When my oldest was in 4th/5th grade, I started to stress about the changes that were coming to our home school. I wasn’t ready to homeschool middle school and it was coming fast. I was convinced I was going to have to change the way we did everything once 6th grade started.
I even considered putting the girls into school after the elementary years because I didn’t think I could give them everything they needed. That makes me laugh now!
I’m thrilled I didn’t let those fears stop me because I love homeschooling middle school. I thought I would have to give up our eclectic, hands-on learning style during the middle grades, but I actually changed little once we moved past elementary school. Of course I made some adjustments, but I didn’t throw everything aside for something “more formal.”
So what changes did I (and should you) make?
3 Things to Change as You Move from Homeschooling Elementary School to Middle School
Become a Coach
In the lower grades, I would walk through my daughter’s lessons with her, teaching and explaining sections as we went along. Now that she’s older, she does a lot of work on her own. She reads the lesson herself and completes what she can. When she struggles with something, I’ll step in and we work through it together.
She feels comfortable trying to do the lessons on her own because she knows I’m always there to help by offering a different perspective or explanation when she needs it.
Coaching doesn’t mean letting go, it means walking beside and guiding.
Encourage Student Responsibility
In my house, one phrase that has been heard over and over again is, “this is your education, not mine.” So, once they started middle school, I felt it was important for both girls to start taking some ownership of their education.
Every week, I sit down with my daughter and we talk about what lessons I expect her to complete. As we talk through each of the subjects, she uses her personal calendar to plan out her school week. She has control over where, when, and how she finishes her work.
Of course there are weeks when she doesn’t stick to her schedule, so everything doesn’t get finished. That’s when she has to face the consequences of having to work over the weekend or completing extra work the following week.
Giving your child responsibility lets them take ownership of their education.
Use Discussion as a Tool
By the tween years, kids grasp abstract thinking and can reason logically, transforming their conversations. Now, instead of only answering the specific questions I ask, my middle schooler is able to discuss what she is learning, ask more in-depth questions, and discover insights previously unseen to her.
Instead of giving your student multiple quizzes or sheets with random questions to answer, sit down and ask her to share what she learned and formulate an opinion. It’s through these conversations that I discover just how much material my daughter comprehends and how she feels about a wide variety of topics.
For example, my youngest has always hated history. This year we changed our curriculum to one that is more literature based. During one of our discussions, I found out that she is now fascinated by the pyramids and other parts of Ancient Egypt. While she was sharing, her level of understanding and recollection blew me away. If I just focused on correct answers and didn’t use discussion in our home school, I would have missed that.
In-depth discussions are a wonderful way to see whether your middle school student has really grasped and understood the lessons and what excites her.
Personally, I’m really enjoying these years. For me, I consider it a privilege to walk beside my girls, watching as they grow and change.
However, I know the thought of homeschooling through the older grades intimidates some families. Luckily, you’re not alone on this journey. Many of us are walking along the same path and we love to share what works in our home. In fact, in our fun Facebook group for middle school (and high school), parents share their tips and get their questions answered, while getting the support they need. Make sure to hope over and join us!
I hope you find the transition to homeschooling middle school easier than you’re expecting.