The middle school years are so critical for a homeschool student. It’s easy to think of this as a transitional stage — because it is. Students are growing out of a purely knowledge-based education of memorizing facts and acquiring basic skills and beginning to think critically about their own education. They are examining and experimenting with how subjects all work together as one complete body of knowledge. It’s a shift in thinking from simply acquiring to understanding and connecting. It’s so exciting to see the middle school student gain the tools and insights he needs for deeper high school learning.
But a lot of learning goes on in these two or three middle school years, too! This isn’t just a road to the real stuff — there is a lot of meat here for the middle school student to sink his teeth into.
So, what exactly should a middle school student accomplish? Every student is unique, but here are some general guidelines for the average middle school student preparing for either basic or advanced (honors) studies in high school.
Academic Goals for Homeschool Middle School
Before beginning high school, most (not all) middle school students will study, practice, and master the following skills. Use these as a loose guideline to gauge your student’s progress and determine his readiness for high school studies.
If your child has completed a standard middle school curriculum with good grades, he should be well prepared for high school. Use this checklist as a general guideline to double-check his high school readiness and to anticipate any weak areas he may need to work on.
- Identifies his high school track as college preparatory, or vocational. Student should have a general idea of his post-secondary school plans.
- Identifies specific subjects and areas of strength and particular interest.
- Understands his own unique learning style and practices coping strategies to make the most of them.
- Practices with computer technology, especially email and word processing.
- Masters basic time-management and project-planning skills. Student should have the ability to concentrate on one task or project for nearly one hour.
- Possesses ability to collaborate or work as part of a team to achieve a common goal.
- Possesses ability to take notes on a lecture or assignment.
- Possesses ability to take criticism and is open to growing and changing through teaching.
- Masters the basic arithmetic functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division even when applied to large numbers, decimals, and fractions.
- Demonstrates fluency in measuring solids and liquids in both American and metric scales and accuracy in converting measurements to other units.
- Demonstrates familiarity with all kinds of graphs, including pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, and coordinate planes. Student should comfortably read and interpret graphs, create graphs using given data, and evaluate the appropriateness of individual graphing methods by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different graphing designs.
- Possesses a thorough understanding of positive and negative numbers and how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide them.
- Possesses a basic understanding of order of operations.
- Understands ratio story problems and can state the problem in both fractional and decimal number sentences, and understand the numeric solution’s application to the story.
- Understands of simple probability problems such as those related to flipping two coins or rolling two dice cubes.
- Calculates the perimeter, area, and volume of geometric shapes.
- Converts fractions to decimals and percentages, and vice versa.
- Measures angles, drawing angles, and calculating missing angles from a geometric figure.
- Solves for one or two inequalities.
- Begins Pre-algebra or even Algebra 1 studies.
- Demonstrates a clear understanding of sentence structure and how to fix fragments and run-on sentences. By the end of middle school, student should rarely if ever write a fragment or run-on sentence in any assignment.
- Identifies the subject and complete verb phrase of any sentence.
- Demonstrates familiarity with all the sentence parts of speech and fairly accurate in identifying the function of every word in a sentence.
- Consistently applies capitalization and punctuation rules, including commas.
- Demonstrates the ability to follow basic manuscript form prescribed by a teacher.
- Practices academic honesty. Student should be familiar with the difference between quoting and plagiarizing and be adept summarizing, quoting, and citing sources.
- Applies the writing process as it relates to research projects.
- Recognizes proper grammar, especially as it relates to subject/verb agreement, pronoun/antecedent agreement, and commonly misused words.
- Demonstrates an ability to take correction and a willingness to work on multiple edits.
- Recognizes the different genres of literature.
- Articulate the theme, setting, basic plot structure, and characterization of a work of fiction.
History and Social Studies
- Demonstrates familiarity with the course of world history from ancient through modern times, including a recognition of major ancient civilizations, famous names from history, major inventions, and significant events.
- Understands American history from colonial times to present, including the history of the state and region in which the student resides.
- Possesses a basic understanding of American government and economics and can contrast his own government and culture with that of another time or place he is studying.
- Communicates an appreciation for different aspects of culture past and present, including family structure, beliefs, education, society structure, occupations, and the arts and has ability to articulate how the values of a particular society are demonstrated in its culture.
- Demonstrates knowledge of world geography as well as the geography of regions studied. Student should be familiar with how geography affects the culture and history of a region.
- Understands the differing areas of scientific study (biology, geology, chemistry, etc.) and what each entails.
- Applies the scientific process to independent study and/or experiments.
- Understands differing theories of origins. Student should have the ability to articulate the basic differences between creationism and evolution and how each belief affects the scientist’s viewpoint.
Bible and Religion
- Possesses a familiarity with the canon of Scripture and all the major stories/events of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation.
- Understands of the basic doctrines of his faith/denomination as they apply to weekly worship and daily life.
- Possesses knowledge of a few other religions and understands of how they compare and contrast with his own.
- Appreciates a few major philosophies and how they impacted worldview throughout history.
- Understands how worldview, philosophy, or religion shapes the culture of a people.
- Articulates in basic terms how the arts reflect the state of a culture.
- Understands basic principles of how the visual and performing arts have changed over history.
- Appreciates of at least one area of the arts (drama, visual arts, or music) in detail, including its history, theory, and performance practices.
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