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There are a number of ways in which middle school curriculum can be considered and chosen. A person who is homeschooling may be asking this question and looking for the best material to teach during this time (from grade 6-8, 7-8, or 7-9). Alternately, parents may want some guidance in helping a child entering middle school select the best courses, or they may want to select the best school based on curriculum.
In regard to the homeschooling parent, choosing middle school curriculum can be highly individualized. Middle school that are grades 7-8 typically covers English for both years, world history and the first half of US History, two science classes, physical education, and pre-algebra, possibly up to algebra if the student is advanced. If a parent plans on discontinuing homeschooling at the high school level, effort in these two grades should be on preparing the student for high school level work. At minimum students should be able to write a strong five-paragraph essay, should exhibit good reading comprehension skills, and should be ready to take algebra.
Whether or not a student will attend high school, with these goals in mind, there are many middle school curriculum choices that may help. Parents can work with a school district and while teaching kids at home, they follow the school district curriculum and use all the same materials. Alternately, they can find many guided lessons through homeschooling supply stores and sometimes for free online that can help fulfill these goals. Curriculum should include elective studies too, which can be variable. Students could take private music lessons or participate in a local youth band or orchestra, they could study a language, or they could take art lessons or participate in youth drama productions.
When parents ask questions about choosing middle school curriculum that revolve around how to help students select classes, it should be noted that selection may not be that wide. Most seventh graders are able to take one elective at most, though some schools offer a zero period PE class that allow seventh or eighth graders to take two electives. This is the first time most students have had any choice in the matter of what they study, and it’s generally advised that parents let their students choose an elective that is of individual interest. Most electives in 7th grade or 8th grade aren’t recorded on high school transcripts, and may not even count toward the study of certain things at the high school level, like foreign languages.
The most that parents may be able to advocate for in the middle school curriculum is degree of difficulty in study. Some schools have academic or advanced classes and then classes that are a step down from this. Parents need to consider a child’s past performance to determine what placement is right for their kids; 6th grade teachers usually make recommendations too. Parents may be able to override these recommendations if they feel another placement is more suitable.
Sometimes middle schools in the same area will offer different middle school curriculum, though this is not that common because states often set minimum standards. A private school might exceed these standards or pursue teaching in unique directions. In this case, parents could evaluate what is taught at each school and determine how adequately the curriculum would prepare students for high school. Parents may also have strong religious convictions that might draw them to a curriculum that eliminates certain teachings that take place in public school, and this may be a way to choose schools too.
Ultimately, the goal of middle school curriculum is high school preparation. Understanding this can help parents determine exactly what students should learn, either at home, in a public school or in a school in private setting. Best curriculum is that which will help students be ready for advanced treatment of material in high school.
@Scrbblchick -- You're brave. I wouldn't even try to homeschool my kids through middle school. The one advantage is you would get to escape so much of that middle school drama -- and what a relief that would be!
I was able to help my daughters choose their middle school courses, though, and even though they both had to take subjects like algebra, since they're both much more into writing and art, they were able to take more of those subjects, and as a result, were much happier. I also had them take Spanish all three years of middle school, and also in high school. A second language is a great course for anyone to take.
My daughter's extreme allergies meant I had to homeschool her for middle school -- grades six through eight. She was allergic to something in her school building. I used some of the school curriculum, so it would be consistent, but I didn't think it focused enough on grammar, so we worked a lot on items like diagramming sentences and knowing and identifying the parts of speech in a sentence. As a result, when she started to high school, she aced ninth grade English, just because she could write and knew how to construct a proper sentence.
I had to get my friend to get her through algebra. I had no idea how to do it, that's for sure!