As our children grow, our confidence in homeschooling them begins to shaken. There is a shift that happens at the end of elementary and that shift is adolescences. A few things happens to a child during this time beyond the changes in hormones that most parents overlook or take for granted in their education. As a Charlotte Mason educator, my goal is to acknowledge them as a person and to educate life to them.
From my own experience of raising three child to this stage of life, I have found this to be true:
- They become self conscious of themselves (we understand this because of the hormone shift) and their self-confidence can be affected.
- They come into the age of debate and unchecked can become rebellion
- They seem clumsy, which can be explained with their shaking self-confidence
- They begin to question everything that they have learned up to this point
- They start craving independence
When I realized this with my first child and saw its pattern start with my second child, I knew I needed a transition during what most call the middle school grades, for this part of their education for life. These tips are from my own experience and I found them to be so effective that I wanted to share them with you!
7 Ways to Transition Your Homeschool into Middle School
- Focus More on Independent Work – The best place to get your middle school child familiar with independence is with their own education. Taking ownership over their assignments, not necessarily with their syllabus, although having some input from there is not a bad idea either. Preparing your year in advance will help you enable your middle school child to be more independent in their homeschool and will help with the transition for your homeschool and for their own growth.
- Provide Their Own Learning Space – Having a space that they can call their own is important, but only if they have proven themselves faithful in attentiveness and finished work in the time it should take them to finish it. Once my children have reached this age and level of accountability, they are able to work in their bedroom, at a desk, with their doors open. I check on them often and have found my middle school son swinging an imaginary golf club (his goal now is to be in the PGA, so it wasn't all bad, right) and sometimes drawing. During this transition, it is important to stay visible to them, until they have formed the habit to be faithful in their work.
- Implement Accountability – Although independent work is a focus for our homeschool in middle school that doesn't mean that my children are free to choose everything about their schooling. As I just mentioned about the learning space, I needed to hold them accountable to doing their lessons and check on them often. In addition, I would call out from another room, asking them what they were working on at that time. If progress wasn't made, they may have lost their ability to work in their own space and needed to finish near me. In addition, I would check their work daily and be sure they finished what was required.
- Increase Lesson Time – We always used short lessons as a Charlotte Mason homeschooling family, however during these years, we increase this to prepare for the extra work required in high school and in life. What normally would only be a 15 minute lesson could easily become a 25 minute lesson or longer depending on the subject. However, we never went longer than 35 minutes during these grades unless it was a field trip or nature walk.
- Implement Opportunities for Debate – If you have raised a child to their preteens or know someone who has, you will understand this important tip for opportunities for debate. If you do not implement debate in your homeschool, you will find it in your parenting because something shifts inside a child's brain at this time and they seem to need to debate daily. Many chose debate clubs, but our family used essays with no correct answers. This allowed me to get into the head of my child, without a debate between us. We used all kinds of things to offer writing practice through debating questions and even the struggling writer will enjoy this exercise because they enjoy telling you ‘the facts' according to them.
- Strengthen Their Faith – Knowing the need for debate and the natural questioning of all the things they believed to be true and now the strong desire to know for themselves it is true, we combine debate with our faith. Why do we believe something? Why is Creation true to us? Why do we disagree with evolution? This has been a powerful tool for raising our children to be strong in their faith of God and Creation, as well as the founding of our nation.
- Dedicated Focus on Gaps – The last thing any homeschool mom wants to happen is starting high school with gaps. Sometimes it happens! Using the middle school years to first identify and then focus on filling the gaps necessary for learning (not facts, but skills) should be very important to your transition in your homeschool middle school. If your child is still behind in their reading level, a good portion of their day should involve reading. My son's book list were huge during these years but this is where we saw the most growth. If they are struggling with spelling or writing, give the a lot of opportunity to be working on these. If they struggle in math, find ways to incorporate math in their playtime. These are the years that if you aren't able to get them over the important things of reading, writing and math that you should be investing in a tudor to help the be accomplished in these most important areas.
I understand that this list may not be the tips that you expected, but trust me when I tell you that these are the best things to put into your curriculum for these ages. You will be blessed with more than you know and your children will be reading for high school and the life afterwards.