Math – 6th Grade

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Planning for your math subject is simple since you will follow a lesson by lesson curriculum such as Saxon Math. You should follow the curriculum in order with little flexibility. You can be flexible in how much work you require, the pace for the student, whether you test periodically, and so forth.

Most math curriculums are arranged in 4 or 5 lessons a week for the typical 36 week school year. Saxon Math generally follows this plan. 6th graders will typically use Math 76. It’s not important that you start with lesson 1 of Math 76 on day 1. Your student may be ahead or behind by as much as a year and all will work out just fine. You may find they struggle for a while with certain lessons and need to go slower, have extra practice, and so on. Later they may be able to go more quickly and can do a couple lessons a day, possibly with less practice per lesson.

You should plan on at least 1 hour of math 4 days a week. We aim for math all 5 days but don’t get upset if a day is missed here and there. Math is best done early in the day. As a “hard” skill it is good training for the brain, just as stretching and running in place is good preparation for physical exertion. Success in math early in the day gets the brain ready for the more intuitive subjects to follow.

A typical Saxon 76 lesson in the middle of the year consists of reading the lesson, working all the Practice problems (typically 4 to 10) on the lesson for the day, then doing half of Problem Set (we do the odd numbered problems which is 15 out of 30 total). The student should then check their answers with the Solution Manual then put away the solutions and rework any they missed. Finally they recheck the rework and if they missed the problem a second time, indicate it with a “?” in the margin.

The following morning you review the student’s work and help them with the ? problems. Check how many they missed before the rework. If you see a pattern in the types of problems missed, you may want to assign extra practice for that day instead of plunging ahead to the next new lesson. Another idea is to stay on the same lesson and assign the even-numbered problems. This gives them more practice without introducing any new concepts. Saxon reinforces each new concept for several weeks in the Problem Set, so you don’t need the student to have flawless mastery of a concept before going on. Just beware of repeated patterns of difficulty or failure. The math taught in Saxon76 is practical math such as decimals, fractions, percentage that “normal” people use in everyday life. So you should have no trouble teaching at this level and helping your child through problems. If you are rusty on some of the concepts, a quick look at the lesson and examples will help you get up to speed. In grades 7 and 8, algebra begins and some parents may not feel adequate to teach this. We’ll discuss in plans for those grades. But all of Saxon76 should be familiar to any educated adult or can quickly be mastered as the adult will need it anyway.

At mid year you should do a lesson a day on average. At the start of your school year, you should be mindful of the student’s ability. For example, if the student completed Saxon 65 in 5th grade, they can likely do 2 or 3 lessons a day since the first 15-20 lessons are review from Saxon 65. We school year-round, taking short breaks rather than an extended 12 week summer break. This allows us to jump ahead in math as we can go right from the end of one book to lesson 15 or 20 of the next, effectively getting 3 or 4 weeks ahead right at the beginning. Doing this for several years will put your student a year or more ahead. If you start Saxon 76 at lesson 20, you’ll finish it in early Spring. You can then start the next book (Saxon Algebra 1/2 typically), again skipping to about lesson 15. At the end of May, you’ll be around lesson 40 of Algebra 1/2 – almost halfway done! This is real turbo-charging of your teaching – simply by being mindful of the student’s ability and not taking extended breaks. The normal student will progress rapidly. Genius is not required.

In the provided daily plans for month 1 and 6, you’ll see examples of the startup acceleration of lessons and the midyear pace of 5 lessons a week.