Sixth grade. Middle school. It sounds a little daunting. It’s also very exciting. Liam’s very keen to branch out beyond the three Rs, and wants to explore topics I would never have considered for him. To me, he’s all science, all the time. Yet he’s surprised me with a passion for grammar, an earnest desire to learn Latin, and a request to study ancient Rome. Perhaps there’s a bit of me in this child after all!
Math: Jesse is going to take over math this year with Liam. Although we haven’t hammered out all the details of how that will actually work, I think Dad will be doing the lesson/explanation time in the evening, and Liam will be working on the exercises during our school time. I plan to tag team the exercises with him, both to support him and to give myself a refresher. We’ll be using the highly recommended Art of Problem Solving Prealgebra for our text.
Language Arts: Imagine my surprise one day last school year when Liam told me his favorite subject was grammar! Needless to say, we’ll be sticking with the same excellent grammar and vocabulary program. Last year I used Michael Clay Thompson’s materials for these two subjects, but I was concerned the writing program wasn’t meaty enough. So I turned to another homeschool staple to cover that subject. It was dry as dust. Liam’s writing did improve slightly, but it was also formulaic and voiceless. This year I’ve decided to completely embrace MCT’s language arts program – grammar, vocabulary, poetry, writing, and the Search Trilogy for literature. I think this program is a great fit for Liam, and I’m excited to see where his writing is a year from now! To round out language arts we’ll use a bare bones spelling workbook.
Latin: I was slightly taken aback when Liam announced he wanted to learn Latin. I don’t know Latin, how can I teach it? And also, WHY??? He pointed out that he was already learning Latin stems in his vocabulary program, and loving it. He also declared he would almost certainly going into a scientific field, and so much of scientific terminology is rooted in Latin. He tried out an online Latin course this summer, both to see how keen he truly was on the subject and to buy me some time. He’s really enjoying learning the language and wants to continue. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and planning to start with First Form Latin from Memoria Press. We are a secular family and this is a Christian company, so I’m a little hesitant. However, the material isn’t overtly Christian, and it comes highly recommended by several people I truly trust.
History: Studying Latin has sparked Liam’s interest in all things Roman. So naturally he requested to study Ancient Rome this year. Unlike most homeschoolers, we’ve never covered this time period (we only started homeschooling last year, after all!), so I’m happy to comply. We’ll be using The Ancient Roman World by Oxford University Press, along with plenty of documentaries and library books.
Science: We’ve owned the Joy Hakim Story of Science series for several years. I knew I wanted to use this series for middle school science, but was a little daunted with the task of fleshing these books out into a full-blown science curriculum. Luckily, Gifted Homeschoolers has an online class that does just that. Liam will be taking their class based on the text Aristotle Leads the Way. If it’s a success, we’ll continue on. If I feel I could do just as well on my own, well, we’ll go that route.
French: As with Harry, Liam will be reading books and watching films and documentaries in French. We’ll have conversation afternoons. I’ve also selected a college text, Horizons, that we’ll cover slowly over the next two years. Liam already knows most of the contents. The text serves as an outline for me to follow and a good refresher on some finer points. Within the next year or so I expect I’ll need to find a French tutor to help him advance even further.
Music: Liam will continue with weekly piano lessons. The progress he has made in the last year has been astonishing. One of the best spur of the moment decisions Jesse and I ever made was the day we decided to go buy a piano!
PE: He’ll continue with weekly swimming lessons. His instructor keeps telling me he should join the junior swim team – not a competitive team at all, but a group for the better swimmers to work on form and technique. We may give that a try the next session.
This weekend I need to iron out lesson plans for the first couple weeks of school. We start Monday!