If you read my post on early elementary homeschooling, you know those are the ‘learning to read’ years. In grades 4-6, our students begin reading to learn.
They begin to work more independently because they have a better grasp on reading, understanding, and following directions. Reading and answering questions independently also improves.
However, reading material in later elementary years gets more complex. Reading requires more advanced comprehension abilities.
Unidentified learning challenges may begin to appear if kids are unable to keep up with more complex academic work.
Most students are not completely independent until between 6th and 7th grade. Complex learning challenges can delay that timeline. Don’t think of this milestone as a live or die guideline.
You left traditional schooling to avoid those trap doors! Don’t invite them back into your homeschool program.
What are the Basic Requirements for Homeschooling in Grades 4-6?
Be sure and review your specific homeschool law. Once you know the academic courses your state requires, start planning your homeschool program. States usually require these academic subjects:
- language arts – reading, writing (both handwriting and composing paragraphs, papers, and stories, etc.) spelling, and grammar
- history/social studies (Some states require state history in 4th and/or 7th grades.)
- PE and health (in some states)
How Long Should I Teach and How Many Days?
The homeschool year generally lasts 180 days. Homeschool laws do not account for sick days, etc. So, you must complete 180 days of instruction. In states that do not dictate a set number of days, plan for 180 days. If you move to a new state, you won’t have to play catch up if the law requires 180 days there.
The most restrictive states set forth a given number of hours you must homeschool in addition to the number of days (i.e. New York and Pennsylvania).
In that case, divide the hours by the days to have a rough idea of the length of your homeschool day.
When moms ask how long the school day should last, they are asking two questions:
- Should the academic day last 6 hours like a traditional school day.
- Will 6 hours of my day be tied up in school?
The answer to both is no . . . but. A teaching day involves only the time needed to go over directions, teach new material, and answer questions or correct work. It may also include planning the next day’s or week’s work.
Your student will be involved in academics longer than your 1-1 instructional time with them. You will spend more time with a 4th grader than a 6th grader who reads and follows directions reliably.
Until your child makes the turn to completing work independently, be close by most of the time. Being near allows you to oversee work in progress and shut down tempting distractions.
You will have a better idea when your child is overwhelmed or needs a break. A break will refresh a droopy student and help them get over the finish line with a challenging assignment.
By the time a student is in high school, academic and elective courses will take 5-6 hours a day. You are slowly building up to that level from 4th grade on.
On a good day, a 4th grader will most likely be able to complete all core academics within 2-3 hours. Then, they are free to pursue special interests, practice music lessons, go to Karate class, and enjoy play dates.
What Extras Must I Teach in Grades 4-6?
You must teach only what your state requires of you. However, the more documented learning experiences your child has, the more well-rounded your child’s education will be.
If your right to homeschool is ever challenged, a plan book documenting a variety of learning experiences will be invaluable.
Are you thinking, “Good grief! Once I get the academics covered, how will I ever have time to do another thing?”
Your child is probably already doing things you haven’t thought about which fall under educational time! Shift your thinking and log those experiences. Is your child involved in any of the following?
- arts and crafts
- martial arts
- help cooking simple recipes
- music lessons
- caring for animals
- field trips
- helping dad or grandpa with car repairs
- Minecraft or other programming type games
- computer learning games
All the above, and more, can be documented under academic time.
What is your child up to which might be logged as school time?
Add a comment below about how you would document the activity. If you have a question about what subject the activity would fall under, I’ll be glad to help you sort that out!
I may use these activities in a future post, so load me up with ideas!