Old Schooling: The Four R’s Approach

by Ivory Soap on 05/08/2013

Thank you for visiting Little House in the Suburbs. If you like what you see, please SUBSCRIBE.


Our house runs like an old one-room schoolhouse, except for the rampant technology that makes my life SO much easier.

Our day starts with the kids reading a little Bible story on their own and saying hello to Jesus in their heart.  If they’re too young to even read an Early Readers Bible, I read them a little story later.  It’s like in first grade, when my public school teacher read us a Bible story and said the Pledge.  Awww…those were the days.

Rithmetic:  Around 9AM, we do math for an hour.  Any math program will work, but the important thing is that I do not actually TEACH a lesson.  I tutor.  If we use Saxon, it’s just the worksheets, same for Abeka or anything else.   If I were to recommend a program, it would be Math Mammoth.   Also, like a one room schoolhouse, the grade level isn’t important.  A kid can finish the 4th grade work ahead of schedule and start next year, or he can be half a year behind.  If he already mastered long division, I don’t make him do every repetition on the page or we skip some of the “foundation” skill exercises that build up to the understanding of division.  If he still can’t do number lines, we pull that chapter from the second grade material.   They just go at their one-hour-a-day pace according to what I think they should work on.   I print out the answers so the kids can grade their own work. (Note: This is for about halfway through 2nd grade and up.  Younger kids do not do this much math.  It’s all math facts, place value games, number writing, counting, and other stuff that isn’t really a worksheet based experience.)

Reading:   For reading, we do literature (45 min) and history(30 min).  We go by time, not assignment, unless someone is lollygagging then I say, “You will finish that chapter, regardless of how long it takes.”  Each child has reading material appropriate to his level, which is usually challenging and un-fun.  I’m sorry, it’s school.  Pleasure reading can be done another time.  If he can’t read yet, he works with me for 30 minutes and then listens to Kipling or something on the iPod and plays legos.  For 5th and up we do 15 min science reading a day as well.  For more information on how exactly all that “learning to read thing” goes, see here.

Writing:  For writing, the BIGS write a full page from their history reading.  I don’t micromanage the grammar or spelling at this point.  I may say, “Be sure to start all your sentences with capital letters and end with periods.”  Later, after the papers are coming back with that rule consistently mastered I may ask them to put in a series of thoughts using commas.  Or I may ask for dialogue.  Or whatever I think they’re ready for.   Depending on the frustration level of the child, I may provide an outline or they may narrate it to me and then I print it out for them to copy.  If they finish before the hour is up, they can do their drawing lesson or some grammar.  Regardless, one full page or one hour or writing, whichever takes longer.  On Fridays, we just do grammar and drawing.  While the BIGS do all that, Little narrates his literature to me and illustrates it, does half a page in his handwriting book, traces his math answers, and begrudgingly does a copywork sentence or two.

Recitation:  This is where people have been asking questions.  All things involving memory work go in this box.  Latin, Artists, Phonograms, Math Facts, Poetry, Geography, Composers, Spelling rules, Spelling words, catechism.   Many of the subjects we study in school, and their accompanying activities, are really just a means to memorizing something useful.  I use the Anki program for most of my boring flashcard stuff.  Without that program, this would be unmanageable for me.  Kids have sticky points on certain facts and whiz through others.  I find that without a program to assess how often they need to see something, one wastes lots of time on things that are known and loses ground on the ones that really need the work.   It seems bulky, but even the oldest kids never spend more than 15 minutes on the card program.

Kindergarten:  We daily go over the poem stanza for the week and the child’s name, birthdate, phone number.  Through art cards, they are introduced to famous pieces of art that they will memorize in later years.  We also learn and sing helpful songs like:  Days of the Week (to Addams Family tune), the ABC’s, and skip counting songs from School House Rock.

First Grade:  We daily go over the new poem stanza, we start accumulating math facts stories, the child starts reading aloud a selection a day, not moving on until he can do it smoothly, we listen to composers to be memorized next year, and through Anki, we review old poems, start memorizing some of the artists names and works from the art cards, review phonograms, and start doing a bit of catechism.

Second Grade:  We daily go over the new poem stanza, we continue math facts stories, reading aloud, listening to composers, and we start accumulating the stories and rhymes for states and capitals, we learn the spelling rules through Sound Beginnings, and through Anki, we review old poems, continue learning artist/works, start playing with recognizing famous music, review phonograms, and continue catechism.

Third Grade:  We daily go over the poem stanza, we continues to accumulate math facts stories, continue reading aloud, continue learning rhymes for states and capitals, and through Anki, we really start really trying to learn famous works of art and music by name, review old poems, continue reviewing phonograms and math facts, review the states we know, continue catechism, and start learning some latin words and peg dates of American history (about 16 dates).

Fourth Grade: He daily goes over his poem, spelling words, listens to a short Latin Lesson, does Calculadder.  Through Anki, he continues accumulating names and works of artists and composers, review the spelling rules and phonograms, the states and capitals, Latin vocabulary, catechism, math facts, states locations and geography facts, and review the dates from last year.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Faith May 11, 2013 at 10:23 am

Loved this information, but wonder if you have suggestions for middle and high-school age children. We started homeschooling in 6th grade and our son is getting reading to go into 9th grade. I’m still floundering, and feel like I’m failing at teaching. The important subjects like Math and Grammar are turning me into a crazy mom. Do you think you may be able to help? Thanks much!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: