Guys, I’m in shock that I’m planning for our 5TH YEAR of homeschooling! Here is my plan for our 4th grade homeschool curriculum, plus 3rd and 1st grade for the 2023-2024 school year. We’ve pretty much been eclectic homeschoolers, pulling from this and that curriculum for each subject. However, this year I’m making some pretty major changes. We are switching over to include many of Charlotte Mason’s homeschool methods.
Due to the switch, I’m still ironing out what we can fit in…I’m 100% sure I’ve overstuffed our year. So knowing that, I’ll have to refine as we go.
As a side note, you’ll notice this post is different than my YouTube homeschool picks from the spring. That’s because I hadn’t really decided to go all in and was still really just researching a Charlotte Mason education.
Since this blog is all about sharing our homeschool journey to hopefully help you with yours, I’ll be posting about these changes often!
Here’s what will look different from years past:
- Daily narration (where the kids tell me what they know) from our readings.
- Assigned reads using living books (mainly following Ambleside Online’s choices and weekly reading schedule).I’ve never assigned books before…so this is new!
- Cycling in “enrichments”, (art study, composer study, nature study, geography, and poetry) once a week for 5-10 minutes each. See how we’ll do this below.
- Notebooking: We’ll be learning (slowly) how to start Charlotte Mason notebooking with my 4th grader (1st & 3rd grader will stick to oral narration). This will replace the typical worksheet model that I’ve thus avoided because I just can’t stand busywork. Stay tuned for more!
I’d love to have you subscribe over on YouTube where I share homeschool videos and regular updates. Ready to see what we’re using this year?!
Quick recap of our homeschool journey up till now
Homeschooling was not my “plan”. We started homeschooling kindergarten because I just couldn’t send my boy away for a full day. It seemed too long too soon! I made a list of pros and cons of homeschooling and went from there.
My first year doing kindergarten was transformational because I realized this homeschool thing was doable with one child. The next year I had a 1st grader and a kindergartener….where we learned how to juggle 2 kids doing school.
I tried homeschooling while pregnant and pretty much realized I couldn’t do anything while sick. Life was school. Naps WITH my preschooler were essential. And then, we had our 4th baby after a 4 year gap.
Then came 1st and 2nd grade, with some Busy Toddler\’s Playing Preschool for my 3rd kiddo. We moved across the country for my husband’s medical fellowship, and slowly figured out how to school 3 kids for kinder, 2nd, and 3rd grade..which was my hardest year yet.
New town, no homeschool friends, 1st time schooling 3 kids, and a toddler. Plus in the back of my head I wondered if we’d have to move again when the year was over for our first done with training job.
Yet we grew closer as a family! The kids learned how to ski and play basketball, and seemed surprisingly happy! I was struggling, but they were happy.
Each year is different and not all will be easy on you. I tell you this so you don’t think that homeschool influencers have it all together. I’m really proud of my kids for leaning into each other when we didn’t have a “group” to be part of this year. And I’m really proud of them for humoring me with my random projects and chugging along each day with their school lists.
That brings us to the 2023-20234 school year, which is what you are actually here to read about!
How the Brave Writer lifestyle led me to consider Charlotte Mason methods, and why this may be my last year using it.
I couldn’t peg why I’d been drawn to Brave Writer for the last couple years…but I think it’s the Charlotte Mason influence I loved.
First of all…I’ve LOVED Brave Writer darts and arrows. So the possibility of leaving it is…just a possibility. I have about 6 more I’ve purchased and want to use so that’s my plan for this year.
But I don’t think I’ll need to continue buying them if we are comfortable using Charlotte Mason methods of copywork, dictation, and reading literature from high quality book lists like Ambleside Online or Beautiful Feet Books.
Our homeschool looks nothing like my elementary years in public school. Brave Writer has helped me deschool my brain and help me consider softer, more natural methods of learning. And for that I’ll forever be thankful!
Ok, onto the family subjects.
Family style subjects
We’ll be doing family style learning for history/geography, nature study, and anything in our morning time like bible reading, singing a hymn, a chapter from a book we are reading, and then each day I’ll do 5-10 minutes of ONE each of the beauty subjects below:
- poetry (just reading poetry and enjoying it, that’s it)
- composer study (using a guide from Simply Charlotte Mason/listening to the songs)
- artist study (using free printables from A Humble Place which follows Ambleside Online’s artist schedule)
- geography (finding places on maps from books we read)
- nature study (likely we’ll hop around topics…following Exploring Nature With Children
My 1st grader may get a pass on listening in to some things if it’s too much. But a tactic I have is to ask him to play with toys in the room I’m in…so he’s absorbing some things if he chooses to listen in.
This is my first year trying composer study, geography, and a simpler version of artist study. Sonya from Simply Charlotte Mason makes it sound so simple! You can watch her YouTube video explaining how to do each enrichement in just 5-10 minutes a day…one subject per day.
- Daily copywork
- Assigned reads from Ambleside Online
The goal, as I’ve been taught on Ambleside Online, is to have my kids reading as many of their books on their own as possible. This seems to be around the 4th grade for many families but can obviously vary a lot.
Since my oldest is an avid reader, I’m banking on him taking over a lot of his own assigned readings this year. I’ll do 100% of the assigned reading for my 1st grader and probably 1/2 to 3/4 of the readings for my 3rd grader.
Copywork will also be independent, yay! I’m increasing this from once a week using the Brave Writer darts to daily (as recommended by both Simply Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online). I’ll probably have them pick one sentence per day to copy from a book of their choice. I also bought these handy wooden book stands to make copywork easier.
4th grade homeschool curriculum we’ll be using
I’m doing Multiplication Facts That Stick by Kate Snow over the summer (it’s 5-10 minutes a day for 10 weeks). We don’t have the facts down at all yet so this will make math easier going forward.
Kate says this shouldn’t be their first ever exposure to multiplication, and that they should have had an introduction to it in their regular math curriculum first and a basic understanding of what it is.
Once we finish learning the multiplication facts, my 4th grader will continue to use Singapore Math Primary 2022. We’ll pick up where we left off this year, so he’ll start in the 3B student book.
He’s too old to use Math With Confidence (he’s a year ahead of their release schedule), so I’ll continue with Singapore for now. It’s working ok for him, and he’s math minded for sure.
This year I’ll need some video help with making bar models because it’s an area I didn’t learn well and need help teaching.
The kids will be doing language arts via reading LOTS of books, copywork, oral narration (telling back what they’ve heard or read), and dictation. Read more on Charlotte Mason language arts on Ambleside Online.
Charlotte Mason language arts doesn’t require a spelling program. They learn to spell through reading, copywork, and dictation. BUT…I’m a newbie and it’s hard for me to trust this process…so I’ll be slowly continuing All About Spelling with my 4th grader only. He’s on level 2, which has been easy for him so far. If it’s too much, we’ll stop or pause.
Literature: Ambleside Online year 4 picks for literature and free reads
Grammar: Brave Writer Darts or Arrows
Creative Writing: Continue with Partnership Writing projects, maybe once a month, by Brave Writer (See my review on YouTube) and Friday free writes.
Spelling: Finish level 2 All About Spelling and begin level 3. I’m thinking we may slow down and do 2 days a week instead of 4.
The nuts and bolts of developing good writing and language mechanics comes from daily copywork, oral narration for each assigned reading, and around 4th grade (my son’s age) he’ll begin light written narrations…so putting what he’s read down on paper.
This has shown me that using Brave Writer is PLENTY of grammar for their age…when before I had doubts if it was enough! We may even ditch Brave Writer at some point as I get more comfortable with Charlotte Mason language arts…but for now I love it and it gives me some framework to introduce light grammar.
We LOVE history here and I’m struggling with what to do because I tend to over stuff.
I had planned to finish America’s Story 2 as our spine, with as many living books as we can muster to make it come alive. It’s a great read…and simple spine. We’ve made it through the Civil War era.
The second option I’m drawn to is Simply Charlotte Mason’s Genesis to Deuteronomy study (first of a 6 year chronological family style history curriculum). I LOVE this idea because we can do history as a family and it ties together the bible, history of ancient Egypt, and geography. There are added read alouds for kids based on their grade level so older kids are not bored.
So not sure if we should start this after America’s story or ditch America’s story. It’s 100% different.
Third option is to go all in with Ambleside Online (also has a 6 year history rotation). This is a complete Charlotte Mason book list and schedule k-12. My problem with this is that each kid is on their own history timeline. So while my oldest (year 4) could read his own books and narrate, I’d be reading two separate history timelines to my year 1 and year 3.
And a 4th option which I like the idea of, is to go with Simply Charlotte Mason’s bible/geography/history all in one history guide and booklist (which is lighter than Ambleside Online reads), and supplement from Ambleside Online if there’s a few books I want to cover.
Stay tuned for what actually works! Last year we really enjoyed America’s Story by Masterbooks, and made it through the Civil War era using that plus SO many amazing books from this Civil War living book list.
Nature study is really the only science topic recommended in a Charlotte Mason education for the early years, but I’m also going to try dipping into learning about bones of the body. If my kids hate it, we’ll drop it.
I’m going to try 3 things this year:
- Reading nature books from booklists
- Nature journals once a week.
- Learning bones of the body through reading Dr. Bonafide books. (truly an experiment here and not sure how they’ll like it!)
I’ve always wanted to learn bones of the body with my kids since I remember memorizing some basic bones and muscle names in 3rd grade. I still remembered all the scientific names when I was taking an Anatomy course in college so it wasn’t pointless knowledge!
For nature study we used Exploring Nature With Children for the first couple years in our homeschool. I’ll probably head back to that because I love the structure and online community from that.
This last year we tried a couple of 2 week long nature study unit studies from 1000 Hours Outside (so far on Mushrooms and Animal Homes) and enjoyed them!
While it’s not all inclusive or open and go like Exploring Nature With Children, we’ve learned a lot and enjoyed following the prompts to look up stuff. I may use a few more of those, but will likely go back to ENWC as we were just more consistent when using that.
This year I grabbed Masterbooks’ new art course called “Living Art Lessons The 7 Elements” for my 3rd and 4th grader. I got two student books and one teacher book.
I didn’t intend to start yet, but my art loving fresh 3rd grader asks for this daily it seems so we’ve already started about 8 lessons and it’s been awesome!
I’m not artsy but this has easy-to-whip-up projects and we are covering the 7 basic elements of Art (I didn’t know that was a thing till this). It’s open and go for us BUT I did have to buy any supplies I didn’t own from the book checklist.
In past years we’ve dabbled in YouTube drawing channels like Art For Kids Hub, and we loved Lily & Thistle watercolor videos for beginners, Here’s how we used Lily & Thistle free backyard birds course.
3rd grade homeschool curriculum choices
We’ll continue with our math starting grade 3 of Math With Confidence. It’s been such a breath of fresh air! I don’t dread teaching math, it’s open and go for me (so long as I have math manipulatives close by), and my daughter is learning mental math well. Here’s my review of level K Math With Confidence, and my review of 1st grade Math With Confidence.
Grade 3 will have an additional page of practice, so instead of 1 student book, 3rd grade will be the first year to have 2 student workbooks just due to more pages of practice.
I’ll have a flip through up on my YouTube channel for you once I receive a hard copy. The level doesn’t release till end of June so I may not get mine till July and then have to make the video.
One last thing I’m going to add in, is SIngapore Math word problems. I bought level 1 thinking it’d be WAY too easy and it’s about right where we need to be. The math isn’t the hard part here, it’s the deciding how to form the equations and what needs to be done to get the answers. So we’ll do a few q’s at a time, maybe 2-3.
Singpore Math is just way better at challenging kids with word problems than MWC, so I’ll see if this will be a good combo or not. Feel free to ask questions about this if you have any!
This is the same as my 4th grader’s plan as they do this together with me. We’ll do Brave Writer Darts which includes a monthly chapter book, weekly copywork, dictation, book parties, and gentle grammar.
Same as my 4th grader, we’ll continue Partnership Writing projects on occasion, writing letters to friends, and Friday free writes in our journals.
I’m holding off on any spelling program till 4th grade for her.
I initially planned to start my daughter on level 1 of All About Spelling as a 3rd grader like I did with my son. I loved starting at that age with him, and thought he had a huge advantage from all the books he’d read which really helps with spelling!
However, change of plans after really digging into more of the Charlotte Mason method.
The CM method doesn’t recommend anything extra other than copywork, oral narrations, and excellent literature for language arts until around age 10 or 4th grade!
This is SO counter cultural and hard to swallow but I’m actually seeing the “why” here. When you’re a stronger reader, spelling is easier.
Same as my 4th grader. TBD!
Science Nature Study
Same as my 4th grader.
Same as my 4th grader.
1st grade homeschool curriculum picks
Reading: My sweet buddy has made it through half of Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, and we took the summer off so I’m sure we’ll go backwards a bit and start from there.
Handwriting: He’ll continue on learning to write his letters, and words, using Handwriting Without Tears. Here’s a look at how this curriculum went for us with my older child. He won’t start copywork yet (at least in the beginning of 1st grade) as I’d like him to get more practice with just letter formation.
Math: We loved Kindergarten Math With Confidence so hell continue on with 1st grade Math With Confidence this year. I’m so thankful to have found a math program that I can’t wait to teach him! It’s fun, hands on, and simple for me to teach. For fun, I’ll be reading him Life of Fred apples.
Year 1 Books from Ambleside Online: I’ll be picking and choosing books from this year 1 book list. I’ll be reading to him every day, including lots of fairy tales, free reads, and some of their history picks. Like I said above, I’m feeling pulled on what to do for history, especially now that we have kids on 3 very different learning levels.
Listening skills: This may sound funny, but this year is my son’s first year we are going to be working on sitting still while I read out loud. Last year he got a big fat pass on all our family read alouds because he could care less what we were reading. It wasn’t worth the battle to me and I had a very, very loud and demanding 1.5 year old.
This year I am going to keep readings short, but I’m going to be asking him to be quiet and listen, and also to narrate back to me our school readings. Many mamas in the Charlotte Mason groups I’m in have said that it can take all of 1st grade to learn to narrate when asked. So I’m keeping my expectations low and will be rereading Know and Tell (the BEST book on narration for beginners)!