Seventh grade tends to be full of raging hormones and dizzying social dynamics. It’s also a year when schools expect students become more independent thinkers and learners. Much of the focus is on problem-solving and finding more than one way to do things.
To prepare for seventh grade, here are some of the skills students are expected to know by the end of sixth grade, according to the Common Core State Standards many states have started to implement.
Skills to Get Ready for Grade 7: English Language Arts and Literacy
To prepare for seventh grade, sixth graders read a variety of different types of material and express their understanding of it through discussion. In writing, they work on grammar, details and organizing their ideas. When they write, they use and analyze information from many different sources. Activities kids do to work on these skill areas include the following:
- Figure out the theme of something they read and support their answers with evidence from the text.
- Compare poems, stories and historical novels, explaining the plot of each and how the characters react to the action.
- Use a number of reading strategies to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words.
- Learn both the figurative and implied meaning of words and phrases.
- Identify specific claims or arguments in reading materials and decide how valid they are.
- Write arguments or opinion papers using clear reasoning and supportive facts.
- Write for longer periods of time for a number of different tasks, purposes and audiences.
- Participate in class discussions and do short research projects using many sources to answer a specific question.
Skills to Get Ready for Grade 7: Mathematics
By the end of sixth grade, students are expected to know how to multiply and divide multi-digit numbers and to start to work more in depth with fractions and decimals. They also work with more abstract and complicated math concepts such as rates and ratios.
Sixth graders start learning how to write and solve problems that have symbols along with numbers (10 + x = 25). By the time they begin seventh grade, students are expected to know how to do the following:
- Understand concepts of ratios and unit rates, and use the correct language to talk about them (such as the ratio of ears to noses in a class of kids is 2 to 1, because for every 2 ears there is 1 nose).
- Use multiplication and division concepts to divide fractions and multi-digit decimals.
- Understand that you can find positive and negative numbers on opposite sides of 0 on a number line. Know that the number 2, for example, is the same number of spaces to the right as ‒2 is to the left of 0.
- Use number pairs to find a point on a graph.
- Use the properties of operations to solve problems, including those of area and volume. (For example, know that 2 (5 + x) is the same as 10 + 2x.)
- Understand that solving a problem with a symbol is asking “what number does this symbol stand for to make the problem correct?” (In order for 2 + x = 10 to be right, x has to equal 8.)
- Understand that assigning different values to independent variables affects the value of dependent variables. (In the equation y = 3x – 2, the value of y depends on the value assigned to x.)
The concepts and activities students are expected to master by the end of sixth grade require good executive functioning skills. These are the skills we use to self-regulate and accomplish everyday goals. They help children plan, organize and make decisions.
Assignments in middle school also involve a strong understanding of math and good reading skills. If your child is having trouble with math or trouble with reading, it’s a good idea to speak with the teacher. Together you can come up with a plan to help your child.
You can work with your child on reading and math skills at home, too. Show him how to analyze what he’s reading. You might look at the newspaper together and find stories that are (or are not!) backed up with reliable facts and examples. Talk about ratios when cooking. Homemade salad dressing might contain 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar—the ratio doesn’t change whether you’re measuring the ingredients with a tablespoon or a teacup.