How to Tackle the Middle School Years
If you homeschooled your child through the primary grades, you may have found that you experienced initial moments of self-doubt, but you managed through the first year (or two, or three) and gained confidence to educate your child at home … until now!
* The term middle school is often used interchangeably with junior high school and usually denotes grades 6–8, depending on the school district. In some locales, middle school begins as early as grade 4.
“BUT IF SHE HAD
GIVEN UP, SHE WOULD
HAVE NEVER DRAWN
MY HEART BACK …
DON’T GIVE UP.”
It is not uncommon for parents to again second-guess themselves as their children approach the early teen years. Sometimes parents feel inadequate to prepare their children for high school. And if you are just beginning to homeschool at the middle school level (for our purposes, grades 4–8*), you may be jumping right into the second-guessing stage.
Take heart—you can do this!
The subject matter will be more complicated as your student enters junior high school, but remember that it is not your job to teach your child everything there is to learn. It is your job to:
- Teach him how to learn
- Reinforce basic knowledge and basic learning tools
- Disciple him in faith and
- Encourage him in the way he is to go
- Provide materials and opportunities for further learning
Know Your Strengths and Limitations
Evaluate your own skills and knowledge, and be willing to utilize other resources as needed to meet your student’s higher academic needs. Some options include:
- Textbooks designed specifically for homeschoolers, written to the student in a conversational tone with all explanatory
material included, or
written with scripted teaching material for the parent
- “Living” books
- Tutors (including relatives
or fellow parents)
- Supplemental classes (local or online)
- Hands-on experiences or internships
The term middle school is often used interchangeably with junior high school and usually denotes grades 6–8, depending on the school district. In some locales, middle school begins as early as grade 4.
Here for You
Did you find this article helpful? Find more resources on HSLDA’s Toddlers to Tweens website. Or explore the archives of Home School Heartbeat programs and our @home e-vents. You may also take advantage of your HSLDA member benefits by calling Vicki Bentley for assistance with your particular questions about homeschooling preschoolers through 8th graders!
Strengthen the Basics
I call these the four Rs: Reading,
(w)Riting, ’Rithmetic, and Responsibility!
- Arithmetic: At this stage, you’ll want to review and strengthen your student’s arithmetic skills and computation speed to provide a solid foundation for algebra and geometry in high school.
- Reading and writing: Composition will be transitioning from the report-writing stage to the essay and analysis stage, so this is a good time to reinforce your pupil’s reading comprehension, grammar, and basic composition skills. If you don’t feel comfortable evaluating your child’s writing at this level, you may know of a friend or tutor who would be willing to help in this area. The constructive criticism of a writing club can be positive motivation for some students at this age level.
- Responsibility: Your goal as a parent is to eventually work yourself out of a job! Life skills and time management training will serve your student well in the future, both immediate and long-term. Young people at this age are usually able to handle increasing control over their schedules as well as to give some input on subject matter choices. This may take a bit of patience on your part—and training in diligence and thoroughness on your student’s part—but it will eventually be worth it.
Let Him Explore His Passions
One benefit of homeschooling is the flexibility to incorporate opportunities for your child to pursue passions, interests, and talents. Many students dabble in entrepreneurship and develop talents or hobbies that could blossom into future business ventures.
Look Ahead to High School
While some students use the junior high years to solidify earlier concepts, others are ready to move into some high school-level work. Many families begin high school studies in the 8th grade, giving the student an extra year for in-depth studies. Wherever your child falls on the timeline, you’ll want to check out HSLDA’s Homeschooling Thru High School website and bookmark your favorite pages from our high school consultants.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
This may be a time of great transition for your young person—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It can be a challenging age, but he or she needs your affection, communication, and understanding more than ever. It is not uncommon for students in this developmental stage to have deep spiritual questions; rather than seeing the questions as a form of rejection or rebellion, take them seriously as a wonderful opportunity to mentor and disciple your child!
Homeschool graduate Rachel Ramey, in See, I Told Me So? (ed. Tammy Cardwell), encourages parents of middle schoolers:
[Before homeschooling,] my family did not have my heart; my friends did. Though I had a better-than-average relationship with my parents, I had been in government school for six years, spending more time with my friends than my family. I had become peer-dependent … Homeschooling—and all the family time that came with it—allowed my mom to change that …
[My parents] persevered. Mom could have put me back in school, deciding it was much too wearying to fight with me everyday. She could have given in to the friends and family who insisted that she was too hard on us, that we weren’t going to be “socialized” enough, and that one needs a teaching degree in order to teach effectively … But if she had given up, she would never have drawn my heart back … Don’t give up. Do not “grow weary while doing good, for in due season [you] shall reap if [you] do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV).
For more information on the middle school years.
|About the author
Vicki Bentley is HSLDA’s toddlers to tweens consultant. A version of this article appears on HSLDA’s Toddlers to Tweens website.