Structuring a home education for a six-year-old: your six-year-old and MY six-year-old aren’t the same.
In fact, I’ve had four six-year-olds living in the same family, and they aren’t the same either.
So take my suggestions with a grain of salt.
You can’t teach the same way to each child. They’re different. Your goal is to tailor an education for each of your kids differently.
I’d like to introduce a case study, my six-year-old.
He’s logically precocious.
He has whipped me at chess since he was two (which speaks volumes about my chess-playing skills, not just his). At six, he was playing adults on Saturday mornings in hopes he would improve his skills to whip his dad. (Which he successfully did when he was eight. That was a bet that earned him a LEGO set.)
So we include an online chess time in his morning studies, as a break from the more rote aspects of his day.
He plays mental math games with ease.
And he likes it. He plays Legos with abandon, he’d be Minecraft-addicted if I let him, he speaks frankly, not always tactfully. But he has a winning, melt-me smile and has been generous with polite mannerisms since he was three: “thank you, excuse me, you’re welcome”.
He loves to read.
His present favourite bedtime story is from a Chess Strategy book…can’t believe that’s what I read to him…I don’t understand it, apparently, he does.
Naturally, his ease with reading makes my world so much easier. I know kids that didn’t have that ease until they were twelve. And my older three daughters didn’t read as voraciously as him. And they all learned to read differently.
He enjoys his gymnastics class.
He also gladly cross-country skis and canoes with us in season. He’s got a good arm for baseball which we saw at six months. But he’s more interested in the reward at the end than he is in actually playing. He’s learning football strategy alongside daddy, but he’d rather learn strategy for board or card games.
He’ll join in on sisterly activities as he’s got three older sisters.
So he also likes his toenails painted, he can whip up a mean smoothie without me in the kitchen. And he played a hobgoblin in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”…a homeschool community theatre offering. His participation was directly influenced by his sisters because he retired from his theatre career at nine and retired from his choir participation at seven. But his sisters have influenced his participation in activities anyway.
Things I’m learning about teaching my six year old…
He likely sits longer than most of his peers, especially his boy peers, but that’s because he’s been doing studies with us since he was crawling.
He can memorize poems just like his older sisters. These kiddos have keen minds. The more they memorize, the better they get. Presently, he memorizes three-stanza poems.
“When I was One, I had just begun.
When I was two, I was nearly new.
When I was three, I was hardly me.
When I was four, I was not much more.
When I was five, I was just alive.
But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six now, forever and ever“
He journals every study morning. This means he draws a picture of what he did yesterday and dictates to me what his picture is about. He usually draws pics of what he wishes he did yesterday like volcanos exploding and boats rescuing us from tsunamis.
Today he wrote: “It’s a football game that you guys are going to–Superbowl. Who you guys are cheering for is the people who are losing, but they will win in the end. Seattle Seahawks will win! ” (And he was prophetic too!)
The ideas are getting on-page, albeit through me. This is a beginner’s approach to story writing.
He’s got his own Math-U-See book. And he’s zooming through it. He performs math equations like I rattle off my written opinion. Sometimes I’ll lay flashcards on the floor and have him use dried beans, Legos, or manipulatives to answer the questions.
As Steve Deme has taught me in his math program, introduce the concept with manipulatives, then repeat, repeat, repeat till they understand it, and until they ask to do it themselves. Mastery is the goal. And if they get it, move on. Don’t let them be bored. So far so easy for this kid. (PS Not so easy for other kids.)
He began reading when he was five.
As in we sounded letters out phonics-style. We read his Dick and Jane book together. Then Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop. And now he’s reading Toad on the Road and Fat Cat on the Mat. He’s learning his blends, double vowel words, and why an e at the end of the word is silent.
Funny that my cookie could explain the reasons for World War 1 beginning, but I discovered one day that he couldn’t put his alphabet in order. So he’s been joining us by tidying up our All About Spelling board after we do lessons with two older sisters. I’ve got a lot of fun spelling-teaching ideas here.
Is he too young for a second language? Nope.
We’ve done a lot of traveling, so we usually have studied languages before we’ve traveled: French for Paris (though we’re Canadian, so French for Canada too), Italian for Italy, Swahili for Kenya, Dutch for Amsterdam (turns out they’re English adept), and ASL just because the kids were interested. We’ve done videos on YouTube or Ecoutez Parlez for French, French flashcards, memory games, Pictionary, and hangman too. (Having older sisters means this six-year-old has had boundless learning opportunities.)
What does he do for science? Everything. At this age, he tags along with his older sisters.
But every time he has a question, we do a little research. In fact, a “curriculum” can be built on these curious questions. And how fun it is to wander down a rabbit hole into their curiosities.