The First Week of Sixth Grade

Em working on her 6th grade composition and critical thinking

A Decent First Day

Ah, the return to homeschooling!

It certainly had its fits and starts. I knew I had a cleaning later in the afternoon and I also had some errands to run, but I expected we had the morning free.

We started out, as we usually do – me reading to Em in the library. We are nearly halfway through Mousenet by Prudence Breitrose and enjoying the book. After I read the requisite chapter, Em practiced her cello. It is in dire need of tuning and we will need to bring it to the open house at Harmony Project tomorrow to get it up to snuff. Meanwhile, it sounds rather…different.

We had just settled into our first spelling test when my dad blew his whistle downstairs. Apparently he missed his ride to the senior center. So we put it down, drove him to the senior center, and ran errands since we were out, before returning for a snack, and to unpack a box of fresh hardy succulents we will be planting in the yard this week for our science project.

Em missed six of 25 spelling words. They were little mistakes, mainly caused by nervousness, and she knocked them out of the way the next day, scoring 100% on her second attempt. That means she is done for the week!

Dividing fractions – be afraid, be very afraid!

Basic Schedule

Our schedule is as follows:

  • 6:30 Wake up and Mom reads to Em
  • 7:00 Practice cello for 20-30 minutes
  • 7:30 Tidy room, do chores
  • 8:00 Fix and eat breakfast
  • 8:30 Begin homeschool
  • 11:30 Wrap up homeschool and eat lunch

It doesn’t always work out like that. Because I’m running my housecleaning biz, the schedule fluctuates, sometimes dramatically. For instance, two out of every four Mondays are “homeschool free days” in which all that Em is required to do is practice her cello and read 1-2 chapters of a book of her choice.

One out of every four weeks we don’t have a spelling list to practice because both the Monday and the Tuesday have back to back cleanings and it would be Wednesday before we could tackle the list. That’s not enough time if it is a particularly demanding list.

Evaluate and Adjust

This week and next are a process of evaluation and adjustment. Take Pre-Algebra for example. We tackled dividing fractions today and it took an hour and a half to work our way through twelve questions! We wrote them out on the board, and there was some fair amount of teeth-gnashing and wailing, but we got through it. It did make me realize that I was unwilling to do that three times a week. Once is enough, thank you very much!

So Far It Looks Like This…

Here is what I gave Em to read over:

Fall 2018 Homeschool

Schedule, Areas of Study and Expectations

Mondays: variable

One Monday (in a 4 week period) you will accompany me to the Anderson’s and read to the littles while I clean. We will do the rest of homeschooling in the afternoon.

One Monday (in a 4 week period) will be regular homeschooling in the morning.

Two Mondays (in a 4 week period) will be a “free day”

Tuesdays: Every other Tuesday from 8:30 – 11:30, on those same Tuesdays we will go out on a field trip as well.

Wednesdays: mix of home curriculum and LEARN co-op classes – once every 3 weeks I have to clean the Chapman house in the afternoon

Thursdays: variable

Every other Thursday – homeschool from 8:30 – 11:30

Alternating Thursdays – independent study

Fridays: Every Friday from 8:30 – 11:30

Language Arts:

  • Faber’s Book of Beasts – reading poems and creating our own – one per week
  • Weekly spelling list (repeated until 100% accuracy) – 3 tests per 4-week period (no spelling on week with double cleanings on Monday and Tuesday)
  • Grade 6 Comprehension and Critical Thinking – one per week
  • Creative writing with writing prompts, letter writing, or a book report – 2x a week

Mathematics:

Social Studies:

Science:

  • Darwin and Evolution for Kids – Read from this book and do the suggested activities
  • Weekly science experiments
  • Monthly visits to Science City with a friend (or two)

All the Rest:

  • Health – What’s Happening to My Body for Girls – one chapter a week with Mama
  • Entrepreneurship – Read one chapter from Kidpreneurs each week and do the quiz.
  • Self-Improvement – Read one chapter from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens each week
  • Music – Harmony Project and practice five mornings a week for 20 minutes a day, add a minute of practice for every time Mama has to remind you to get to/keep practicing!
  • Learn Spanish with Mama by using DuoLingo on her phone 3x week
  • Art – Practice your art regularly. Challenge yourself, enjoy the process and improve with each project!

Powell Gardens – Butterfly Festival 2018

What’s Missing?

I had originally settled on reading Don’t Know Much About Geographybut after paging through it, it just doesn’t fit with her interests and I’ve already got several books/subjects to wade through. So geography is completely missing from the curriculum. She will get a lovely month-long dose of geography and travel during her trip to Europe, so I’m not too worried about it. We will probably go ahead and study the countries that she will be going to and consider that as good enough for now.

Physical education is not listed, but neither is our regular outings with a lovely group of homeschoolers in the Northland that do activities such as ice skating, visiting Powell Gardens, and park days. In other words, she will get plenty of P.E.

Well on Track

By this afternoon we had finished most of the requirements for the week. She will still have her daily cello practice, the timed tests in the basic math skills, and required reading of a chapter a day (she reads a chapter per day from one book, I read to her aloud from a different book).

I am determined to improve her basic math skills so that there is absolutely no hiccups when figuring basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. After three days of timed worksheets (one each of subtraction, multiplication and division), I did an extra step with her.

We counted how many she had answered on each worksheet, divided that number by three (she has three minutes to answer as many questions as possible) and then divided by 60 to learn how many seconds it took her to answer each question. Multiplication was the quickest, then division, followed lastly by subtraction. I’m teaching her some shortcuts that I hope will help her increase her speed. Accuracy doesn’t seem to be a problem, but less than half, sometimes as little as 1/3 of the questions on the worksheet are answered in three minutes. So there is room for improvement.

The next couple of days we can coast quite nicely, now that the bulk of the work is done. She seems to be enjoying (or tolerating) most of it rather well and with a decent attitude.

Hooray for homeschooling!

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