• Amba Brown

CONQUERING THE 6TH GRADE - For Parents

Now that your child has passed the 5th grade – he or she is on their way to middle school; and, you’ve got to get them ready!


Well – it turns out the best way to get them ready and ensure they are successful is to get you ready! Now I know you’re saying, “I’m ready! I've already completed the sixth grade!” But, are you really ready? Let’s find out!


The purpose of Elementary School was to get your child use to going to school and prepare them with the basics to be successful at…MIDDLE SCHOOL. Lots of people these days seem to think that every stage of a child’s education is to prepare them to go to college.


That’s a fallacy! First of all, not every child is going to college – I know, yours is; but, not every child will go there.


That being the case, there must be some other purpose behind these various stages of child education. It turns out they are simply scaffolding stages to ensure the success of the individual (your child) in his or her adult life. With success being loosely defined as 'the ability to provide for themselves legally in society and be a positive impact on those around him or her'.


That said, Elementary School prepares a child for success at Middle School (aka Junior High School); Middle School prepares a child for success at High School; and High School prepares a child for success as an adult, given the following choices when they turn eighteen: going to college, going to a trade school, joining the military, entering the workforce, or becoming a business owner.


And, just like that – you’ve taken your first step in helping your child conquer the sixth grade!


When? (I can hear you asking.) Just now – when you realized that the purpose of Middle School is to prepare your child to be successful at High School – not found a Fortune 500 Company or graduate from Yale.


So now, let’s focus on what else is needed for their successful completion of Middle School.


This is a big one – metacognition. Basically, understanding how they learn things. Now you have metacognition – you are well aware of how you learn new things. However, it is unlikely that your child is aware of this yet – they might be, but it’s unlikely.


Let me explain. Suppose you start a new career tomorrow and you’re an apprentice. You know exactly what types of questions you need to ask and when you need to ask them to make sure you understand the job and what you need to do at the job to be successful. Your child doesn’t have that ability yet.


They are still used to somebody following up behind them – making sure they: wrote the homework down in their planner; put their homework in their book bag; turned their homework into the teacher; recorded all of their notes from the class; and so on.


In Elementary School, you play a very large role in this. You stay on top of the teacher and help your child with every little part of each and every assignment your child has to ensure that they are successful – and that’s AWESOME – YOU ARE A TERRIFIC PARENT, OUTSTANDING!


But now, it’s time to pass the majority of that responsibility off to your child.


This can be a struggle for some parents and it’s as easy as pie for others. Regardless of the ease of it – you’ve got to start putting the pressure on your child to keep up with all the assignments from all of their teachers (there may be as many as seven). You will have to hold your child accountable for asking the correct questions to gain the understanding that they need to have to succeed in completing their assignments (this builds their metacognition).



You will have to get them to understand, that not every teacher is going to like them or be nice to them. You have got to get them to understand they are going to school to get an education, not only make friends. These are the areas wherein many parents struggle – they log tons of hours and pour out large amounts of energy concerning themselves with the fact that several of the teachers at the school don’t like their child. I’m sure you’ll agree that several of your co-workers (or employees if you’re the boss) don’t like you; and, you may not like them. But, the purpose of the career is to earn money and allow you to be capable of taking care of yourself legally and positively impact those around you.


I know that’s a lot to hear. It can be painful; but, it’s the truth. When your child reaches High School – often the relationship between the teachers and the parents are as cold as ice.


Students either turn in their work correctly and timely or they fail. Few High School teachers shed any tears over any student who will not try. Usually, it is those students with no knowledge of their metacognition not trying. High School students with knowledge of their metacognition will try and they are usually the students that all the teachers like and want to write letters of recommendation for during their junior and senior years.


Metacognition is not an easy thing for a person to pick up on – especially if there has been somebody there doing everything for them since they were in Elementary School. You stepping back and letting your new sixth grader take the lead on their learning. You saying to them, “you need to ask the teacher about that tomorrow so that you can improve your grade” will cause them to start to take note of how they learn things – building and developing their metacognition.


Naturally, the question becomes - how do you make sure they don’t fail the sixth grade. Sign up for grade alerts with your child’s Middle School or make your child log on to the grade book and show you their grades at the end of every week. Low grades of concern should be brought to your child’s attention.


If your child doesn’t reply with an acceptable answer or they keep getting poor grades over a two week period – then, reach out to the teacher(s) and ask them what is going on with your child, why is the grade so poor on the assignments? Then listen to what they say and devise a plan of action with the teacher(s) that involves your child to help the grades improve.


Again, hold your child accountable to the plan.


There are numerous resources available to help your child be successful at Middle School and you can use as many of them as you need or wish – but, you’ve got to be aware that your child needs them and the only way for you to come to that understanding is to be holding your child accountable for their learning.


The only other thing you need to do is - celebrate their successes and give them as many hugs and kisses as you can; because High School is on the horizon and they’ll be grown and successful adults before you know it.


About the Author:

Jelterow Mckinnie, Jr. has logged thirteen years as a public school math teacher and five years as an adjunct math professor.  He also enjoys writing and to date has written seven novels across various genres.  He lives in the Great State of Florida with his beautiful wife. 

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