A Typical Course of Study can help you develop a strong plan for homeschooling Junior High School. It can define your purpose in what can feel like an academic no-man’s land! Students are no longer children but are definitely not yet the young adults they will be in high school.
Their bodies are changing rapidly, and they can’t keep up with themselves, preferring to sleep and eat over many other options. Some people want to skip the Jr. High years, pretending it’s all a bad dream. But these years, though challenging, can be rich academically and set the tone for future high school and adult success!
How Do Tests Help?
Jr. High is typically the time when undiagnosed learning disabilities or processing disorders come to the fore, and getting a good standardized test done now, as a benchmark of a student’s ability by grade level, can be really helpful. If you suspect a disability or processing disorder, check out resources such as our Advising. Help is available, though you may have to search for tools. SPED Advising (like ours at True North Homeschool Academy) can save you hours, thousands of dollars, and tears of frustration!
If your student is weak in any of the basics, such as English or Maths, you will want to shore those weaknesses up; particularly reading comprehension and speed and Math literacy, including being strong in the four math functions- addition and subtraction, multiplication, and division.
What to Focus on in Junior High
a typical course of study for Jr High School will focus on the Core 4 subjects and then add in Electives and Extra-curricular activities.
Jr. High is typically 7th and 8th grade. You’ll want to focus on the Core Four and build from there:
- English – make sure your student has the mechanics of writing down. Can they write simple sentences, a paragraph, and a three-paragraph paper on an assigned topic? Students should be able to write a clear, well-organized simple essay by the end of the 8th. They should understand basic grammar and spelling and build their vocabulary through more difficult reading.
- Math – Solidify their knowledge of math functions, particularly multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, and percentages. Students should begin moving into pre-Algebra/Algebra at the end of Jr High.
- Science – Students should have a basic foundation in nature studies. Jr. High Science will give them a broad overview of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, Earth & Space, Physical Science, and an introduction to Lab Reports. They should know the Scientific Method.
- History- students should have a broad sweeping overview of History, with details about the Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and the Modern World and an understanding of U.S. History. A basic timeline is a great idea. Be certain they have a basic understanding of Geography.
Electives and Extra-curriculars
Foreign Language: Jr. High is a great time to introduce a Foreign language if you haven’t already! Latin is a perfect language to start with. It will solidify English grammar basics, build English vocabulary (15000 English words are Latin derivatives), and give them a fun code to crack. Latin also has many moving parts, so it is a good critical thinking skill as your teen learns executive functioning skills. Spanish, Chinese, German, French, and Hebrew are also great ways to hone skills, and students can earn High School Credit while still in Jr. High!
Logic: Face it, most tweens live to argue and are not very good at it. Teach them logic and reveal that they’ll be able to recognize fallacies and form logical arguments. Good writers are good thinkers, which will hone their English skills; math is symbolic logic, which will hone their math skills. Informal Logic is a perfect study for developing tween brains.
Physical Education: ½ credit each year. Regular exercise will help regulate your teen’s emotions, energy to argue, and food intake. Check out our fun Dance at the Movies course, where students will gain skills, earn PE credits and learn to appreciate the beauty of dance.
Music: A general overview of music, including Music Theory, voice, or instrument lessons, will enrich their homeschool program (and their lives!).
Art/Humanities: Give them a general understanding of Form and Color, Photography, Photoshop, etc.
Bible/Apologetics: Students should have a solid overview of the Old and New Testaments and a foundation of Apologetics; an understanding of how to defend their faith.
Computer: Basic Computer Information Systems, Powerpoint, Video Editing, Internet Safety, and Accountability; I highly recommend parents read Glow Kids and make informed decisions about what their students can access via phones and the internet!
Health- This should include general hygiene and safety, including managing and handling their phones/ internet usage.
Electives for Jr High should be diverse and introduce students to various opportunities and challenges. In Jr. High, students are moving from experience to interest to strategy if their interest is something that they want to pursue and have a clear drive to invest in.
Community Service is a great way to get Tweens to think beyond themselves and understand and support others’ needs.
Books: Of course, reading great literature will expand your student’s horizons, build their vocabulary and help them empathize with others.
Want to know more about credits, transcripts, and standardized tests?
More Resources and Tools
Survive Homeschooling High School is a comprehensive eBook that will walk you through how to plan and prepare for High School. Or check out our Academic Advising– we offer Standard Advising, SPED Advising for nontraditional learners, and NCAA Advising for those looking to compete for an NCAA position.
It’s a great time to homeschool, and the options for Jr. High School Homeschooling are better than ever! Check out our live online dynamic, interactive classes taught within an international community by world-class teachers! Students interact and work together- we believe excellent education occurs within a community!
See also our article on a Typical Course of Study for High School.
I love working with parents of tweens and teens to develop a Personalized Learning Plan for their Jr and Sr High School years. High School should be a time when students are considering and exploring opportunities, being exposed to possibilities, and honing their work ethic, academic and skill sets. During this time they should begin career exploration.
For many parents, it can be overwhelming to think about covering all the basis for High school, let alone start thinking about what comes next. But, when I am working with families during Academic Advising sessions, I always start with where the students/parents think the young adult will end up after high school. Will they go to college, go to work, go to an apprenticeship, a ministry or the military?
Answers to these career exploration questions will help determine the course students should take during high school.
For instance, if a student or parent is relatively certain that their student wants to go military enlisted right out of high school, and the sooner, the better, I would advise them differently than if they wanted to go to a Military Academy. Their high school programs will look a lot different, even though a rigorous Physical Education program would be recommended for both.
If a student thinks they want to go into a Creative Field, like Writing or Movie Production, I will advise them to begin building their online presence as soon as possible, with either a blog or a YouTube channel, along with opportunities and classes that will develop their skills, along with their Transcript.
They are hired for their hard skills and fired for their soft skills
Of course, not every student is going to know what they want to do “when they grow up.” The reality is that many of them are probably going to be doing a LOT of different things as the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out. Most young adults should expect to have over 14 jobs during their vocational life-time. This statistic indicates that young adults need training in the soft skills of adaptability, flexibility, critical thinking, and so much more! Focusing on life skills such is always a good idea; if your kids are flexible, good communicators and know how to learn, they’ll go far regardless of what career field they go into!
For Career Exploration, think in terms of Career Clusters
With the changing world, and having to prepare our kids for jobs that may not even exist, focusing on career clusters, rather than a specific career, is a more logical way to approach career exploration. The following are Career Clusters, as defined by the Bureau of Labor:
- Agriculture, food, and natural resources
• Architecture and construction
• Arts, audio/video technology, and communications
• Business management and administration
• Education and training
• Government and public administration
• Health science
• Hospitality and tourism
• Human services
• Information technology
• Law, public safety, corrections, and security
• Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
• Transportation, distribution, and logistics
Do you still need more career exploration? Try clubs, camps, jobs, and internships!
Exposing young adults to clubs, camps, jobs, and internships might spark an interest that takes them in crazy directions. Both of our sons have done internships for our State’s Family Heritage Council in the State Capital during Legislative Sessions. While this hasn’t led directly to a job, per se, it has exposed them to policy-making, lobbying, connections around the state, allowed them to rub shoulders with men and women with an incredible work ethic and led to other internships and opportunities. These kinds of opportunities also give our kids the confidence to do the next big thing.
Still need more help?
What if your student can’t decide on what’s next? Check out our Academic Advising program, where you’ll get help not only creating a Personalized Learning Plan for High School, but suggestions and curriculum for career exploration and development. Our Survive Homeschooling High school E-book, is full of resources to kick start what’s next brainstorming. We also offer an Orienteering course which will allow the student to take responsibility for their career exploration with plenty of surveys, brainstorming, discussion, practical tips, and more!
Do you need junior high tips?
Junior High is looming and you are 1 part excited and 2 parts scared. Your delightful little is now a lanky, gawky and possibly awkward teen. But, never fear, this is a wonderfully, exciting time in a young person’s life to homeschool as they move from child to young adulthood! Today we have gathered 12 tips to focus on during those junior high years.
Junior High Tip #1 – Stress Management
The first tip is to teach your almost junior high kiddos some simple stress & anxiety management skills. These skills can include mindfulness, deep breathing and working out regularly. Working out can reduce normal tween drama and tension. Physically tired tweens are usually happier and more agreeable tweens!
Junior High Tip #2 – Schedule Success
Now is the time to teach your student some essential skills that enable success. Some of these skills include how to use a planner, how to take tests (check out our Performance Series test), and how to strategically skill build so that their hopes and dreams become reality.
Junior High Tip #3 – Study Skills
Study skills are an important part of junior high life. Skills like how to memorize, take notes, take a test, read a map and organize will yield results throughout your kiddos life. Reading independently and out loud together is a wonderful way to engage with each other and academic material.
Junior High Tip #4 – Strengthen Weaknesses
During junior high, it is important to strengthen weaknesses in any academic areas like reading, writing, spelling or math computation. Don’t overlook strengthening soft skills /executive functioning skills like manners, communication, teamwork, time and distraction management skills. Now is the time to identify processing disorders or learning disabilities and really hone in on strengthening overall academic skills and abilities.
Junior High Tip #5 – Successful Communication Skills
Students should have basic writing skills like how to write a solid sentence, paragraph and 3-paragraph report so that they can successfully move into a 5-paragraph essay. Students should be able to give short 2-3-minute presentations with the goal to move into longer speech or dramatic presentations and performances.
Junior High Tip #6 Foreign Languages and Travel
Junior High is the perfect time to learn about different cultures and people groups through foreign language studies and travel, which broadens one’s perspective on many levels. You can also check out the great live, online foreign language classes from True North Homeschool Academy.
Junior High Tip #7 – Extracurriculars
One great idea for junior high is to seek out extracurriculars that are of interest and also challenging. Many students by this age have developed interests in areas such as art, music or sports. Junior high is the perfect time to dive a bit deeper, enter contests and find mentors that will push them to the next level of engagement.
Junior High Tip #8 – Choose Challenging Courses
Jr. High kids should be engaged in areas of study that push them beyond their abilities, cause them to experience new things, grow and develop. Angela Duckworth, author of “Grit” suggests that kids should commit to Grit Goals regularly.
Junior High Tip #9 – Self Directed
Begin thinking ahead to what you want to do and focus on in high school and beyond, begin career exploration and even development. Kids should begin taking initiative and responsibility in Jr High – some will do so more naturally than others.
Junior High Tip #10 – Career Exploration
It’s never too early to start exploring career options. Find professionals for your junior high student to interview and shadow as they go about their workday. Offer career exploration classes that allow one’s scope to be broadened about the plethora of jobs available.
(Did you know that we offer self-paced career exploration courses at True North Homeschool Academy? Check them out here!)
Junior High Tip #11 – Service Hours
Now is the time for your junior high student to get involved in Community Service. This gives kids a great perspective, develops gratitude, and might even open up internships and job or career opportunities and possibilities.
Junior High Tip #12 – Navigating Technology
When you give your kid a cell phone make time to sit down and talk about the responsibilities, dangers, and opportunities that come with it. Put controls on the cell phone and make sure that you can track where your kids go for accountability. Talk to your kids about integrity and how they should be the same person online as they are in real life. It’s also a good time to teach your child how effective communication in the digital age.
Last and not least, have fun! Junior high can be serious business, but it’s a delightful time as you watch your kiddo move from dependent child to burgeoning adult. If you are looking for an amazing program for your Junior High student check out our courses at True North Homeschool Academy!