The middle school years, 6th-8th grades, are an exciting time of change and increasing maturity. These years retain the fun and exploration of the elementary years while beginning to move toward the more serious, preparing-for-adulthood learning of the high school years. Make the most of this time with these 10 do’s and don’ts of homeschooling middle school.
Do use middle school as a transition to high school. The middle school years are an ideal time to begin to transition to high school in regards to expectations of independence, maturity, and quality of work. This is when you’ll begin to move away from more teacher-intensive days and when you can begin to expect more detail in areas like written work, research, and science labs.
Do use the middle school years to begin to practice for high school. I’ve often said that I like to use 8th grade as practice year for high school. It’s an excellent time to begin tracking grades (if you weren’t already), figuring out plans (yours and your student’s) for high school, and learning how to keep a transcript.
Do move toward greater independence. Middle school is the prime opportunity to begin handing over the educational reins to your child. If you haven’t already, begin teaching her to schedule her own week and maintain a planner. Teach him study skills because they don’t come naturally to most of us.
Do begin to add student-choice electives. Part of handing over those educational reins means giving your tween or teen some say-so in the classes he or she takes. This is a good time to begin to encourage your student to pursue his interests and to start including more life skills training and home ec in your daily routine.
Do begin to let them make choices (and mistakes!). Sometimes it’s hard to allow your kids to make their own decisions, especially when you see all the things that could go wrong, but life is full of choices and their consequences. Allowing our kids to make decisions of the not-life-altering variety with the safety net of home and parents to guide them through the consequences of mistakes is necessary preparation for life after homeschool.
Don’t set your middle school student adrift. Moving toward independence doesn’t mean setting your kids adrift. They still need you to hold them accountable. Ask them to narrate the chapter from their reading assignment. Check the grade book on the computer-based math program to be sure that all the work is getting done and they’re understanding it. (Ask me how I know to make those suggestions.)
Don’t forget that they’re still kids. Through the transitional period, don’t forget that your middle school students are still kids. They’re dealing with changing bodies and raging hormones. They may feel stressed at the increased expectations, particularly when they are struggling in an area and aren’t quite sure how to deal with it. Remember that any kind of transition is often a “one step forward, two steps back” process. Don’t hesitate to come along side them and help them learn to effectively deal with stress, hormones, and looming deadlines. You don’t have to fix their problems for them, but help them to brainstorm solutions.
Don’t stop reading aloud. There are far too many benefits to reading aloud to stop just because your kids are getting older. Older kids just mean more books that you will enjoy as much as they do, with more complex characters and storylines.
Don’t stop arranging play dates. Okay, you’re probably going to have to stop calling them play dates, but don’t stop planning social activities for your teens and tweens. They need plenty of opportunities to socialize with their friends. You can adapt lots of family activity ideas for a group of your teen’s friends, too.
Don’t quit planning field trips. Often, as kids get older, we let too much of the fun stuff fall to the wayside in favor of more serious school. However, teens and tweens can benefit just as much – and maybe more – from field trips as younger kids can. Brainstorm the best field trip ideas for teens, choose those that appeal to your family, and invite a few friends or just head out as a family.
Homeschooling middle school is an exciting time of transition for you and your child. Try these tips to make it a smooth transition, as well.
What tips would you add from your own experience?
images courtesy of depositphotos