The middle school years, 6th-8th grades, are an exciting time of change and increasing maturity. Kids still enjoy the fun and exploration of the elementary years as they start moving toward the more serious, preparing-for-adulthood high school years. Make the most of this time with these ten do’s and don’ts of homeschooling middle school.
5 Do’s of Homeschooling Middle School
Do use middle school as a transition to high school.
Middle school is an ideal time to start transitioning to high school in regards to expectations of independence, maturity, and quality of work. Parents will begin moving away from more teacher-intensive days and kids will start working more independently. It’s reasonable for you to expect more detail in their written work, research, and science labs.
Do use the middle school years to begin to practice for high school.
Use 8th grade as a practice year for high school (for you and your student). It’s an excellent time to begin tracking grades (if you weren’t already), figuring out plans for high school, and learning how to keep a transcript. Shore up weak areas (such as writing skills or speed with multiplication fact recall) so that your student is prepared to work on his own.
Do move toward greater independence.
Middle school is the prime time to start handing over the educational reins to your child. Teach your student how to schedule her own week and maintain a planner. Teach him study skills (because they don’t come naturally to most of us). Help your kids learn how to break down long-term assignments into manageable chunks, each with their own deadline.
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 takes. Encourage your student to pursue his interests. School is more fun when you get credit for doing the stuff you love. Start including more life skills training and home ec in your daily routine.
Do begin to let your student 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. Let your kids make the not-life-altering decisions while they’ve still got you to guide them through the consequences of poor choices.
5 Don’ts of Homeschooling Middle School
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 they’re doing and understanding all the work. (Ask me how I know to make those suggestions.)
Don’t forget that they’re still kids.
Don’t forget that your middle school students are still kids. They’re dealing with changing bodies and raging hormones. Increased expectations may stress them, 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 alongside them and coach them on dealing with stress, hormones, and looming deadlines. You don’t have to fix their problems, but help them brainstorm solutions.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t hesitate to come alongside your kids and coach them on dealing with stress, hormones, and looming deadlines. You don’t have to fix their problems for them, but help them brainstorm solutions.” quote=”Don’t hesitate to come alongside your kids and coach them on dealing with stress, hormones, and looming deadlines. You don’t have to fix their problems, but help them brainstorm solutions.”]
Don’t stop reading aloud.
There are so many benefits to reading aloud. Don’t stop just because your kids are getting older. Older kids mean that you choose read-alouds with more complex characters and storylines. In other words, you get to read more books that you will enjoy as much as they do!
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 still need plenty of opportunities for socializing with their friends.
Don’t quit planning field trips.
As our kids get older, we sometimes let too much of the fun stuff fall by the wayside in favor of more serious school. However, teens and tweens can benefit 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 transitional time 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?
updated from an article originally published on March 15, 2016
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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.