6th Grade: What to Expect

back to school guide

As we count down the days to back to school, the Daily Buzz talks with moms and public school teachers about what you and your child can expect in the coming year.

Today middle school teacher MOMof2ALteacher and post-6th grade mom Piscean give us the inside scoop about what to expect in 6th grade.



Piscean: The main subjects taught in 6th grade are: math, science, social studies (history, geography, etc.), art, music, band (elective), and communication arts. My son's school also had electives like Spanish, but it depends on the school. At his school, the kids switch classes for each subject.

MOMof2ALteacher: In 6th grade, students should be able to: think critically, comprehend, preview and predict, make conclusions, participate in cooperative learning, analyze texts, and write an essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion, etc.

School Supplies

Piscean: Notebooks, loose-leaf paper, pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, post-it notes, various classroom supplies for the teachers, a memory stick, backpack, etc. I spent close to $200 (not including school clothes).

MOMof2ALteacher: Notebook, paper, pens, pencils, folders, colored pencils, highlighters, hand sanitizer, erasers, comfortable clothes, and shoes. Expect to spend $20...but make sure your child is well-stocked throughout the year.


Piscean: My son got homework most nights in sixth grade. Some nights it would take him an hour or two, and other nights just a few minutes. He also had a lot of projects, which would take longer, of course. They also had a standing assignment to read for 35 minutes per night.

MOMof2ALteacher: The majority of sixth grade classes will have homework, especially in math. Parents are encouraged to help with homework. This can vary between schools, but most teachers like for parents to be involved. 

Social Scene

Piscean: I think friends are incredibly important to 6th graders. My son is a little shy but has a close-knit group of friends. Sixth graders can be pretty dramatic, so be prepared for a little middle school soap opera on occasion.

Most schools have zero tolerance policies in place for bullies, so if you find out that your kid is being bullied, there are actions you can take if necessary. And don't be afraid to do so if you're concerned about your child being bullied.

I think that peer pressure is huge in 6th grade. The key is teaching your kid coping techniques so that they can survive it and not find themselves on the wrong path.

There are definitely cliques, of course. These are "tweens." And, somehow, many of them seem older and more mature than I was (or felt) in 6th grade.

MOMof2ALteacher: Friends are extremely important to children this age. Many kids will begin to form life-long friends beginning in middle school. They will depend on these friends at school and will be emotionally attached to them. There will be best friends, but that will change week to week. Kids in 6th grade are introduced to many people from different schools, so they may change or add friends weekly.

After-school Activities

Piscean: My son played basketball and was in the band, as well as a book club. There was also a football team and various other clubs and groups to join. The school even has an activity bus that leaves later so that "bus riders" can still participate.

Behavioral Issues

Piscean: Sixth graders are often hitting puberty, but my son wasn't quite there. However, we did have a lot of struggle with his emerging independence. He thought he should be allowed to do a lot more than we did—so we compromised where we could, and stood our ground where we needed to.

Kids are also more aware of the opposite sex every year—and some of them talk like sailors, saying things to my son I wish they wouldn't. This is exactly the reason I think it's super important to be open with your kids about things like this.

When you're open with your kids about the "uncomfortable" subjects, they are more likely to come talk to you when they have questions. For example, my son felt comfortable coming to me and asking me, "Mom, what's a Pussy?" (pardon the word) when he'd overheard other boys talking about it. Was I thrilled about this? Heck no, but I was glad that he came to me instead of some other kid who didn't know what he was talking about.

MOMof2ALteacher: Talking out of turn, passing notes, gossiping, and talking back are some of the most common behavioral issues in sixth grade.


Piscean: I believe they are given detention and kept after school. My son didn't get in much trouble in sixth grade, thank goodness.

MOMof2ALteacher: Children are given warnings, after school detention, suspension, silent lunch, etc.


Piscean: Some kids are bullies on the bus, but a good bus driver can make a difference. Our son was bullied by a neighbor child on the bus off and on for a couple of years—until one day my DH and I went to the child's father and informed him that we would press charges if he touched our son again. Apparently that was enough to make him do something about it. Luckily, that family moved away in April and things got better.


Piscean: It's easy to get involved: Join the PTA, attend band concerts, ball games, school plays etc. Buy stuff from each and every fundraiser (and take the form to work or send it with your hubs). You can also volunteer at the school directly, either in the library, the office or wherever the school needs you. Often parents are needed to work the concession stands at ballgames and as chaperons for field trips.

My advice is to get all of the teachers' email addresses and keep in touch. I have always let his teachers know that his education is very high on our list of priorities and that I want them to let me know if there are any issues whatsoever. I generally have a great relationship with the teachers and most of them would email me as needed. One of them even emailed me because she noticed that my son just "wasn't himself" one day.

MOMof2ALteacher: Ask the teachers and the principals how you can help. We always need volunteers to file papers, help with parties, dances, and programs, and run errands.

What was the biggest challenge for your child?

Piscean: My son is a really intelligent kid, so grades were no problem. But he has always struggled a little socially. He did better this year than before, but I still think there was some struggle. He is also a little short for his age (and thin as a rail) so that may have played into his social stress.

Thanks so much to the 6th grade teachers and moms who helped us present this valuable Back to School information.

Since schools and activities vary depending on the district and where you live, tell us what the 6th grade experience like for you and your big kid!

Also find out What to Expect in ...

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2nd Grade

3rd Grade

4th Grade

5th Grade

7th Grade


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