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Middle school tutoring - find help for your 5th-8th-grader online

Middle school sets the stage for the college-focused academics of high school. From grades 5 through 8, many schools shift to a system of multiple classes in different academic disciplines, taught by different teachers. This academic transition and the emotional turbulence of puberty can add up to a challenging time for students. Tutoring resources help your child stay on track during these important years.

Mastering middle school: The grade 5-8 curriculum

Parents in the know about middle school requirements will be well-equipped to identify their child's needs and line up the necessary tutoring reinforcements. Academic standards vary by state, and some schools encourage students to surpass these minimum requirements. But you can get a general idea of learning standards in grades 5 through 8 from the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a state-led effort supported by the National Governors Association. As of August 2011, 44 states and the District of Columbia had formally adopted the Common Core State Standards. As an example, New York's Core Standards include:

English language

English literacy standards in grades 5 through 8 encompass skills in four key areas:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking and listening
  • Language, or standard English grammar and usage

Each grade has specific recommended texts and competency levels in each of these skill areas. For example, in grade 5 your child will write opinion pieces supported by logically-ordered reasoning. By the eighth grade, these essays are longer and incorporate higher-level analysis; students defend their claims with evidence and refute counter-arguments. A writing tutor can help your child with everything from grammar to learning how to craft an effective argument.


Science topics covered in grades 5 through 8, according to the New York State Curriculum Map, include:

  • Biology: Cells, animal biology, plants (grades 5-7), environmental and earth science (grade 6), genetics and human anatomy (grade 7)
  • Physics: Electricity, magnetism, sound, light, energy (grades 5-8) and astronomy (grade 6)
  • Chemistry (grade 8)

In addition, many states require computer training beginning in middle school. Science help can build a foundation in key physics and biology concepts, such as the theory of matter or cell mitosis.

Social science

At the middle school level, social studies learning standards include:

  • State history
  • U.S. history
  • World history
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • Civics and government

Grades 5 and 6 offer a broad foundation in social studies, spanning key topics in U.S. and world history, such as the Civil War and World War II. Grades 7 and 8 feature a closer look at world history, and introduce different disciplinary takes on social science, such as economics and political science.


Middle school grades cover key mathematics topics, including:

  • Fractions
  • The number system
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Measurement and data
  • Statistics and probability
  • Ratios and proportional relationships

Each grade builds on the previous year's math skills. For example, fifth graders begin with two-dimensional geometry, advancing to three-dimensional calculations like volume and surface area in grade 6 and 7. The Pythagorean Theorem enters in grade 8. Math tutoring can target a subject area, such as algebra, or a specific grade level.

Foreign language

Requirements vary widely by school district and state. Language immersion schools have raised the profile of foreign language education. By grade 5, it's likely that your student will participate in Spanish, French or Mandarin Chinese instruction. Language tutors commonly focus on help in Spanish, but you can find tutors in nearly any language.

The right middle school tutor

The right middle school tutor can help your child keep pace with the curriculum and achieve his or her potential in the classroom. To find a tutor that meets your student's unique needs, take the following steps:

1. Assess your child's learning needs. The curriculum above and at Common Core Standards can give you a general idea of the expectations at your child's grade level. Teachers and grades will also tell you in what areas your student could use tutoring help. At each grade level, your child will also take standardized tests to measure his or her progress in key areas, such as language, reading and mathematics.

2. Identify your child's learning style. Different tutoring methods work for different students. A hands-on learner will do best with face-to-face tutoring, while others may be best served with self-paced formats, such as online tutoring. If your student is more receptive to visual or auditory learning, choose a tutoring method that plays to that strength.

3. Seek a middle school tutor that fits your child's needs and your budget. Tutors may be high school students, college students or even teachers. High school and college students may cost less and could serve as a role model for your child, but professional tutors are trained instructors who understand how the middle school curriculum fits into the big picture of secondary school and college.

Finding tutoring resources

The right middle school tutor may be next door or online, a subject matter expert or a grade 5-8 generalist. Explore these resources to find the tutor that best fits your child's needs:

  • Your school. The No Child Left Behind Act provides for free tutoring in public schools with Title I programs. Free tutoring help focuses on reading and math. Schools that don't qualify for NCLB-subsidized tutoring may offer student volunteer tutoring, library tutoring hours or extra after-school help with a teacher.
  • Local organizations and colleges. Public libraries, local non-profits and colleges may offer free or low-cost tutoring in certain subject matter areas. For example, the Seattle Public Library offers the volunteer-run Homework Help program, with free tutors in math, science, English and social studies.
  • Military benefits. The Department of Defense sponsors online tutoring for military children in grades K-12.
  • Professional tutoring service. Tutoring services require more of an investment, but offer expert, pre-screened tutors and a structured learning environment. Choose from brick-and-mortar educational centers, as well as online tutors and web-based, self-directed tutoring help.
  • Online tutor finder. Schools.com features a TutorFinder tool to connect you with a local tutor or tutoring service. Search by subject, grade level and location.

A little online math help or a writing tutor can offer just the targeted instruction your child needs to realize his full potential. Tutors can help with specific subject matter, explain difficult concepts and model good study skills. If you and your child are serious about learning, explore all of your options, including our TutorFinder search tool.


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