Preparing Boys for Life

Sixth Grade

As boys begin their three-year journey through middle school, we create experiences that focus on the immediate needs of boys to help to prepare them for life.

In addition to our outstanding liberal arts program, we emphasize and teach lessons in leadership, character, organization, public speaking, and appropriate moral and social development.

Athletics start in sixth grade as a part of our daily schedule and boys are required to participate in one of the six sports offered each season. There is a special emphasis on organization, social responsibility, and public speaking in the first year of middle school.

6th grade middle school hawk mountain

Haverford Highlight: Hawk Mountain

Since 2001, the annual sixth grade trip to Hawk Mountain has provided not just an opportunity for our boys to observe migrating raptors, but for them to build relationships and test themselves physically during the five-mile hike. The experience brings the boys' study of the environment into focus, and fosters significant cooperation amongst the advisory groups.


This course reviews all operations with whole numbers, common fractions, decimal fractions and percents, while introducing the solving of linear equations. We also do some work in number theory (multiples, factors, primes, composites, powers, exponents, greatest common factors, least common multiples, etc.). The course also covers ratio and proportion, some geometry, and areas and volumes. All this is done along with problem-solving. In this course, understanding and problem-solving skills are emphasized.

Boys who do well in Sixth Grade Math and meet the requirements may qualify for Accelerated Algebra in Form I. Selection for Accelerated Algebra is based on grades, scores on math aptitude tests, and demonstrated problem solving ability to determine whether a student is fully prepared for the faster pace of an accelerated program.


Sixth grade Science provides fundamental skills and experiences essential for the exploration of science. We create a passion-driven classroom, empowering students to think critically, access and analyze information, creatively solve problems, work collaboratively, and communicate with clarity and impact. Project-based learning is integrated into the curriculum to provide students the opportunity to explore real world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge. The following are examples of topics covered during the year:

  • Scientific method
  • Design process
  • Modeling and designs
  • Electricity and electric circuits
  • Robotics
  • Aerodynamics
  • Astronomy
  • Ecology


The sixth grade Early American History course covers pre-history or Ice Age to the Compromise of 1850. The course uses a multi-cultural view to ensure the boys understand and challenge historical thought. We cover Native people, Columbus and European expansion, Colonial period, British colonies, Colonial and native warfare, American Revolution, Early Government, Constitution, After Washington, War of 1812, The American System, Jackson and Manifest Destiny, and the end of slavery with the Compromise of 1850 and the beginning of the Civil War.

Boys are encouraged to appreciate history, to understand our shared past, and to make connections to our present. They learn to summarize, analyze, and synthesize information from a variety of sources. Learning skills are also emphasized, including note taking, test taking, time management, organization, and presentation skills. Boys are assessed through quizzes, test, presentations, projects, homework, thought questions and cartoons.



The sixth grade English course aims to help boys to think logically, to read with delight and discernment, and to speak and write with clarity, confidence, and fluency. Students read and analyze texts together and write extensively in a workshop setting. In writing workshop, the boys write a wide variety of pieces, including essays, fiction, and poetry. Students learn vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage in the context of writing and reading instruction.

The boys also choose, memorize, and recite a poem to their classmates, honing the skills of memorization and performance while also learning to appreciate many different kinds of poetry. In addition to poetry, short stories, and nonfiction, students read The Breadwinner, Treasure Island, and one other novel. By the end of the sixth grade year in English, students will be confident public speakers, articulate discussants, and motivated writers who are comfortable with many different poetic forms and who are willing to express their opinions in class.


Sixth grade reading provides students with opportunities to continue developing and practicing close-reading skills, with an emphasis on the ability to make meaningful and personal connections with literature. We guide students to select appropriate, challenging reading material and to have multiple opportunities to collaborate with peers as readers. Sixth graders read one teacher-selected novel and multiple self-selected novels from a variety of genres and authors.

Modern & Classical Languages

In sixth grade, language students are exposed to the basic vocabulary and grammar of both Latin and Spanish, as well as to Hispanic and Ancient Roman history and culture. Students master the basics of the target language through reading and writing activities, and through verbal exchanges in the case of Spanish. Music, learning stations, and online resources are used to enhance students' learning and to foster an appreciation for language learning and cultural literacy. In March, students select what language they would like to pursue for the next two years, starting in the fall of their seventh grade year and throughout eighth grade.

Visual Arts


The sixth grade boys take part each year in an extended unit on drawing from life with an emphasis on direct observation. This unit includes an in depth study of contour, gesture, value, composition, and perspective.

2-D and 3-D

The sixth grade art class focuses on three dimensional design and sculpture. Students may work with clay, paper mache, plaster, wire, found objects and a variety of other materials throughout the course. A portion of the term is centered on observation. Preliminary drawings are made in order to understand how to design a three dimensional object. Many projects may relate to an academic subject such as the study of Native American History or poetry from English class. Understanding and implementing the sculptural processes is an important part of the art curriculum. Students are expected to learn and utilize concepts of structure, balance, shape and form to name a few, while working in a creative environment that encourages them to explore and be a bit messy.

Design and Multimedia

Sixth grade boys will learn how multimedia expands on the concepts and techniques from traditional 2-D and 3-D media. Boys will learn the art of metaphor, sequence, and montage during video production. They will learn how to transfer hand drawn work into digitally modified graphic design pieces. The boys will also work with composition, lighting, and contrast during their work with photography.

Learn more about our esteemed Visual Arts Program >


Students will enhance their public speaking skills, learn the art of persuasion, and become more comfortable with being in front an audience by working on speeches, improvisation, and beginning acting skills.

Learn more about our thriving Theater Program >


The Haverford School uses the Kódaly approach to teach boys to read basic melodic and rhythmic notation through a rich variety of authentic folk music from America and around the world.

Building on the Lower School music program, 6th grade students learn musical literacy and artistry through active participation in music making. The boys explore a variety of Classical music genres through the study of musical form ranging from the symphonies of Beethoven and Haydn to Menotti’s opera for children, Amahl and the Night Visitors. Working with Garage Band, the boys learn the basics of multi-track recording by creating a podcast on a Classical composer.

In addition, all middle school boys are encouraged to join our performing ensembles: The Fantastic Fords Concert Band, The Haverford School Orchestra, Centennial Singers and Celebrantes.

Learn about our music programs >

Health & Physical Education

The primary goal of the Health and Physical Education curriculum is to provide the boys with the framework necessary to develop and maintain a fitness plan that they can utilize for a lifetime. Through the health portion of the curriculum the boys are introduced to the negative effects of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, conflict resolution, violence prevention and how to build healthy relationships. Through the physical education curriculum, we aim to provide the boys with a variety of lifetime sports and activities that will give the boys the sport skills necessary to establish a lifetime commitment to a healthy lifestyle. It is the department’s goal to improve students' physical fitness, overall well being, skill development and teamwork in a fun and learning environment.

  • Trimester Fitness Testing: mile run, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, resting heart rate, blood pressure and body composition
  • Gaelic Football
  • Hurling
  • Cricket
  • Rugby
  • Flag Football
  • Soccer
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Squash
  • Badminton
  • Volleyball
  • Weight Training
  • Swimming
  • Floor Hockey
  • Basketball
  • Climbing/Bouldering (also during split for double period for all indoor activities)
  • Frisbee Golf
  • Tennis
  • Softball/smashball
  • Lacrosse
  • Track and Field