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Help a "newbie" with 6th grade plans, please

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    Help a "newbie" with 6th grade plans, please

    Hi all-
    I made one post in May and realize that I am not closer to a plan for hs'ing my rising 6th grader. Quick background: I am a ps teacher who just left the ps to HS my son this fall. He will be HS'ed for 6th, 7th, and 8th. This is largely due to the Common Core and my lack of confidence in how our school is approaching it.

    What I have been most impressed/shocked with during my time as a ps teacher, is how children DO NOT learn. I think I would have never been good at math if I had had the curriculum they use. I have wept at what I've seen and can no longer be a part it.

    Back to my son. I would be so thankful if I could get help with a 3 year plan. I would just order the 6th core if I thought that was best, but I'm unsure. He is uneven in skills. He is fidgety and, like all other 5th graders at his school, had too much screen time at school and needs to get a better work ethic.

    Math: His strong area is math, but does not think he is good at. I think he got burned out from the "explain how you got your answer" sentences/paragraphs ad nauseum that he has had. My dh, an engineer, agrees son is math bright and wants him challenged. I "after schooled" Singapore K and 1 with him and made sure he had mastery of the facts when younger.

    Science: hates it. I blame ps, because science should appeal to young children.

    Classical studies: here is where I need the most help. I think he would love the Famous Men books. Since this is for 3 years, I thought of using the 3 Dorothy Mills Books, one for each year, adding in the Famous men. But I don't know if that is silly or not.

    Geography: I assume start with Geography 1? (He knows the states, but not capitals)

    Modern: I think stick with the 6th grade plan?

    Timeline: I definitely want to add this

    Writing: his 4th grade teacher told me he is a gifted writer. He does not know the mechanics, though. He writes wonderful imaginative stories. But in 5th, he started to dislike it....Common Core writing prompts, I'm sure, are the culprit. So, I'm wondering if the Fable/Narrative would appeal to him or cause him to not like writing again.

    Latin: LC or First Form?

    Christian Studies: which one?

    Literature: 6th grade set

    Grammar: I think he needs to do Rod and Staff but don't know which level.
    Spelling: he needs remediation.

    I do need to nail this down and order supplies within the next month. I do not want to hop curriculum and want to make wise choices.
    Senior Member
    Last edited by Lemonade; 06-12-2014, 09:47 AM.


    I do think that our 6th grade core would mostly work for you. Now, let's break it down subject by subject:

    Math: Rod & Staff math in 6th grade is intended to seal mastery in math facts, long division and multiplication, fractions, percents, etc. - basic math. The goal is for students to move into pre-algebra knowing math facts cold so that the teachers can teach the higher math concepts without having to slow down for students to figure out what 8x6 is. I don't know where you son is in math, but I wanted to give you some basic information that will help you make a math decision.

    Latin: A 6th grader can easily succeed with First Form Latin, so that is a good fit. It should be challenging, but not too difficult. And it is very teacher-friendly for you!

    Christian Studies: If your son has a good handle of the major stories and characters in the Bible, Christian Studies IV would be a good fit. It is an overview course that takes you through the Bible in a year, nailing the stories and characters, reviewing lots of Scripture, and using drill facts to gain mastery over the material. At the end of this course, students should have a map of what's in the Bible in their heads.

    Literature: 6th grade is perfect!

    Grammar: The 6th grade R&S grammar book is a good fit this year. But don't feel you need to do it all. Skip the writing lessons, and do a lot of the exercises orally. Latin is going to take care of a lot of the grammar for you. If you do the R&S grammar book thoroughly, it will take you an hour a day, and you really don't need to spend that much time on English grammar if you are doing Latin.

    Spelling: We are moving to Spelling Workout. You might want to consider moving down a grade if you feel spelling is a real problem, but I'm thinking Latin will help with spelling also. And just requiring good spelling in every subject will make a difference. Just continue to work on spelling every day in a gentle way, pointing out misspelled words.

    Geography: Geog. I is a good choice, and it comes with a review of the U.S., so he can learn his capitals with very little effort, a few a week. And Geog. I covers the areas of the world he will be studying in classical studies.

    Composition: Half a year in the Fable Stage and half a year in the Narrative Stage seems like a good fit. He should have no trouble here, and Classical Composition will help him with the mechanics of writing. There are also writing projects in our literature guides that can be fun when time allows. That's why we don't do the writing portion of R&S Grammar - our students spend a lot of time writing in various subjects.

    I hope this helps. I'll be glad to answer any further questions you have.




      Thank you, Tanya

      Thank you so much. Your reply helps me tremendously. His spelling difficulties arise from not being a natural speller plus almost nonexistent spelling instruction in ps. (My older 3 fared well with ps and are natural spellers).

      One more question, though: for classical studies and science, should I go with the sixth grade set ?

      I have been enjoying the articles in both the catalog and archives (and "amen-ing" the ones that deal with modern education reform ). I look forward to this journey.


        Yes, I would go with the 6th grade package for most subjects, and we can remove or modify the subjects that we need to. We would replace Third Form Latin with First Form, Fable Stage with Fable/Narrative combination, etc. You can customize the package yourself on our website, but if it doesn't let you make all the changes you need to make, our CSRs can finalize things for you on the phone. It seems to me like you would be better off financially to begin with the 6th grade package and modify it since a package price is cheaper than buying by individual subject.

        I'm so glad you are letting us help you educate your son! We will continue to help you as needed. Feel free to give us a call or post on the forum for advice as you embark on this exciting journey!




          Tanya, are all the grades switching to Spelling Workout?
          Mom to 5 boys-14,13,10,8,5 and the girls- 3 and 1


            Welcome to the forums and to MP :-)...You had one of those questions I felt was best answered by Tanya, so I didn't jump in earlier, but I wanted to welcome you and thank you for sharing your experience as a teacher turning homeschooler...I don't hear that side too often as most homeschoolers I know were never teachers...

            I hope you have a great year...

            Homeschooling two boys
            DS -21 (9/00) Homeschool graduate, in college
            DS -17 (9/04) (SN)
            DS -15 (7/06)


              This article on science

              In regards to science teaching, this article nails it.
              PS students are "taught" (more is taught than caught) advanced vocabulary and science concepts early, but it is as if they are trying to drink from a fire hose. Not much goes in and most splashes out. The time used would be better served on reading, writing, and math. The students are led to believe they are environmentalists and will save the earth and trees. Yet, they can't identify a tree, bird, or bug in their own backyard.


              In teaching and watching my own children deal with science I have had the exact same thoughts Cheryl Lowe expresses.

              So, I am excited to do science the MP way this year. In my experience, which may differ from others here, I have come to believe that all of the elementary level science time (I've seen) in ps is "wasted" for the most part and causes students to dislike it early on. What a shame.


                Originally posted by The Autumn Oak View Post
                Welcome to the forums and to MP :-)...You had one of those questions I felt was best answered by Tanya, so I didn't jump in earlier, but I wanted to welcome you and thank you for sharing your experience as a teacher turning homeschooler...I don't hear that side too often as most homeschoolers I know were never teachers...

                I hope you have a great year...
                Thank you! Many of my friends who are teachers are beginning to say they would HS if they could leave their jobs. Foremost in my mind is that I want to choose a curriculum and stay the course because I've seen the hodgepodge ps has thrown together by changing stuff from grade to grade or year to year. I've seen this approach fail because a child may never works through curriculum sequentially and master it. Some thrive anyway (my oldest 3 did), but my youngest does not.


                  Rod & Staff: in customizing a package, I see that I can switch out levels of the Rod & Staff components.
                  I've looked at online samples of the English text for both 5th and 6th grade. I would go ahead with the 6th grade set if I knew there would be ample review of 5th (which may turn out to be the first time he learns something).

                  This may sound silly, but I really want the nice clean layout of one lesson plan book (6th) because I think ticking off checkboxes on the two piece spread would be highly motivating to my son. So, I don't want to switch out too many things. But at the same time, I also don't want to start a level that is too hard which would be discouraging to him.

                  For those of you who have used both 5th and 6th, would you recommend a student new to R&S jump into the 6th grade book?


                    I'm thinking that you should do level 5 before level 6, but I want to see what others are thinking...

                    Homeschooling two boys
                    DS -21 (9/00) Homeschool graduate, in college
                    DS -17 (9/04) (SN)
                    DS -15 (7/06)


                      Hello! I pulled out our sixth grade book to take a look for you, and my opinion is that the sixth grade book would be fine/great for your son. "Fine" in the sense that he could do well in it even without a background of other R&S experience. The explanations do not assume prior knowledge, and are very clear, written to the student. The added material in the teacher manual will be a help there as well. "Great" in the sense that it begins at the basics of English....forming proper sentences and paragraphs, and the goes through all eight of the parts of speech, plus a chapter on punctuation/capitalization. So it will be a great overview, to cover anything your son has not had in ps.

                      Does that help? I did not compare it to the fifth grade book, merely because I have a napper on my lap and that book is upstairs! But since tha is what is in the sixth grade package, I focused on it. Also, there is so much material, if you want to really do it well, to remediate a bit, you can always go slower than the lesson plans. Remember that your goal is knowledge and skills, not "completion."

                      16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
                      DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
                      DS, 17
                      DD, 15
                      DD, 13
                      DD, 11
                      DD, 9
                      DD, 7
                      DS, 2


                        Thank you for your posts. I think I'm inclined to take your advice of doing 6th and "camping out " longer, if needed, on topics in which he does not easily move to mastery. I've used that approach in math with him in the past and it paid huge dividends in the long run.

                        Another question, if I may...and I realize I'm likely bordering on being annoying, lol, but for the classical studies, modern, literature, and science, does the child read the section for the day and work independently? I'm assuming so, since there is now a "read-aloud" package which would not be read independently. I'm really hoping to assign independent work, then meet together to discuss and go over on some subjects...of course not all.


                          We did the 6th grade book without having done the other books, and there was no problem. There is some review questions at the beginning, that he might not know the answers to (lists of prepositions, etc), but the answers are in the teacher's book, so taking a bit of extra time in the beginning to get those down will cover it. An average student, should be be able to do the entirety of R&S English including the teacher involved time in less than an hour, and if he was comprehending it, then some of the work could be reduced.
                          Miah - married to Warcabbage, 3 boys, BS in social work, AS in Electrical Engineering Technology

                          Evulcarrot - 18, freshman in college, Medical Technology , mild autism
                          Battlebroccoli - 17, lives with grandma, attends a special high school program part time
                          Doomsprout - 10, highly verbal moderate autism, anxiety, motor delays, sensory processing issues - SC 4 with R&S 4


                            To your second question...

                            To your second question, yes, I believe your son should be able to read the selections independently and complete his work. The student books that he will be completing will target the most important people, dates, vocabulary, facts to know, etc. so if he will take a peek at that first it will greatly aid in his reading comprehension. Since many of the MP materials follow this same rhythm (and you have the advantage of starting fresh!!), I encourage you to decide together at the beginning of the year how he'll approach each one. If you lay the foundation of a quick student book review, then reading independently, then completing his student book, then a brief discussion with you to wrap up later, I think it will improve his comprehension and retention. You'll get the bonus of learning what he's learning as he shares it with you.
                            Will it just be the two of you at home each day? If so, that opens lots of possibilities for a lunch debrief or similar.

                            And always ask away--we love questions.
                            Festina lentē,
                            Jessica P

                            2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
                            DS 12th • AP Latin online, DE Calculus & Physics, HLN - Headed to Hillsdale College next fall
                            DD 10th • HLN, Latin online
                            DD 7th • HLN & Home
                            DS 4th • HLN & Home
                            Me • Third Form for Adults, MPOA; Memoria College

                            Teaching TFL and co-directing @
                            Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016


                              Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
                              Will it just be the two of you at home each day? If so, that opens lots of possibilities for a lunch debrief or similar.

                              And always ask away--we love questions.
                              Yes, it will be just the two of us. I realize this will help us tremendously to streamline and be able to discuss. Those of you with many children, rejoice with me because I desperately need this. I spent years in ps with many students and need a break physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

                              It is looking as if we will go with the 6th package with just a few changes (First Form, Fable, Geo 1).