High School Prep: What should my 8th grader know? {Q&A}

What should I do to prepare my 8th grader for high school?

Image courtesy of hywards/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of hywards/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

High school – the words make most homeschool parents cringe! Why? I’m not sure. To me, it is the easiest time of homeschooling. Everything is clearly laid out for me.

I am no longer laying foundations. High school is a time of building and creating.

So, what to do to help your 8th grader get ready for building and creating?

Help Your Student Discover Why

I know…if you follow my blog or have been to my workshops, you’ve heard it a million times. “Know Your Why!”

8th grade is a perfect time to discuss your purpose for homeschooling. Take advantage of special moments to encourage your student in preparing for the future. A high school student needs to develop and own a personal Why.

I don’t know a student who isn’t inspired by the fact that they are working toward something. The algebra problem has a purpose, even if it is just to graduate! There is an end in sight….an achievable finish line.

So, start dreaming with your 8th grade students. Help them discover and see their strengths and how those strengths can translate in adulthood. Explore careers and lifestyles. Visit colleges and training schools.

Pray lots.  Pray for God to bring those dreams and purposes to life in your student’s heart.

In a previous post, I shared a video of a young man who was taught to find his Why. You might be inspired by his story. His mom found ways to inspire him. View this video for your own inspiration! 

Now is the time to dream big.  Shoot for the stars!

The Why leads to the next step….

Develop a High School Plan

Each year pick 10 of your favorite moments from each student.

  • Look at what is required for High School Graduation

Most schools and states have basic high school diploma requirements.  Look at these requirements together with your 8th grader.  Let them see what is really required of them.

Many high school diploma requirements include:  4 English credits, 4 math credits, 4 social studies credits, 4 science credits, and probably at least 1 physical education credit.  (To make it easy, just think of a credit as a year-long class right now.)  There are also some electives that may be required such as fine arts or foreign language.  Find out exactly what you HAVE to do to graduate with a diploma!

Don’t forget to discuss the value of a high school diploma versus a GED certificate.  Let them know that a GED has a negative stigma with employers and culture.  This may not seem fair, but it is important that a student understands how their choices can affect which doors open for them in the future.

  • Look at what is required for their dreams/goals

Some students will need to look at college entrance requirements in order to make sure their high school work is sufficient and thorough for college admittance.  Most college websites will give you a view of their standards for enrollment.

Some degrees require foreign language or advanced science courses in high school.  Your student will want to add those to the plan.  Without these courses, a student may not be admitted to that college or may have to take remedial college courses (more $$$) to pursue that goal.

If your student is looking at developing a trade, decide if there are extra classes that they need to take to prepare them for entry into an internship or a trade school.

  • Put it all together and reach for the stars!

After gathering all this information, make a plan based on the greatest dream/goal.  If they don’t shoot for the stars at the beginning, they may be disappointed or discouraged when they later decide to go for it.

The plan will probably change or adjust.  This is a roadmap for the high school journey. As your student goes on the journey, he will begin to see his strengths and goals come more into focus. He may realize that learning 3 different languages isn’t really what he wants or needs to do after all.

HSLDA offers a wonderful brochure with planning sheets and a helpful guide.  Best of all, it’s FREE!  Click here to download and print.

Our Story

My daughter entered high school with a dream to be in movies and go to the College of William and Mary.   We made our plan based on these dreams.  As we finish her Sophomore year, we are seeing her drama dreams mold into a beautiful ministry that God has put in her heart.

I was very against her dreaming about being in movies, but as I trusted God’s work in her heart and as I let go of my fears for her, I am seeing the plan bud and flower into a beautiful vision for the future.

Here is a beautiful verse that I keep posted on our schoolroom wall:

Let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us;  confirm and establish the work of our hands—yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it.  (Psalm 90:17 AMP)

Keep covering your student in prayer and encouragement.  There will be plenty of life lessons learned, and I have resolved that I want to go through the tough lessons now when I can be there to help them through it.  It’s OK to fail, as long as we learn and grow from the failure.

Start on Time Management NOW

I really did try.  I remember trying to encourage time management skills.  I guess the reality of time wasn’t really important before high school though.  In elementary/middle school, if we didn’t finish our grammar curriculum, we just picked up on it the next school year.  There was really no hard core deadlines.  High school brought on the deadlines.

I didn’t understand why we struggled in 9th grade to complete a school day or even finish a book.  I worked to help my daughter divide the book up into sections to read, so she could “eat the elephant” one bite at a time.  But, we would get to the deadline with hundreds of pages left. I had to go back to old discipline techniques of delaying fun things until important things were completed.  It was a struggle.

It did pay off though!  Now, my daughter understands the value of the baby steps and the process.  She knows that completing the small tasks allow her to find the joy in the journey.

So…if I could advise other moms of 8th graders, I would say to start setting deadlines.  Give your student a challenge and don’t sway from the due date.  Help them to learn the importance of staying steady with their studies.

  • Let them take at least one class with another teacher.
  • Go through a time management book together.
  • Get them a calendar and show them how to break up assignments to achieve a deadline.
  • Establish a weekly review time to catch any bad habits.
  • Set appropriate consequences for late submissions or poor time management.

Time management could be the greatest thing you ever teach your child!  When our time is focused on the right things, we are not easily distracted, and we actually complete tasks which lead to a completed goal.

There does need to be flexibility in life, but don’t let that keep you for teaching your child how to be ordered and purposeful.

High School Work in 8th Grade?

Some of you may be interested in earning high school credits in 8th grade.  If your child is ready for high school level work, then perhaps you don’t want to delay.

Now that we have officially entered and conquered a couple of years in high school, I wouldn’t advise it.  I would encourage 8th grade students to really make sure the basics of education (grammar and arithmetic) are extremely well mastered.  It will make high school a breeze!

Looking back I see that I pushed my daughter in math too quickly.  I wish we had just stayed steady through the repetition of arithmetic concepts of fractions, percents, and negative/positive signs.  I truly believe that if those concepts had been firmly mastered, then algebra would not have been such a struggle.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be in such a hurry?  There are other reasons to not jump ahead, but I’ll have to discuss that in another post, OK?

I hope you see that the high school journey is more defined and manageable than the elementary and middle school journeys.   It’s time to create and build something incredible! Have fun!

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Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

I am often asked questions like this. Instead of answering just one person at a time, I thought I would start a Q&A series here on my blog! If you have a question about homeschooling, managing a home, or even about life with twins (ok, almost any question), then email me! I love to help! If I don’t have the answer, then I’ll find it for you.