I’ve made a lot of changes in curriculum choices for my sixth grader in the past two months. I’m still tweaking things, but this is a summary of everything I’m using right now.
Language Arts: My sixth grade son is a capable reader, but he definitely doesn’t enjoy it as much as his older brother. He does at least thirty minutes of independent reading from the book of his choice each day. He has a weekly “book club” discussion time with a family friend of ours over zoom each week, which helps to deepen his understanding and comprehension. He is also using Fix-It Grammar for grammar, Wordly Wise for vocabulary, and Reading Fundamentals for additional comprehension work. On top of this, we have been reading/writing poetry and also doing some seasonally inspired creative writing projects.
Handwriting: Handwriting is something my son really struggles with. He actually has anxiety about writing mainly caused by his poor handwriting skills. He’s used Handwriting Without Tears in the past, but is currently using Print Handwriting for Teens for extra handwriting practice each day. I have also found that allowing him to type all of his longer writing assignments greatly improves his willingness to express his thoughts in writing.
Math: We started the year using Spectrum Math. This is a comprehensive workbook that covers everything he should learn in sixth grade math, but without a textbook. I’m good enough at Math that I thought I could teach him without a textbook. I like my kids to do some of their work independently though. The lack of instruction/explanation in this workbook has made it something he can only use with a lot of my help/guidance. The chapter in Spectrum Math we should currently be working on involves fractions, so instead my son is currently working though Master Basic Fraction Skills. I already have a copy of Kumon Geometry and Measurement Grade 6, so he will likely work through that when he finishes his fractions workbook. After that, I’m not sure if he’ll go back to Spectrum Math or if I’ll find other topic specific workbooks to cover the other topics he should be learning in sixth grade math.
History: I started the year more excited about my sixth grade son’s history curriculum than any other curriculum I purchased. He has been doing Snapshots in Ancient History by Curiosity Chronicles. This curriculum is designed for elementary school students, and sixth grade is definitely the upper limit of elementary. It only takes him 20 minutes to complete an entire weeks lesson. Because of this, we are only a quarter of the way through the school year and he’s already more than half way through the book. I thought about having him continue to race through this curriculum with the goal of having him also complete Snapshots in Medieval History this year, but I’ve decided to instead have him join his older brother in our US History lessons most days and only use this history curriculum as filler.
I listed all the books my eighth grade son is reading as a part of his US History curriculum last week. My younger son isn’t as big of a reader, so I’m ordering more grade level appropriate books for him to read from the library and having him join in all the more hands on projects we are doing. Both of my sons are watching the Crash Course US History videos, and participating in interactive projects I’ve ordered from Teachers Pay Teachers. I also ordered the History Pockets packet from Evan Moor for both Colonial America and Westward Expansion. I may end up getting him the Civil War packet when we get to that period as well.
Science: My older son is using BookShark Science Level H for science this year. I started the year thinking that both of my sons would be able to use this curriculum. BookShark is a literature based program that is great for my older son, who loves to read. Science is my sixth grade sons favorite subject, so I thought he’d be able to handle the eighth grade work. Unfortunately, BookShark isn’t as good of a fit for my kinesthetic learner. My son has a Tinker Crate subscription that he absolutely loves, but sadly it only comes once a month. He also has a Mel Chemistry subscription. He enjoys the bi-weekly chemistry experiments, but I don’t think Mel Science doesn’t do a very good job of teaching chemistry. They only provide fun experiments.
I recently added Skill Sharpeners Science and Skill Sharpeners Critical Thinking to my sixth grader’s science rotation. Instead of doing the entire BookShark program, I’m only having him read the books that directly expand upon what he’s getting from these skill sharpeners workbooks. Because he loves hands on activities so much, he’s doing the lab activities suggested in the skill sharpeners science book and the lab activities suggested in BookShark. He is also doing Lego Robotics and coding once a week while at his dad’s house (using Scratch, Java, and One Great Hour of Code).
Social Studies: My parents come over and help teach homeschool once a week. For the past few months, they have been doing civics/government lessons with both of my sons on these days. They have been using Painless American Government as a text, and also using resources they’ve found on Teachers Pay Teachers. In addition to this, they have watch local and national news programs related to the upcoming election, and have been doing projects using the voters pamphlet. After the election, they are planning to shift to a new Social Studies unit on Economics. In addition to this once a week social studies lesson with his grandparents, my sixth grader is also doing Skill Sharpeners Geography. He is using this workbook somewhat sporadically mainly as an alternative to some of the more challenging history assignments my eighth grader is doing.
Health: Both of my sons are having lots of opportunities to cook as a part of our homeschool. We are reading through Food and Nutrition for Every Kid as we learn about healthy food choices. My son also just finished reading The Boys Body Book.
PE: This is the subject we are currently doing the worst with. Walks and/or bike rides around the neighborhood and jumping on the trampoline in the backyard are currently the only thing we are doing for PE. My son used to do Taekwondo, but stopped when we started social distancing last spring. Once it becomes safe to do group sports, I’d love to get him on a basketball team. My “little guy” is eleven years old and almost 5′ 7″, learning to play basketball seems like a must. In the mean time, we might need to start doing yoga at home.
Teaching a hands on learner is proving more challenging than teaching a voracious reader, but I think we are zeroing in on a curriculum that works for us. If you have any questions about any of the resources I listed above, I’d be happy to provide you with more information. Also, if you have any ideas for resources I should be using to further improve our homeschool curriculum let me know that too.