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Still new at this...advice for next year 6th and 7th graders..

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I feel like I am finally getting a handle on all of this and now everyone is starting to talk about planning for next year...I am panicking a bit.  Next year I will have a chronologically 6th grader and 7th grader...but it will be more like a 5th grader and 8th grader.  They have been doing history and science together, along with art and music.  Their math is varried and spelling is very different.  Their literature and writing is sometimes the same type of assignment, but with higher expectations for the older one.


We are doing Ancient History this year and plan to move to The Middle Ages next year.  We started out using SOTW but it was too young, so now we are using it as a supplement along with lots of other books.  In Science they just finished Ellen McHenry's The Elements, so now they will do Carbon Chem.  I'm not sure what we will do next year, I think I will come up with a list and let them choose which way to go.


For Math, we have determined text books don't really work, especially for my youngest, so I started just picking a topic and finding my own lessons and we started Math Journals...both kids have been doing geometry with the older one just doing a bit more in depth, but I know he is not being challenged enough in math.


I still work outside the home, I'm gone about 30 hours a week.  My husband is home when I'm not, but sometimes he is sleeping (he works nights) and sometimes he just isn't able to help them or sit and teach them.  So I do like to have some things I can just leave for them to do without a parent.  I have literally no plan for next year yet and I'm kind of scared.  I feel like 6th and 7th grade should be more of a push for them, we have really taken it easy this year because it was our first year homeschooling.


Any tips on curriculum, advice on what they really should learn, or any ideas or advice in general would really really be appreciated right now!!

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Hi Debbie,


There are many great resources which lend themselves toward independence.  Of course some parental direction is always needed.  I can recommend some solid math programs which we've found to be great in terms of independence.  Theses include CLE, MUS and Math Mammoth for the elementary years.  


For middle school starting with Pre-Algebra CLE & MUS can still be used.  MUS tends to be on the easier, less challenging side.  It is also mastery based vs. spiral. MM is coming out with a pre-algebra soon as well.  I don't know if it will ready by the Fall.  


IMO, Math is something which needs to be done intentionally, incrementally and regularly every day with adequate level of rigor.  Otherwise learning becomes limited, boring, disjointed or too hard depending on what is presented.  So while its fine to have a lighter year, there will come a time when they need more of a push, especially as their brains are developing so rapidly at this age.


I recommend trying out some of the free samples available with them to gauge where they are.  You don't want to blow them away or dumb down math just to make it an easy win for them.  Finding that just right challenge to take them to the next level will help them the most.  


IMO, science can be a bit more free form at this age.  But since you won't be around as much and are looking for independence wherever possible something with some structure can help.  This is where reading science textbooks or workbooks can help.  Mchenry's books are nice as they are very hands on.  My 12 y/o is going through Broomfield's 'How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life' right now and really likes it.  If you are looking for something more hands on you may want to consider Noeo Science, R.E.A.L Science and Elemental Science- http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/452158-please-compare-for-me-noeo-science-real-science-elemental-science/.


Also here are some free middle school science resources I posted a while back if interested:


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Perhaps you should try "The History of the World" series by Susan Wise Bauer to replace SotW? You would be in "The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade" next year for history. It's a bit beefier and written for a general audience. You may have to do some pre-screening for young readers though.


I use AO (Ambleside Online) for now with my kiddos. The oldest is going into grade 5 chronologically next year, although most of his work will be at a grade 3 level due his LD and needing more oversight than most his age.


Perhaps you could pair the AO Year 7 lists with "History of the Medieval Word"? It will match nicely, with a bit of a gap at the end since AO runs through 1485, whereas HotMW only goes through the 1200s. You could modify the AO list, or you could purchase HotRW (Renaissance) and work up to 1480s-1500 and do the rest the following year. You may be doing some backtracking at the beginning though, so definitely look through it first and see if it feasible.


AO is pretty heavy on reading, so that might be a good choice for your younger student.


As for math, perhaps you should have them take some sort of assessment to see where they are. Perhaps your oldest is ready to move on to a formal study of algebra or geometry at a high school level? Maybe both are? Or maybe they would benefit by an additional year or two of mid-level math/algebra prep? I would consider a formal curriculum or maybe enrolling them in some sort of online class for math at this age to keep them from falling behind.


Science, I think that you should sit down and decide what your goals are. Are either of your kids STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) oriented? Are they wanting to do something in those fields as they get older? Are those areas a priority for you and your husband? Begin planning in the logic stage for the rhetoric stage. Make some decisions about course sequencing and structure while they are younger, especially for your oldest who may be ahead and therefore having a need for college or AP courses sooner than you make think.



You could probably get away with doing general science courses or mom-made science for another year or two, but this may not be ideal if your older student is wanting to do something science-related down the road. Personally, I would do another year of mom-made/gen. sci and then move the older one into a chemistry or biology course for their first year of rhetoric/high school.


Good luck. :)


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