Rigorous Requirements

Ready your child for the rich, complex new material middle school introduces.



Rigorous Requirements

At this point your child should be a comfortable reader, fluent writer, and skilled mathematician capable of working with whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and percentages. He should be able to work independently and collaboratively, conduct research, take notes, organize information, and synthesize what he learns with what he already knows. Such skills are essential for the demanding work that lies ahead. Teachers like to see children who can perform the following skills in the following areas:

Reading, Writing, and Communication

  • Read and discuss work from different literary genres, such as fiction, nonfiction, myths, poems, plays, and biographies  
  • Reflect on what has been learned through reading, and formulate ideas, opinions, and personal responses  
  • Write reports, summaries, descriptive and persuasive essays, stories, and poems  
  • Write clear and well-organized research papers, integrating a variety of information  
  • Submit final drafts with correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling  
  • Recognize sentence fragments and run-ons  
  • Give an oral report to the class  
  • Participate in group discussions  
  • Take notes, organize, summarize, and paraphrase ideas and details  
  • Use reference materials such as books, magazines, and electronic databases

Math and Science

  • Add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percentages; solve equations with one variable  
  • Write and solve equations for word problems  
  • Design experiments with controls and variables to support or refute a hypothesis  
  • Collect, record, analyze, and interpret scientific data

A Range of Abilities
Despite high expectations, the range of academic abilities is still broad in middle school. In math, for example, some 7th graders will still need practice dividing and multiplying fractions and decimals, while others will be ready for algebra. In writing, some 6th graders will be able to produce well-constructed essays and reports, while others will still be struggling with basic paragraph construction. Reading levels vary too, with some 6th graders reading at a 3rd-grade level, and others at an 8th-grade level.

To accommodate differences, many middle schools separate students into different level classes where those who struggle receive special instruction. Still, middle schoolers will have trouble keeping up if they:

  • read well below grade level  
  • have trouble constructing paragraphs and writing in complete sentences  
  • don't understand the relationship between fractions, decimals, and percents  
  • have not been able to master multiplication and long division  
  • don't know how to find information in textbooks and other reference materials

If you sense that your child is struggling, talk to his teacher, guidance counselor, or school principal about getting extra help. Find out, too, about ways you can work with your child at home to strengthen his skills and boost his confidence.

Language Arts
What to Expect by Grade
Age 13
Age 12
Age 11
Social Studies
Science and Technology
Learning and Cognitive Development
Language Arts
Middle School