The more time I spend teaching middle school, the more I believe that these three years need to prepare our students for their next big phase – high school. As parents, we want our kids to be successful during this transition. As homeschoolers, we’re fortunate because we have the flexibility and ability to design our children’s lesson plans, so we can focus some of our time and energy on these five points.
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Teens Need to Do These 5 Things Before High School
Discover Their Interests
By the middle school years, most kids have different things that they love to do or activities they enjoy participating in. Encourage these passions! The interests they have outside of their regular schoolwork not only rounds them out as students and human beings, but will help when it’s time to select electives in high school.
Seek out what your child consistently enjoys and has a level of competency in and start thinking about whether it could be turned into a high school elective.
Keep Their Own Schoolwork Schedule
When kids reach high school, you become more of a coach as they become independent learners. But independence doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why it’s important to begin guiding them toward autonomy in middle school. A great place to begin is with their schoolwork schedule.
Sit down with your teen and teach her what it means to keep a schedule and how to plan out her lessons. Use whatever works best for her, maybe an online planner, paper schedule, or white board. My daughter uses The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students by Apologia to keep herself organized.
Once you choose something, teach her how to use it and work along side her each week until you both feel confident in her ability to plan and keep her own school schedule, gradually turning the responsibility over to her.
Take an Online Course
The landscape of education is constantly evolving as more and more classes are offered online. In fact, chances are high that your child will take a variety of online courses during high school. Because online learning is different than traditional educational methods, there are benefits to exposing your teen to this type of learning while the stakes are lower.
That’s why I feel that it’s important for homeschoolers to take at least one virtual course while they’re in middle school.
When your student takes an online course, he not only gets experience with this method of learning, but it also makes him accountable to someone other than you. This will teach him how to adjust to a different teaching style as well as the importance of completing tasks on a deadline.
Work on Life Skills
Now is the time to focus some of your time on building your teen’s life skills. Skills like cooking, cleaning, laundry, money management, sewing, communication, and etiquette. Once high school starts, time gets filled very quickly with increased school demands, jobs, friends, and extra-curricular activities. I’m not saying that there won’t be time to teach these important skills, but the hours are limited.
So it makes sense to start working on the skills your child will need to be independent now.
Once they enter high school, students will find that they’re writing more than ever. So if you’re child begins 9th grade having limited writing experience, he could struggle with the increased workload. To help him, gradually, throughout middle school, assign more writing assignments of different styles and lengths. Don’t be afraid to challenge him and change up your language arts plan.
Then, when he is faced with the increased writing demands, he’ll feel more confident in his abilities.
What do you think middle school kids need to do before they start 9th grade?