I’d like to say a word about history and social studies. AHHHHHHHHHH!
Whew, ok I feel better now! We haven’t quite done history and social studies in the order that it would be done in public school. In fourth grade, in the state we live in, state history is studied. We did a little bit of that. Because we knew that our move to another state was on the horizon (even back then) I did not feel the need to get deep into our current states history.
Our core curriculum contains social studies, which includes history, civics, economics, and famous people. For fourth grade they presented the Revolutionary War. There was a lot of material, and my child was just not that interested. So, I claimed homeschooler prerogative and we did the lots of civics, current events, and other things presented in our curriculum, and let the Revolutionary War slide to a different year.
I know, history is important, and certainly, as historical events go, the Revolutionary War was important. Ok, so then 5th grade came along, and our core curriculum presented the Civil War. I thought I was going to go into a Civil War history coma. The Civil War might, quite possibly, be my least favorite part of history….ever!
I know that I am letting my own feelings about history judge how hard I push my daughter to learn history. We just didn’t get as much of the Civil War unit done as we should have. I know my daughter doesn’t need the gaps in her education. I know that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it…Ok, I’ve been a bad homeschooler mom!
I have to go back and fill in those major gaps in my daughter’s history education. I’m just looking for a way to do that now.
Well, it is getting ready to be time to get your child ready for school again. Whether you are a homeschooler or a family who utilizes public or private education, you have got to be looking forward to school.
What I wanted to bring up this time is not really grade specific to 6th graders, but to any of your students. Many states have a tax free holiday for school supplies. Even if you are a homeschooler, you are going to need those supplies. You might as well take advantage of saving a little sales tax.
Additionally, all of the pens, pencils, lined paper, scissors, glue, etc., that you are going to have your child or children utilize in the coming school year are going to be on sale soon. I know that I tend to hoard paper because both adults in my house are writers, and we home school our daughter.
But even for those families with more modest paper needs can take advantage of spiral notebooks that are cheaper at the beginning of the traditional school year than they are any other time. A notebook that will be anywhere from one to two dollars later in the school year will be on sale for usually less than fifty cents. That is a significant savings.
I’m going to mention a little bit more about my daughter’s spelling. I don’t think that she spells on a 6th grade level, but I only have to compare her to a couple of children in our home school group. One is a 7th grader, going into 8th, excellent speller, excellent writer. The other is a 5th grader, going to 6th, and she is also an excellent speller. With two excellent spellers to compare my daughter to, no wonder I think she spells terribly!
We tend to work on spelling all the time. My daughter gets frustrated because spelling never seems to be a subject she can get ahead of. Week in and week out she has to work on it. There are a couple of things that we do to relieve the monotony, and I thought I would mention those this time.
My daughter loves to play games. The more a learning activity seems like a game the better she does at it. Spelling City, a site I already mentioned that we use has many games, and fun learning activities like find-a-word, rhyming, and keyboarding spelling games online.
The other thing that we do is word ladders. If you haven’t tried word ladders you might use them just to help keep your kid’s brain nimble during the summer months. Look them up on the internet, or check with Scholastic, they offer grade level books.
Last summer, due to some family issues that I just could not handle and adequately home school, I had the opportunity to see what leaving my then 5th grader idle for the summer would be like. This year, with the ongoing move looming over us, I have had to make a decision as to whether we continue school all summer.
I look back at last summer, and I know, without a doubt, that my child will not sit idle this summer. I am going to opt for something like home school lite! She will have independent science studies, and she will continue with her spelling work.
I know, I haven’t even mentioned what we have been doing with spelling. Remember earlier this year I talked about writing problems? Well, poor spelling might just be part of those writing problems. Not only is my daughter a reluctant writer, she is a reluctant speller.
She convinces herself on a regular basis that she cannot spell. She really is doing better with that. I attribute her improvement in this area to many of the techniques we have incorporated to improve her spelling. I’ll just mention that Vocabulary and Spelling City have a ongoing place in our curriculum. Additionally, I think her maturity is about to catch up to her academic abilities. I’m hoping when the two of those things sync up, she is going to move faster than I can handle. Here’s to hoping!
For many of you, whether you home school or educate through the public or private system, the school year is coming to an end. Hopefully that means your 6th grader made it through, relatively unscathed.
Did you see great changes in your child this year? Did they start out very child like, only to finish the school year looking and acting more like the almost teenager they are becoming? Nostalgia is a great thing, and yet time marches on.
I guess that brings me to the next question I have for you and one we are going to have to consider as well. Will you continue to do school through the summer, or are you letting your child take the summer off?
When we began home schooling, we worked through the summers since where we live is miserably hot during the summer and being in the air conditioning is where we wanted to be anyway. Add to that the idea that I was not willing to let my daughter sit idle for too long. She has been likened to a border collie with no job. If you leave her idle, she digs holes in the yard, literally and figuratively!!
I would love to hear what you plan to do, and I will let you know what we plan next time. Please come back to see what we decide to do!!
I have decided to use Prentice Hall Science Explorer for the rest of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I don’t know if it is the best out there, but I do know that it meets the standards in both the state we live in now, and the state that will be our final destination when we complete our major move over the course of the next couple of months. It doesn’t hurt that I got a great deal on the auction site for the entire set!!
The move I was speaking of? Well, we are trying to move to our “forever” home, the family homestead. There are so many things to wrap up here, and so much work left to do on the house there, but we have begun the process of moving from here to there. By that I mean we go there, take a trailer full of stuff, work on the house, and come back here to work, church, and friends, including our home school group. We don’t know how long it will take for us to get there full time, so this is kind of an open ended move.
I wanted to go ahead and get my daughter working on her new science books, because the move is going to make everything be up in the air, unsettled, and somewhat scary. It is a great thing that we home school because when everything else changes in her life, school will still be a constant. Our core curriculum will not change. It is just one less thing for a 6th grade “tween” to have that is stable and familiar.
I told you last time I would share what I discovered when I asked my fellow home schooling moms what they used and why with regards to science curriculum.
One mom, who has a 7th grader, suggested two of the Christian based, distance “university” curricula. Now, before I go on, let me tell you that we do not home school for religious reasons, though we do not have a problem with religion. In fact, we do foster religion in our home. The biggest problem that I had with that mom’s suggestion is that the science follows a religious agenda that indicates that the world is much younger than science would indicate. Additionally, the theory of evolution is completely absent from the curriculum. Hmm…I need my daughter’s education to be as complete as possible, so neither of these will work for us.
Another mom was horrified when I mentioned that I was considering the text books that the area public school were using. Why, she asked, would I use books that “they” used? Wasn’t the reason we home schooled, to keep our children from being indoctrinated by the local government run education system? What?!
Ok, I don’t even know what to say to that…
I’m going to step away from writing for a little bit, because I realize that not everyone who has a 6th grader has the same issue as we have at our house.
Science, now there is a topic worth discussing, at least where my daughter is concerned. She has completed her 6th grade science curriculum. Yes, I know, but the school year isn’t over yet! That didn’t seem to matter to my daughter. Her favorite subject is science, and so she zips through it, and even studies science just for fun. She is going to be a veterinarian when she gets old enough, so she says.
Our core curriculum, Time4Learning, which includes original science content through 6th grade has been a source of great enjoyment for my daughter. It is a great online curriculum, and contains more information than my daughter would be exposed to in public school. For that reason alone I love it.
The biggest problem we face now is that 7th grade science is basically a repeat of 6th grade. Because of that we are going to have to look for more science materials to feed my daughter’s hunger for all things science.
Because we home school, the first thing I did was ask my fellow home schooling moms what they used. I was amazed at the answers, and the reasons for their choices. I’ll tell you more next time!
My daughter’s reluctance where writing is concerned has kind of come to a head. First of all, I can’t understand her reluctance, because writing is what I do for a living. How can she not LOVE to write?! So, in an effort to reconcile our differences here, we are implementing a series of steps to hopefully bring her closer to my point of view! (I know, it’s wrong, I should be more flexible…yeah..ok!)
We are trying different things to make writing more pleasant. The first is to make writing more comfortable physically. We have invested in a couple of fountain pens. If you have ever written with a fountain pen, you know that if you let the nib rest too long in one spot, a large ink blob forms. This means it has a kind of built in timer, keep the nib moving, or lift it off the paper, otherwise you leave big spots of ink, evidence of hesitation or distraction.
Additionally, you have to hold the pen at the right angle, and apply the right amount of force so that the ink will flow smoothly. This keeps my daughter from pressing too hard, or holding the pen strangely.
By using her “special pen” I get more cooperation when it comes to asking for a writing assignment, so whether the cause is psychological, or physical, the fountain pen is helping to get her to agree to at least try to type.
Writing is one of those subjects that she is just not comfortable with her grade level. Her mind thinks higher than 6th grade, but her penmanship and spelling are much closer to 4th grade than 6th grade. Some education resources would call her a reluctant writer, and a reluctant speller.
I call her just plain difficult and hard headed! That being said, I know that she can write, because I have written the paragraphs she dictates. I have been wondering for a while if I should have her tested or evaluated for dysgraphia. Our pediatrician is unwilling or unable to consider this as a diagnosis, but from the things I read about dysgraphia, my daughter seems to have a number of the symptoms.
She complains that writing actually hurts her hand and arm. Her penmanship leaves much to be desired. Not only does she not like to write, but she is so convinced that she can’t that it makes for a bad day when I ask her to write anything. This is something we are going to work on this year. I probably have let her slide too long, letting her get away with saying she can’t write. You have heard the phrase that parents should pick their battles? This just might one of the battles I must face this year.