Are you intimidated by the thought of homeschooling middle school?
I’m here to assure you there is no need to be. When I started homeschooling sixteen years ago, I was very intimidated by homeschooling middle school and high school. I wasn’t sure I was qualified to teach those upper lever classes.
Now that my youngest is wrapping up the last of her middle school years, however, I’m here to share with you what I’ve learned over the years. Not only is homeschooling middle school doable, it can actually be fun. It’s just… different.
Homeschooling Middle School
You don’t have to teach them everything. The bottom line is that you can’t possibly teach your child everything they need to know from kindergarten through graduation. You can’t know everything. Stop expecting more of yourself than is possible.
Teach them how to learn. Because you can’t possibly teach them everything they need to learn, you have a big job ahead of you. You can and should teach them how to learn. Teach them how to take notes and how to study. Give them opportunities to practice taking tests – especially if they are college-bound. Teach them to use available resources to research and learn.
Give them the resources they need to learn. Kids who know how to learn, know where to find the information they’re seeking. You must provide them with the resources they need to do that.
Keep your shelves stocked with age-appropriate non-fiction resources – history and science encyclopedias, an atlas, biographies, Bible commentaries, etc. Provide them with a library card and frequent trips to the library. Give them access (according to your family rules) to the internet to research, watch documentaries, and read up on current events.
Teach them to discover what they don’t know. I know that sounds odd, but hear me out. What I’m suggesting is that you help your child look at a math problem or difficult subject and figure out what part of itt they aren’t understanding.
My daughter can look at a math problem and say I don’t understand that problem. However, that doesn’t help me help her. So, right now, we’re working on dissecting the problem to discover exactly what she doesn’t know. Which step in the problem is it that she doesn’t understand.
That goes for other subjects, as well. She’s not allowed to say “I don’t understand verbs.” That doesn’t tell me anything. However, telling me she doesn’t understand the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs is a specific thing that we can review. I can reteach that concept, if necessary. But, I can’t reteach “verbs” as a whole.
Encourage them to do the hard things. Sometimes, kids get frustrated with what they don’t know and want to give up. If it takes a little longer to grasp a concept that’s okay. The freedom of homeschooling means that we can slow down and dig deep.
We won’t move on just because she’s frustrated or wanting to give up on herself. I remind her that she is smart. She is a hard worker, and I encourage her to dig deep and work as hard on her math problems as she does on a new dance combo!
Know your own strengths and weaknesses. This is something I encourage every homeschool mom to do! Know your limits. I’m strong in math, and it’s a subject I enjoy teaching. If math is not your strong suit, you may need to look for a DVD based or online math program for your middle schooler.
Upper level grammar is not my strongest subject. I don’t remember learning transitive and intransitive verbs in school. So, I rely on a scripted grammar program.
Shakespeare is not something I have any desire to teach so two years ago, Em took a Shakespeare class at co-op. She could learn something I don’t enjoy teaching from someone who had a passion for it.
Look ahead to the future. If your middle schooler has plans to attend college, be sure that you are building a foundation that will prepare them for that step. My 8th grader plans to be a veterinarian so she will be heading off to college after high school.
It’s my job, in these middle school years, to lay the groundwork that will prepare her for that. I’m not just talking about academics, but that is a huge part of it.
During these years, we’ve got to teach responsibilities and life skills. We’ve got to help our teens pursue the things they’re passionate about and explore areas in which they may want to work some day. Start building a portfolio of extra-curricular activities and volunteer hours.
These are the years in which we must prepare our young teens for high school and beyond. This job definitely has its challenges, but the payoff is so very worth it. Keep the lines of communication open. Be your child’s advocate, mentor and biggest cheerleader.
What advice do you have for homeschooling middle school?