Sixth grade comes with a lot of challenges for your child with a lot of new demands on their time. Their friendships are getting more complicated, they are gaining more independence, and they are learning much more complex ideas in school. Part of their responsibilities is to write more detailed and analytical essays while reading and understanding more challenging texts. They not only have to read a lot more, they have to write a lot more as well.
These can bring a lot of struggles to your child’s life, and you may notice that their language arts grades may be getting lower. Even if they have been doing well until now, it is not a cause for worry if your child starts to have a hard time in sixth grade.
Signs of Struggle
Aside from their grades and feedback from their teacher, there are a few things you can look out for to see if your child is struggling in language arts.
- Lack of reading comprehension. When you or your child’s teacher discuss a book they’re reading, they should be able to tell you the plot and describe the characters well. They should also have a grasp of major themes in the text and be able to relate higher ideas and feelings with that text. If they can’t verbalize these things, they aren’t comprehending the text well enough.
- Lack of higher vocabulary. Your child has been learning a lot of new words since they started school, and that should be paying off now. Not only should they be able to read words they aren’t familiar with and know how to investigate them (such as looking them up in a dictionary), they should be using multiple-syllable words correctly in their writing.
- Lack of detail in their writing. A common issue with struggling writers is that they don’t provide enough detail in their essays and responses. Some students get frustrated with the act of physically writing or typing their responses, but they should still be able to tell you their ideas in detail. If they aren’t writing much or are struggling to come up with things to say, they may need some extra help with their writing skills.
How to Help
Sixth grade is a good time to catch any of these problems, as their work is only going to get more complicated as they get older. The first thing to do is to talk to your child’s teacher so that you can get a full picture of what your child is struggling with, and they will be the best resource in helping your child get back on track.
You should also make sure to talk to your child. Finding out how they feel about what they have to read and write about can be essential; they may not be engaged with the material at all and would prefer something else. Plenty of students fall out of reading and writing because they are “forced” to read and write things they don’t like for school, so it’s important to avoid that by giving them material they are interested in. You can talk to their teacher about alternative books to read or prompts to use for assignments so that your child can get the practice they need with content they like.
A big help would also be to enroll your child in Reading Genie. The program at Reading Genie allows your child the freedom and structure to explore their interests while getting the help they need. The teachers give kind, helpful feedback for you and your child. They provide writing prompts that are fun and engaging so your child will be able to practice their skills while building confidence. Your child will also be able to learn with other students, giving each other essential peer feedback and building positive relationships with fellow budding writers.
Struggling in sixth grade is not anything to worry about, but it is something that is important to address. Their sixth grade experience is the foundation on which their middle and then high school classes are built, so it’s good to catch any problems now.1