This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Homeschooling Middle School Your Way. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
We don’t often talk about middle school because we are so busy talking about high school. However, there are many, many homeschooling families that not only have high schoolers but middle schoolers as well. Not only that, but there are more and more families with middle schoolers who will be homeschooling all the way through graduation.
SO we get questions about the RIGHT way to homeschool middle school! (Can you guess what we are going to say? You are correct! There’s not ONE right way to homeschool middle school!)
However, parents of middle schoolers often feel a LOT of pressure to homeschool middle school correctly. They are told:
- If your kids do not start working on high school material in middle school, they will not get into college when they graduate!
- If you do not do serious academic work with your middle schoolers, they will not be ready for high school…and that means failure!
- You must keep up with the educational Joneses!
Thus, middle school turns into a pressure-filled situation. Is that what your tweens need? Must middle school be filled with pressure?
SO, let’s talk about how seriously to take academics in homeschool middle school
Remember what we said: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool middle school.
With that in mind, let’s think about statistics: Most middle school students are average academians. That is because “average” is the statistic describing the middle of the population (usually the “bell” in the bell-shaped curve, if you like statistical graphs).
This means that some middle schoolers can start doing the higher-level maths (such as algebra or geometry) and enjoy them. This is especially true for the more academically bright tweens.
However, for many middle schoolers, these higher-level courses are not necessary. They will get to them in high school just fine and will not experience life failure as a result. They are not trying to compete for the most competitive colleges, such as Harvard. Rather, many homeschoolers will start out:
- at local community colleges to save money
- going to trade school
- joining the military
- or are aiming for less competitive colleges that have the best-fit for them
These middle schoolers are free to work on their academics at a more relaxed pace… in the right timing for them!
Homeschooling middle school your way
Really, really, really: You do not need to impress anybody…and neither does your middle schooler!
If your middle schooler thrives on doing seventh-grade math at seventh grade, followed by eighth-grade math at eighth grade, it is OKAY! If that is what is best for your family, put your shoulders back and chin up and do NOT be pressured to do otherwise!
Instead of heavy academics, why not fill middle school with rich experiences?
After all, middle school years are the last years where students can be free to truly experience learning adventures without being overly tied down to textbooks. High school can wait until high school for many middle schoolers.
Homeschooling high school (even for many unschoolers) will have a fair number of textbooks in order to earn the credits for graduation.
However, middle schoolers do not need to worry about earning credits. Instead, they can concentrate of building their love of learning. Just be sure to record all their cool experiences in their portfolios so you have a good record.
Here are some of the things we concentrated on during middle school
There are endless rich experiences that your tweens can build during middle school. They will extend many of these experiences into electives during high school but this is a good time to start. Think about:
- Home maintenance
- Home economics
Social skills and networking skills
- Build their confidence for those teen years. (7Sisters has a tiny Social Skills training book that we have used with our tweens.)
- Also check out this episode on civility skills and welcoming skills.
- Build interests and talents (help them discover their star)
If you can allow your tweens to explore and interest or gifting without pressure, they often will run with it. Some middle schoolers will ask about competitions in their interest areas. If so, go for it. However, if they just want to explore an interest for interest’s sake, why not?
On the other hand, there are middle schoolers who need the powerful academics
By the time these kids are in sixth or seventh grade, you know these kids. You understand that they are competitive academically (and often otherwise). You can see that they will be driven and WANT to go to a powerful college.
In that case, have them blast through their maths and other courses at their paces and interests. If they are:
- Ready and want to do Algebra, Geometry and high school Sciences or Social Sciences
- Or they are highly gifted in writing or other communication forms
let them run with it.
Give them resources: textbooks, mentors, courses…whatever is best fit for their learning styles. To hold them back to grade-level texts would stifle them with boredom. For these tweens, their interest and talent IS their academics.
Of course, with these tweens you often have to help them develop the life skills of work/life/social/self-care balances. Help them disrupt academics regularly with other activities.
It is good for young people to be the people they are! All kids are gifted in the way God made them to be gifted (check out this discussion on all kids being gifted).
For us moms: How to handle homeschooling middle school your way
Homeschooling middle school in the best way for our unique kids is wonderful at home. However, sometimes it can be a challenge for us moms. Especially when we are at co-op or with a group of other homeschool moms and someone is talking about their tweens’ WONDERFUL accomplishments!!
- Sally won this amazing competition
- Bob is just finishing Geometry with his tutor
- George was just chosen for the Mensa program
And you are sitting there thinking, “My tween is plugging through seventh grade Math but he LOVES hiking and sketching what he sees. He doesn’t want to do a competition with the things he loves, he just wants to enjoy them.”
When your buddies ask you, “SO, what’s your kid doing?”
So you answer:
My kid is being the best HIM that God made him to be.
Because that is what he is called to do. AND we are called to help them be their best selves…not someone else’s best self.
That’s because there’s not ONE right way to homeschool middle school, so homeschool middle school your way.
Check out these wonderful Homeschool High School Podcast episodes:
- Homeschooling Middle School, Interview with Latonya Moore
- How to record high school courses on the transcript that your middle schooler completed
- AND the middle school ideas at Homeschooling with Technology Podcast.
Also, here’s a fun middle school acrostic.
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