How We Homeschool 4th & 5th Grade

How We Homeschool 4th & 5th Grade

Are you looking for homeschool curriculum ideas for your 9-11- year-old? We are eclectic homeschoolers and try to pull from the best of each homeschool philosophy as well as the best publishers.  Because homeschoolers often don’t fit into just one grade level at any given time, you may consider the curriculum below for your 4th/5th grader and even 6th grader.


We use two math programs because they are completely different offering my daughter alternative ways to look at arithmetic. She does two pages of Math Mammoth and one page of Horizons Math each day.

Math Mammoth, by Dr. Maria Miller, is a mastery-based curriculum that focuses on conceptual understanding, number sense and mental math. While mastery- based is excellent so the students can explore a concept in-depth, I do not feel comfortable without the repetition of a spiral program.You may consider purchasing the color version for just a few dollars more.

Horizons Math is more traditional. I like that is a spiral curriculum so concepts continueB0021KTP2Q to be reinforced.  Each set of exercises are in short chunks, so it does not feel cumbersome like some other more tedious math programs. Additionally, the colorful pages and puzzles make it very visually appealing.

My daughter uses MobyMax as an online math supplement. About 3 times per year, she cycles through XtraMath to ensure she remains fluent in math facts. She sails through it faster and faster each cycle.

Language Arts

We use IEW’s U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons. While enjoying tea together, I sit down  with my 10 and 11-year-old children and do our IEW. You kill four birds with one stone using this program as it covers history, literature, grammar, and writing composition. IEW develops strong writers. I have spoken to multiple homeschool kids who have found writing in college a breeze, and they attribute that to their IEW training. It is scripted making it easy for parents to teach.

NaNoWriMo Junior Writer’s Program provides resources and B008GU1DD4encouragement for young authors to pen their own novels. I taught this class at co-op with the free curriculum during our fall semester. This spring, I am using the IEW Student Resources Notebook to help the writers edit their novels.

My kids love to read and spend a great deal of time engaged in pleasure reading. However, I do have a bookshelf from which they can choose for their 25 minutes of daily required reading. I load up on great books at the library, so they always have many choices. After completion, they email me a summary of what they read. It is only about 4-5 sentences. It also serves as a record of what they are reading. 

Daily Grams are an efficient and painless way to learn grammar. It is short and to the point. There is a corresponding text to which you may want to consider alongside your Daily Grams called Easy Grammar. However, my children do not enjoy it. I feel our time is better spent with me editing their writing as well as using IEW.

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is reading aloud to my children. It is a tremendous bonding activity for our family as we go on so many book adventures together. During snack and meal times, I read from a variety of great books. The morning includes most of our non-ficton.  Later in the day, we shift to novels.  map-pics-002

For spelling, we are using Spelling Workout D. However, my kids also love this well-done spelling website.


We are big fans of  living books,  field trips and travel for our history studies. We follow1933339179 the classical method of studying history chronologically. I highly recommend Story of the World audiobooks.  Additionally, I appreciate the many wonderful book lists from Charlotte Mason inspired groups.


We explore science out in the world. We are in a nature group that gets together weekly and learns from experts such as park rangers, naturalists, marine scientists,  and farmers. Additionally, my daughter takes a physics/chemistry class at our co-op, and we all read the material together during the week. Co-ops are great because they can spend the entire class period doing experiments to reinforce what we learned during the week from our reading. My kids also took marine science at a facility on the Pacific Ocean for the fall semester.  Hands-on is best, in my opinion.



We believe music and sports are important aspects of education. My kids race sailboats, and we play basketball together as a family every Saturday morning. They also play woodwinds and piano.  We do other extracurricular activities but believe at least one sport and one instrument are non-negotiable.action kate

I hope you found this post useful if you are homeschooling or considering homeschooling your 4th/5th grader. You can see that you can give your child a quality education spending very little money.

Note: My daughter is actually in 4th grade by her birthday. Due to homeschooling, she has been able to accelerate her learning and use 4th-7th grade curriculum.

You may also like:

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Where Do Your Homeschooled Kids Learn?

Where Do Your Homeschooled Kids Learn?

After a beautiful day looking for marine fossils led by our favorite naturalist, I came home to these words in a book I am reading:

“To keep students in school and engaged as productive learners through to graduation, schools must provide many experiences in which all students do some of their learning outside school.”

“Most young people find school hard to use. Indeed, many young people find school a negative learning environment. Not only do schools fail to help students become competent in important life skills, they provide a warped image of learning as something that takes place only in schools, segregated from the real world, organized by disciplines and school bells, and assessed by multiple-choice, paper-and-pencil tests. Schools have scores of written and unwritten rules that stifle young people’s innate drive for learning and restrict their choices about at what they want to excel, when to practice, from whom to learn, and how to learn. It is no wonder that so many creative and entrepreneurial youth disengage from productive learning.”–Charles Mojkowski in Living to Learn: How Out-of-School Learning Increases Engagement and Reduces Dropout Rates


I am thrilled, as homeschoolers, we have so many different opportunities to learn in such a wide variety of environments. My favorite learning takes place in the great outdoors! Additionally,  as educational facilitators, we can pick the best teachers for our kids. They are not confined to one teacher in the same classroom for an entire year. With our naturalist, for instance, we have one of the premier teachers available to learn about nature and ecological responsibility.  I love the tremendous diversity in learning opportunities we engage in together with our friends.

Homeschoolers, let’s make sure we are not squandering our wonderful freedoms and benefits in homeschooling to simply stay at home all day recreating school. Yes, do your math, reading, writing or whatever academic subjects you feel are critical.

Ditch what “school work” does not seem to add value in exchange for real edification out in the world. Learn from people who are passionate and want to share that with your kids! By giving your children such tremendous exposure, they will have a greater ability to understand what they are passionate about in addition to a fine education. In my experience, we are a much more joyful family when we are out learning together and not sitting at home all day doing school work.

Enjoy your journey and carpe diem!

Join my Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

You may also be interested in:

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

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Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

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Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century According to Business Insider

Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!


How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

My biggest piece of advice for new homeschoolers is to find your tribe. Homeschooling can be one of the most joyful and rewarding experiences for a family. It can also come with frustrations and challenges. A group of friends to do this beautiful life with, as well as encourage and guide you, can make a world of difference for your family. 


When I first began my homeschool journey, we scattered our days with different groups and programs. While I strongly believed the academic opportunities were superior for homeschoolers than in conventional schools, I did not feel satisfied I was building a true homeschool community for my family. It was also important to me that my kids developed the deep relationships that I experienced growing up.  As a result, I became extremely intentional about building a tribe. Now, I could not be happier than I am with our magnificent group of families with whom we do life. I love our joyful journey together, and I know they do, too!

”You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”–Jim Rohn



Homeschoolers are a passionate, generous and energetic bunch. They are more than happy to help you with curriculum or any other frustrations or struggles you may encounter. There are many wonderful groups you may want to plug into.  If you don’t have a group in your area that is a good fit,  I suggest you build your own.

Establish friendships with JOYFUL families. Choose your friends wisely!

 Here are some tips based on my experience to find and build your homeschool community:

  1. Seek out a group of friends who share your priorities. Whether it be faith-based, activity-based such as a nature group, service-based or anything else that is important to you, I strongly recommend you find a group where the parents share your priorities and values. You will help each other out as you bounce ideas off of each other.   Also, having a group of like-minded ladies is a great support to lift each other up during those rough days. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Office of Facebook, said, “In the deepest sense of the word, a friend is someone who sees more potential in you than you see in yourself, someone who helps you become the best version of yourself.” Your friends will help you to be the best parent and educational facilitator you can be for your kids.
  2. Set up events for families you want to develop deeper relationships with. Plan field trips, park days, Super Bowl parties, Easter egg hunts and more with families with whom you would like to spend more time. Field trips are a great way to find families who have similar interests and kids of similar ages as yours. As some of these same families come to the different events, they will connect with one another developing your homeschool community.
  3. Establish friendships with joyful families. Choose your friends wisely.  I suggest you hang out with families whose children are a positive influence on your kids. The kids in my homeschool circle are kind, get along well with their siblings, enjoy learning and are respectful to adults.  I love Jim Rohn’s famous quote: ”You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  As a mom, you will be encouraged and gain wisdom from the right choice in friends.

    From the beginning, we’ve been homeschooling together.
  4. Create or join a co-op in which different parents use their passions and gifts to teach the kids. We were fortunate to have an amazing co-op in place, and I met some of my best friends there. Co-op is a day that is as much fun for the moms as it is for the kids. While the kids are learning, the moms have the opportunity to connect and chat.  I could have chosen a drop-off program on that same day on a different campus. While it would be nice to have time to run errands alone and some me time, I would miss out on the bonding with my fellow homeschool mamas. I learn so much from other homeschool moms each week as I listen to them and ask questions. We have a great time! I leave each co-op feeling reinvigorated.
  5. Look for friends with similar lifestyles and educational philosophies. I don’t know any two homeschool families that educate in the same way. One of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to customize your children’s education. However, your questions about curriculum, scheduling,  etc. can best be helped with someone from a similar educational viewpoint.  On the flip side, I see value in having friends with a variety of homeschool styles and philosophies. I learn so much from each one.
  6. Find families with kids near your kids’ ages. Our best friends have kids around the same ages as our own. We still get the benefit of mixed ages interacting because most of our activities are done with family units. However, my kids connect the most with their friends who are close in age and the same gender.
  7. Mom’s Night Out–Get out with your friends! One of the best ways to recharge is to share an evening out, afternoon at the beach, morning hike, a couple of hours over coffee or whatever works for you and your gals. It doesn’t have to cost a dime. The time away from kids is a great time to get to know moms on a different and more intimate level.

    Mom’s Night Out overlooking the ocean!

I can honestly and enthusiastically say that I love homeschooling, and I love our family’s homeschooling friends. I feel so blissful about our lifestyle of learning with them.  I hope to have shared ideas that are helpful to some of you.

Do you love your homeschool community? What are some of your tips? Please share!

Join my Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

You may also be interested in:

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

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Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

Business Insider Says Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part One

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part Two


Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House

Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House

This messy homeschool house is what I came home to this afternoon.  Just off an all-day field trip yesterday and a full day at co-op today, my house will not win any Good Housekeeping awards. Honestly, this is more the norm for my house than an anomaly.

To be frank, a neat house is not my strength or priority. We love to spend our time out experiencing the world and exploring with friends! I cherish the time I read aloud to my kids. I’d much rather be doing those things than fussing over a meticulous house.

This is my trade-off for a neat house. Here are priceless memories from yesterday at an apple farm in the mountains where we learned about life in the late 1800’s as well as pressed apples and made cider with some of our dearest friends.

Continue reading “Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House”

Homeschoolers Choose Free Market Over One-Size-Fits All Classroom Education

Homeschoolers Choose Free Market Over One-Size-Fits All Classroom Education

Many homeschoolers have rejected the one-size-fits-all system in public and private school classrooms and have embraced a free market education for their children. As educational facilitators for our kids, homeschool parents are able to choose from vast quantities of curriculum and educational opportunities. With the ability for such customization, I don’t know two homeschooling families who do it the same way. Every plan is unique to each child and family. Homeschooling is educational entrepreneurialism at its finest!

recent Business Insider article titled “Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st-Century” squarely stated: “While traditional schools try their best to tailor lesson plans to individual students, teachers often still end up teaching to the middle. There are simply too many kids learning at different speeds for teachers to give each of them exactly what they need. Homeschooling, meanwhile, is personal by design.”

Homeschoolers are free to customize every element of their child’s education and have so many excellent options from which to choose. Here are a few:

  • Curriculum–In most classroom-based public and private schools, a one-size-fits-all curriculum is used. This is not the case for homeschoolers. There is a massive selection of curriculum. Go to a homeschool convention or visit a site like Rainbow Resource to get a taste for all that is out there.  This allows families to select something that is a good fit for each of their children. If after trying a curriculum they realize it is not optimal, they are free to try something else. Their hands are not tied as they would be in a public or private school where a parent must accept their entire program.

Continue reading “Homeschoolers Choose Free Market Over One-Size-Fits All Classroom Education”

Homeschoolers: Originals and Non-Conformists

As a homeschooler, you are an original and non-conformist ready to move the world! Instead of your kids attending conventional schools like 96% of the K-12 population in the USA, you have demonstrated the mettle to provide your children a different experience and opportunity. 


We immersed ourselves in the  genius of  the Walt Disney Company last year at a weekly class inside Disneyland.


“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”–George Bernard Shaw

I love to read a wide array of books, synthesize the information, and apply the lessons to education and homeschooling. I will share many of these synapses with you on my blog with hopes you will have take-aways for your homeschool. Today, I will discuss the #1 New York Times bestseller, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant.


Foreword by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg


According to the book: “Conformity means following the crowd down conventional paths and maintaining the status quo. Originality is taking the road less traveled, championing a set of novel ideas that go against the grain but ultimately make things better.”

“Originals are people who take the initiative to make their visions a reality….When we become curious about the dissatisfying defaults in our world, we begin to recognize that most of them have social origins. Rules and systems were created by people.”

As homeschoolers, we have not followed the conventional path but have taken the road less traveled and created a better education and lifestyle for our children than the status quo. By demonstrating this vision and initiative, we have modeled for our children not to conform and to think critically.

I hope my kids will move the world  with their passion and ideas. As we have embraced a lifestyle with plenty of time for learning out in the world in a variety of ways as well as a home rich in literature and discussion, they are learning to be original and not follow the crowd or a set of codified rules in a classroom.


Continue reading “Homeschoolers: Originals and Non-Conformists”

Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

Dear Secretary King,

Earlier this week, you stated you were concerned many homeschoolers were not getting the socialization and educational opportunities as their peers.

You must be unfamiliar with contemporary homeschooling. Not only are many homeschool families excelling in academics but are also on the cutting edge of 21st-century education. In fact, the education world could learn a lot if they spent some time studying what contemporary homeschoolers are creating. In many cases, it is educational entrepreneurship at its finest! Regarding socialization, I find the opportunities for homeschoolers as vastly superior to those in conventional classrooms.

Let me break down and address your reported concerns:

  • You worry that, in a lot of cases, students who are homeschooled are not getting the kind of the breadth of instruction experience they would get in school.


We are able to provide our kids with truly customized, high-quality educations. We don’t use a one-size-fits-all curriculum, and we aren’t bogged down by hierarchies and bureaucracies to make change. We don’t teach to the middle or to a test. I never planned to homeschool but had to pull my son from public school because he was so far ahead of his peers. He was bored, and our local public school in an upper-middle-class area was not able to provide adequate rigor or challenge.

There is a large and impressive ecosystem in place for homeschoolers to take academic and enrichment classes. Some classes my kids , currently ages 6-10 years old, have taken with their homeschool friends over the past several years include physics, chemistry, public speaking,  NASA engineering, art, Spanish, aviation, Meet the Great Composers, chess, engineering structures, Lego Writing Club, cooking, botany and violin. In my view, our kids are exposed to so much more and in a much more enjoyable way than their conventionally-schooled counterparts.

  • They’re also not getting the opportunity to build relationships with peers unless their parents are very intentional about it.

I love the way my kids are socialized with our homeschool friends. They are not confined to the same desks, playground and cafeteria  day-after-day. Instead, they are often out in nature enjoying the freedom and purity of those landscapes together. Other times they are interacting in places as diverse as museums,  nature centers, restaurants, galleries, workshops, performing arts theaters, farms, planetariums,  and more. This stimulates tremendous creative interaction amongst the homeschoolers.

They are more actively engaged in conversation, thought, movement and play with friends. Their friendships are strengthened as they learn and play together in a wide variety of interactive environments. This is in stark contrast to the humdrum of being in the same classroom with the same teacher in the same desk each day.

Additionally, homeschooled kids build relationships with peers of a wide age range. Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, wrote in The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined:

 “There is nothing natural about segregating kids by age. That isn’t how families work; it isn’t what the world looks like; and it runs counter to the way that kids have learned and socialized for most of human history…..As anyone who’s ever spent time around children can tell you, both younger and older kids benefit when different ages mix. The older ones take responsibility for the younger ones. The younger ones look up to and emulate the older ones.  Everyone seems to act more mature. Both younger and older rise to the occasion. Take away the mix of ages and everybody loses something. “–From The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined by Sal Khan

  • Students who are homeschooled are not getting the kind of “rapid instructional experience” they would get in school.

I don’t know exactly what you mean by this. One of my friends, who is a former science teacher, replied to your comment, “That just means they go so fast and shallow that many kids don’t get it, and the others don’t care about it.” The typical homeschooler takes a different approach. We go deep into subjects. The lifestyle of learning in the homeschool community is a beautiful thing. It goes beyond our academics and can be found in the vacations we take, types of birthday parties we have, weekend activities and more.  Two of the most important skills of a 21st-century education are curiosity and a love of learning. If you spend time in the homeschool community,  you will see children who are frequently out in the world joyfully learning in a variety of environments from people who are passionate about their field and craft.

Also, a large chunk of homeschool families have at least one parent who is currently or was a teacher. This really should raise some eyebrows as to what is going on in public education when so many who have taught in the classroom have decided they can do better by taking them out of the system.  A veteran public school teacher with decades of experience is the person who really encouraged me to pull my son from public school and homeschool him.

  • They’re often not getting those relationships with teachers and mentors other than their parents. You worry whether home school students are getting the range of opportunities we hope for all kids.

Homeschoolers are able to get their academic work done in about half the time of their conventionally-schooled peers. This gives them far more time to be out in the world engaged in their passions with mentors. If they love birding then they can volunteer at the Audubon Society and learn from the naturalists there. If they are passionate about fossils then they can volunteer with a paleontologist. My homeschooled cousin is the youngest docent at our local aquarium. At just 10 years-old, she leads talks throughout the aquarium for visitors.


Additionally, there is a huge infrastructure of classes for homeschoolers. Homeschool parents are educational facilitators for their kids and often sign their kids up for classes. They have the flexibility to find the best teachers, tutors, and mentors they can. They aren’t stuck with whatever teacher they end up with at conventional school. True educational customization!

You did concede there are some families doing it well and you knew of some homeschoolers in college who had “very tremendous academic success.”  I am thankful for our freedom in homeschooling and agree with you that “it’s up to families if they want to take a homeschool approach.” Homeschoolers, in my view, are by far the most entrepreneurial segment of the U.S. education system, and homeschooling is superior to any public or private school when done well. Nothing beats the level of customization homeschooling parents can offer their children with all that is available to us today.


The Contemporary Homeschooler

You may also be interested in:

Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century According to Business Insider

Benefits of Experiential Learning

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part One

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part Two

Join my Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!