Jun 16, 2013

M is for Middle School

Grades are a little "fuzzy" in our homeschool. We use the mastery method in most of our work, so while a kid could be doing "5th grade" math and reading at an "8th grade" level, they could be spelling on a "3rd grade" level, their handwriting could look like a 1st graders, and how exactly does one assess the grade level of what we are doing in history and science? In the beginning of our educational journey, I assigned grades by how many years they had been "doing school". They all started learning their numbers and letters the fall before they turned four, so they have always been a grade ahead of their same-age peers, at least, the ones who would be in traditional schools where one is not allowed to begin kindergarten until after their fifth birthday.
But then, we started joining groups of other kids in things like sports, co-op, Cub Scouts, and church which are usually divided by grades rather than ages. This posed a problem, because their dad strongly preferred that they "socialize" with kids their age, and not be constantly forced into older groups, especially since our kids are all on the small size for height and weight. So our kids know that they have two different grades. The grade in school, and the social grade that we use in placing ourselves in groups. It can get complicated, but they don't seem to mind.

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At any rate, I said all of that to say, Kaytie is starting 6th grade in the fall, and in our area of the country, that means Middle School.
When I first realized this, a few weeks ago, I was somewhat at a loss. We have gotten into a cozy rhythm in our school life, and I liked it. But I had a vague feeling that Middle School should probably entail a stepping up, so to speak, taking it up a notch in my expectations of Kaytie's work. I don't want High School to take us completely by surprise!
So I started asking around in the various homeschool forums where I chat; just trying to gather up some sort of an idea of what 6th grade should look like, and then translate that into what 6th grade should look like for US. Because I have no intention of giving up our Us School style. The answers I got back all fell into two categories: writing essays/research papers; and more independence. This didn't help me much. :)

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Fortunately, this was when I remembered that I own a super-cool book called "Home Learning Year by Year" by Rebecca Rupp, which I bought long ago and used to use often. It gives a basic overview of what a kid should be learning in each grade, but more with the point of how to pull together your own curriculum and not so much for pigeon-holing your child into a grade. I used it a lot when I was learning to pull together my own curriculum.
I read through what she had to say about 6th grade, and the plan just fell together. This is what Kaytie's 6th grade year will look like.
Kaytie will finish Delta math. She will do level 4 in Rod and Staff Grammar. She will continue copying Bible verses, focusing on correct letter formation, punctuation, and spelling. She will finish All About Spelling levels 3 and 4. For History, she will listen to the read-alouds, complete projects, write reports, give oral reports, and read assigned books and narrate them. (We are finishing up American History: from the Alamo to however far we can get before the school year ends...) For Science, she will join in our chemistry study, writing reports and learning about the scientific process and writing up experiments. In Geography she will draw, map, and write reports about the various things we will learn. In Latin, she will continue with Visual Latin.  She will continue work on Adventus. She will finish IEW SWI A. She will finish another level of Bible Study Guide for All Ages. She will work her way through Logic to the Rescue (which is free for Kindle) and The Fallacy Detective. She will work on learning: cooking, baking, menu planning, shopping, budgeting, laundry, mending, and personal care. She will chose a project to pursue for daily passion time.
We learned about passion time on Blog She Wrote and are tweaking the idea to fit our Us School style. Kaytie picked horses and botany to start with. I told her that she will devote 30 minutes to an hour to a topic each day. She and I and her dad are coming up with ideas of ways she can do that. She has lots of good suggestions and so does her daddy, but none of them are solid yet. I expect to be talking more about that in the future.

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As for independence, I feel we are on track for that. She has already taken steps toward taking more responsibility for her own work. She has a list of what she needs to do each day and I can count on her to get it done. She has started taking her work into the living room or outside where she can focus without the other kids' noise, then she brings it back to me when she needs help or she is ready for me to check it. When we work as a group, she can take some leadership and organize science experiments or history projects. She often takes the initiative to create her own projects related to what she has learned.
All in all, she is excited about her foray into Middle School. She is most excited about her passion time and home ec. She has more ideas and plans about home ec. than I do, so far.

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This post is linked up with Blogging Through the Alphabet at Ben and Me.

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