As we wind down our second year of middle school homeschooling and preparing for our 3rd year, there are a few things I think I have finally figured out! At least I hope so.
1. Dig a little deeper into the subjects~ Don't be afraid to go into more depth. Offer your students harder material if they are ready. Add on to the lessons if they seem too bored. I love searching the internet and books for ideas. This is a great time to get the kids more involved and offer hands-on projects they can complete on their own,
2. Start preparing them for high school..grades, tests, reports, etc.~ For us this meant more graded assignments. I add to our lessons more worksheets, tests, reports, and projects. By finally seeing grades, the kids were able to see where they were struggling and were they were thriving. At the end of the year, they both will be given their first report card! I think they are a little nervous about this. Thankfully it's still middle school. Having graded assignments and a report will help them get ready for the graded and transcripts kept during high school. It's our trial run.
3. Encourage their interests or passions~ This is were some students will start to show an interest in certain subjects. This is a fantastic time to expose them more to the things they love. Do they enjoy sports? Drama and theater? Do they enjoy building things? Have them join clubs and groups that help them grow in their interests. Summer camps, co-ops, special events held at museums! The more they are exposed to things, the more they will see what they enjoy or not enjoy doing. We all know how preteens can be. Encourage them to give things a try even if they don't want to. Too often we hear."I won't like it!" How do they know if they've never given it a shot. Now I'm not saying put you non-athletic child in football. That would not be a good thing. We don't want to torture them.
4. Focus on life skills and character building~ Chores and life skills. Now is the time to teach the kids every day lessons. Can they cook? Can they do laundry? Sew a button on? Iron their shirts? Take care of animals? Fix a flat tire? Can they use basic tools? Paint? In today's world so many kids have no real life skills. I always wonder about hose kids who have no chores or life skills. How will they survive on their own. Are mommy and daddy always going to be there? I would hope not. My goal as a parent is get my children ready for the "real" world. I want them to leave the nest and flourish. I would never want to keep them locked up and in a small cocoon. They need to spread their wings and fly away.
5. Expose them to subjects that are of interest to them~ For example, Michael loves anything to do with animals and science. We've increased his science classes, signed him up for special science camps, and taken field trips that will help fuel his passion. We've already started looking into careers that he may want to pursue and what he would need to achieve his dream. Our local vet has even offered my kids a chance to go down and shadow her for a day. Real hands on learning! By exposing them to these things, they see that they are eager to learn more or they discover that they really don't enjoy it.
6.Give them opportunities for hands on learning & opportunities for presentation~ This benefits both mom and students. Hands-on learning can lead to more independence and can give mom a little more free time while achieving that goal of them learning on their own. Having them figure things out and come up with a plan is essential for their advance learning. A great way to do this is art projects, science experiments, etc. Our local library has offers a homeschool exhibit where local homeschoolers can display projects. It reminds me of the science fairs we had back in school. Another opportunity to show of their work is the county fair. They have halls were students display art work, photography, science displays, their animals, etc.
7. Offer great literature~ For me this means classics and books that are not filled with frivolous junk. We don't read a lot of current books. As my kids say,,,"They are boring and filled with stupid ideas." I mean how many vampire and zombie books can one kid read! We need books that will help broaden our child's mind not limit it. Reading great books increases our child's vocabulary, helps their writing style, and helps them learn proper grammar. The benefits are endless. Do we really want a generation that can only read their text messages? Oh my, that's a scary thought.
8. Be prepared for the middle school slump~ This is real folks. I thought it was just my kids, but after talking to other moms they confirmed my worst fears. Your eager sweet child suddenly wants to do very little work. They complain and say its boring. They suddenly put very little effort into their school work. It's frustrating and you often feel like pulling your hair out. They say it will pass. I'm not so are since we are still in the middle of it. To help us get through this period I've change a few ways we do things. We do religion, math, and English first thing that way they're bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to go! They eat their second breakfast and head outdoors with the dog for 15. Fresh air does a body good. After that they work on a few of the subjects in whatever order they want to. We then break for lunch. After lunch we come back and do history and science. We work on projects and experiments. This keeps them a more involved.
9. Stay in contact with friends~ This is the time kids need their friends! Homeschooling doesn't allow for daily visits for many of us, but we always try to have them see their friends at least once a week. We have some weeks with co-op classes, field trips, and clubs that they see them almost every day. They need that time away from siblings,dad, and mom. It's nice when they can get together to hang out. They can play group games like dodge ball, kickball, tag, etc. They can just sit and talk about whatever the young kids are talking about. Close bonds can and are often formed. I still remember sitting in my best friends room as a 12 year old discussing all types of things. It was nice to have someone who understand what you were feeling or thinking. Thirty plus years later, I still talk to my best friend. I couldn't imaging my life without her.
10. You're not alone out there!~ Find a few moms who can offer advice, an ear to bend, or at some times a shoulder to cry on. Just like with the kids, we too as parents need someone to offer advice and support. I love when I can get together with my mom friends and talk about homeschooling, our faith, the wold we live in over a warm cup of tea!
Till Next Time,
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