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The older your student gets, the more vital subject selection is. Typically, in kindergarten and elementary school, students stay in the same group with their peers all day, with the exception of individual attention when required. As students progress through their education, say all the way to a PhD, class work becomes more and more independent and self-directed. Middle school is the first time your student is going to start making steps toward that kind of educational independence. Your student needs to start thinking of this time as a way to prepare for high school, particularly leading into US Grade 10 (or its international equivalent), because high school is vital in setting the stage for the perfect university application. This means that students can slowly start to set up for university success during their middle school years.
Here is how to best choose classes for your middle schooler in order to best prepare them for the college application process:
1) Ensure a Solid Foundation Across the Basics: First of all, it is important to ensure that your student’s course load is covering all the basics: science, history, physical education, English, and math. We know however that each school and each country orients their middle school curriculum differently. For example, the Russian curriculum splits up the sciences into physics and biology at the middle school level. while in the American curriculum middle school students take a “general science” class until grade 10. Either way at this age, getting a solid foundation across all the basic subjects is key, as it is still too early for students to begin to specialize.
2) Follow Your Heart and Good Things Will Follow: In middle school, electives become more varied than elementary school and some students get to pick a few of their classes. Depending on the size of a student’s school, everything from “Media and Current Events” to “Great Books on Video” and “Computer Science” will be offered. Typical choices at smaller schools may include Art, Band, Choir, Drama, and classes focusing on exploring technology. Choosing a foreign language is also a big step in middle school. The rule of thumb here is to follow a student’s natural interests and curiosity, and to be mindful of how willing and able they are to apply the skills learnt in each subject. If they dislike coding, then do not force them into it unless your school has a requirement for it! Exploring personal interests is something Crimson Rise Strategists do regularly with students; we know from experience that asking your child to choose a subject because they enjoy it is valuable. If your school does not have a class your child is especially keen to take, perhaps they would be interested in enrolling in an extracurricular activity or a class at the Crimson Global Academy! We offer a wide range of middle school friendly classes and activities. Check it out!
3) Be Mindful of Regional Trends: Be it studying a religion in depth due to attending a school with a faith-based curriculum (ie Catholic School), local requirements about studying a particular language (for example, in the United Arab Emirates, all students must study Arabic, even if it’s beginners Arabic for those new to the country), or your country being advanced in a particular area (Singapore is a world leader in mathematics!), pay careful attention to how local requirements could influence your child’s future. Is this a subject that you want your child to be involved in long-term? Is your child taking enough of this subject to graduate according to local laws? We strongly urge you to speak to your school’s counselor or leadership about this if you have any outstanding questions.
4) Get Ahead Where You Can, Especially in Math!: Some middle schools allow students who are high achievers to take classes with older students. The most renown example of this is grade 8 students in the USA curriculum taking grade 9 math, or Algebra I as it is commonly called. Getting ahead in middle school, especially grade 8, is a great step as it enables your child to be ahead in many classes as soon as they enter high school. If you set it up correctly, your child could even be taking some introductory university classes towards the end of high school – multiplying their chances of being selected by a great university and perhaps shaving a few dollars off the university tuition bill as well!
5) Catch Up Where It’s Crucial: If there are any subjects where your child is struggling to develop, now is the time to take action. Whether it is asking your teacher for extra practice papers, getting a tutor (Crimson offers 1-on-1 tutoring for all subjects!), or doing a summer program, make sure your child is performing to grade level standards or above across the board. In middle school, grades do not get reported to universities, but if the knowledge base and its application are found lacking, this could negatively impact academics in high school unless appropriate action is taken.
Overall, if you ensure the basics are covered, shine where you can, avoid falling behind, and choose subjects you are passionate about – chances are you’re choosing subjects the right way in middle school. At Crimson Rise, our strategists assist students in choosing academic pathways, exploring which subjects are best for the student’s particular situation, and advising them how to navigate these waters in a way that’s best for their chosen destination. Should this sound like advice you need, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with one of our Academic Advisors!
Your friendly neighbourhood Rise blogger,
Learn more about Crimson Rise’s strategic mentorship, academic support, and extracurricular coaching for young students, and request a free consultation on your child’s journey!