The Four Year Rotation

The Layers of Learning method is to use the four year rotation when studying history, science, geography, and the arts.


Physics and history lessons give rise to questions about why humans make war on each other and the ingenuity of the human mind.

The Purpose of Learning

The purpose of studying these essential subject areas is to help the student understand their world, make connections, and apply what they know to their own life.  If they have a basic understanding of these core areas of education coupled with skills in logic they will be enabled to make informed decisions about things as diverse as who to vote for, what diet to pursue, and which car to buy without being subject to emotional decisions or at the mercy of a charlatan.  Real life skills demand the student understand where they came from and who people really are (history), the physical world around them and how it works (science), current events (geography), and what makes for fulfilling entertainment and lifelong enrichment (the arts).


Learning the history of the people who came before you helps you understand who you are, the prejudices you hold, the stuff that is second nature, and the whys and wherefores of your culture.

Learning In Order

But they have to be taught systematically, thoroughly, and with applications to the student’s own life and experiences.  Any subject when taught helter skelter becomes meaningless.  No wonder so many students are perplexed as to why they have to bother with biology or social studies class.  There isn’t any point when they are taught out of context.

Learning geography

Learning geography is relevant when you immediately apply what you learn to your real life and real issues of the day.

The Four Year Cycle

To educate a child well there must be order, repetition, and of course fun. We use the four year rotation to supply the order and repetition.  There are twelve years of a child’s schooling from 1st grade through 12th.  We divide these years into three sections of four years each.  The fundamental subjects of history, science, geography and the arts will be repeated three times, once for each of the three sections of years.  Here is a graph showing how we organize the four year cycle.


 Each year is given a number to designate it: One, Two, Three, and Four.  A student will study Year One in 1st grade, then again in 5th grade, then once again in 9th grade.  Year Two will be repeated in 2nd, 6th, and 10th grade.  Year Three is studied in 3rd, 7th, and 11th grades.  And Year Four is studied in 4th, 8th, and 12th grades.

You can view and print a more detailed chart of exactly what topics are covered in every unit of Layers of Learning with our Units At A Glance.


Starting in the Middle

You can also start in the middle.  If you are beginning the program with a 3rd grader, for example, start on Year One.  Also, I have many ages of kids and we all work on the same year at the same time.  So my 10th grader, 8th grader, 5th grader, 3rd grader, and 1st grader are all studying Year Three this year.  They each do the reading and activities that fit their level within the program.

Work Systematically

History and the arts are approached chronologically beginning at the beginning and progressing on to the modern day.  Geography gets a thorough coverage of basic geography skills like map reading, latitude and longitude, and land formations once every four years in Year One.  Years Two and Three are spent studying countries around the world including maps and culture.  Year Four is spent studying the United States in depth.  Science topics are covered so that Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Earth Science topics are hit every year, with five unit blocks being spent on each of the subjects.  Read more about how we organize science. All of the content is repeated three times during the student’s education.

Learning about rhythm in music leads to a trained ear, which makes listening infinitely more enjoyable.

Each time the student studies Ancient China, for example, she will move in a little deeper, reading more difficult material, writing longer essays, doing more involved projects.  By the time a 10th grader is reading Beowulf he will already know the story and sail in undaunted by the language.

All through the program we constantly bring the student back to why should I care? by asking thought provoking questions and providing “Additional Layers” which link subject areas together facilitating understanding of the bigger picture of who we as humans are.

Check Out Our Units

Year One

Year Two

Year Three

Year Four


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One Response to The Four Year Rotation


    Excellent ideas and planning. Excellent curriculum. I wish so that the public schools did this kind of layered curriculum. As a high school English teacher I often check to see what the other content teachers are working on and make my assignments for reading writing and grammar coincide with their content lessons. It makes sense!

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