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6th Grade Feedback.. Specifically Language Arts

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My oldest will be in 6th grade in the fall and I think she had a fairly easy 5th grade. I want to make sure she is challenged this next year, without losing my mind - or her losing hers by overdoing it. So take a look at what I’ve got and give me some advice, especially language arts. This is honestly where I’d like to challenge her the most.

Math: Saxon 6/5

History: SOTW Middle Ages

Science: Abeka Grade 4 Video Lessons with her sister (this will probably be easy for her, but for the sake of time I’d rather not do a million experiments this next year) Also debated on using God’s Design for Heaven & Earth and having her write chapter summaries for more writing practice.

LA: AAS 6, IEW 2A, Hake Grammar 6, follow SWB literature suggestions from the WTM book for the Middle Ages.

I feel like LA is light? I will have her write a short summary of each SOTW chapter when she’s done, usually only about 4 sentences once a week though. Should I have her do more writing? WTM doesn’t recommend the writing portion of Hake Grammar & Writing, but I’m tempted to have her do that too. Is that overkill if she does IEW?
We’ve done Memoria Press lit guides in the past too, should I do more formal literature or do you think just reading is enough? 

Should I add in vocabulary?

A huge thank you to those who’ve gone before and can give me your thoughts!

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I think it looks fine.  Your vocabulary is covered in context in various subjects.  My youngest used Elson Readers in 6th, partly because he liked them and partly because the short daily work added in comprehension, vocab, reading for meaning...so I do think kids need some sort of literature study, but as formal or informal as you want to make it.

IEW is very sufficient.  One thing we did was add in extra diagramming work by pulling a problem sentence from that week's piece and working to understand why it was not correct.

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Looks fine to me. 

I am not big on lit guides in younger years. Just read lots and discuss. If you want to add a bit to Lit, you could begin to add a bit from Figuratively Speaking, but that could easily wait a year or two. 

Is there anything particularly fun or interesting to her in this mix? If not, maybe a light elective? 

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Thank you so much for the replies! It helps to have more than one set of eyes looking at this. 

I agree about the lit guides, we only did them one year and I don’t know that she got a whole lot more out of it than just a discussion would have provided. She will most likely not be thrilled about the literature from WTM. She loves to pick her own books, and usually gives me the side eye when I choose a book for her. Mostly because I try to get her to read classics and she just wants to read Fantasy all day everyday. But I think the Middle Ages has some great reads in there, so here’s hoping she’ll enjoy it! It should stretch her reading skills if anything.

She does love history, and thoroughly enjoys SOTW and the activity pages. She will end up making a lap book (or two) as she goes through the book as well.

I forgot to add that she will do art with her sister too. This isn’t even a weekly thing, so it’ll be here and there, but she will like that too.


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Middle ages fiction reading has strong connections to fantasy lit. Maybe explore that a bit? 

Lots of good classics in there that are also fun reads. Med/Ren lit faves here:

Robin Hood
King Arthur
Shakespeare (We did A Midsummer Night’s Dream) 

The Fairie Queen (McCaughrean retelling)

The Door in the Wall
Adam of the Road
Men of Iron (audiobook)

Funniest: Castle Diary


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I think what you have sounds great.  Did you know that IEW do topical courses as well?  If you're not specifically committed to 2A, you could look at their middle ages course.  It covers all the usual IEW bases but the content would reinforce/extend what you're already doing in history.

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In all honesty, SOTW with summaries is a very light choice for a 6th grader. You would be better off choosing an actual middle school level text like k12 Human Odyssey or others and having her outline, etc. from it.

IEW is plenty on its own. I would not add anything more to writing instruction.

Have you considered Fix It! instead of Hake to go with? FI was written to correlate with IEW. Less time and reinforcement of writing skills. Plus, Fix It! costs less.

Lit guides from MP are the best! They get meatier as you move forward. Even if you use them orally, she will get more from her reading then just reading alone. At this age, it is appropriate to start to go deeper and prime that brain for the coming years.

Hake includes vocabulary as does MP lit guides. If you want those lovely roots, toss in a Vocabulary From Classical Roots book or two.

Are you starting Latin or other language? Not all of us do, so no biggie.

For science, the ABeka will be too easy for a 6th. How about throwing in a simple nature study or some John Tiner books from MP? These will once again be more on the appropriate level for a 6th grader and give her some experience being independent. Best of all- no experiments/demonstrations!

6th grade is the time for school time to increase as well as output and depth to increase. I always have a frank discussion with mine as they approach this age to talk about what is coming up and why they need to step up their game.


Edited by Green Bean
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Thank you for your response! @Green Bean

I think you're right that SOTW will be an easier spine for her history, but I'm hesitant to change it because I know she will enjoy it so much. I spent quite some time last night reading through the WTM book and you're definitely correct about the summaries being too light! We'll need to add in creating a history notebook with timelines and outlines. So I need to ramp up my expectations of the amount of work she can do here. I do plan to get her reading some primary source material that I'm hoping will be enough to balance the easier spine reading.

I have thought about Fix It because yes, it goes with IEW, but I was under the impression it wasn't a complete grammar course? I honestly can't pinpoint where that idea came from, but I'll look into this more, especially if it saves some time and money! Cathy Duffy surely has reviewed it well. 

I went and looked at MP's lit guides for 6th grade and they are all books recommended by @ScoutTN So now I'm really tempted to do them!

Ah, latin...we started twice and it fizzled out both times. Definitely my fault, but we just didn't have the time. Maybe next year.

We're scrapping the Abeka for science. We talked about it and I think it just won't be enough really. It would probably come across more as busy work for her. She decided she wanted to do God's Design Science, which I think will be better to help her get some nonfiction outlining practice in. I never thought about MP's science before though. The History of Medicine looks particularly interesting!   

Seriously, thank you so much for your thoughts! I really want to get a good plan for her next year and I'm feeling more confident about her schedule now!  

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You can easily up the game in history with non-fiction reading. There are many excellent, meaty Med/Ren picture books for middle grades. We enjoyed this time period so much that we spent two full years on it! Find a local Renaissance Fair if you can - cash sucker, but big fun! We also found local Shakespeare productions, including puppet shows! 

We did a large timeline on the wall on 2’ high roll paper. I put the basic timeline on (so c. 400-1650 AD). We had a color-coded  key for rulers, wars/battles, documents/books, scientists and inventions, the arts, religious leaders, etc. My kids put entries on as we studied, including printed photos, drawings, or things cut from magazines. 

If the MP list and guides work for you, go for it! They always have good classics and their lists are not too long. 

We unschooled science in the elementary years, just keeping a good shelf of books and making frequent library runs, letting them follow their interests and including tons of hands-on and outdoor things. I kept a few textbooks (from thrift or bought super cheap used) as reference books. 

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