Seventh Grade Homeschooling: Here Is The Real Deal

 

Most of my friends will tell you I am honest, probably to a fault.  I tend to say what I think, even if I put it in the nicest words possible.  (Sorry to my friends who have to put up with me!)    So, I have to be honest and tell you a few things about planning seventh grade.

 

It is disappointing.  It is challenging.  It can be frustrating.  It is not for the faint of heart.

Ha!  There it is!

So many of the resources and previous places that provided direction seems to “dry up” or it becomes incredibly vague as to “how” to do seventh grade.  There are only about three or four curriculum providers providing any direction at this level at all, whether that is articles, workshops, or full curriculum.  That may sound like enough to choose from and draw from, but I don’t think it is, to be honest.  None of them have completely resonated with me.  Each curriculum provider seems to provide different suggestions and ideas – which is wonderful in one sense, to see the possibilities – but also daunting in another sense, because it seems as if no matter what path you follow you may be “missing something”.  I understand all of education, whether school or at home, is going to have things we don’t learn –there are many things I didn’t learn even going through university twice in two very different plans of study!  I don’t believe there is an education that exists without gaps, but what I find disappointing is that threads that are started don’t always seem completed in seventh and eighth grade.  A strong start, but not a thought to how the scope and sequence will finish out in some of these home programs.    For example, in seventh grade, some put in almost no geography; or some put in one region of the world but not another region, some put in chemistry but not physics; all seem to put in physiology; none put in American History (not even the American curriculum providers!) and leave the entirety of American history for eighth grade which I think, at least for me as an American, is terrible.   And, some providers, when they start American history,  skip the pre -colonial times and pick up at Manifest Destiny into the Civil War.   Some put in astronomy whilst others did this in sixth grade, some put in separate blocks for geometry and algebra and some combine these subjects into one block.

Middle school is a lot to pull together, and yes, the oft -used phrase “Every homeschool will look very different in middle school” does apply  here, as it does to every grade.  But again, within that freedom, I think we need to find the developmentally appropriate form.  This is not only the capstone ending for the eight grades, but also a preliminary foundation for high school.  And, for many homeschoolers whose high school careers morph into community college and other things out into the world around age 16, the decisions in seventh and eighth grade could be important.

The one thing I did was go back to the AWNSA chart.  No, this is not to say homeschooling should look just like this, of course,  but to see past what a homeschool curriculum provider *thinks* would be feasible or  *could* be possible in the home or just what their own personal bias is and to then compare and see what is possibly done in a school (but maybe not because I don’t know as a class teacher can fit all this in either!) can be helpful, I think.  It helps you to know what you can do, what you can draw from, and to look for the reasons WHY these subjects are developmentally appropriate and then look at your own child and your own family.

 

According to the AWNSA chart, this is seventh grade:

History:  years 1400-1700 – The Age of Exploration and Discovery , The Reformation, The Renaissance, experience many biographies

Literature:  Arthurian legends, historical novels, biography, humorous stories,  tales of adventure and discovery, ballads, poems, stories about tribal life and scenes from the Renaissance

English and Grammar:  Review all grammar; Wish, Wonder, Surprise block; writing with ALL blocks having original writing and summaries, longer essays, comparison; research papers; include all forms of poetry; spelling up to twenty words a week and spelling rules

Foreign Languages:  Reading and conversation, grammar and “structurals” (the chart’s words, not mine), drills, classical languages, myths and poetry

Geography:  Africa and Europe; World Geography with tides, map reading, weather, geographical terminology leading into astronomy

Sciences: Chemistry:  combustion, chemical transformation, acids/bases, salts, lime cycle; Physiology:  the nine systems, nutrition, first aid; Physics:  light, magnetism, static and current electricity, mechanics; and Astronomy:   the study of the galaxy

Mathematics:  Business mathematics as a continuation of sixth grade; graphing; perimeter; roots; working with formulae (the chart’s words, not mine!); algebra, areas, powers;

Drawing:  exact geometrical drawing; two dimensional; to theorem of Pythagoras; areas of squares and triangles; perspective drawing; platonic solids; black and white drawing

Painting:  Wet and dry paper, transparent colors

Handwork:  Sewing and embroidery: hand puppets, slippers, etc.

Woodworking:  Use mallets, gouges, chisels to create totem pole, moveable toys, primitive bowls

Modeling:  The human hand, the human foot in clay, black fired pottery, raku pottery

Music:  Motets, madrigals, ballads, operas, Renaissance music, oratorios

Eurythmy – I am not going to go into detail here since we really cannot bring this at home

Physical Education:  exercises with contrasting heaviness and lightness, tumbling and free gymnastics, team game and sports, circus

 

Overwhelmed yet? Confused?  So was I!   I pondered, put blocks in, changed them, threw them out and changed them again.  I really wrestled.  More about how our plans ended up, at least in preliminary form, in a future post!

Blessings,
Carrie

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29 thoughts on “Seventh Grade Homeschooling: Here Is The Real Deal

  1. Thank-you so much for this. We are just trying to wrap up sixth grade here and then I will be jumping into my seventh grade planning. I’m usually on top of it by this point in the year, but seem to be lagging behind. I found that as I was preparing for sixth grade the resources really started to disappear, so thanks again for sharing what you are doing. I really appreciate it!

  2. This post is just… Perfect. I’m planning seventh grade today (had it planned, but a hard drive crash took it to Homeschooling Heaven, so I’m starting over, and double checking everything), and I agree, it is REALLY hard. There’s just not a lot out there for the upper grades. It scares me for high school.

    • Kristi,
      It is sad you lost your plans although your mention of “Homeschooling Heaven” cracked me up, to be honest! Keep striving!
      Love,
      Carrie

    • LOL Yeah, I cried, but I’m over it now. To be honest, I LOVE planning, so I’m not all that worried about that part. Now, everything else that was lost… ((sigh)) C’est la vie.

  3. Well Carrie,
    One thing your post brings to mind is that I need a bit more of an overview and personal philosophy about the big picture. Thanks for outlining 7th grade. I don’t know how I’m ever going to get there….I seem to keep repeating the same material over and over, and live in anxiety about topics getting ‘left out’, especially when real life takes over, and formal schooling gets shoved aside.

    • Carla — Never fear! We all are going through the journey, and you are not alone at all.
      Lots of love,
      Carrie

  4. Thank you, Carrie. I almost gave up on Waldorf- but with a little hand-holding, I think I can make it. My eldest is going into 7th this fall. My focus these last few weeks has been to welcome in a vision for a social/ community life for her with other homeschooled girls. Good plans are hatching. Also, my approach to teaching was feeling forced and dry sometimes. I neglected my own personal creative projects and I did not seek out much support. I need a new system! I am still reading a chapter of Mark Twain’s book on Joan of Arc (a chapter a day) to my daughter. I have a sweet feeling about this daily ritual. My very choleric other daughter will be an older 3rd grader. Help! I am open to success and joy with her- just not sure what that will look like right now. My girls have tended to poo-poo religion! (Thinking ahead to Old Testament Stories). Cheers,
    Anne, Washington State

    • Anne,
      You can make it! You can do this! And yes, I think there is a needed shift and change for seventh and eighth graders in the home. For your third grader, do not panic. I wouldn’t even refer to those as “old testament” stories but just stories of the Hebrew people. Hand pick the ones you think are right for her. I know Eugene Schwartz has a lot to say on this subject, and so does Melisa Nielsen, so you might want to try some of their podcasts and things regarding this subject. I also have back posts regarding third grade so you can check there.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  5. I love that you posted this! My son is starting seventh grade, and I am always discouraged at the lack of resources for middle and high school for a Waldorf-inspired home education. It seems the focus remains on fairies, playsilks, and wooden blocks on all the blogs. Looking forward to more of what you have to say on the subject.

  6. Carrie, thank you for posting about this. I am planning for 5th grade next, and I know how quickly the time passes and that it won’t be long before I too will be thinking about 7th grade. I’m also very aware that the number of resources drop dramatically after 6th. I too am struggling with “where to place the history of our home nation?” We are in New Zealand and it seems wrong somehow to not study the history of the land we live in until 8th grade! In my head I had always imagined it was covered as a block in 5th. In the same way local history comes after the local geography block of 4th, I thought it would come after the 5th grade geography block. I think I will do that anyway, but come back to it later in a different way.

    Having had to plan my local geography and history blocks with no help whatsoever from Waldorf curriculum providers (aside from a little guidance of what kinds of things I might research and include), that at least has given me some confidence that I can do this. But it is so very time consuming to start from scratch.

    I wish you well for your year, and look forward to reading about it. As you say, there is room for more curriculum providers at this end of the grades (and high school). Hopefully some homeschoolers will fill that gap.

    Blessings,
    Cathy

    • Cathy – If I was in New Zealand, I would totally bring that as a block in fifth – New Zealand and Australia, Tanzania, etc, and see how far you can get into Asia. I would bring Europe in Sixth Grade, Africa and the Middle East in Seventh and the Americas in Eighth and each year review what was done previously.
      Just thinking off the cuff, but that is my first gut reaction.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

    • Thank you, Carrie. I had thought I would try to tie history and geography together, it seems to make sense to me that way.

      Do you know about the Steiner Education Australia website? It does a great job of outlining the curriculum by subject and age, going into more detail than the AWSNA chart. Here is the link to the page with grade 7 subjects. You will be interested to note that in Australia, grade 7 is considered to be the first year of high school (and in addition, this is age 11 turning 12!). Hope it helps in some way:

      http://steinereducation.edu.au/curriculum/high-school

      Blessings,
      Cathy

    • Thank you Cathy! I didn’t know about that and can’t wait to check it out. It makes sense to me that seventh is a different animal than the other grades so far, so I find it interesting it is included as part of high school. I also think it is interesting it is age 11 going on 12, rather than the 12 turning 13 here.
      Can’t wait to sit down and look at this. Thank you so very much!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

    • Cathy,
      I just looked at that document..Actually, all the developmental references for the seventh grader refer to the 13 year old. Where were you seeing age 11 turning 12?
      Blessings,
      Carrie

    • Hi Carrie,
      Yes sorry for the confusion with my muddled thinking. The 11 turning 12 7th grader is in the state (mainstream) schools. I made the comment because my understanding is that many Steiner schools have had to make compromises with the curriculum to bring it into line with department of education regulations. This varies from state to state, but I’m not sure what impact this has had on this curriculum outline document.
      For example, my son has a spring birthday and when he attended the Waldorf school in Western Australia they did not take this into consideration when placing him. If we had remained there he would have been 13 for only 6 weeks of his 7th grade year. In a mainstream school that same year would be his second year of high school and he would be an 8th grader! Here in NZ, he would still be in the 6th grade because of his spring birthday.
      So you may find, particularly in math and language arts, discrepancies with some of the other curriculum outlines you have seen.
      Hope this clarifies things,
      Cathy

    • Oh, Cathy, thank you. That makes sense. And the mainstream thing sounds a bit crazy to me!
      Ha.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  7. A few things about this.

    1. Honesty is important. I always appreciate you.

    2. Having just completed 7th for the 3rd time, I still assert what I have said in the past and that is that 7th is totally a different ball game. There are changes that happen this year with both boys and girls that change how we approach them and I believe how we approach our planning and teaching.

    3. I talked to other moms that had done 7th and 8th before I began our guide and the consensus was to put American history in 8th so that all of European history can be covered. When I taught it the first time, I appreciated this space because there is a ton to get through with the Renaissance and Explorers. We spend a proper amount of time on it in 8th, probably more so than others because we are Americans.

    4. I tend to cover more geography when it naturally occurs in the Age of Exploration block. It naturally falls here as does a beginning exploration of the night sky as explorers used the night sky to navigate.

    I think interlacing these subjects is the only way to get it all in and not feel like your bum is more kicked than it needs to be.

    5. Chemistry is hard at home. I found it difficult to find some of the chemicals used in bulk in the schools. We did what we could and then I gladly let my boys do the rest in scouts. I still have that block to do with #3 and we will likely buy a kit for more in depth work.

    6. Physics is great to explore while studying da Vinci.

    The artistic elements are ones Mom needs to hone on her own. It can be a challenge but short of outside classes, this is the best way to tackle it.

    I will think of more :)

    • Thank you, Melisa! I had no idea you had a guide for seventh grade, for some reason I thought you stopped at sixth grade…..so perhaps other readers here didn’t know that either!
      So, folks, another resource to check out!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  8. Phew, we are a long way off 7th grade but this makes exhausting reading, Carrie. Thoughts are with you. However, I still struggle with the ‘getting it all done and not missing anything out’ line of thought. I keep reminding myself that in fact the whole of life is a learning journey and not everything has to be learnt, brought to the child etc by the age of 14 or 18 because we’re still learning in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s …. Also, do you think the threads which are started but don’t get finished are not finished because, frankly, getting all this covered is not going to leave a lot of room for blogging or other means of reporting back? There’s a lot going on in the head at this stage which can leave little mental energy for forming yet more words and sentences. It also takes an awful lot of persistance to see something through from start to finish over a long time period so I take my hat off to you for what you are achieving. I will await your next posts with interest.

    • HI Tania,
      I don’t mean in blogs, although there is a paucity of that too, but I mean in the curriculum themselves. Geography seems to be one area that is tough, science is tough because Waldorf Education does become science -heavy in the middle grades, but even things like math don’t seem to be well-thought out. So, here is to charting a new path!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  9. Hi Carrie, Thank-you for your post, I understand exactly what you mean, there is so much to cover and so many variations. I am also planning for 7th and am looking forward to your future posts. Thank you for all that you do.
    Lisa

    • Lisa – that is EXACTLY what I mean! Looking forward to keeping this dialogue going and I am encouraged that there have been responses to this post and there are more of us out there!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  10. Love this post! Like you, I use a combination of resources in planning our year, so I don’t rely on just one voice to guide our “blocks;” and it gets even trickier in the older grades with different curriculum writers suggesting that you study different things! (In reality, for me this has happened in younger grades, too.)

    My complaint with the AWSNA chart is the placement of geography blocks in the grades, that is why we are doing South American geography with our “explorers” block. We covered European geography in 6th grade as we studied Rome and the Middle Ages, we will cover the rest of the world in 8th grade. Like Melisa said, I think it feels more natural to cover a geographical area when you are studying history along with it. (Soul Economy?)

    My second complaint is also about American History! My daughter desperately wants to attend high school in 9th grade (I’m going to present other options…lol) and I think American history gets short shrift in the Kovacs books as it’s combined with Revolutions (Of course I haven’t seen Live-Ed’s materials.) I’m planning to cover it in a lot more depth beginning with our last block of 7th grade and throughout 8th grade.

    You are right, there is no way to make sure that an education has no “holes.” Even in Waldorf, where people insist that certain things are appropriate for certain ages, you get differing opinions (block crayon drawing, anyone?) I think there’s a point where we just have to take a deep breath and go with what feels right in guiding our child. For me this year, regardless of the blocks I have chosen, I am going to work on bringing out the sense of BEAUTY in everything. I can’t believe my oldest is almost out of that phase.

    Best,
    Rachel

  11. Thanks Cathy for that link to the Australian curriculum (I’m in NZ too). I’ve never seen that before. I wonder if the Steiner schools here follow that (with adjustments for NZ). I think I’ll print those off to read through properly.

    I feel that I should be doing Class 4 with my oldest son. But Enki recommended I keep him back and work him together with his youngest sister in Class 2, for parental sanity in not trying to run three children on three grades. (so I’m running a Class 1 child, and 2 children on Class 2) Now I’m feeling that I should have been moving ahead. Those middle grades cover a lot of material don’t they. What to miss out??? Hmmmm.

    • How old is your son, Carla? You can always run a hybrid kind of homeschooling year. After all, the stories in the curriculum can run age ranges…Just a thought. You could also do Old Testament stories, for example in the first semester of school and bring in Norse Myths last. I have a friend who is running her homeschooling experience like that because her children are about 18 months apart.
      Take what resonates with you.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  12. Thanks for that Carrie. Yes I’m really thinking through options (although we’re not on summer break yet… just midwinter still). My children are 6, 8.5 and 10. And the middle one is quite a ‘young’ 8 year old. So yes that 18 month gap can be tricky. I keep running scenarios through my head. We get a 2 week holiday break very soon. I’ll be sorting out the last half of my school year, and thinking through next year and what resources I will be ordering :)

  13. Pingback: Seventh Grade Homeschool Planning: The Real Deal 2 | The Parenting Passageway

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