I am so excited about this review. I am loving Oak Meadow Fourth Grade. I’ve heard many times that the work really “ramps up” in Grade 4, and it’s true. Fourth grade is really Oak Meadow all grown up and it’s a beautiful thing. This is another one of those reviews where I wish I could just invite you over to spend some time with us and the books. I am going to try and touch on as much as I can here, but as always, please ask me any questions you may have in the comments, so I can help you get a good idea of what this program is.
What is Oak Meadow?
Oak Meadow is a child-centered curriculum that focuses on the developmental needs of kids, and their unique need for beauty and magic in their education. This program is Waldorf based, but has been adapted to meet standards expected from a modern education. Material is presented in a clear way, with a focus on nature, crafts, beautiful stories, and just allowing children to be children!
What does Oak Meadow Fourth Grade Cover?
Fourth grade is a big year for learning new things! Research projects are a new addition to the curriculum this year, and are used across multiple subjects.
Language Arts: In language arts this year, your child will be writing in a journal daily. They can write anything they want, but sometimes there are specific ideas of what to write about, like responding to their reading. They will be reading from classic books daily. Grammar and punctuation is taught more in depth. Kids are taught to write 3 and 5 sentence paragraphs, and learn to write a report. Poetry is taught in the middle of the year. Kids make a personal dictionary, write and edit short stories, and read, read, read.
Math: Reviews third grade concepts before moving on to roman numerals, measurement, graphing, fractions, money, long division, and more
Social Studies: This year’s focus is on geography, state history, and early American history. Topics include: topography, migration, Native Americans, state geography, colonial history, state history, exploration, pilgrims, pioneers, gold rush, transcontinental railroad and more.
Science: science topics include: geometry and patterns in nature, seeds, nutrition, cells, animal studies, astronomy, geology concepts
Art and Music: Art this year is a lot of drawing skills, with plenty of detailed directions. Music is still recorder, you can start from the beginning, or use the duets book which is for more advanced recorder skills.
What are the big differences between Third and Fourth Grade?
Of course, the expectations on the student are much higher between grades 3 and 4, as you can tell from the content above, but there are some organizational differences between the third and fourth grade syllabus that I wanted to point out specifically:
1. It is written to the student: Grade 4 is all about independence. One of the things I have loved about having Bug read the lessons on his own is that I get to watch his little cogs turn as he solves problems. One of the very first assignments in the syllabus is a longer project that takes a couple weeks to work on. He needed to decide how he was going to get it done, and what work he was going to do when. By handing the reins over to Bug, he’s become more excited about his lessons, and has a stronger sense of ownership of his work
2. It’s all in the details: The neat thing about the syllabus being written to the student is the additional information they included to make sure your student is successful. The child doesn’t really need to fill in the blank anywhere, the information is detailed, clear, and well organized. It is not broken down into “day 1, day 2” but it is clear as to what needs to be done.
3. Information is given directly instead of through stories: I am a little sad about this, but it goes along with the curriculum growing up with the child. In the first 4 grades (K-3) concepts are taught through beautiful stories. For example, you learn about trade goods through a story about a family trading goods for services. In Grade 4, information for science and social studies is given directly in text form, with plenty of well done graphics and diagrams. The short stories are replaced with quality literature, which the student reads and responds to throughout the year in Language Arts. Fourth Grade literature includes:
Stuart Little, Heidi, The Trumpet of the Swan, The Sign of the Beaver, Indian Legends, The Search for Delicious, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Rachel’s Journal and James Herriot’s Treasury for Children.
4. Math is separate: This is another really good change. One of the things I struggled with in Grade 3 was coming up with my own problems in the math section. I was told what type of problems to write, but I needed to come up with them on my own. Grade 4 comes with a printed math book, with the problems already written out for you. You can have your child work on a separate paper if you like, and save the book as a non-consumable, but I decided to have Bug work directly from it since there is enough room for him to write. I can purchase another book separately for Mr. Man when his time to use the program comes.
This is really helpful, especially with a kid like Bug who is “ahead” in math. He is working on a 5th-6th grade level in a different curriculum, so I chose to still use the Oak Meadow 4th Grade book as a review for him, but I do like that I had the option of ordering a different grade level, or leaving the Math out of my package completely.
(Looking for more info about the Grade 3 program? Read our other Oak Meadow reviews)
How is the Syllabus Set up?
Oak Meadow breaks their content down into 36 lessons. Each lesson contains a week’s worth of material. There is an overview section, which gives you a quick run down of the topics covered week by week, and then it goes into the lessons. Each week is 4-7 pages or so of information broken down by subject, rather than day. I tend to pre-read Bug’s lesson on the weekend before he gets started, so I know what is expected of him, before he sits down to look at his weeks worth of lessons. Some things, like journal writing is done every day, but some other assignments will be done in just a couple days. This is a very flexible program, you can schedule it on a block, and do science one day, and social studies the next, or complete it all in 4 days a week (which is what we do). How you break it down is up to you.
In the back of the syllabus, there is a section with suggested spelling and vocabulary words, an extended reading list if your child needs more books, and a whole section of craft projects which complement the curriculum.
What’s in the Teacher’s Manual?
The teachers manual is a really helpful tool, especially in Grade 4, because this is a “transition year” for your child. Children using this level will be somewhere in the 8-10 age range, and are really starting to find their own way. This level assumes that the child is going to gain more and more independence with their studies throughout the year, and the teachers manual will support you in how and when to introduce new responsibilities.
For example, In the first 12 weeks, part of your job as a parent and teacher is to help your child find a way to organize their workspace and their lessons. I sat down with Bug the first week, and listened while he read his lesson. I helped him figure out how to break it down to read only one part at a time, and helped him decide where to start. After each thing he did, he brought the syllabus over, told me about what he did, and what he wanted to do next. Over time, I will work with him to be able to do more of this on his own, but for now, it’s a fantastic start.
Along with supporting the teacher on the big picture, there is also more specific guidance for each week. It points out where your child may need help, gives suggestions for evaluating their knowledge, and helps you guide the child in their work. Your roll as a teacher is less about teaching the material itself, as it is supporting independence and working as a reference and sounding board.
I am so pleased with this level of Oak Meadow. I feel like it has grown perfectly along with Bug, and I am excited to keep using this program for our school year. I don’t always continue on with the products we review, so I feel like it’s important to note that this is one that I plan on sticking with indefinitely.
This level is requiring more writing and seatwork than ever before, but it’s not overwhelming to Bug at this point. One of the things I love the most about being an Oak Meadow family is that the program really works along side my children, instead of forcing them to be too serious and too still, it allows them to still be outside exploring the world around them. Bug still gets to go on nature walks, he still gets to create fun things, and he is still very much an academic child.
I think it’s wonderful that Oak Meadow can merge childhood and learning in such a seamless way, even for a child who is growing up. We’re all very happy with the program!