We are discussing college preparation. We have already suggested that your curriculum should take into account the requirements of the college or career direction your home schooler plans to pursue after high school. Preparation is critical. We will now get specific, starting with junior high school:

Junior high (grades 7-8)
Make sure all the basics in Math, Reading, Writing, and study skills are mastered. If your child is behind in any of these basic skills, you should take the time in junior high to remedy the problem. You can do this within the definition of junior high without making the student think he or she is behind.

Generally, in traditional schools (and therefore traditional curriculum) for junior high there is very little new information presented. Seventh and Eighth grades are spent reviewing and practicing elementary skills, allowing time for the student to mature. Topics first encountered in elementary school are handled a little more deeply and students are asked to interact with the material a bit more (that is, more writing assignments, thinking through topics, etc.).

If the student has mastered their basics of the elementary grades, they can go on to high school work without skipping a beat. With this secret of junior high exposed you should feel free to pursue the following options: review basics with mastery as your goal, and/or go on and begin high school work (at a slower pace if necessary).

Every Child is Different
In our home school, we dealt with each child individually when it came to the timing of starting high school work. Jeremiah, Rebekah, and Katie began high school work directly after completing sixth grade. Jeremiah was strong in History and Language courses and took advanced courses in these areas early. Math was a bit more of a challenge for him and it took him more than two years to complete Algebra I. Since he started Algebra at twelve, he actually finished it at the same time as his contemporaries in traditional schools. Rebekah was the opposite - a whiz at math - and by sixteen she had completed four years worth of high school level math along with her other subjects. Katie is a diligent worker and highly self-motivated, so though she is three years younger than Jeremiah, she never likes to be behind her older siblings. She finished sixth grade a year early and high school before she was fifteen. The three of them took their first college course last year at our local community college at ages fourteen, sixteen, and seventeen, respectively.

Fourth and fifth in line are Josiah and Wesley. Josiah finished his sixth grade work at the normal age and though he also could have handled high school level academics, I knew he was not as motivated or as mature as his older siblings had been. We did not want to push him to the point of disliking his work, so we took a more relaxed route through junior high, working on his writing skills and keeping sharp in Math. He is the engineering type and has spent a good deal of time working on model rocketry and experimenting with machines. He will now be beginning high school work at the normal age of fourteen. Wesley began junior high (review) work last year after finishing sixth grade early, and will slowly begin high school work this year with Josiah.

Go With the Flow
It is not necessary for students to complete courses at a particular age. It is perfectly acceptable to record any high school level work on the high school transcript regardless of when it is completed. For instance, if French I is taken in seventh grade, record it as high school credit - it is a high school level course. It is also not necessary to complete the whole course in one year. As long as all of the required work is done, record the credits when they are completed.

In junior high you can also mix and match. For instance, if your child is a bit shaky in basic math skills, take time to work on that. However, the same child may be an avid reader and writer, allowing him/her to take high school level courses in literature or writing. The secret is to allow the child to work at his or her level of competence in each subject.