SERIES:  Your child’s learning in the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th grades  —  Part 2:  Your child’s learning in the 6th grade

SERIES: Your child’s learning in the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th grades — Part 2: Your child’s learning in the 6th grade

Sixth grade is a year of significant change. Your child may be moving to a new school and/or transitioning from having one teacher to having multiple teachers. He or she is straddling the fence between childhood and adulthood, coping with multiple physical and emotional changes, curious about sexuality and drugs, and wanting more independence.

Sixth graders have more ability for complex thought than their younger peers, are developing friendships that are important to them, are better able to express their feelings through talking, are developing a stronger sense of right and wrong, and are beginning to take more responsibility for their behavior. However, owing to the onset of puberty, they also are showing concern about body image, and can be moody or irritable.

The Common Core sixth grade curriculum will expect your child to (among other things): begin increasing their ability to analyze and summarize text and ideas; describe/analyze plot and character development in a more sophisticated way; increase their vocabulary including figurative, technical and connotative meanings; compare, contrast and integrate different sources of material; evaluate arguments; write organized and coherent narrative and informative texts; use research projects to build knowledge and answer questions; and distinguish fact from opinion.

With regard to math requirements, 6th graders will be focusing on four main areas: (1) concepts of ratio and rate; (2) understanding division of fractions, rational numbers, and negative numbers; (3) expressions and equations; and (4) statistical thinking. Your 6th grader will also begin to learn about geography and economics, analyze technical and science texts, carry out experiments with multiple steps, integrate scientific information with visual aids such as models and graphs, analyze experimental findings, etc.

At this stage in their learning, you can encourage your 6th grade child to participate in outdoor activities, eat healthy meals with the family, and limit the time he/she spends on computer games or social media. You can help your child improve their organizational and study skills in anticipation of the increase in academic demands during middle school. Finally, you can help by staying involved in their life, spending time alone with them, discussing important sensitive topics openly, being clear about your rules and expectations, respecting and listening to their thoughts and feelings, and helping them make good choices while they increase their independent decision making.

If you are concerned about your child’s development or school performance, psychotherapy as well as psychological or neuropsychological testing can be helpful.