Please help with curriculum suggestions: Pulling my bright, left-brained bookworm out of 4th grade - Mothering Forums
Learning at Home and Beyond > Please help with curriculum suggestions: Pulling my bright, left-brained bookworm out of 4th grade
Super Pickle's Avatar Super Pickle 04:26 PM 11-16-2010

Hello! Thank you for opening the thread!  We are so excited to start homeschooling! I have always fantasized about homeschooling and think it is awesome whenever I hear that someone else is doing it.   DH and I have been tossing the idea around for years but it took me a long time to take that big step and commit 100% to homeschooling. My oldest son is very bright and school has just been getting worse every year. He behaves well and is very social (we'll have to keep up all his friendships!) but he is soooooo bored with the academics and is grossly underperforming.  He also has a teacher that embarrasses him in front of the class because he is unorganized and kind of absent-minded. We feel an urgency in getting him out, but I don't want to start until I have a decent plan in place. Which is why I am asking you experienced moms and dads for help.


He has always done Everyday Math in school and we were thinking of switching to Singapore Math. He has shown a natural aptitude for math but has never ever been challenged by EM, and we feel that he is way behind where we were at that age when it comes to arithmetic.  Is Singapore Math good for logical thinkers who can master concepts fairly quickly?

 Is it easy to teach? Is there something better? We don't need a lot of manipulatives for him. Incidentally, we are also thinking of getting Singapore Math for my other son, who will be staying in 2nd grade, b/c although he has always done great at EM in school, he recently tested at a very low percentage statewide in math.


I have heard that Charlotte Mason is good for kids who love to read. He likes history a lot. Is there an indispensable book list? What prep work would I need to do? A friend suggested I read the CM companion. We are Christian.


I have a degree biology and have worked as a natural history interpreter, and my husband is a physicist; we don't feel we need a curriculum for science. 


We need to be laid back and flexible. I want DS to be challenged but I don't want to have to plan every minute of every day. There is NO WAY I could ever do Susan Wise Bauer's curriculum, though we love the Story of the World books. I am not organized enough, not do I want to have to adhere too strictly to anything.


Do you haver any input on Singapore Math or Charlotte Mason? What about anything else that has worked great for your kids who love to read and have high verbal and reasoning abilities? 


Thank you so much for reading! I would appreciate any suggestions or insight! 

AAK's Avatar AAK 04:39 PM 11-16-2010

You sound like us a few years back.  Welcome :)


My dd also had Everyday Math in school -- we hated it and found it not only not challenging, but it had a very narrow scope.  We found Singapore to be a good fit--take the online placement test though because Singapore is challenging compared to other programs (esp. Everyday Math!) and typically we consider it a grade level off.  (ie Sinapore 4A = 5th grade).  This year, we also added Life of Fred math.  Since your son is a reader, he may like that as well.  He needs to have a firm grasp of basic operations first.  Anna is using Life of Fred (Fractions and Decimals) and Singapore 5B this year.  We may not finish all of them, but we don't care.  She loves Life of Fred.  


I don't know much about CM.  . . but wanted to point you to the Michael Clay Thompson language arts program.  This is our first year using it and I really feel that we are completely covering Lang. now.  I must say though that my dd needs me to help her through the grammar book.  I like his 4 level breakdown of sentences, but my dd found his dialogue difficult in the grammar book.  She really likes all the others though and I have been successful using the Grammar with her--but that one is def. a partnership thing.



We use the library for any science/history needs.  We don't use a curriculum for either of those currently.




Super Pickle's Avatar Super Pickle 06:19 PM 11-16-2010

Thank you for the welcome, Amy! I appreciate the encouragement with regard to Singapore Math.  ALso, I have heard of that language arts curriculum and it sounds like something we would really like.  How many years has it been since you pulled your daughter out? How has it worked out for you and for her?


SundayCrepes's Avatar SundayCrepes 09:07 PM 11-16-2010

We are unschoolers so we don't use a curriculum. However, I do buy the books off the booklist. I feel that the reading list will help the kids learn about a lot of subjects our society expects kids to know about but in a fun way. My kids are still little, so we have only used the preschool books and i have just recently bought the kindergarten books. We are not Christian so only buy the secular books. I think I read somewhere that sonlight has the greatest breadth of history of any homeschool curriculum, but I do not know if that is true.


I think CM and sonlight are both living books. You may want to compare them and see which book list works better for you. Here's another such place:

AAK's Avatar AAK 10:20 PM 11-16-2010

Originally Posted by Super Pickle View Post

Thank you for the welcome, Amy! I appreciate the encouragement with regard to Singapore Math.  ALso, I have heard of that language arts curriculum and it sounds like something we would really like.  How many years has it been since you pulled your daughter out? How has it worked out for you and for her?


It is really hard to believe that it has been almost exactly two years since I pulled my dd out.  She was in 3rd grade at the time.  I had toyed with the idea of homeschooling from the beginning, but she really seemed to enjoy the 'energy' that was available in a classroom.  By third grade, the energy was the only perk and the boredom, playground politics, etc were really wearing on her.  It was a hard decision, but now I don't know why it was so hard.  The change has been amazing.  She became fun again.  That sounds so mean, but her attitude had gotten pretty bad. . . coming home seemed to ease the stress and put the fun back into learning.  This isn't to say that it has all been a cakewalk.  At first, it took us some trial and error to find out where we wanted a curriculum and where we didn't.  We also had to learn about how we learned--and how comfortable I felt with teaching.  It took us a while to wrap our heads around a short school day.  And it took us some time to find other hs families that we liked.  Some days I still get really frustrated.  But then I run into someone complaining about the amount of homework her son now gets (it was more than we spend/day total for school) or we have an opportunity to do something that would have been impossible with a school schedule. . . and the frustrations ease a bit.  We did keep her enrolled in the gifted program with her district.  It is a one day/week pull out program that we love.  In fact, I just got back from their Renaissance Faire--my dd was Queen Mary of England (aka Bloody Mary).  It was really neat.  Unfortunately, this is the last year of the program for her.  It only runs grade 2-5.  She still has friends from her ps.  It was cool really--we discovered who she really liked and who she had just tolerated for sake of the "group" at school.  Now, she still has many friends but some homeschool and the rest are distributed amongst several public and private schools.  She hasn't found a "best" friend that homeschools, but that is ok too.  Her "best" friends just have a different schedule than she does.  She really loves performing.  While possible, it would have been very difficult to let her be in as many plays/musicals/etc with a typical school schedule.  We really have come to see homeschooling as a blessing.


Keep in mind, that I was originally pulling her out because of "lack of challenge" and "boredom".  These were true, but I had no idea of the emotional stress that she was dealing with either.  And, I haven't tried to push her through subjects.  Instead, we learn a bit and then move laterally for a while, exploring the same topic from a different angle or going deeper into something of interest.  She toys with the idea of trying ps again.  My dh would like her to go to high school, but right now I am good with keeping it just like it is.  


In fact, one year after I pulled my oldest out, I pulled my second child out as well.  She was having a harder time than Anna but in a completely different way.  That is another story though.  And, truthfully, I don't know what I will do for my third.  She is scheduled for kindergarten next fall.  I don't expect to keep her in public school, but she kinda feeds off the energy (like Anna did) and so I might let her go next year.  There are many choices within that -- which is also meant for another thread.



LemonPie's Avatar LemonPie 11:56 PM 11-16-2010

I'd go ahead and pull him immediately.  He'll probably need some time to decompress, and you can take the rest of the year to to figure out a plan and start up in January.  Even if he just wants to read and play for the next six weeks--that's fine.  He'll be okay. 


We're using Math Mammoth here and we love it.  It's very similar in structure to Singapore, but IMO about 1000xs easier to teach.  You can buy it online and download it.  It's very inexpensive and you can download part of it or all of it.  The addition workbook is something like $3.25, so not a huge risk if you want to try without committing to the whole curriculum.  It might even just be good to get you through the next several weeks until you settle on a curriculum for sure.  You might want to check out Liping Ma's Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics as you're selecting math curriculum. 


We're 'relaxed classical' here, meaning we follow the SWB program somewhat.  I really love her Grammar and Writing programs (though my oldest is second grade, so I can't really speak to the 4th grade editions). 

Kerimommyof2's Avatar Kerimommyof2 12:45 PM 11-23-2010

Welcome :)

 I can relate to wanting and needing something "Laid back & flexible"  This is why we use Time4Learning as it allows your child to work at their own pace . We also use spellingcity and Story of the world ..



mom2ponygirl's Avatar mom2ponygirl 09:10 AM 11-26-2010

I would go ahead and pull him out - the plan will shape up as you go along.  The humiliation will take its toll.  Reading together, watching documentaries, science and history shows, etc. will suffice for quite awhile.  The one thing about homeschooling plans you should know up front - they will change.  As you learn together, how you go about it will evolve over time.  There is no way to get a perfect plan in place ahead of time.  


I would like to second the recommendation of Michael Clay Thompson books from  We have used them for many years and they are great fun.  The lower levels were great for curling up on the couch together.  We also used Singapore math through the primary levels with great success.  Everyday Math would have driven my daughter batty.  As you get into Algebra check out for texts and classes.  In fact I would check out books for MOEM like Creative Problem Solving by Lenchner now from that site.  


I agree that you don't need a science curriculum.  The ones available for elementary/middle school grades are generally pretty bad anyway. 


We pulled my daughter out at age 5.5 so we've been at it awhile.  She went back to school last year for half-time high school.  She found the academics at the rigorous charter high school easy to master despite being 10 turning 11 at the time.  She decided she prefers homeschooling, so we are back full-time homeschooling now.  I love that we are - it is so much easier than dealing with school!  She does a mixture of online classes and studies we design together.  You might check out onlineG3 or Athena's Advanced Academy- they offer classes for the Michael Clay Thompson books as well as history and literature classes.  Also they offer a community of gifted learners who like to share stories and other creative ideas on their forums.  


Good luck - pull him out and go have a great time. :-)