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Going from homeschool to public school in 8th grade - share your best tips / advice


footballmom
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There's a possibility DS may go to public school this year for 8th grade.  He's never been to public school before but he is asking to go.  For a variety of reasons, we are really considering it.  Any tips or insights to make this transition successful / easier (for him and for us - gulp!)

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I don't have advice on transition, but have advice on planning academics.

 

I'd plan it like he was going to stay all the way through high school. Make sure his eighth grade schedule sets him up to take the classes you want him to take in high school. If you think your DS would be going for an AP certificate or IB diploma, eighth grade classes, particularly foreign language are important. After working with the eighth counselor check with the high school AP or IB coordinator.

 

You'd be surprised how many middle school counselors do not know the high school curriculum. When I was in 8th grade (late 70s) my counselor didn't know you had to finish algebra in middle school to be on a path toward calculus. She also didn't think math was necessary for girls. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, my neighbor was asking me about IB. Her dd wants to try for the IB diploma. The counselor to lol her she only needed three credits of foreign language and those credits didn't have to be in the same language. (you can do that if you take a placement exam that puts you at about the equivalent of four credits, but the counselor was saying Latin 1, Spanish 1 etc. That approach won't even get the advanced studies diploma that is a step below IB in our district).

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My middle dd went from homeschooling into PS beginning in 6th grade (local Middle School with grades 6-8).

My youngest dd has been in PS starting in K (going into 10th grade in a few weeks!)

 

For her it was a great experience, even at the middle-school level (it also saved our family life as she performed so much better for anyone who was not me!).  PS has also been great for my youngest... never would have worked for oldest dd though.

 

The hardest things were trivial-- but really important the first days:

 

1. Getting the locker unlocked!  The school provided lockers with set combinations.  Each locker had its own personality and it took a while to figure out just when to jiggle it so it would unlock!  Figuring out how to use the combination lock was a pain too-- I ended up going into the school after the 2nd day after school with her to practice!-- the next year we did this on the orientation night!

 

2.  Lunch  The lunch lines were insanely long and there was little/no communication about how to pay for it (cash was NOT accepted).  DD went hungry the first day, then took a lunch the next day while I figured out who to contact so I could put money in her lunch account.

 

3.  Pick-up and Drop off were a pain for ME to figure out-- the rules were 'understood' ... much easier to be one of the first to drop off and last to pick up!

 

4.  Keeping a notebook of assignments-- she would write assignments and due dates in a single notebook and also write them in the individual class notebook.  Learning to keep her work organized was tough at first- but she soon found that it saved her time in the long run!

 

5. How to use notebook paper!  Seriously-- all of the other students 'knew' where to put their names/dates and how many lines to skip where and when... I was (and still am) a stickler for formatting math problems-- but it took her a bit to figure out expectations especially in her English class.

 

6.  Tour the school WITH his schedule before the 1st day (insist on it)-- all of the other students will know that room 228 is next to the gym and not next to room 227! 

Edited by Jann in TX
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We did this. The biggest shock for ds was how tired he was! So we did early bedtimes, nutritious meals, and lots of grace. The education aspect was a big meh as far as I'm concerned, but I think the transition year had some benefits in terms of organiziation, friends, and study habits. He heads to 9th at a local charter high school in a few weeks.

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My son went last year for 8th grade. We had a few bumps in the first quarter with him getting used to the routine, but it ended really well.

 

I'm glad he went before 9th grade. Those bumps would have been bigger, I think.

 

I don't have much advice. In my experience with my kids and watching other hs'd kids go to PS, it will be smoother than you think.

 

 

Kelly

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By middle school all the kids are well versed in Microsoft applications (word, Excel). My kids knew Word, but not Excel and PowerPoint. They got up to speed quick though.

 

If your child is not organized work on structures for organizing assignments, timelines ect. Possibly set up daily check in, what's due, organize papers from the day, etc.

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My son is coming home from public school for 8th grade and beyond😊

 

My daughter is in public high school and loves it. My son liked bits and pieces of it but much prefers homeschooling.

 

When my kids started public school, I'd say these are some things they had to learn or should have learned...

 

How to use a lock for PE & their hall locker.

 

My daughter is great with time management & being organized - my son is terrible. This was a huge learning curve for him. We had to get a note book to write down assignments and a folder to keep his homework that needed turning in.

 

Taking notes from the board. Both of my kids had not experienced this & it took some getting used too. The teachers wrote very fast & were talking a lot... they both figured it out.. but it was a learning curve.

 

Titling your papers (name, date, class, teacher). Both of my kids caught on quickly to these expectations, but they both mentioned it to me ... so I figure it's worth passing along to you.

 

Gym / PE - you change in front of other kids. Both of my children got used to it but they thought it was totally weird, lol.

 

I think that's it.

 

Really your son will adapt very easily, so no worries. When my kids started public school I was really concerned that there would be gaps or that they would be behind in some areas. In truth, they were both ahead. The first day/week they will spend time going over the syllabus & expectations. They will ease into a full workload. Some teachers will be great and others will yell. If you're son isn't a talker and is respectful the teachers will absolutely love him. 😊

 

Oh. And eating breakfast became quite important for my kids! They needed it to get them through until lunch!

Edited by mytwomonkeys
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    Is he going to the local school? If so, time to make friends around the neighborhood.  Having one friend on the first day will really help.  Also, the kid already there can you the  feel for the school.  The students will be more impressed with your son if he just does the work, and not explains  how he already covered this, and how much more he knows .   You will know when the time is right to discuss acceleration.

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We went from homeschool to private school in 6th.  The things I thought would be a problem weren't, and the things that were problems weren't even on my radar.

 

-Putting your name on every paper in the right place (my son's grade in one class dropped from an A to a C for all the points taken off for not having the correct "header" on papers or correctly named files for computer stuff.  You would think he would learn, but nope).

 

-know basics of computer programs (word, excel spreadsheets, powerpoint, etc)

 

-keep a calendar/journal/special notebook where all assignments (homework, tests, quizzes, projects, reading checks, notebook checks, etc) are written down with due dates

 

-find a crash course study skills class online somewhere for him - I believe this to be essential

 

-if he doesn't know how, teach him how to take notes from a lecture and from his book - also essential

 

-for you as his mom:  be prepared for a lot of handwringing by school teachers/admin/principal for any little deficiency or quirk your son shows, and having it attributed to "homeschooling".  Do not expect any credit for the things your son excels in.

 

-for you:  my son told me nothing, NOTHING, about school or his day.  Getting information from him was virtually impossible.  It is very difficult for me to go from complete control over everything to having no clue.  Establish a routine very early on where you ask him about the day, what he has due, when tests are, etc. etc.  Make him show you his planner or calendar or whatever with all the due dates listed in it.  I had to befriend the mom of a girl in his classes to get any sort of information on this sort of thing (none of the boy moms knew what was going on, either).

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Just adding some to what you already said.  Thanks for taking the time to post all this.

 

 

My middle dd went from homeschooling into PS beginning in 6th grade (local Middle School with grades 6-8).

My youngest dd has been in PS starting in K (going into 10th grade in a few weeks!)

 

For her it was a great experience, even at the middle-school level (it also saved our family life as she performed so much better for anyone who was not me!).  PS has also been great for my youngest... never would have worked for oldest dd though.

 

The hardest things were trivial-- but really important the first days:

 

1. Getting the locker unlocked!  The school provided lockers with set combinations.  Each locker had its own personality and it took a while to figure out just when to jiggle it so it would unlock!  Figuring out how to use the combination lock was a pain too-- I ended up going into the school after the 2nd day after school with her to practice!-- the next year we did this on the orientation night!

 

My son got a locker but it isn't cool to use it apparently so he doesn't bother.  But they did show him how to use a locker and unlock it, in fact, during orientation, they demonstrated it and had each child try it out.  

 

2.  Lunch  The lunch lines were insanely long and there was little/no communication about how to pay for it (cash was NOT accepted).  DD went hungry the first day, then took a lunch the next day while I figured out who to contact so I could put money in her lunch account.

 

I gave the kids a choice of taking their lunches or buying.  By the end of the first month, they both opted to buy.  Although it was easier for me, it ended up costing more than I care to spend.  We will be doing it differently this year!

 

However, putting money in the account is quite easy for us, there is an app tied to a credit card account and I can just add it.  I should show the kids how to do it too so they don't end up without food any day.  But there is a $1.95 charge for each transaction, so I tend to put in $100 per time and let that feed them for a while.

 

 

3.  Pick-up and Drop off were a pain for ME to figure out-- the rules were 'understood' ... much easier to be one of the first to drop off and last to pick up!

 

True and worth asking about to parents you know already!  Although mine take the bus.  Well, younger does, oldest now drives himself.

 

4.  Keeping a notebook of assignments-- she would write assignments and due dates in a single notebook and also write them in the individual class notebook.  Learning to keep her work organized was tough at first- but she soon found that it saved her time in the long run!

 

Definitely!

 

5. How to use notebook paper!  Seriously-- all of the other students 'knew' where to put their names/dates and how many lines to skip where and when... I was (and still am) a stickler for formatting math problems-- but it took her a bit to figure out expectations especially in her English class.

 

6.  Tour the school WITH his schedule before the 1st day (insist on it)-- all of the other students will know that room 228 is next to the gym and not next to room 227! 

 

 

OP,  my son (youngest) started in 7th grade.  He will be an 8th grader this year.  He is LOVING it!  Really.   I hope your child has the same positive experience.  

 

My oldest never went to PS, but is now in public CC.  

 

Middle son started PS in 10th grade and will be a Senior this Fall.  

 

As far as transition, here is what my kids had the hardest time with:

 

1. having to go EVERY day!  They loved Co-op and felt they didn't get to see their friends enough, as it was only once per week.  But I don't think they anticipated feeling like every day was in fact EVERY day, and you can't just skip because you are tired!

 

2. Homework is due when the teacher says it is due, not whenever you feel like doing History because the English book you are reading is more interesting so you can focus on that first.

 

3. Tests!  I admit we were terrible with giving tests for HS.  They had to learn to study for them better and understand that if they missed something, they couldn't just look it up and learn it then and get credit for it.

 

They are still bad test takers!  I blame myself.  

 

 

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By middle school all the kids are well versed in Microsoft applications (word, Excel). My kids knew Word, but not Excel and PowerPoint. They got up to speed quick though.

 

Everything here is actually Google Docs. The cool thing is that the documents they work on at school are saved automatically and they can pull them up at home to work on them (no thumb drives). They learn how to do this at school--no need to prep in advance. My high schooler had to show me how to use Google Drive/Docs when I took a CC course this spring!

 

It's helpful to have a group you belong to in the public high school. We put older dd in PS band starting in 6th grade so that she would have a group when she hit high school--this kid does not do sports which provides a group for many kids. Band is also where the good peers are in my opinion! Youngest did band too but she also has soccer and track so she has several groups.

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It helps to have an ec. If you sign him up, sign him at the same time for whatever sport he plays that is a fall school.sport and with the nurse for the sports physical ( if your district offers middle school.sports). Cross country is no-cut, good place to start if he hasn't been doing community sports. Instant friends, and PE teachers appreciate.

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I don't have advice on transition, but have advice on planning academics.

 

I'd plan it like he was going to stay all the way through high school. Make sure his eighth grade schedule sets him up to take the classes you want him to take in high school. If you think your DS would be going for an AP certificate or IB diploma, eighth grade classes, particularly foreign language are important. After working with the eighth counselor check with the high school AP or IB coordinator.

 

You'd be surprised how many middle school counselors do not know the high school curriculum. When I was in 8th grade (late 70s) my counselor didn't know you had to finish algebra in middle school to be on a path toward calculus. She also didn't think math was necessary for girls. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, my neighbor was asking me about IB. Her dd wants to try for the IB diploma. The counselor to lol her she only needed three credits of foreign language and those credits didn't have to be in the same language. (you can do that if you take a placement exam that puts you at about the equivalent of four credits, but the counselor was saying Latin 1, Spanish 1 etc. That approach won't even get the advanced studies diploma that is a step below IB in our district).

 

This.  If a course selection list or program of studies is available please read it when selecting the classes that would be most appropriate for your child.  I know a few people who transferred children into middle school here from both home school and schools in  other states who by the end of the year were not pleased with the academic level of their child's classes.  In most cases they were unaware that different tracks and levels of classes were offered.  One parent I met moved here and was thrilled that when they marched into the guidance counselor's office the first day and requested "college prep" classes, that their request was honored.  What it took her almost an entire school year to figure out was that in this neck of the woods "college prep" are the general ed classes and a lower track.  If she had known that she would have requested  higher level classes.  it is also now much more difficult for her child to get into the honors and AP level classes in high school.  They are also not on the correct math track to reach AP Calc (or beyond)by senior year

 

I think things like locks and lunch lines most kids can quickly figure out.  Some middle schools have organizational programs designed to help students as they move towards high school.  They are not mandatory but they do help.  For example using specific color folders for specific subjects or using a daily planning agenda provided by the school.  

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Dd 15 went back to PS for 8th. Things were pretty rocky at times, but the year was excellent preparation for PS high school, where she really thrived this past year. One thing I didn't know was that "Common Core Math" was pre-algebra (taken by 25 percent of 8th graders) and "Compacted Math" was pre-a and algebra. Only Compacted tracked into 9th grade Geometry. Her school used google docs for everything, and had a detailed online assignment calendar with access for both student and parent to keep up on grades and what was due.

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I have been teaching at public high school for three years now.

 

These are things that I have seen as difficulties for my freshmen:

 

(1) Knowing how to open the lockers - This was primarily an issue for students who were in ps for the first time, but I had a decent number of students who needed specific coaching in how to open their lockers. Make sure they know their locker combinations (take a picture of it, also save it as a note).

 

(2) Lunch is really short - It is hard to buy lunch and still have time to eat. Even for teachers, it is a short time. We only had about 10 teachers who ate lunch in the science workroom and we had two microwaves, but we often didn't have time to finish lunch.

 

(3) Make sure they know where all of their classes are. - They should walk their class schedule to find out the best ways to get from one class to another and where the closest bathrooms are for each of the journeys.

 

(4) Many teachers offer a limited number of bathroom passes per grading period. - Many teachers will give out 3-5 bathroom passes to each student for the grading period. No pass, no bathroom break. Make sure your student understands how the bathroom passes work.

 

(5) Names need to be put on assignments AND on quizzes and tests. - Even in high school, I had many students turn in assignments with no name.

 

(6) Keep up with assignments. - Once you fall behind, it is hard to catch up again.

 

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Good stuff so far, and a couple more oddities:

 

Make sure he knows not to just get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of class.

Make sure he knows to treat the teachers and the stupid rules respectfully, no matter what.

Be aware that it has become quite common for kids to finish Algebra 1, and either a year of high school foreign language or high school biology or both in 8th grade.  Don't let him be tracked into the most easy, general classes, or the non-mathy science classes, or he might not be able to get into the right track in high school.

 

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Let me add one more thing:  make sure that your son understands that zeroes for work not turned in (because you "forget" or "can't find it in my backpack/locker/notebook" or "didn't know I had to print it at home" or "didn't know it was due at first bell instead of the beginning of class 6th period") will kill your average faster than he can imagine. 

 

This particular lesson took all of middle school to sink in.  My son went from low Bs/high Cs to straight As once this lesson took hold.  In 9th grade.  :glare:

 

Oh, and it is the same here as DawnM mentioned - lockers are definitely uncool for some reason.  My son carries every notebook, book, paper, etc in the backpack. We got to the point where we made him empty it out a few times a week because things (completed homework, apparently) were getting lost in there.

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This.  If a course selection list or program of studies is available please read it when selecting the classes that would be most appropriate for your child.  I know a few people who transferred children into middle school here from both home school and schools in  other states who by the end of the year were not pleased with the academic level of their child's classes.  In most cases they were unaware that different tracks and levels of classes were offered.  One parent I met moved here and was thrilled that when they marched into the guidance counselor's office the first day and requested "college prep" classes, that their request was honored.  What it took her almost an entire school year to figure out was that in this neck of the woods "college prep" are the general ed classes and a lower track.  If she had known that she would have requested  higher level classes.  it is also now much more difficult for her child to get into the honors and AP level classes in high school.  They are also not on the correct math track to reach AP Calc (or beyond)by senior year

 

I think things like locks and lunch lines most kids can quickly figure out.  Some middle schools have organizational programs designed to help students as they move towards high school.  They are not mandatory but they do help.  For example using specific color folders for specific subjects or using a daily planning agenda provided by the school.  

 

 

Not all schools allow this.   Ours says if you aren't in the Gifted and Talented section, as designated in Elem. School, you are too late to be in honors or advanced classes coming in as a 7th or 8th grader.

 

What I am really upset about right now is that my son got a 95% in Spanish and if you take Spanish 1 and 2 in middle school that counts as one year of language high school credit.  We were told they need a 96% in Spanish 1 to go to Spanish 2.  He only got a 95%, so they have put him in Mandarin for next year.  He still got an A and he was only 1 point off, they won't budge.

 

The principal said he is fine to take honors classes in high school, but isn't eligible in middle since he wasn't labeled in Elem (I think it is 4th grade) as G&T.  

 

He is not my math kid, so I am not pushing the math.  He got an A in the class but his test scores aren't very high for his end of year testing.  I shouldn't say they aren't high.  They are something like 466 and he needed a 500 to go to Algebra in 8th grade. They were good, they just weren't the super high school they required.

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Be aware that it has become quite common for kids to finish Algebra 1, and either a year of high school foreign language or high school biology or both in 8th grade.

In my state,all three of these courses get high school credit and are included in the high school gpa. A lot of people don't know that about foreign language, as all students are in FL while Algebra and Bio are just honors students. Its discouraging to see an F as your first high school transcript grade. And it if you get a D, they move you on to FL2, so you don't get to replace that grade. And its hard to get an A, because included gen ed classes waste a lot of time, so you have to study more on your own.

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Not all schools allow this.   Ours says if you aren't in the Gifted and Talented section, as designated in Elem. School, you are too late to be in honors or advanced classes coming in as a 7th or 8th grader.

 

What I am really upset about right now is that my son got a 95% in Spanish and if you take Spanish 1 and 2 in middle school that counts as one year of language high school credit.  We were told they need a 96% in Spanish 1 to go to Spanish 2.  He only got a 95%, so they have put him in Mandarin for next year.  He still got an A and he was only 1 point off, they won't budge.

 

The principal said he is fine to take honors classes in high school, but isn't eligible in middle since he wasn't labeled in Elem (I think it is 4th grade) as G&T.  

 

He is not my math kid, so I am not pushing the math.  He got an A in the class but his test scores aren't very high for his end of year testing.  I shouldn't say they aren't high.  They are something like 466 and he needed a 500 to go to Algebra in 8th grade. They were good, they just weren't the super high school they required.

 

 

I think your post definitely speaks to understanding the lingo and designations for the school system you are entering.  Here students can be designated G&T between 3rd and 6th grade but there are just a handful of students - maybe 5 or 6 per grade  They are given and IEP which allows for services like special programs or class skipping if needed.  Class skipping is very rare but occasionally you'll see a 10yo in high school calc.

 

We have had students move here from other states where there were "gifted" classes. Usually they are just what we would consider honors.  There are grade requirements and pre-requisites for certain high school classes but usually it is for entry into an honors version of a class, so for example in your son's case he wouldn't be allowed into honors Spanish 2 but he still would take Spanish 2.  Teacher discretion and recommendation is also a factor.  Your situation sounds crazy.  Also parent requests carry quite a bit of weight. If you insist that your child take a class usually they will accommodate within reason.

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