Skills Kids Need Going Into Eighth Grade

By Amanda Morin

At a Glance

  • In preparation for eighth grade, seventh graders focus on problem-solving skills.

  • In eighth grade, kids start to make sense of new words by looking at the words and sentences around them.

  • Eighth-grade math includes multi-step word problems that use whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and percentages all at once.

Eighth grade deepens students’ focus on solving problems and becoming independent thinkers. Your state’s academic standards outline the specific academic skills your child needs for eighth grade. Here are some of the main skills kids are expected to learn by the end of seventh grade in preparation for eighth grade.

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, students may read fiction and nonfiction materials that talk about the same issues and compare the two. By the end of eighth grade, students are expected to have mastered the following language and literacy skills:

  • Analyze how a writer added meaning (for example, through the 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

Learn more about how reading and writing skills develop at different ages. Find modern classics to encourage your child to read, and explore fun ways to help your child become more enthusiastic about writing. Download graphic organizers to help with writing, and learn how to help your child break a writing assignment into chunks.

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. For example, your child may learn to figure out the height of a tree by measuring the length of its shadow.

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 (e.g., 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

  • Learn that numbers can’t be divided by 0; know when positive and negative numbers together make 0

How to Help Your Rising Eighth Grader

The skills students learned in seventh grade aren’t easy, especially in math. Kids who have trouble with executive functioning may have some trouble keeping up with classmates this year.

You can help by working with your child on reading comprehension and math skills at home. Show your child how to analyze information by reading the news together and finding stories that are or aren’t backed up with reliable facts and sources. You can also sneak math practice into everyday life, using life skills like cooking or fun activities like board games.

If your child seems to be struggling, consider talking with the teacher about classroom supports that might help. You can also ask whether a formal evaluation may be a good idea.

Key Takeaways

  • Students are expected to read more complex fiction and nonfiction texts in eighth grade.

  • Learning about proportional relationships is a big part of getting ready for eighth-grade math.

  • If your child is struggling, you may want to talk to the teacher about your concerns.

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