Eighth grade deepens students’ focus on solving problems and becoming independent thinkers. Here are some of the main skills kids are expected to learn by the end of seventh grade, according to the Common Core State Standards many states have started to implement.
Skills to Get Ready for Grade 8: English Language Arts and Literacy
Seventh graders spend a lot of time working on using facts and quotes to back up written and spoken summaries of the things they read. They also add to their vocabulary as they read and write more nonfiction.
Students are expected to read more complex texts in eighth grade. For example, assignments include reading fiction such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, and nonfiction such as Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass.
Doing the following activities helps build language and literacy skills needed for eighth grade:
- Analyze how a writer added meaning (for example, though use of metaphor) and how the plot, characters and setting work together to tell the story.
- Look at how a writer uses different characters to show many points of view.
- Do short research projects by laying out questions to be answered and using many different sources of information to answer them.
- Participate in discussions on various topics by stating ideas clearly and building on other people’s ideas.
- Identify the speaker’s argument or claims in an essay or debate. Figure out the reasons and facts used to back them up.
- Figure out the meaning of new words by using context clues (from the other words and sentences that are around the new word).
- Write in different styles for different reasons and types of readers.
Skills to Get Ready for Grade 8: Mathematics
To be ready for eighth-grade math, seventh graders learn abstract math concepts. They use graphs and tables to solve problems that involve both positive and negative numbers. They also begin to learn more about geometry and proportional relationships and how they can use this knowledge in the real world. (Need to figure out the height of a tree by measuring the length of its shadow? Your seventh grader may be starting to learn how this works!)
Seventh graders do activities like these to prepare for eighth-grade math:
- Figure out whether numbers are proportionally related to each other (ratios and rates).
- Use tables, graphs and word problems to help calculate rates. (If you travel half a mile every 15 minutes, how far will you travel in 45 minutes?)
- Solve equations to find the value of a missing variable.
- Learn how to apply the “order of operations” to number sentences—adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing in the correct order.
- Solve equal expressions—number sentences in which both sides produce the same answer (2 + 4 = 3 + 3).
- Solve multi-step word problems that include whole numbers, fractions and percentages to find the circumference and area of objects.
- Understand that numbers can’t be divided by 0; know when positive and negative numbers together make 0.
The skills students learned in seventh grade aren’t easy, especially in math. Kids who have trouble with executive functioning or dyscalculia (math learning issues) may have some trouble keeping up with classmates this year. If your child seems to be struggling, consider speaking with the teacher about classroom accommodations that might help or ask whether a formal evaluation may be a good idea.
There are also techniques you can begin at home:
- Practice real-life math problems, such as figuring out how far you can travel at a certain speed in half an hour.
- Help your child figure out what new words mean by thinking about the sentences around the word.