Typical Course of Study for 6th Grade

Standard Courses for 6th Grade Students

Typical Course of Study for 6th Grade
Hero Images / Getty Images

Sixth grade is an eagerly-anticipated time of transition for most tweens. The middle school years can be both exciting and challenging. Sixth through 8th-grades often mean higher expectations and more responsibility for students academically. They can also be emotionally-challenging years as students reach adolescence.

Language Arts

A typical course of study in language arts for sixth grade includes components of reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.

Students will read a variety of genres including fiction and non-fiction; biographies; poetry; and plays. They will also read more complex texts across the curriculum in subjects such as science and social studies. 

Sixth-graders will learn to use techniques such as cause and effect or compare and contrast to analyze the plot, characters, and central theme of a text.

Writing shifts to more complex compositions regarding content and length of time spent on assignments. Students may write long-term research papers or spend a week or more developing a more elaborate narrative. Writing assignments should also include expository and persuasive essays, autobiographies, and letters.

As more proficient writers, sixth-graders will learn to vary their sentence structure for more expressive writing and avoid using a passive voice. They will use tools such as a thesaurus to include more varied and descriptive vocabulary.

Grammar also becomes more complex and should cover, identifying parts of speech such as direct and indirect objects; predicate adjective; and transitive and intransitive verbs.

Students will begin to learn Greek and Latin roots to help them analyze and understand unfamiliar vocabulary. 

Math

Sixth-grade students have a solid grasp of foundational math skills and are ready to move on to more complex concepts and computations. 

A typical course of study for 6th-grade math includes working with negative and rational numbers; ratios, proportion, and percent; reading, writing, and solving equations with variables; and using the order of operations to solve problems.

Students are introduced to statistical thinking using mean, median, variability, and range.

Geometry topics include finding the area, volume, and surface area of polygons such as triangles and quadrilaterals; and determining the diameter, radius, and circumference of circles.

Science

In sixth grade, students continue to use the scientific method to increase their understanding of earth, physical, and life science topics. 

Life science topics include the classification of living things; the human body; cell structure and function; sexual and asexual reproduction; genetics; microbes, algae, and fungi; and plant reproduction

Physical science covers concepts such as sound, light, and heat; elements and compounds; electricity and its uses; electric and magnetic interaction; potential and kinetic energy; simple machines; inventions; and nuclear power.

Earth science may cover topics such as climate and weather; conservation; space and the universe; oceans, geology; and recycling.

Social Studies

The topics covered in social studies can vary widely in 6th grade, particularly with homeschooling families based on the curriculum they use and their homeschooling style.

History topics may include ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Some students may be covering the Middle Ages or Renaissance. 

Other common topics for sixth grade include the U.S. government and Constitution; the presidential election process; types of governments; the Industrial Revolution; and the rise of the United States as a political power.

Geography often covers a detailed study of various regions or cultures, including the history, foods, customs; and religion of the area. 

Art

There is no typical course of study for art in middle school. Instead, the general guideline is to allow students to experiment with a variety of art forms to discover what interests them.

Students may enjoy performance arts such as drama or playing a musical instrument. Others may prefer visual arts such as painting, drawing, or photography. Textile arts, such as sewing, weaving, or knitting, may appeal to some 6th graders.  

The study of art can also include art history or the study of famous artists or composers and their work.

Technology

Technology plays a huge role in modern society. By middle school, most students will have already had a great deal of experience with technology. However, sixth grade is an excellent time to make sure that students are proficient in areas of technology that they will use throughout high school.

Students should be competent in their keyboarding skills. They should be familiar with common applications such as those used to produce text documents and spreadsheets. 

Students must also understand and follow safety guidelines when using the internet and know how to adhere to fair use rules and obey copyright laws.