The elementary years are a time of important acquisition in all academic fields, and it’s now that your children begin to get a deeper feeling of what they’re interested in.
The journey of discovery which began in the first grade is continued throughout the elementary years, but the focus begins to shift even stronger towards academic achievement, rather than play.
As a homeschooling parent, you’ve got the freedom to choose how to go about teaching your children the skills they need – and we’re here to give you some ideas and point you to useful resources.
Each of the grades two through five has different skill requirements, so we’re going to take them one by one.
Homeschooling a 2nd grader is more about patience than innovation. During the second grade, your children are mostly expected to strengthen the skills learned in the first grade.
In terms of cognitive development, by the end of the second grade your children should be able to show some ability to reason and concentrate – for instance, in solving simple mathematics problems. Their on-task focus should also increase, along with their attention span.
When it comes to social development, second graders should be able to work in small groups in order to do different tasks – a skill that becomes crucial throughout the elementary years.
To make sure your children acquire these skills, you need to involve them in different types of interaction, including pair work and groups of three to six.
One way to go about this issue is using their siblings to work and learn with – even if they’re in different grades, they will still benefit from sharing and working together on a task.
To homeschool 2nd grade children, you can also get in contact with other homeschooling parents, and, depending on your curriculum, plan homeschool meetings in which your children will work together on a variety of tasks. Each of the parents can act as a guide in the early stages, but you’ll soon notice your children beginning to develop agency and getting better and better at taking up different roles in group contexts.
Homeschooling a second grader means you’ll have to focus on language acquisition, too. Their vocabulary needs to expand considerably, and they should be able to use irregular verbs correctly. Another important second grade homeschool basic skill is the ability to read fluently, with a certain degree of expression.
To help your children develop good grammar, using worksheets becomes essential. There are plenty of online grammar resources, and it would be a shame not to make good use of them. You should also be ready to do as much explaining as needed.
Reading comprehension and working with a text in a multitude of ways are two other important areas that need to be developed. 2nd grade homeschool children need to be able to ask and answer the “wh- “questions based on a given text, and they should also know how to revise a piece of their own writing.
If you homeschool second grade children, encouraging them to start reading independently is extremely beneficial for their reading skills. Of course, this means they’ll have a lot of freedom to choose what to read – but you can always pre-check their reading choices. If you’re homeschooling a second grader, make sure you talk to them about what they’re reading - ask them genuine questions about the story, the characters, or important events – they’ll likely love sharing details with you.
Second graders begin to operate easily with addition and subtraction, and it’s now that they get the first grasp on multiplication. Homeschooling a 2nd grader involves plenty of work on these basic mathematical operations.
Teaching mathematics is extremely important – the basic concepts that will be taught in the second grade will have an impact in the understanding of sciences such as physics and chemistry later on. Making sure your children get a solid grasp of the fundamentals is essential.
If the second grade is all about strengthening the first grade skills, 3rd grade homeschool children will develop new skills in all academic areas.
Third graders should already be familiar with some amount of group work, and by the end of the year, they should be able to work cooperatively with others in order to do projects, tasks, and solve different types of problems.
It’s also during this year that children begin developing stronger friendships, and peer pressure becomes more … well, pressing. Make sure you give your little one plenty of opportunities to socialize and work with other children.
Your children should be able to identify the subjects and predicates by the end of their third year of school. When it comes to reading comprehension, they should be able to read books for pleasure, and understand the main divisions – parts, chapters, paragraphs etc.
Critical reading abilities are also developed during the third grade. To help your children understand what they’re reading, always engage them in conversations related to pieces of text – start from shorter stories, and slowly move on to novels. Starting reading groups is also a good idea.
Third graders should be able to add and subtract numbers up to 1,000, and they should also multiply and divide using numbers 1-10.
It’s also during the third grade that children are expected to measure in metric and standard units.
Just like with second graders, the best way to make sure your children learn mathematics is to spend time explaining it, and have them do as many exercises as necessary. There’s really no shortcut here.
Fourth grade is essential. Your children will begin to work independently on research projects, and they’ll start to focus on what’s most interesting to them – which is usually also what they do best.
By the end of fourth grade, homeschooled children should be able to think independently rather than automatically submit to peer pressure. Their sense of responsibility should also become strong enough that they will accept their failures and understand where they went wrong, rather blaming others.
Decision making is also essential for fourth graders – it’s now that they begin to fully understand their roles in small groups, and they should be able to divide responsibilities within work groups.
As with the other grades, having your children participate in study groups is a great way to make sure they’ll develop these skills. Feel free to guide them in the early stages, but allow them to gradually gain more control over how they solve the task at hand.
By the end of fourth grade children should be able to develop basic essay writing skills – in this case, not an actual essay, but rather a short argumentative paragraph. Their spelling should also improve considerably.
Again, as a homeschooling parent, you’ve got the advantage of taking care of your children’s English learning any way you like. It’s important to make sure they understand texts, and that they can write coherently – teach them how to introduce and develop arguments, and practice the use of common link words such as “because”, “however” etc.
Fourth graders begin working with decimals and fractions (addition and subtraction), and begin multiplying and dividing four digit numbers by one and two digit numbers.
When it comes to geometry, fourth graders should be able to identify basic elements such as points, rays, and lines, in two dimensional figures.
It’s important to show your children the logical connections between different mathematical operations and real-life problems, such as basic geometry and land divisions, for instance. Be prepared to explain a lot, and always be patient.
Fifth grade is when children begin to be fully responsible for their homework, and when their study and note-taking habits begin to mature.
Fifth graders should be more independent then their younger peers, and they begin interacting in more complex ways with their group mates – for instance, they should be able to respond constructively to peer criticism.
To favor independence, get them in the habit of doing their homework independently. Only check after they’ve finished, and encourage them to research, rather than giving them the answer directly.
Children should now be able to write an organized opinion essay based around a central idea, and they should be able to introduce arguments in a coherent way. They should also be able to read books, and identify different parts of a story, such as conflict and climax.
It’s important to give your children the chance to explore a variety of written texts – from novels and short stories to articles and opinion pieces.
Remember that reading should always have a purpose - try to find out what they’re most interested in, and offer them plenty of reading on that particular topic.
Fifth graders should be familiar with a variety of two dimensional geometrical shapes, such as rectangles and circles, and they should also be able to solve problems involving parentheses and braces. Using long division, they should divide multi digit numbers by other multi digit numbers.
As with the other grades, it’s important to offer your children explanations and guidance wherever needed – if you can’t handle the tasks yourself, you may think about working with other homeschooling parents, or hiring private tutors. However, you’ve got plenty of resources to choose from, so it shouldn’t really be a problem to get your children through 5th grade maths.
Elementary homeschool is when your children begin to get a grasp of the whole spectrum of academic subjects, and it’s now that they develop independent study skills. Group work and decision making are crucial skills that you need to focus on, so be prepared to mix social learning with individual research.
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