts she is struggling with.  Supplemental problem sets are provided in the back of the Saxon 7/6 manual.  On average, we have gotten through three problem sets a week.
  • I do not formally teach her the lesson content.  She is supposed to read it herself and attempt to do the problems in the set.  If she does not understand, I teach her the new material as I am checking her math later.
  • We do the mental math component about every third or fourth lesson. We don’t do mental math every lesson, although in an ideal homeschool situation, I’d like to.
  • We do not take routine tests.  My daughter actually asks for the tests, and we have probably done about three this year at her request.  At this age, I do not like to use tests much.  I check her math, and I am very aware of what she is and is not grasping.  So I don’t feel the need to test.  However, later in her education, I will make sure she has tests so she is prepared for “the real world.”
  • To round out our math curriculum, she does some flash cards with a sister and some “applied” math her dad.
  • We will not finish the Math 7/6 book “this year” by the end of May.  We will continue doing some math lessons throughout the summer.  There are 120 lessons in the book, and we are on Lesson 87.  Often, at the end of a book, I feel they start cramming in new concepts just for pre-exposure to the next school year.  I never like this.  I usually stop a book when I feel this happening and skip on to the next book, resuming at the appropriate lesson point.

What about you?

What about you?  Do you use a curriculum as it is designed?  Or do you fix it up for your student?  Do you feel worried when you fall behind your lesson planner?  Does anyone out there “unschool” for math?  That would be fun to hear about!  Wishing you lots of fun in your homeschooling!

Happy May!