Many people view 8th grade as no different than the seven (plus Kindergarten) that came before it. However, I see 8th grade as a transition year for homeschooling parents and their kids.
And, 8th grade also makes the perfect prep year for high school, for parents and students.
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There are a variety of ways to go about using 8th grade as a high school prep year. Many of them come naturally such as using pre-algebra to prepare a student for high school level math. (Or getting a head-start on high school credits with Algebra I).
Other ways of using 8th grade to prep for high school require a little more thought. Try these 5 tips for using 8th grade as a high school prep year.
1. Start Planning for High School
Eighth grade is a good year for you and your teen to start planning out his high school years. If he already has specific colleges in mind, finding out their admission requirements can help you begin to craft a plan for high school.
If he hasn’t even thought about or isn’t planning to attend college, it’s helpful to find out what your state’s graduation requirements are. This gives you an idea of what local colleges or future employers may expect as far as knowledge and experience.
However, don’t get too caught up in following those guidelines. I really wish that I had tailored Brianna’s high school classes more to her interests instead of worrying about traditional high school courses. I lost sight of not following a broken model, which caused more frustration than necessary for her high school years.
One of the books that I enjoy for high school guidance is Lee Binz’s, The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships. I wish I’d paid more attention the first time to the chapter on delight directed learning and college.
Some things to consider when planning for high school are:
- Your child’s interests
- College admissions requirements
- Your child’s gifts and natural aptitudes
- Life skills your teen will need
2. Explore Curriculum
Use 8th grade to explore curriculum choices. This goes back to my guinea pig first child again. We lost some precious high school time using homeschool curriculum that was not a good fit for her. (In hindsight, I think we could have made it work with the right tweaks.)
When it’s possible, try middle school levels of the curriculum you’re considering for high school. For example, if you’re thinking about using Apologia for high school science, try their general science course in 8th grade.
Exploring curriculum in 8th grade gives you time before you’re counting high school credits to shop around for other options if it’s not a good fit.
3. Get a Head Start
There are many classes that students can complete in 8th grade and for credit on their high school transcript. Check around because some colleges or umbrella schools may limit the number of 8th-grade classes that you can count.
Being able to count those credit hours means that 8th grade can be a fantastic time for a motivated learner to get a head start on high school. It’s not uncommon for students to complete courses such as Algebra I or biology in 8th grade.
Conversely, 8th grade can also be a good time for a struggling learner, who may need more than a typical school year to complete some subjects, to get started early. This will allow him or her to progress through the course at a more manageable pace, without feeling rushed or behind.
4. Practice Keeping Transcripts
Eighth grade is when I like to start keeping transcripts for my kids. This allows me to get into practice keeping more meticulous records than I did for elementary and middle school. It also ensures that we don’t forget about any coursework that we may want to include on the student’s official high school transcript.
5. Shore up Weak Areas
Finally, 8th grade is a great time to shore up any weak areas before high school. Most kids have at least one or two areas that could use a bit of practice or improvement before high school. Whether your student needs practice writing clear, concise paragraphs, drilling multiplication facts, or improving spelling, 8th grade is a great time to invest in areas that will help him work more quickly and efficiently in high school.
Are you homeschooling a high school student? What tips would you add for those just embarking on the high school years?