Homeschooling

Planning for an eclectic sixth grade

Hello! It’s been a weird summer here – how are you? This summer we have been prioritizing socializing and mental health, and as a result, not a lot of homeschool planning has been happening over here. I feel like I’ve done zero homeschool planning, but the reality is that I have picked and purchased most of our resources. I just haven’t scheduled how we’re going to use them. Anyway! I thought it would be worth popping on here and sharing some plans because I know others are in planning mode and it’s always nice to compare notes.

Some things to keep in mind about these plans:

  • I am planning for my one unique and wonderful 12-year-old. I’m not planning *the* perfect sixth grade, I’m planning *her* perfect sixth grade. So your mileage may vary with the resources I’ll be sharing below. That’s the beauty of homeschooling!
  • We come from a background of Waldorf homeschooling but we move further away from that as my oldest moves up in the grades. Some things about the Waldorf approach were never a great fit for our family and some things have simply become too teacher intensive and I’m electing to use a curriculum rather than try to be the curriculum when I’m juggling two other children’s needs. Oh and also I am a human who has needs.
  • I am planning for a child who learns best through story. This year’s plans involve a lot of books because she’s a voracious reader. We will be continuing to use a story-based history curriculum, which is really working for us. In this way, we are headed in a more Charlotte Mason direction for her education.
  • Speaking of Charlotte Mason, we are moving away from using a block schedule and moving toward a daily schedule of short lessons. This is really working for my 12-year-old. I also enjoy this approach because I feel it puts less pressure on our schedule to get through a certain amount of content each month. I’m hoping this new approach will give us more flexibility to take a mental health day here and there and be able to relax into that freedom. It’s so hard, when you only have 24 school days to cover X amazing topic, to skip days. That being said, I am still planning about three month-long blocks for this year, so we get to do some deep dives into topics I know she’s going to really love. (As it stands right now, those blocks will be on Arthurian literature, geometry and Shakespeare.)
  • We still do not know what extracurriculars will look like here in Portland, OR in the fall. My 12-year-old used to dance with Oregon Ballet Theater and we are still waiting to hear whether they will open up for in-person classes in the fall. And the same is true for several other activities that are up in the air. So my loose plans will hopefully allow us to adjust to what she wants to commit to outside of the home, depending on the COVID situation.

Phew! Without further ado, here are our plans for sixth grade this year:

Language Arts

After years of struggling to find an approach to language arts that helped my kiddo learn spelling, grammar and writing, we have landed on The Good & The Beautiful for her. Last year she used only a supplemental component of the fourth grade curriculum that really drilled spelling and grammar and she progressed at an amazing pace. It was such a gift. I just recently looked back at work from the beginning of fifth grade and at the end, and her spelling improved dramatically. For this year I have the fifth and sixth grade programs on hand and we’ll try them out and see where she needs to be. I’ll be adapting this a bit, and encouraging her to skip some assignments because the whole curriculum is probably overkill, given the writing work she does in her main lesson books, but I’m happy to have found something that provides a solid foundation and that she enjoys using. The Good and the Beautiful is a Christian resource and even though we are Catholic I like to use secular resources. So I’ll be monitoring upcoming lessons and addressing content to fit our family’s values as needed.

The other big component of language arts for us – as I mentioned above – is writing lesson summaries in her main lesson books. These summaries will be about a variety of topics, but this year will mostly be focused on summarizing history lessons and writing summaries / narrations of the books she’ll be reading.

I have purchased several study guides to accompany historical fiction that will complement our history focus this year, which will be the Middle Ages. Using a study guide while reading a novel will be a new approach for us, but I think my kiddo is ready for this independence and I think they will support her to be a more critical reader. Study guides we will be using this year include:

A Single Shard book | guide

Shakespeare’s Scribe book | guide

Catherine Called Birdy book | guide

Robin Hood book | guide

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table book | guide

The Door in the Wall book | guide

Adam of the Road book | guide

Language arts & history resources.

Math

After much, much (far too much) research I landed on Oak Meadow’s sixth grade math curriculum. One of my biggest regrets as a homeschooler is not starting my oldest with math and reading curriculum from the get-go. This is where Waldorf just didn’t work for us. I’m optimistic about Oak Meadow’s math being a good fit for us because there is a teacher manual that does an awesome job of explaining concepts to me (ha! much needed!) and I really like that the student workbook is not jam packed with problems, so my kiddo doesn’t get visually overwhelmed.

If I were starting from the beginning I would go with Singapore math, which is what I’ll be using with my second grader this year, but unfortunately I think it would be too difficult for us to jump into it at sixth grade.

I will be supplementing this math with the Key to Metric Measurement workbooks, which I purchased for fifth grade but we never got around to because we were so focused on learning decimals. We are also going to spend some time on business math with this fun-looking guide from Simply Charlotte Mason. I think it will be a great way to build on the decimal skills she learned last year.

We will also continue using the Waldorfish geometry courses – my kiddo absolutely loved the fifth grade course and is excited to do the sixth grade one. This is something we’ll do in a block likely paired with a Middle Ages read aloud.

History

History Quest! I love this curriculum so, so much. We used History Quest’s Early Times last year for ancient history and we’ll be using it again to study the Middle Ages. You guys, I am so excited to jump into the Middle Ages. I have the main HQ book, along with the study guide, although we didn’t end up using the study guide very much last year. We’ll see how useful it feels this year.

Because we were working in a block schedule last year, I was covering one HQ chapter every two days when we were in a history block, and I’m excited to slow things down this year and spend a whole week with each chapter. I think this will give us more time to tackle fun projects, cook some themed food, watch documentaries, do some art and read the supplemental books.

In addition to History Quest, I also have the free Core Knowledge Middle Ages unit. This is written for fourth graders, but I think it has a lot of valuable content and think it does a great job of covering vocabulary for the era and some nice comprehension questions. This is something my kiddo will be able to do independently.

I have so, so many books for studying the Middle Ages that I’m super excited about – both factual books along with historical fiction. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more about this as the year progresses. I selected many of my books from this Bookshark book list (click on the “what’s included” tab to see the book list) and this Build Your Library book list along with the book list in the History Quest study guide.

Geography

We are hoping to spend some time in Europe next summer (fingers crossed!) so I wanted to focus on European geography. We spent some time on Latin American geography last year during our History of Chocolate block. I’m planning to use the Visits to Europe book from Simply Charlotte Mason. I’ll also be using the Draw Europe book (this whole series is fantastic!).This is something we may end up doing as a family, we’ll see. (More about plans for my second grader in a future post!)

I am also planning on revisiting U.S. Geography a bit this year, as a refresher from our fourth grade block on that subject. At the time it didn’t feel like a great fit to ask my kiddo to memorize state capitals – we mostly focused on hearing stories from different states and getting a feel for their differences. So this year we’ll be using the Memoria Press States & Capitals Set to circle back to the subject in a bit more of an academic way.

Science

We are going to be focused on earth science this year! Last year our science focus was botany and I very much DIY-ed our two botany blocks. They were great, but they were also a lot of work for me to put together. This year we’ll be using Oak Meadow’s seventh grade earth science curriculum. Note that this is a seventh grade resource – I’ve looked it over and think it will be a perfect fit for my kiddo. I wanted something that covered traditional Waldorf sixth grade science topics like geology and astronomy but something that didn’t involve a lot of planning, and this appears to fit the bill.

I am still deciding whether I want to include a block on physics using this resource from Waldorfish or if the OM earth science is going to feel like plenty for the year. It’s nice to have a backup resource waiting on the sidelines if the main thing I pick ends up feeling lackluster or if my kiddo finishes it in February.

Math & science resources.

Art

One of my favorite things about the Waldorf approach is how seamlessly art is integrated into the learning. We’ll be doing lots of art this year, mostly drawing and painting. We’ve been doing this for enough years that the drawing is mostly self-directed by my child, but we’ll also occasionally be doing lessons from Waldorfish’s Diving Deeper course. I invested in some new-to-us art supplies this year so it will be excited to try a few new mediums like pastels and charcoal.

And that’s a wrap! I’d love to hear from you – what grades are you planning? What subjects are you most excited to teach? (History and literature, for me.) What has you wondering if you’ll be up to the task? (Math. Always.) Who else wouldn’t mind if summer lasted just a bit longer? We are headed out for summer vacation in a couple weeks and I’m looking forward to unplugging before we get back into our school year routine after Labor Day.

2 Replies to “Planning for an eclectic sixth grade”

  1. Hello Annie, this is such a wonderfully thorough wrap up of your plans! So many similarities here — we *adore* the Middle Ages, have strayed somewhat from Waldorf math (Life of Fred for my oldest), and I’m planning a Shakespeare block right now. We used to be purely Charlotte Mason, and so much of that approach still permeates our days. I need to do a post about our 6th grade year, as it was fun. We always dig history, but especially loved physics (Trostli book) and Waldorfish geometry. I’m planning 7th & 3rd grade right now. You’re motivating me to share more on IG… or on a blog 🙂

    1. Thanks Blake! I’m glad you enjoyed the read. I’m so, so excited abut the Middle Ages! I would love to hear what you end up planning for Shakespeare – I haven’t put a ton of thought into that one yet because I’m planning it for spring and then hoping we’ll be able to see some shows down in Ashland next summer!! Would love to see planning stuff from you – I think it’s so lovely when homeschoolers can compare notes – especially those of us who are teaching older kids.

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