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!