We’ve reached a new milestone. I have a middle schooler.
I’ve always feared homeschooling high school, and now that it looms in the near future, I’m more than terrified.
However, I think I should have been more terrified of homeschooling middle school.
Wow, this has been an interesting ride!
Of course, it isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s mostly really wonderful. But there are a few things I’ve learned along the way as we tackle middle school.
It’s more about character training.
I’ve tried to always focus on character training in our homeschool. But I have found that this becomes even more important in the middle school years.
Middle schoolers have sudden emotional growth spurts in these years. Not only are they physically growing, they are growing in emotional maturity as well.
I have found all this growth and change can mean that my kids struggle with attitudes and with character development.
So, on some days our curriculum takes a backseat to focusing on character traits and life skills.
The middle schools are a bit murky as kids work to discover truths for themselves and begin to develop their own worldview.
Take advantage of their new curiosity and their desire to question and argue. Arm yourself with the truth, so you can gently guide them as they approach adulthood.
Learning self-care is critical.
My middle schoolers are a bit moody and short-tempered sometimes.
Nothing fixes the bad attitudes like giving them some space. No amount of talking at them helps adjust those attitudes.
Instead, I quietly push a snack toward them and encourage them to take a nap or take a short break to do something they enjoy.
During these times, I can focus on the little ones while my older kids relax with a book, an art project, or even take a short nap.
I have found that my kids are almost always hungry or tired. This creates a monster of a middle schooler who will not and cannot cooperate and focus during school.
Middle schoolers are not equipped with the emotional maturity to know how to deal with all the physical and emotional changes they are facing on a daily basis. So, focus on teaching them a little self-care and how to cope in challenging situations.
Over time, they will be better at recognizing their limits. Until then, set some boundaries and give them some space to pursue self-care.
Have a more flexible schedule.
I have discovered that my middle schoolers have more questions. They want to think deeply and talk through their questions.
This is wonderful because they’re coming to me with these conversations. But, nothing derails my homeschool schedule like a long talk.
I have had to learn to be more flexible during these years. There are days when my middle schooler simply cannot focus on academic pursuits. Instead, they need a nap and multiple snacks. I’ve actually been doing school and looked beside me to see a pre-teen or teen asleep on the floor next to me.
In those moments, I rearrange my schedule and focus more on the other kids, allowing my older child time to rest.
This means that we’ve done some extra school on weekends or in the evenings. I’ve learned to be creative and flexible with our schedule.
And when my kids come to me with questions or need to talk through an emotional event, I have a backup plan for my younger kids. I have activities to entertain them, so I can focus on my older child and be an unhurried listening ear.
Give grace for difficult days.
I’m so thankful for grace. And on the challenging days, I have to remind myself of the grace that I’ve received. This enables me to extend extra grace toward my middle schoolers.
The middle school years are interesting – they can be both frustrating and beautiful. Your child is showing glimmers of the adult he or she will become, while also reminding you of the tantrum-prone and stubborn toddler her or she once was.
Middle schoolers are caught in the middle – no longer young children, but not yet adults.
No one is more confused than they are, although you might feel equally confused and lost.
During these years, they have days (or weeks) where it seems like they cannot even remember simple addition or the definition of a noun. You wonder if you have taught them nothing, or even if they still have a brain.
And then suddenly, they wow you with an insightful comment that shows you a piece of their heart as they wrestle to understand truth. At that moment you are overwhelmed with gratitude for the homeschool journey and for the way God is working in their hearts.
The middle school years are a bit of a roller coaster. Plan to be surprised.
It’s a joy and a challenge to homeschool during these years.
Focus on character, allow time for self-care, be flexible, learn to listen, and pour out grace.
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