Whether you’re utterly excited or fear that you’re woefully inadequate to homeschool middle school, one thing is for sure. Homeschooling middle school can be some of the best years to homeschool.
From homeschooling a 6th grader who is still so full of eagerness to a 8th grader who is ready to debate on a moment’s notice, there are no dull moments in the middle school years.
Besides watching the unfolding of a young child into a teen, it’s also the time your child is still flexible. It’s the perfect time to try an out of the box approach.
First, let me back up a minute. When I approached the middle school years I had thought it was my time to have it easy as the teacher.
Knowing that kids are more independent at this age, I wanted relief in the way of a boxed curriculum.
3 VALUABLE TIPS WHEN TEACHING HOMESCHOOL MIDDLE SCHOOL
However, as each son entered the middle school years, I learned several valuable lessons,
- one was that the eclectic homeschool style approach was needed now more than ever before;
- that I shouldn’t have listened to naysayers who said we needed to give up hands-on learning or lapbooks;
- and I should have dabbled more into life skills and high school credits.
From teaching Mr. Senior 2013, I learned that subjects like the three Rs are the mainstay of these grades too.
Subjects don’t change significantly in middle school, but the approach to how you choose curriculum does.
For example, just because you used one math program with your child up to this point doesn’t mean it is the right one for middle school.
You need to take more time choosing curriculum and subjects.
Here is a very valuable piece of seasoned advice.
Up until middle school, you should choose curriculum based on your teaching style because you are wearing the teacher hat exclusively. Now, you need to choose curriculum based on your child’s learning style.
Beginning in about sixth grade you want to gently turn over the teaching reins to your child.
I can’t recall an exact moment with each of my sons where I could unequivocally pinpoint a time and say, “This is the exact moment my sons were independent.”
Middle school independence is a gradual process.
This is the time to explore alternative options.
Don’t wait until high school for out of the box elective where you don’t have as much flexibility to change courses in midstream.
HOMESCHOOL MIDDLE SCHOOL SUBJECTS GUIDE
Look at these subjects and options for curriculum that worked for us or that we currently like.
Homeschool Middle School Reading
Kids in the middle school are at varying maturing abilities.
Unlike the early grades where you focused on phonics, at about the fourth grade a child should be ready to move away from direct phonic instruction.
Don’t worry if your child is not, I just want you to have a rule of thumb. I had two that were ready to move away and one not so ready.
Look here at How to Transition a Child From Reading to Literature.
I focused on about 3 or 4 books with direct reading instruction. This means we delved deeply into them.
On their own, my sons read way more from my list, but about 4 books was all I could do each year where I questioned them significantly.
Remember there is a difference between a child narrating back a story and learning the elements of fiction and figures of speech.
Understanding where I was headed in the middle school grades helped me to see what teach in reading.
For example, in high school your child will be focusing on certain authors and literature in specific time periods.
In middle school, focus on learning genres and the basics of elements of fiction. This tool he will use as lens to pull up close and examine literature in high school.
Look at what you want to zero in on and use this free page which explains a bit about each one.
- Point of View
The point I’m making is although it’s important for them to read at this age, it’s equally important to delve deeply into a book and expose kids to a variety of genres.
Homeschool Middle School Writing
If you chose to teach cursive writing like I did, then you’ll want your child to practice daily.
Writing journals, hands-down has been the best tool I’ve used to encourage writing. The focus is on writing creatively and free from a judgmental eye.
Most of the time my sons chose to share their daily sentences or paragraphs with me, but I didn’t ask or didn’t grade them, only praise them.
Composition is quite a different thing. For example, although we may brainstorm one day and not do much handwriting on our current topic, writing in their journal each day ensured continued practice.
Again, the best way is to mix and match curriculum to suit your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Resources prepared and used by other homeschool teacher moms is another secret at this age.
If I’m going to start handing over the teaching reins to my child, I needed resources by homeschool families who understood my need.
We loved using WriteShop because it’s written specifically with homeschoolers in mind.
Not only did it have lots of teaching background notes for me, but it was the first top notch writing curriculum my first middle school son used on his own.
Homeschool Middle School Arithmetic
Don’t get discouraged if your middle school kid is behind in math. I had one like this and two ahead at their grade level.
For the one son behind, I added in straightforward practice.
Although math apps can be helpful for drills, my struggling math guy needed to write and see the work.
The Key to . . . Math Series have been some of the best no fluff straight forward practice books I’ve ever used. They’re such timeless helps.
The books are a set of consumable non-overwhelming books on one math topic, like fractions, which progress from the easiest concept in Book 1 to the hardest concept in the last book.
Some packets have 10 books others are smaller.
Middle school was the year I switched from Teaching Textbooks, which I thought was ahead of Math U See, and back again to Math U See. Teaching textbooks was not ahead in my experience from K to 12th grade math.
Although Teaching Textbooks explained step by step, mastery is my goal and Math U See taught mastery. I guess the main difference is that Math U See does not go by grade level but by concept. That is my preferred way of teaching.
Choose what is best for your child at each grade. I didn’t use MUS or Teaching Textbooks at the lower grades.
Also, remember to add in fun hands-on math to teaching. Kids this age can still be cuddly and cute. (ha, ok.)
And then living math is one of the best ways to incorporate it into every day learning.
Kids want a reason for why they have to learn math. Don’t make it boring and humdrum.
Grab an idea from this living math book below from another talented homeschool mom which makes teaching middle school a cinch.
And one of the BEST parts of homeschooling middle school is the time to explore and even get credit in middle school. Yes electives are something fun and doable at this age, so explore them.
Middle school is also the time to narrow down what your middle school kids may want to jump into deeper in high school. The only way to do that is to do a wide range of fun and practical skills.
Give them time to explore while making it practical. For example, teach your child how to write out a check.
Yes, my young adult kids still need to use a check once and a while and remembering how to do it can be a struggle.
It’s easier to use a debit card, but that’s not always great for record keeping. How to change a tire and check a vehicle’s oil are important skills to teach them as they approach driving age.
We also love to explore different types of art. We love doing chalk art.
We’ve used another resource by a homeschool mom which is Chalk Pastel because of the variety of books and teaching helps she has on her site.
Even cooking has been added as part of our science and history and a new one we’ve been trying out is SkillTrek.
It gives us a set of life skills from A to Z. Now is the time to learn this stuff before your kids tell you they know everything.
I wanted to give you this quick glance at the middle school years. Soon, I’ll be adding more specific posts to help you.
What are you wrestling with right now in middle school?
Also, look at these super helpful tidbits:
- How to Teach Science Through A Story – Middle & High School
- 35 Hands-on Geography Activities to do in 15 Minutes or Less
- How to Shake Up STEAM With Geography For Middle School
Hugs and love ya,