It’s that time! We’ve been doing yearly reviews of Oak Meadow for years, I am STOKED to be giving you a closer look at Oak Meadow 6 today!
Oak Meadow’s Sixth Grade program has been going wonderfully for Bug. He’s been working with the curriculum for years, and every year when we start a new level, I feel like I have a big ‘ole light bulb going off above my head. I know reasonably that a curriculum will build on itself and grow with the child from year to year, but seeing it in action is something else entirely.
If you aren’t familiar with Oak Meadow, this is a complete curriculum-in-a-box that just happens to think outside of the box. The curriculum relies heavily on nature and works with your life and routine instead of against it. For example, when your kids are little, chores are a part of the school day, and as they grow older, they are encouraged to spend time outdoors and exploring their world. It’s been called gentle, and creative, and complete- and it is all of those things, and so much more. You can read more about their philosophy on their website, and see more of our experience in our archives.
On to Grade Six! See What’s in the Box, and read about our experience:
I am sad to report that Bug is totally different. Bug is getting older, and for the first time ever, he gave me a bit of a hard time for wanting to photograph his school work. He’s normally quite easy going, but these days he is more likely to get embarrassed (see that awkward laughter ^^^^) and want me to take a step back.
Oak Meadow Grade Six is prepared for this change. The curriculum includes student books for Bug, and a teacher’s book for me. The student books are intended to be used quite independently. This year, the books have additional lines down the sides of the pages for Bug to take notes, a student planner for him to organize his week and track his studies, and assessment pages for us to evaluate where he stands. The books include the crutches he needs to be independent and tools for me to support him.
Each year has come with higher expectations with writing, and this year has again made a leap into expecting more writing, with more detail. Every day it seems like Bug is writing anywhere between 1-3 pages, with assignments in language arts, history and science. He’s taking notes, writing responses, coming up with creative stories, and so much more.
Because of the additional writing, I feel like he’s taking more time on the curriculum this year as compared to previous years. That too, is to be expected as the kids grow up. I feel like the progression from fourth to fifth to sixth grade has been very purposeful and smooth, so we only had a little difficulty in the first week or two getting used to the slightly longer school day.
This year also includes tests and assessments, as well as rubrics to make evaluating your student’s progress easier. We haven’t done many tests in the past with Bug, but now that we are moving closer to middle school, I feel like it’s important to start teaching him study and test taking skills.
A Closer Look at the Curriculum:
One of my favorite things about Oak Meadow is how they tie together language arts, history and art. This year is all about ancient civilizations, which lends itself to many fun activities.
In history, the kids will read a selection from their student books, then they’ll do mapwork, hands-on activities, acting, art . . . basically all the fun things you wish you could have done in history class.
Your student may create clay figures like they did in the stone age, or study renaissance art and try their own drawing, or act out a Shakespeare play. They can research and learn more about the important people who lived at the time, and write a creative journal entry from their perspective.
In language arts, your students will use vocabulary from their history studies (and sometimes science). They’ll work on writing skills and learn to write essays. They’ll read fiction to complement their history studies.
Sixth-grade science focuses on basic life science. The student book includes reading which teaches scientific concepts in a clear, child-friendly way. Then, the student chooses from experiments, additional research projects and writing assignments to round out their week. The activities are hands-on and balance well with the additional reading.
I *love* this level. Granted, I love everything we’ve tried from Oak Meadow but I REALLY love the sixth-grade level. It’s been interesting to see the progression the curriculum and watch it grow up with Bug. This year, I really feel that the challenge level is just high enough to make him really think (and feel quite grown up) but not high enough to overwhelm his (admittedly oversensitive) nature.
I love that the curriculum still ties in everyday life to his activities. For example, this week in science he was learning about making observations, and he spent the week keeping close track of our cat. He watched the things he did, and made inferences as to why he behaves the way he does. It was such a simple way to learn about observing little things, but it was a fun activities that all the kids enjoyed together.
Everything in Oak Meadow feels like that- simple and easy. I love that this program helps us find reasonable learning opportunities. Because the history and art and activities and literature are intertwined, lessons don’t seem overwhelming or time-consuming. It all just flows from one activity to the next. It’s laid back.
I love laid back.