Over the past fifteen years, we’ve learned through our one-to-one work with students that setting up a solid foundation in seventh grade leads to big gains in eighth grade and high school. Preparing for seventh grade now will help your child get the most out of this pivotal year!
The most important thing seventh graders can do is build critical math and reading skills. Solidifying these skills will enable them to stretch themselves as learners, earn good grades, work independently, and perform well on high stakes tests.
Basics. Basics. Basics. You might assume that seventh graders can rattle off their times tables, find their way around a word problem, and recognize an answer that’s way off base. But that’s not the case for all students. Even those doing very well in math class often need to brush up on their foundational skills when preparing for seventh grade.
Confidence is key when it comes to math. Students who know their basics will be able to extend their math learning. This comfort will also help them learn from their mistakes and see the fun in “exploring” math. They’ll then be ready for advanced math classes by the time they start eighth or ninth grade.
You know what makes a good reader? Reading. Every day. Students who are “at home” with a variety of genres will have an easier time in all of their classes and on standardized tests. When preparing for seventh grade, it’s important to expose your child to short stories, novels, newspapers, and poetry. Reading short nonfiction passages is especially important since students don’t spend as much time learning how to glean information from them. Articles like those found on the Smithsonian Tween Tribune website will help students get the hang of that specific format.
To manage a higher volume of reading assignments, students must be able to read fluently, which means quickly, smoothly, and accurately. Good fluency helps with more than just timing; it also boosts comprehension. Again, daily reading will help with fluency, and high interest material is especially effective here. We’ve had great success with graphic novels!
Speaking of comprehension, it’s also not uncommon for children at this age to struggle with the questions that require them to make inferences, or read between the lines. Talking and writing about what they’ve read enables them to engage more deeply with a text. Bonus: all of this reading will build their vocabulary, another area of weakness we see all the time!
A few notes if your child will take high school entrance tests. Building their math and reading skills will support them at many points. Calculators are not allowed on most admissions tests. Students must trust their mental math and solve more complex problems by hand. In addition, the timing on admissions tests is tight. It’s not surprising that students who have never had trouble finishing a math or reading test run out of time on these. In order to answer the questions more quickly, students need to be fluent.
High school admissions gets more competitive every year, and we see that take a toll on both parents and children – yes, even in seventh grade! In the midst of a pandemic full of uncertainties, it will be very easy for anxiety to take hold. It’s important to recognize and validate the anxiety before taking steps to reduce it.
In our work with students, we talk through what they can and can’t control in situations that cause them anxiety. For the aspects they can control, we teach and practice strategies that give them ownership. Letting go of what they cannot change is often just as impactful as taking charge of what they can.
Preparing for seventh grade will solidify skills, build confidence, and reduce stress. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about how 1:1 tutoring can keep your child on track!