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You either love them or hate them.
Such a crazy age of transition growing older but not old enough to act with maturity.
As a classroom middle school teacher who is currently teaching her last middle school student, I love the middle school stage.
It’s the best.
They come with skills and they aren’t jaded learners like high schoolers can (but not always) get.
If you can channel all that energy in a positive way, you’ve got it made.
Expectations for Homeschool Middle School
Middle school is notorious for being a tough transition. In a school building, middle schoolers are no longer in elementary school and often moms choose the start of middle school to return to work outside the home.
It’s a time marked by huge change for kids.
And some kids struggle mightily.
In your homeschool, things can be different. The important thing is to meet your middle schooler where they are and help them to transition.
What can you expect from the middle school years in your homeschool?
- Give more responsibility & privileges– this looks different for different kids. But, particularly pay attention when your middle schooler is your oldest! It’s time to let them do things younger siblings don’t get to do yet.
- Study things beyond younger siblings– this one is hard for homeschooling moms. But, it’s important to let them work at their own pace and take on material they are ready for. It may mean extra planning and monitoring for you. Embrace it!
- Require more initiative taking– sometimes for some kids
- Begin working more independently as they are able– signs they are ready include requesting to move on without you, taking more initiative on assignments, and working well on their own with you nearby.
- Step up your expectations– in general for your middle schoolers. Remember to gauge what you expect with what your student is able to do and grow into. Too much too soon and success will be difficult.
- Assign larger projects with extended deadlines– with guidance
- Keep track of assignments with a student planner– helping middle schoolers to write down and keep their own set of school assignments will help them to take on ownership of their work as they continue to grow.
Much of middle school is mentoring your students as they transition to high school, adding in responsibilities and increasing expectations while helping them to succeed.
Remember that September 6th graders will look different from June 8th graders. A lot happens in those three years.
Language Arts for Middle School
By middle school, students should be reading on their own or have been identified with learning issues so that they are receiving help toward that goal.
Books and talking about books continue to be a staple in our language arts program in middle school and we step up the types of books we read together so we can talk about relevant topics for their age.
Basic grammar conventions are well used by now- things like periods ending sentences and questions end in question marks. Sentences are complete thoughts. Other items like proper notation of quotes are still coming along.
I highly recommend The Writer’s Jungle from Brave Writer, which outlines the various stages of writing and what to expect from your student at different ages and stages of development.
- Using Writing Conferences to Coach Writing– the coaching process I use to help my kids with their writing. This post was written before I read The Writer’s Jungle. It’s still a solid process!
- Teaching Grammar Using Dictation– still a useful tool in middle school (and even high school). You can use your student’s own dictation as copywork.
- Coaching Writing Using a Writer’s Workshop– how we implement a writer’s workshop with friends
- Join Our Free Writer’s Workshop– a free six week writer’s workshop here at Blog, She Wrote complete with three activities in each session. You can work at your own pace and enjoy the workshops with friends.
Math for Middle School
In middle school math, it’s all about wrapping up the last of the new arithmetic skills and working on pre-algebra skills.
Some students will be ready for Algebra in middle school. Some will not be ready until high school- if they are going to be algebra students.
If your student does take Algebra in middle school, make sure to count the credit as a high school math credit. High school math credits begin with Algebra.
If your student will not be taking Algebra, then high school math credits come from whatever math they pursue while in high school. However, non-Algebra math before high school cannot be counted for high school credit.
Bottom line? If your middle schooler takes Algebra, they get high school credit for the course.
- Math Journaling in Homeschool Math– We use math journals to record real life math applications and to incorporate writing into math. This post has ideas for how to use math journals in your homeschool.
- The Making of a Wizard & the Crafty Side of Math– This post is also known as how to teach math to creative people. I have found with our daughter that the more she needs math for her creative endeavors, the more she is willing to stick with learning it. This approach has been wildly successful with her. She’s applying to design school this year and bearing down on Calculus for her senior year. Crafty math has been a key to her achievements.
Science & History for Middle School
I’ve couple these subjects together because they are more content oriented than skill oriented. In the middle school years, you are still laying the foundation with more detail than before.
Most things taught in middle school are things that were started in elementary school and they will be repeated in high school.
Traditionally speaking, students experience a year of general physical science, a year of life science, and a year of earth science in middle school.
However, at this stage, you can still do unit study science while hitting all those areas. Remember that your middle schooler will be revisiting course work in high school. Your job is still exposure at this age to lay the ground work for high school credits.
- The Snake Project– an 8th grade life science course which our rising senior designed based on the care of her wild caught garter snake.
- How to Teach Science through the Lives of Scientists– we often teach science concepts by studying the scientists who work with them. This has been a wonderful, comprehensive, and authentic approach to science in our homeschool. Plus, you’ll learn a lot of history along the way.
Technology for Middle School
It’s hard to miss the use of technology in our world today. Middle schoolers are at a prime age to begin using technology for more sophisticated purposes.
Most of our kids are savvy tech users from an early age at this point in our culture.
The trick when it comes to computers and tablets is to focus our students on being producers using technology versus primarily being consumers of technology.
Think in terms of writing the code to make a computer game vs playing the computer game.
We measure time with technology with respect to the producer and consumer attitudes.
Time doing research and writing code or making animation videos doesn’t count against the clock like playing a video game does. Time playing Wii Fit counts differently than a traditional video game.
Teaching our kids to use technology well without being consumed by it is our goal. Your family will need to decide on a philosophy that will guide your decisions as your kids grow.
These posts are a sampling of my posts on technology:
- Managing the Internet in Your Home– This is a three part series on how to set up your router using Open DNS to both filter content and control access to the internet across the various devices in your home.
- Learning with LEGO® Mindstorms– What can you do with a LEGO Mindstorm kit and is it worth the investment? This kit will last through middle and high school to challenge your kids in STEM.
- Resources for Putting the Technology in STEM– This is a list of the resources we have used for STEM projects at our house.
- How to Homeschool with a Kindle– These economical tablets have been a key to many of our learning adventures. We’ve used them for things like tutorials, build instructions, cameras, video, text books, and more. We’ve gotten so much out of this $49 tool.
Other Posts Related to Middle School
The Myth of Independence– This is a popular post directly related to giving our students more independence. But, what does it mean for both the student and the parent to have kids working independently? The bonus in this post is the podcast version. You can read or listen!
Scheduling Time for Creative Pursuits– As our kids get older, we tend to get super serious. It’s important to allow time for creativity.
The Problem of Overscheduling & How Adding Margin Helps Our Kids to Cast Vision– a podcast on why leaving time for exploration is essential to our students’ growth.
The middle school years are notorious for being a wild and unmanageable time.
I’ll tell you a secret.
They have the potential to be some of the best years of homeschooling.
Are you ready to accept the challenge?
I’m cheering for you!