Is middle school really necessary?
If a child is ready for more of a challenge, can you catapult over the middle school curriculum and reach straight for the high school levels?
A few years ago, I attended a webinar all about skipping the middle school academics and heading straight for high school credits. After all, middle school curriculum was just a simplified version of the topics presented in a high school level curriculum.
So, if a child is ready, why not skip the middle school simplified version, and earn some high school credit? Can you do this?
Yes and No.
Let’s first talk about the resounding NO.
Why can’t you do this? Have you ever tried to homeschool a middle schooler? They are going through so many emotional and physical changes and they have the attention span of a gnat with an attitude the size of an elephant.
Goodness gracious! They can be a giant mess of contradictions and challenges.
So, let’s just pile on some more academic work and ask their rapidly changing brains to analyze and evaluate while writing essays and reading long literary selections.
And I wish you good luck with that! Because it rarely works well.
I have found that the middle school years are a perfect time to focus more on life skills and character, working these topics into the academics – academics that are not quite as challenging as a high school level course.
In short, I think you need some massive helpings of grace and patience in the middle school years. Those things are hard to give when you’re dragging them through curriculum that is challenging them more than they can handle.
Let the middle school years set a foundation for success in academics by giving time to review the concepts from elementary school while focusing more on developing a solid worldview and strong character.
Now for the YES.
Can you skip over middle school? Maybe.
If you are thinking of attempting this tactic, I recommend only trying it with one subject first, and then adding others if that first attempt was successful.
It is possible to work toward high school credit in middle school without too many tears and a lot of angst.
The key is knowing your child and assessing if they are truly ready for the challenge, or if they would be better served by having a lighter academic year and focusing more on character development instead.
If you decide to earn some high school credit in middle school, be prepared for a few challenges.
- Plan to work at the pace of your child.
Understand that it might take more than one traditional school year to complete the curriculum. There is no harm in moving more slowly and going more deeply into the topic.
- Plan to give a lot of extra support and hand-holding.
While many high school programs are written to be done independently, a middle schooler working on the program might need a lot more help. Be prepared to model assignments and talk through essays and discussion questions – taking the lead in these discussions. Give lots of examples and don’t withhold an extra dose of help for each assignment.
- Plan to help the child manage time and schedule assignments.
You will need to help with more than just the assignments. You will need to teach your child study skills and time management. Spend time each week walking through the weekly plan and helping them learn to budget their time and to plan ahead.
The middle school years are a bit of an in-between time for your students. They are no longer the elementary child satisfied with facts and figures. They are filled with questions and curious for thought-provoking answers.
Many are ready to experience great challenges in learning. But most lack the executive function skills to be successful at high level learning. This is where you can come alongside them and guide them toward success.
So, you can complete some high school credits during the middle school years as long as you’re prepared to put in extra time and effort to become a guide and guidance counselor, providing as much help and modeling as necessary to help your student succeed.
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