Since we typically school year-round, I take a few weeks off during the summer to gather curriculum, fish, and plan out the year. Because this is the first year I’ve fielded legitimate interest in what we teach and how we teach it, I thought I’d share a little about what we’re learning this year. Welcome to our first 6th Grade Curriculum Day!
I’ll post more about my educational philosophies, but I don’t believe in traditional education until about 6th or 7th grade. Depending on the child, I start a more formal approach in early middle school. It doesn’t mean we unschool in the traditional sense, but it does mean that our curriculum is unstructured and catered more to personal interests. It drives my Type-A wife bonkers, and I’m sure my many teacher friends likely just spilled their coffee.
“I’m sorry, no formal curriculum until middle school?”
Nope. You’d be surprised how many academic subjects simply don’t need to be taught in the younger years but can be experienced just the same. Think about that until next week when I talk about philosophies more in depth. Until then, brush up on the basic homeschool methods and consider what fits your family!
So here we go! This is the direction my 6th grader is going this year — his first formal year. There are no affiliate links in this post — just pure discussion about curriculum.
Some of my choices this year are traditional, but I definitely take some creative turns here and there.
Devotional: Our day starts with devotional, every day. Coop reads from Jesus Calling: Devotions for Kids. We like this choice because it’s simple but complete. Although everyone reads from their own devotional, we simply go around the table and discuss scripture and how it relates to our lives. They’re always amazed how there’s something speaking to them nearly every day!
Reading: BJU, As Full as the World. Reading is a living activity for us. By that, I mean that the children are always reading something. However, in middle school, I like to start formalizing their understanding of literary mechanics. BJU does an excellent job with core subjects like literature, so I use them frequently.
History: BJU Heritage Studies 6, Gombrich’s: A Little History of the World. I should probably start by saying that I sort of follow the BJU curriculum. I love the spine; however, I like to add reading assignments from other sources. I also prefer to reduce the amount of busy work (workbooks) they do, and BJU loves workbooks! Keep in mind, if you purchase their curriculum and do nothing else, you’ll be just fine.
Math: Teaching Textbooks – 6th grade. Both of my boys use Teaching Textbooks. We learned basic, operational math (multiplication, division, etc.) using Math U See. However, they wanted to try something new, and I think the repetition wore them out. This will be our second year, and they both suddenly enjoy math. So … win for us! The curriculum is definitely not as rigorous, but I believe their intention is to help maintain a love of math without destroying their will to continue. It’s solid and interactive — exactly what we were looking for.
Science: BJU Science 6. We started using BJU’s science curriculum last year. Before that, we used Apologia. They’re both solid and similar. You wouldn’t go wrong with either. Apologia’s price point is more favorable; however, BJU has a significantly more polished look and feel that my children enjoy. I typically skip many of the experiments (quite a few are designed for the classroom setting), and point the kids to relevant reading or research. With any traditional curriculum, it’s important to amend it to fit your family!
Writing: Writing with Ease (Book 2, 3). Writing is one of those endeavors that drives homeschool families crazy. We try curriculum after curriculum and never seem happy. Here’s the thing. The problem isn’t the curriculum. The problem is typically the age of the child. Until the logic stage (middle school), children really have no need for academic writing. And even then probably not until late middle school. As a teacher, I struggled with this — the idea that 3rd graders needed to understand the 5-paragraph essay. Instead, we use the Well Trained Mind’s Writing with Ease program. For anyone wanting a gentle, sound approach to writing, check this out!
Grammar: BJU English 6. We’ve used Rod & Staff, Easy Grammar, and Fix-It Grammar (which I still use as editing practice). We settled with BJU’s English/Grammar program — a combined grammar and writing program. We’re very selective about writing assignments, however, because I follow the Complete Writer program. There are a few writing assignments that we practice (personal letters and so on), but otherwise, I allow them to take their time through the year to help reinforce grammar concepts. At this stage, that’s the most important thing happening.
Spelling & Vocabulary: Spelling You See, D. I don’t do anything special for vocabulary. First, if the child is reading consistently, their vocabulary will increase. Next, we identify words throughout all topics (history, literature, etc) and journal them for practice. Spelling, I believe, does require practice. I never liked spelling lists because I think they lend themselves to short term memory. Instead, we use Spelling U See — a unique approach that uses repeated reading and copywork to emphasize key words. Each week, the student focuses on a new passage. By the end of the week, he will be able to reproduce the passage by dictation. It works. It really does!
That’s it! Comment below with specific questions about 6th Grade Curriculum. I’ll post more about other grades next week!