You asked, and we are answering your homeschooling middle school questions! Earlier this month I asked you all a question on our Facebook page. “If you could ask a seasoned homeschooler any question about homeschooling middle school, what would it be?” So without further adieu, here are your questions (with answers) about homeschooling middle school!
Answering Your Homeschooling Middle School Questions
1. What grades are considered middle school? Is it really necessary to separate grades?
As homeschoolers, the designation of grade levels is not something on the “must do” list. It isn’t unusual to find variance and flux in the grade level of a homeschooled student. The question about what grades are designated as middle school is a common one. As a general rule, grades 6-8 are considered middle school. However, some schools may consider middle school to be just 7th and 8th grades.
2. When homeschooling multiple kids, how do I find the time for my middle school aged student?
The age old question of balancing time. Homeschooling multiple children is definitely a juggling act. When you are homeschooling, a primary goal as you work toward middle and high school should be independent learning where you become more of a sideline pinch hitter and less the hand that does it all.
That being said, if you have younger children who require your time and cause it to be difficult to spend time working with your middle schooler, here are some ideas on how to work around it:
- Homeschooling with Toddlers – Simple Ways to Keep Them Busy
- When you have younger students, try organizing your schedule so they can be engaged in something independent – that could be an educational movie, a puzzle, some curriculum or workbook they can typically do on their own – while you have time to spend with your middle school student.
- Choose a less hectic time of day. Maybe your middle schooler is an early riser (or a night owl). Use that time to your advantage by spending that time with him or her one-on-one while the others are not up and about yet.
3. Does the amount of curriculum have to greatly increase for middle school?
Yes and no. The depth of the work a middle school student is doing should be deeper and more challenging than that of the elementary years. As far as the number of subjects, it doesn’t have to be more, but if your student is capable, and /or interested, there are things that can be added.
Your base subjects are still the same: math, science, English, history, art, music, and PE.
Things you might add could be a foreign language, practical arts (or life skills), or some other topic of interest. But the primary jump comes in high school when you add electives into the mix.
4. What changes do you need to make from elementary to middle school (such as number of subjects being taught) and what changes do you need to make to ensure an easier transition for us as the parent/teacher and for the child to prepare for high school?
I guess I already answered some of this in the question above. Yes, time spent should be more in middle school than in elementary school, and even more in high school.
The subjects can remain basically the same from elementary to middle school but change for high school with the addition of high school electives, as well as possibly adding a foreign language.
5. As your kids get into middle and high school, how do you grade? What steps can I take to assure that my child can get into the college of his/her choice?
Grading is a very personal and individual thing. I used to grade every assignment every day. But this became time consuming and tedious for me. I then switched to grading just tests, reviews, etc. This was a great way for me to evaluate what they had learned and how well they had learned it without having to grade every problem and every paper.
You know your child better than anyone. You know what areas they are strong in and where they need help. Having a specific grade for every little thing is not necessary, even in middle and high school. For each subject, choose a few key things to specifically grade and use as your guide. You can record these grades in any type of homeschool planner, spreadsheet, etc. that works for you.
I keep a 4 Year High School Spreadsheet that lays out our plan for high school. As my child finishes each grade level, I assign a grade to each of the courses completed and save any pertinent work for each subject as a portfolio of the work. These things will serve as a solid record of my child’s high school accomplishments and grades.
As far as getting into college, as students progress into middle and high school, you will need to look specifically at what your child wants to pursue. Not only will the degree program matter, but so will the college as far as expectations. Focus on teaching your teens time management and good study skills, and give them a foundation of learning how to learn. These will set them up for success in whatever they pursue.
6. What length of papers/essays should they be expected to write?
This is a very subjective question. With my first I didn’t even push formal writing until 7th grade. I focused more on solid grammar, spelling, and comprehension skills, including lots of reading and using full sentences to answer questions. Check out some of the articles below for some help on writing and teaching kids to write.
- 10 Tips for Teaching the Art of Essay Writing
- Teaching Writing in Your Homeschool – Includes a G+ Hangout with lots of writing questions answered!
- Tips for Teaching Your Child to Write Right
- Using Journaling to Improve Writing Skills
7. How do I get my kids more motivated about their work?
This starts by having encouraged a love of learning in your house, as well as a mindset that some tasks (ie. schoolwork) are necessary, even if you don’t love them. As adults we all do things we don’t love (laundry, cooking, going to work, the job we do, etc.) but they are necessary tasks so we do them. Teaching kids from an early age that not everything is fun will go a long way to moving through their work when they are not motivated. My kids know they have to “check their boxes” before they can move on to the things they love.
Ask yourself if they are protesting or being difficult because they are struggling with something. If so then that needs to be addressed first.
Then consider using incentives for getting things done. If you do this really well then you can skip the next assignment. If you want to go to the park today we have to get x, y, and z done first. With my son it is moving on to video games that gets him motivated. You have to find what your kids love and use that to your advantage.
8. Most of my “questions” revolve around finding a balance between making choices that set him up for a successful future and letting him still be a kid.
Ah, yes. The “where a kid and can be a kid” dilemma. I think this goes along with some of the time management, independent learning, and motivational things we have already talked about. If they were in school all day that would allow much less time to be “a kid.” At home you can set up a routine including what you feel your child needs to set him or her up for the future, as well as time for him/her to be a kid and enjoy the freedom of doing kid things.