6th Grade Language Arts
· Give Your Child Space
Find a regular place for your child to read and study. Some people like to read and work in a quiet area while others prefer to hear the background music. The most important thing is to make sure that they have space where they can read and study effectively.
· Explore Short Novels
Now that your child is in middle school, they will be given longer reading assignments, such as short novels. These might be classics you remember, like The Witch of Blackbird Pond, or newer works, like the Hunger Games trilogy. Try to read these assignments yourself, if you have the time. You’ll enjoy them and will be able to discuss them in detail with your 6th grader. Ask questions that go beyond just talking about what happened in the book. Ask them what motivated different characters or how they think they felt in different situations.
· Identify Essential Information While Reading
As the amount of reading material your 6th grader is assigned increases, they will need to develop new strategies for synthesizing all that they are learning. Help them figure out how to process information by asking questions such as “What was the main idea in the article you just read?” “What are the most important things you want to remember about it?” Learning how to identify and focus on essential information will be an important skill throughout their life.
· Look Up New Words
Keep a dictionary and a thesaurus accessible in the house, so that when an unfamiliar word comes up your child can easily consult these handy reference books. Encourage him to always look up words your child doesn’t know.
· Ask “What If” Questions
Ask “what if” questions about the books and stories your child is reading. What if the author had decided to change a specific plot point? What if a character in a biography had made a different decision at a key moment? Ask questions that prompt them to think through the motivations behind the actions of different characters.
· Join a Book Club Together
Parent-child book clubs are becoming increasingly popular. It takes just a handful of enthusiastic readers and a good book to generate a lively discussion. If doing this with some of your child’s friends and their parents doesn’t seem practical you could also try a family book club. Just search the parent-child book club to find plenty of online resources
· Encourage Debate and Discussion
Encourage discussion as much as possible in your house. Ask your 6th grader for their opinion about political and social issues, or about books, movies, and TV shows. Listen carefully and prompt him to express their ideas thoughtfully, backing up their claims with evidence. Having dinner together as a family may be harder to do as your child gets older and there are more demands on their time, but this is one of the best ways to stimulate these kinds of conversations.
· Suggest Fun Writing Projects
Keep an eye out for fun projects that involve writing. If your child made a family tree when they were younger, they can update it with a companion piece of writing in which your 6th grader provides short biographical entries about each person. They can make these as simple or as involved as they like. An especially interesting relative’s entry could become a longer profile, incorporating information from an interview with that relative and external published sources.
6th Grade Math
· Review New Material Together
As their assignments become more complicated, you might start to feel that your child's math homework is outpacing your comfort level. Continue to review math materials with him before class and supervise their homework, regardless of your confidence in your own skills. Instead of explaining new concepts, have him explain them to you. This will help him process and retain the information. If you are both confused, read the material and do your best to think it through and discuss it together. Go to sites like Khan Academy, IXL or XtraMath for extra assistance.
· Help Your Child Learn How to Study
Help your child learn how to study effectively for math tests. This means working through problems, not just reading through them or skimming the review sheet. In elementary school, knowing the mechanics may be enough for some students. In middle school, many problems now have multiple steps and are best learned through repetition. The more problems your child practices, the more they will internalize the various components. This increases speed and understanding so your child can be better prepared to adjust the steps when required.
· Shop for Bargains
Encourage your child to practice math by helping shop for bargains. Is a gallon of milk a better buy than a half-gallon? What about a 16 oz. jar of peanut butter compared to the 12 oz. size? Have him divide the cost of bulk-packaged items by the number of single items to find the cost-per-item.
· Review Materials Before Class
Sixth grade is a time of transition to middle school when the comfort of a single teacher and classroom is replaced by a variety of classes and teachers. Sixth-grade math is usually taught by a subject teacher instead of by a general education teacher, as it was in elementary school. You can help promote your child’s success in 6th-grade math by helping him understand both the content and the learning process. Review materials with him before class and continue to take an active role in supervising their homework.
· Break Down Complicated Problems
Have your child discuss a problem that was easy for him and another that was difficult. Ask him to explain the key features of the difficult problem for you. What did your child find difficult? What were some of the important information in the problem? Ask him to jot down any part of the problem that your child still has questions about and ask him to share it with the teacher or a classmate the following day.
· Encourage Persistence
Encourage your child to be persistent whenever a problem seems difficult. This will help your child believe that everyone can learn math.
· Highlight Math in Sports
Sports provide an engaging way of exploring a host of mathematical concepts, starting with basic addition. Any hard-core baseball fan knows that the game can’t truly be appreciated without an understanding of some essential statistics, like a player’s batting average and runs batted in. If your child is passionate about a sport, encourage him to explore it through math.
· Play Games
Play family games that help foster math skills. These include card games like Go Fish, which requires counting and sorting cards into sets, or board games like Monopoly.
· Develop a Homework Routine
Help your child develop a consistent homework routine. Make sure that your child not only reviews that were covered in school that day but also help him learn how to keep track of long-term assignments and plan ahead.