I said I had a lot of excuses for not giving my child more freedom, for holding the reins too tight…and I do.
I have an only child. My pregnancy with her was life threatening, for both of us. There was a great deal of drama surrounding her birth and first months of life. For most of her life to date, we lived in a suburban area, with close packed houses, and four (count that again) four registered sex offenders within an unacceptable radius of our home. Even at 10 or 11 years old I did not allow her in the front yard unattended, or to go to the car to retrieve some item she forgot there without me at least checking on her. Did I mention that every person in the house is at least 1st degree black belt?
I have a 110 pound livestock guardian dog whose sole purpose in life is to follow my daughter around. He sleeps at the foot of her bed. We call him “the speed bump“. His job is to slow down any would be home intruder and protect my daughter, home, and property. (Ok, I don’t even want to talk about the amount of dog hair I clean up on a regular basis, maybe we should have gotten a toy poodle!)
Am I overprotective? Yep!
In our new home, 2 states away, (which we are still not quite settled into, yet) it is quite rural, everyone who lives around us is family or lifelong family friends. But everything is new and different. We are looking for new home school friends. We are looking for new church friends. Every thing is new and different.
And I am supposed to let her have more freedom because she is in 6th grade. Yeah, well, I’m working on it!
Ok, last time I reminded you that our 6th graders still need us, and that we should stay close and be available. Now, I am going to give you exactly the opposite advice. And despite the fact that I look wishy-washy, I’m not, really!
We need to give our 6th graders a strong, safe haven to return to should they need it. The family and home might not look like something they need, but if they need it, that haven has to be there.
At the same time, we have to let the reins loosen a bit. If we hold on too tight, and don’t allow them more freedom to make choices then they will resent our control. That means that they could run the other direction, instead of home, should problems arise.
I’m having a particular problem with this one. While I can speak to this freedom on a philosophical level, I have trouble putting this “letting go” thing into practice. I have excuses, really I do…
In most places, we are getting ready to for the start of a new school year. For us, as year round home schoolers, this is just a blip on the radar. But know that if your child is getting ready to go back to school, starting the 6th grade, he or she is getting ready to embark on an epic journey!
What makes 6th grade such a monumental year? Everything!
For public school students, they will probably be switching classes for the first time. This means that instead of learning the methods, rules, and teaching style of just one teacher, they will have to learn five or six. If that is not enough of a change, 6th grade is the first grade of middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL!! For some children this is a huge step.
Sixth grade is a year full of changes. And it is one of those years where some children remain firmly seated on the child side of the line, while others leap forward and become youth.
Physical changes are happening to our kids this year, too. Their bodies are changing shapes, and with those changes come all kinds of emotional issues that they had not clue existed just a short year ago.
This school year our children need our support more than ever, and yet they are putting more space between themselves and their parents. Because it is what young ones do, as they gain independence and seek to find their place in the world. Hang in there, parents!
While I’m thinking about reading I wanted to share one more thing with you. I know your 6th grader thinks that he is too big to be read to. I know that a lot of parents don’t read to their children anymore once they reach the age where they can read for themselves. I just wanted to share that your child might secretly like to be read to still.
Of course, at 12-ish, they would never ask you to read to them, because they are too big, too old, almost teenagers. There is something comforting about sharing things as a family. It is safe, and warm to sit down together with a good book. You gain common experiences, even if it is on a faster than light ship, deep in outer space, or a journey together across a scorching desert, things you might never experience together in real life.
It shows your child that reading is important, and a worthy undertaking. If our kids learn by the example we set, it is a good thing to model that a good book is worth the time and effort. Reading together gives you things to talk about and if your “tween” is any thing like mine, finding something to talk about that is not confrontational is worth the effort on my part. Plus, there are so many great books by homeschoolers to read.
Give it a try, and see how it works for your family!!
We have one family e-reader for our family to share. That doesn’t seem like a problem right? After all, there are only 3 of us, and one of “us” is a 6th grader. I can tell you that at some point, when we can get around the budgetary constraints, there will be another e-reader in our house!
Let me tell you about what we discovered. My daughter has been a reader since she was three. This is an awesome thing. At some point reading “bigger” books or older books is a challenge, and I think she got a large charge out of being a little kid, and reading a book above her grade level. But something happened around the beginning of 6th grade for her. She would look at the book size, and become intimidated that the books were sometimes in excess of 500 pages.
It is not that she couldn’t read the words, or understand the concepts. That was not the problem. The problem was that the sheer size of the book became an emotional obstacle to ever starting the book. Enter the e-reader. It is the same size, regardless of the book you are reading on it, so an 80 page magazine is exactly the same physical size as a 600 page novel.
This has made such a huge difference in the size of the novels she wants to read. In fact, size has become a non-issue. She has no idea how big a copy of Eldest is in hardcover, but she loved the book and is eager for the next book in the series. In light of this development, I have to wait my turn for use of our e-reader, and I‘m not sure that it is coming any time soon!!.
A little more on social studies. I know it is the middle of the summer, and that most people are considering moving on to the next grade. We home school all year long, so our school years tend to just run together. Some subjects we are doing 6th grade, some subjects we are doing 7th, some subjects, well, lets just say we might not be on level.
Social studies is one of those subjects where we are on a different level. Last time, remember I said that we kind of skipped the Revolutionary War, and then kind of skimmed the Civil War? Well, social studies in 6th grade in our homeschool curriculum is a lot of different points in history.
I really like this approach better than a whole year of the same event. First of all, if it is a period of history that I don’t care for, or my daughter doesn’t care for, we know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are going to get to finish that section and move on to something else.
I especially like that our 6th grade social studies mentions the ancient Hebrew civilization, Rome, and civilizations of Islam. It is obvious that studying the historical significance of these three civilizations might help lend understanding to the current events that we see on the news.
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 homeschool 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 homeschool 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 to go back to 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 learning 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 to do our online summer school.
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!