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Need help with curriculum for next year 7th and 8th grades

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I need any and all recommendations for all subjects for next year.  This was only our second year at home and my husband and I have decided we really need to step it up and get our kids more engaged and invested in their educations.  We do one part of the day that is sef directed, the rest is fairly structured.  I have been pulling together different curriculum and they are learning, but it's not rigorous enough.  Here are the kids I have, I am open to any suggestions but since I work outside the home too, we need some things to be independent (but not against online learning or videos, etc).


8th grade boy, mostly jumping into high school level courses (does not enjoy any arts, very STEM oriented):

math: will complete Algebra I this year via The Great Courses...geometry or Agebra II next?  He is a math kid and can learn anything math related

science: looking for robotics/mechanics/etc

language arts: spelling-I think we are done with spelling, he is a natural speller and doesn't need help often

writing: not his strong suit and not enjoyable for him, grammar and mechanics are great, he just doesn't enjoy anything about writing

geography: we worked on World geography this year with Mapping the World with Art, he hated the drawing after a while, I think he could do something more rigorous with world capitals and such.

history: We are at the Civil War now and just moving chronologically



7th grade girl, pretty much all 7th grade with some help with math (not very academic, loves arts and drama, etc):

math: we have been using CLE 500 (in 6th grade) we are ok conitnuing with CLE with her

science: I don't know, we have done chemistry and human anatomy

language arts: spelling: she needs help with this, we have been using Apples and Pears and she should finish up with it this year.  I'm not sure what to do next but I think she could still use a program

writing: she enjoys writing but we need a program for guidance.  Her writing structure and grammar need a lot of work

geography: she needs US geography states/capitals, etc

history: same as above, Civil War and moving chronologically



I am open to anything.  Just need some guidance and where to start for next year.  This year I felt so on top of choosing their curriculum and now I'm lost.  I just know I want it to be more rigorous and involved.  They are whizzing through their work within probably 2 hours a day.  I am glad they are getting through it and focusing on their work, but I still feel like it's not enough. 


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Have you asked them what they would like to study? What are they excited about (specifically--not just "science" or "art"), and how can you incorporate those passions into their other subjects? Do they have goals for high school or beyond? Middle school is definitely the time to start asking those questions if you haven't already. If you want them to be invested in their own learning, it really needs to come from them.


Once you have a sense of what excites them, do some research and give them choices. For example, if your son likes technology, he might enjoy IEW Rockets, Radar, and Robotics writing course (http://iew.com/shop/products/rockets-radar-robotics) . For your daughter, she might like an arts based geography course, or just cover geography within history. There are beautiful maps available--does she have one? How about a study on various artists throughout history; you can study where they were from as you go along.


Most middle school science is sort of meh until they have the necessary math under their belts. Can they do interest led science, or unit studies to keep it fresh? Crash Course has a great chemistry series, if they like learning from videos.


There are so many fantastic resources out there for every type of learner. I'd start with talking to them first, and working out from there. Middle school is fun--they should enjoy it! :)

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ds13, who is also STEM directed, is really enjoying Jurgensen Geometry via 'live' online class at Wilson Hill Academy.  I highly recommend this math course.  Not only does the teacher grade the proofs, which is no small thing, she is available to answer all his questions.  They meet twice per week for 90 minutes of interactive class time.  Jurgensen is a strong proof based Geometry text used by many prep schools and honors level geometry courses.  We looked at many other options before selecting WHA and are very glad we did.  This is a very complete program which ds13 does 99% independent.


For writing we've been relatively happy with WWS I & II.  They are challenging courses but definitely teach good skills.  We haven't taken any of their online writing classes through the WTMA, though some here have. 

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