What to Expect in Sixth Grade

By Jessica Watson
May 1, 2024

Sixth grade is often the first year of a big transition for learners as they become middle school students. During this grade level middle schoolers typically experience new challenges in different subjects, building upon the foundational knowledge learned in elementary school. While sixth grade introduces more advanced concepts and skills, students will also experience different teachers for each subject. This change provides an opportunity to work on organizational skills and a chance to begin to develop greater independence before the more demanding years ahead. 

Overall, the sixth-grade curriculum aims to foster intellectual growth, critical thinking skills and academic proficiency across multiple disciplines, laying a solid foundation for a continued educational journey as middle-schoolers and before long, high school students.

By the end of sixth grade, students should have acquired a broad range of knowledge, skills and competencies across various academic subjects and personal development areas.

Here are the main academic subjects covered in sixth grade and a comprehensive overview of what kids should ideally learn by the end of their sixth grade year:


Sixth-grade math curriculum includes a variety of topics aimed at developing students’ mathematical fluency and problem-solving abilities including the ability to apply real-world connections. By the end of sixth grade math students should have:

  • Mastery of operations with whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percentages.
  • Understanding of basic algebraic concepts including expressions, simple equations and inequalities.
  • Competency in geometry such as properties of shapes, angles and geometric transformations.
  • Ability to interpret and analyze data sets using graphs and charts and apply basic statistical concepts.
  • Comprehension of word problems involving the use of mathematical practices to solve real-world problems.

Language Arts (English)

Language arts instruction in sixth grade encompasses various components aimed at developing students’ reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. 

Areas of proficiency in sixth grade reading include:

  • Reading comprehension strategies including analyzing a variety of texts for main ideas, supporting details and author’s purpose.
  • Vocabulary development and word study including understanding word roots, prefixes and suffixes.

By the end of sixth grade, writing proficiency looks like:

  • Proficiency in writing across different genres including narrative, expository, persuasive and descriptive writing, including the use of figurative language.
  • Application of the writing process including prewriting, drafting, revising, editing and publishing.
  • Mastery of grammar and mechanics including sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization and usage conventions.

Check out Learnfully’s suggested summer reading list: Middle Schoolers.


Sixth-grade science curriculum introduces students to fundamental concepts and principles across different branches of science. At this age, teachers still heavily rely on experiential learning through science experiments and projects but content will grow more complex.

By the end of sixth grade science proficiency looks like:

  • Understanding of fundamental scientific principles across various branches of science including life science, physical science and earth science.
  • Familiarity with key scientific concepts such as cells and cellular processes, properties of matter, energy and Earth’s systems.
  • Application of the scientific process including observation, experimentation, data collection and analysis of a set of data.

Social Studies (History and Geography)

Social studies instruction in sixth grade often explores historical events, geographical regions and cultural developments from various perspectives.

By the end of sixth grade proficiency in social studies looks like:

  • Knowledge of historical events, geographical regions, and cultural developments from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages.
  • Understanding of ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome and their contributions to human history.
  • Proficiency in map skills including reading and interpreting maps, understanding geographical features and identifying regions and territories.


Depending on school districts, sixth graders may have opportunities to explore elective courses in areas of interest beyond the core academic subjects. Elective options may include foreign languages, music, art, technology, physical education or other specialized courses designed to provide students with a well-rounded educational experience.

Additional areas of concentration in 6th grade:

middle school boy with list of additional middle school topics covered

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving:

  • Development of critical thinking skills to analyze information, draw conclusions and evaluate arguments and evidence.
  • Ability to solve complex problems using logical reasoning, mathematical operations and scientific methods.
  • Application of creativity and innovation to generate ideas, explore solutions and address real-world challenges.

Communication and Collaboration:

  • Effective communication skills for expressing ideas, opinions and information orally and in writing.
  • Collaboration skills to work cooperatively with peers, contribute to group discussions and participate in team projects and activities.
  • Respectful and empathetic communication in diverse social contexts, demonstrating understanding and appreciation for different perspectives and cultures.

Digital Literacy and Technology Skills:

  • Proficiency in using digital tools and technologies for research, learning, communication and creativity.
  • Understanding of internet safety, digital citizenship and responsible use of technology resources.
  • Ability to evaluate the credibility and reliability of online sources and information.

Personal and Social Development:

  • Development of self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making skills.
  • Respect for diversity, empathy, and understanding of social justice issues.
  • Demonstration of integrity, honesty, and ethical behavior in personal and social interactions.

Study Skills and Learning Strategies:

  • Utilization of effective study skills, time management techniques, and organizational strategies to manage homework assignments and meet academic responsibilities.
  • Application of metacognitive strategies such as goal setting, monitoring progress and reflecting on learning experiences to enhance academic achievement and personal growth.

By the end of sixth grade, students should have developed a strong foundation of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will prepare them for success in middle school and beyond, laying the groundwork for lifelong learning and personal fulfillment.

Other posts in this series:

What to Expect in Third Grade
What to Expect in Fourth Grade
What to Expect in Fifth Grade

Sign up for our summer enrichment programs, only a few spots left!
Sign up for Learnfully summer enrichment programs now for earlybird pricing. Spots fill fast!