The Class Teacher’s Welcome to the 6th grade!
Friday, August 31, 2012
“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.” ---Russell Baker
Dear Grade 6 Parents,
Well, I certainly hope you all have not been suffering too much in these warm but glorious summer days! After so much fun in the sun, summer travel, and the luxury of time to complete projects, it is time once again time to begin thinking about where our attention in fall needs to focus—on 6th grade, of course!
I am sure that each child has gown and changed this summer. As we discussed last year at our parent evenings, many children in their 12th year go through significant physical changes. These changes are just the beginning of many in the next few years that will lead them into their adult bodies. Bones gain density and muscles mass, so much so that sometimes ligaments and tendons cannot keep up with the growth. As a result, aching limbs and knees are not uncommon as ‘growing pains’. Legs can grow disproportionately to the body, sometimes giving the children what I call a ‘stork effect’. The 6th grader feels this added mass, this new heaviness sharply in his being after a year of being light and physically balanced. These physical changes can certainly bring many questions and feelings of being a bit out of control: “Is what I am experiencing normal?” “What will happen next?” “How do I navigate all this?” This awareness of matter, of the material world, will be addressed in the curriculum via our study of literally the earth—mineralogy, of physics and the “laws” that govern the physical world, and of the Romans who mastered the world through their conquering and engineering feats. Then to bring a bit of levity to the matter we will look up to the heavens in our study of astronomy.
These physical changes can be accompanied by emotional mood swings and seeming changes in personality. Many parents feel, “My child just is not behaving like herself. Something must be wrong!” A child’s desire to control what is occurring is natural. Again the 6th grade curriculum has many areas in which lawfulness is mentioned. In addition to those listed above, the rules governing business math, the strict structure present in all aspects of society during the Middle Ages as well as the defined steps and precision required for satisfactory geometric compass constructions and their relationship to nature offer a calming balm to the craziness that the incarnating astral body can bring to a middle schooler. Seeing order in seeming chaos or mystery is helpful to the 6th grader. Our study of geography, both South America and Europe, helps them stay connected to the beauty and wonder of the world.
All these changes can result in your very intelligent child having what I affectionately call “temporary stupidity.” Things they used to do with ease, like rattle off times tables or organize the family dinner table, can suddenly seem baffling. Patience and calm from the adults around them is the best way to help them see their way through it. Remember, they are already panicking on the inside; our outrage will only add fuel to the flame.
I have previously posted a block schedule for easy reference. The following are some highlights. Please mark significant dates on your calendar as soon as possible, so I can be aware of any potential conflicts immediately. The school calendar is very tight, and often I have few choices about when I can hold events.
I have also attached our daily schedule for your reference as you make decisions about releasing your children early from the school day for appointments, etc.
As of today, we have one new student joining our class. Tierney Bilstrom, who has been at Waldorf student at Four Winds, visited our class in late winter. We were impressed by her kindness, prodigious memory and enthusiasm. Her family has moved to the city this week as she and 9th grade brother Dylan prepare to make this transition. Please welcome them by introducing yourself to them and mom and dad, Jody and David, when you see them.
Caving Field Trip
As a culmination to our study of mineralogy in September, our class trip will give us a chance to experience several types of caves in southern Indiana. The trip is scheduled for Monday, October 1 through Thursday, October 4. Our stay will be in cabins with food service provided, much like the Pentathlon was. Please email me if you are interested in chaperoning. I need 2 chaperones—one more chaperone for the boys and one more for the girls.
By tradition, Grade 6 turns the classroom into a creative haunted house for Grades 4 and up on Wednesday, October 31. While the children create the theme and work out the scenarios, parents partner in the execution and preparations. If possible, keep the afternoon and evening before open for “construction.”
Wednesday, September 19
Thursday, January 31
Tuesday, April 2
Social will begin at 6:45 p.m. with meetings beginning by 7:05. Our first meeting will have important information about the caving field trip, planning for our hosting of the Haunted House, a picture of our Knighting Ceremony and information about the transition from middle school to high school.
Our play will be on Friday, May 31 and possibly June, 1 as well. There are no other dates available on the school calendar at this time. I am working with Ms. Desouches to see if a musical is possible. If it is, I know I will need a pianist who can work with students practicing their solo pieces after school. If anyone knows of someone who can play the piano and coach some vocals, please forward me their contact information.
In conjunction with our study of the Middle Ages and as a means of proving some “rite of passage” experience for the class, I am considering having the class participate in a Knighting Ceremony that I am creating. After learning about the knights’ code and their long, extensive training, the class would begin to formulate our own knights’ code. From there each student would write his/her own oath. To earn their knighthood students would each do a significant service project of their design mentored by one experienced in that area. Students would design their own tabard and, hopefully in a quant chapel, a queen would dub each one found worthy. The evening, which I am hoping I can schedule for the beginning of May, would conclude with cake, singing, juggling, etc. More information on this will be given at our first parent evening.
I love celebrating the children’s birthdays. We will continue to do so in the same manner as we did last year. Each child will bring in a treat to share with the class at lunch. The class will sing our special birthday song to the birthday child who will then receive her new birthday verse. This year’s theme is stones and crystals. Summer birthdays are celebrated as close to the half birthday date as possible.
What to Bring to School on the First Day
++++Summer reading questions and scrapbook pages++++
1. Pencil case if it was taken home.
2. Empty Green Art portfolios
3. Water bottle
4. Lunch box
5. A mug: We will be having our literary discussions in “book club” fashion complete with tea and the occasional baked good. Each student who has a cup can make some tea to settle into our exchange. Tea donations are welcome.
6. We will continue to go outside in all kinds of weather, so appropriate outside footwear and outdoor clothing is a must. We should have plenty of closet space this year for their things!
7. Band and Orchestra continue to be held on Mondays and Wednesdays. Bring your instruments!
8. Gym shoes
I would like to hold a Mother/Daughter retreat sometime between January 2 and January 5 if at all possible. I was hoping if families knew ahead of time we could get everyone back from their holiday travels in order to create a special event for the girls. The goals would be multi-faceted:
1. Help build a closer bond among all the girls in the class.
2. Honor mothers.
3. Bond with daughters.
4. Give that first simple picture of what it means to be a woman.
5. Help the girls to see they are part of a community of women.
6. Address questions about puberty and self-care in a way that can’t be done in a school day.
This list sounds awfully vague and cheesy when I read it, but I actually have some very sweet ideas that make it more meaningful. Of course, I want this to be what the mothers and daughters would like, so your input in the planning will be very important. I am hoping moms and I can meet on Wednesday, September 12 at 1:30 p.m. in the 6th grade classroom where we can discuss and plan what we would like to create for and with our young women. I am not available to meet on Fridays and Saturdays as I am taking Arcturus classes full-time this year.
I am looking forward to a rich year!
With warmth and joy,