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5 Tips for Using 8th Grade as a High School Prep Year

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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.

5 Tips for Using 8th Grade as a High School Prep Year

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:

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.

5 Tips for Using 8th Grade as a High School Prep Year

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?

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Thank you for this post. I have been reading a lot of posts on this topic that are stressing me out! Creating transcripts, getting more intense and rigorous, etc. I read Lee Binz’s book, too and found it so helpful and insightful. I love the idea of using your child’s interests as “classes” or credits on transcripts.

  2. This is a good idea. Although I hope to skip some 8th grade subjects and put my daughter into High School classes. She was on track to do Algebra 1 (for 7th grade) and Geometry (8th grade) in public school. I held her off because I wanted to sure up her core math skills before she started algebra. When I moved her in the middle of 6th grade to private school, I’d taken her out of pre-algebra and into their 6th grade math. That’s when I found deficiencies I thought she needed to clear up before moving on.

  3. Perfect timing on this post! I was just saying on my blog recently that I felt like I needed to treat 8th grade a little differently to help prepare ME for high school. You confirmed a couple things I had already been thinking about, but also introduced some new information. This will be my first time homeschooling an 8th grader, so it helps to know what’s worked and didn’t work for those who have already been there.

  4. Thanks for writing this article, Kris! It’s just what I needed. We are doing 7th grade this year with my daughter, and we’re thinking of it as a prep year for 8th grade, which will be a prep year for high school. We’re doing catch up on weak or missed skills, fostering independence, and trying out curriculum too. Apologia Science is one that we’re investigating as a good fit also. I love Lee Binz’s material. I decided to start reading it early so I would have a better grasp of it when the time comes. I don’t want to find myself scrambling in August of her 9th grade year to try and figure it all out then. Thanks again!

  5. I came to homeschooling very late in the game. I started homeschooling my youngest when she started middle school. I have been doing a light homeschool schedule through the summer. My dd will be an official 8th grader this fall. Though she is already working on curriculum that is 8th & 9th grade material. I have been doing lots of reading on home schooling high school, this post has been so helpful. I want high school years to be fun, but cover the necessary curriculum. Thanks for such an informative post.

  6. I never really thought about 8th Grade being a prep to High School. I wish I would have, it may have made our 1st year into that next level go that much more smoothly. Anyways, I suppose my advice would be not to jump in blindly. High School is different then those Grades that came before it. If you don’t plan, time can be wasted, trying to find your way. The next thing I would suggest, is do not be too proud. I am not very good at Math, never have been. When my oldest began Algebra, I was lost. I wish I had just admitted my own short comings. It would have made figuring out a better solution to teaching him, so much easier on everyone. Now with my youngest starting Algebra, I am prepared to say, “I do not know how to teach Math!”. So, I am going to be using Time4Learning’s Algebra High school courses this year. Like you mention in your blog, a boxed curriculum is not always best. I have never felt like you have to use everything the same. For example, even though I am happy with the T4L Math, I plan on using our local co-op for Biology, etc.

    This is just my 2 cents ~ Deb 🙂

    1. there is also the website http://www.khanacademy.com that is what we are using right now. i have an account, along with my 49 year old husband and our two kids. it has math and science which are the main and then there is social subjects. what i like about it is that i started at Kindergarten yes kindergarten because there is so much i don’t know about “algebra” that i figured i might as well go back to the beginning and go from there. I’m at a 4th grade level now and OMG the things I’ve learned that were either forgotten or not taught to me at all. we will be using the website along with the time4learning and some books i have bought off amazon. i do like what someone said about stepping out of the box…..i am straight text books because thats how i learned but i love to try different things….i just dont want to mess up my sons education. he will be in 8th grade next year, there are some things from your article that i will be taking to heart in helping him get through what he has to….thanks 😀

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