Learning Guide: Seventh Grade
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Learning Guide: Seventh Grade

Welcome to junior high school! Be prepared for mood swings, defiance, and a growing interest in the opposite sex.

Portrait of a Seventh Grader

Seventh graders often think the world is against them: "She looked at me the wrong way; I'm going to cry." They behave better at school -- they can be cooperative in class, then go home and become very territorial. They are couch potatoes and not very adventurous. They don't know what to do with themselves but hate to go anywhere with the family, especially on vacation. Friendships are all-important.

Up until now, kids have been merely thinking of defying authority; now they are prepared to do it. Peer issues and a rapidly developing interest in the opposite sex occupy the minds of most seventh graders, who are struggling desperately to fit in. Girls still want to be in with the other girls, and boys with boys, but now the way to win acceptance may be to have a connection with a member of the opposite sex. Kids will try one mode of dress to make them look hip, only to get snickers and stares from classmates. The result is despair -- then suddenly the mood improves for no apparent reason. Expressions of individuality may show up in your teenager's choice of music: rock and rap music are increasingly popular with this age group, and the controversial, sometimes violent, sexual lyrics can be troubling to many parents.

What your child will learn

The biggest academic change for seventh graders is that in most junior high schools specialists teach virtually all subjects --math, science, language arts, and social sciences. (True some middle schools use team-teaching and integrated subjects.) Your child's day is more fragmented, but she can benefit from each teacher's intellectual best. The transition from being the oldest in a school to the youngest can be scary for those seventh graders who've had to switch into junior high or middle schools. Guidance counselors spend a lot of time resolving battles between groups of friends. A desire to define rules, and then seek to overthrow them, is common.

In the Classroom

Teachers will help students to...

  • Discuss plot and character development; recognize literature, legends, and myths; study biographies; identify points of view, biases, and purposes; develop note-taking techniques.
  • Use and identify references and sources of information for writing projects; use footnotes and create bibliographies.
  • Use scientific notation; factor numbers (60=2x2x3x5); find the least common multiple and the greatest common factor.
  • Calculate surface area and volume; work with metric system, converting within it; use points to define lines, rays, angles and planes.
  • Study life science; including preparation of, dry and wet-mount slides; describe logical relationships; discuss ecological ways in which organisms adapt to environmental changes.
  • Study American, state or ancient history and world geography.

6 Ways You Can Help

  1. Give your child a safe outlet for venting anger (a sports class, a journal, even a punching bag). Let her tell you which she prefers. If you can't talk to her when she is upset or you sense you're becoming too caught up in her troubles, help guide her to a special adult she can confide in -- a grandparent or other relative, church official, neighbor.
  2. If you feel comfortable with your neighborhood, this is the year to send your child off to the store by herself with a short list of groceries. Trust her to purchase what's needed and bring home correct change.
  3. Offer her the chance to take extracurricular classes to perfect a sport she likes or refine a musical, artistic or writing talent. For ideas check out your local YM- and YWCA, boys and girls clubs, public library, school, recreation department, church or synagogue.
  4. Encourage her to read by finding books on subjects she is interested in, material that is relevant to what is going on in her life. Make family night at the library a weekly event.
  5. Use humor whenever possible to relieve the family stress that is inevitable at this time. Laugh at yourself to help your child see that the rough times she may be going through won't last forever.
  6. Pay attention to the technology in your child's world: Surf the web together; ask her opinion about new electronic gadgets; participate in activities that help you understand school technology.

What the Experts Say

"The Internet, beepers, and other electronic devices have opened up a whole new area of experimentation for sixth and seventh graders. They can say things to others through Instant Messaging that they would never say in person. In these years, it's important that parents continue the values discussions that they began years ago." Kyle Pruitt, PhD, Yale Child Study Center