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Bare Minimum Middle School....

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#1 WendyAndMilo


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Posted 12 October 2017 - 02:04 PM

What is the bare minimum of work you'd consider acceptable for middle school in order to be decently prepared for a good high school education?  Not only subjects, but skills and whatnot.


Does the amount/depth of work directly correspond to the amount/depth of work you want to have during high school?


Is middle school an appropriate time to go a little lighter or should that have been done in elementary?


Just thinking about things today...

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#2 OrganicJen


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Posted 12 October 2017 - 02:19 PM

Honestly when I read The Well Trained Mind I feel like following those middle school recommendations are approximately the minimum. However, for a special needs child or in other special circumstances I'm sure less could be appropriate. This is just my own personal educational philosophy though and I certainly don't think others who feel more or less is the minimum are in any way wrong.
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#3 Lori D.

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 03:01 PM

Disclaimer: YMMV a LOT, depending on your student. An advanced/accelerated student would be far beyond the following; a struggling student or one with LDs or delays should not be expected to be at these levels, but should progress at the student's pace and ability. With that said, the following is JMO for students in the average range -- and tweak as needed/desired for YOUR individual student(s). :)



What is the bare minimum of work you'd consider acceptable for middle school in order to be decently prepared for a good high school education?  Not only subjects, but skills and whatnot.


As with the elementary grades, in middle school, the bare minimum in academics is proficiency in reading, writing/grammar, and math -- the core subjects. So, by the end of 8th grade:


- ability to read with comprehension works at a young adult level and beginning "classics" level

- ability to remember what has been read, and very beginning analysis (look/think deeper than just plot; make connections, predict, have opinions about themes and big concepts, etc.)

- write complete sentences and complete paragraphs, and moving into or towards multi-paragraph short essays

- understanding of grammar in the context of support for correct speaking and writing

- solid in foundational math skills up through Pre-Algebra topics


Content subjects, such as science, history, geography, foreign language, logic/critical thinking, the arts, etc., can be spread on top like frosting as you have the time and ability. I would assume that a middle school student would be getting at least some small weekly doses of science, history, and geography. And at least exposure to arts in the form of creative expression and appreciation in at least one area of interest to the student (music, theater, film, photography, drawing/painting, textiles, woodworking, jewelry-making, etc.).


Skills that would be helpful to have by the end of middle school (but not a requirement, if your student just isn't there yet):

- touch typing (keyboarding)

- basic computer literacy (can use a word processing program, can email, basic internet search/internet safety)

- beginning study skills

- beginning logic/critical thinking

- beginning public speaking or oral presentations


I would also suggest starting to work on some non-academic skills throughout middle school/high school -- Christine Fields' book of Life Skills for Kids has GREAT suggestions for over a dozen areas, and then provides ideas for implementing at the elementary, middle school, and high school ages. A few ideas off the top of my head:

- basic cleaning/maintenance of rooms of the house

- beginning food shopping, food prep

- beginning money management

- health, nutrition, physical exercise

- mental health, relationships

- volunteering/community service

- developing family traditions and taking time to celebrate

- religious and spiritual -- personal "ownership" and development



Is middle school an appropriate time to go a little lighter or should that have been done in elementary?


This will totally depend on the student's interests/abilities and the parent's goals. I personally saw middle school overall as the time for:

1. getting solid in the foundations

2. starting to move forward into high school level work, if appropriate for the student

3. last window of opportunity to explore bunny trails of interest in depth (as high school has so many requirements if planning on keeping as many future doors open as possible by providing a college prep high school set of credits)



Just my few thoughts to start you off. :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D., 12 October 2017 - 09:41 PM.

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#4 Plum Crazy

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 03:47 PM

May I refer you to Nan in Mass' To all you people with 8th graders (or thereabouts)?


Give extra time to allow for brain fog. 

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#5 MinivanMom


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Posted 13 October 2017 - 01:11 PM

If you are talking about where you want an average student to be by 8th grade, I would consider the bare minimum to be:

-Mastery of arithmetic and pre-algebra.

-The ability to read and comprehend young adult novels.

-The ability to answer questions in complete sentences with primarily correct spelling and grammar.

-The ability to write a coherent paragraph.

-Basic computer literacy including touch-typing.


To be prepared for a good high school education, I also want my own student to have:


-The ability to read and comprehend easier classics.

-The ability to write a standard research paper and literary essay (but it's absolutely okay if they still need some support in breaking the process down into steps or doing proper citations).

-Prior exposure to biology, physical science, and world history.

-The ability to take notes from a lecture, outline a textbook chapter, and generally create & use study aids like flash cards.

-The ability to seek out and use resources to find needed information (including asking adults for assistance when needed).

-The ability to use a planner or calendar to keep track of assignments and due dates.

-The stamina to work for 4 hours straight with only short breaks (10 min or less). Not that they need to do this all the time or that it's ideal, but I have wanted my 8th graders to have the capacity to do this when necessary (imagine an SAT or ACT testing situation or a standard morning of classes at a co-op or CC or a b&m school).


I don't think the amount of work or depth done in middle school needs to directly correspond to the amount expected in high school, but it should be moving in that direction. I imagine it like a stepping stone. I would not go lighter in middle school unless there was a compelling reason to do so (granny's dying, cancer treatments, severe depression or anxiety,etc). I was very, very light with my little ones, especially compared to some on these boards, but middle school was the time we stepped it up quite a bit. We also took the time to work on extra things like foreign language, logic, and public speaking, but I don't think it's absolutely necessary to cover those in middle school. There's a lot of time between 8th grade and high school graduation.

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#6 birchbark


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Posted Yesterday, 10:28 PM

-The 3R's 

Math: rock-solid arithmetic and working with fractions. Don't worry about moving into algebra until these are down.

Reading: wide variety, decent amounts, and introducing some classic literature.

Writing: ability to write a basic essay with organized thought and good mechanics.


-Ability to use a basic planner and manage schooltime


-Typing and basic computer use


This is what I'd consider bare but good minimum. I also recommend doing a bit of interest-led learning in middle school. It gets a lot harder to do it in high school.



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