Grades six, seven and eight are typically considered the middle school or junior high years. These are the years that form a bridge from elementary education to high school education. During this time, many parents begin to lose confidence in their ability to homeschool. However, there is no one better suited to continue to teach your child than you!
If you have been homeschooling for any length of time you are aware of your student’s strengths and weaknesses and are better prepared to work with them during middle school. However, even if you are just starting to homeschool, as a parent you still know your student better than anyone and are well-suited to begin the homeschool journey.
By sixth grade most students have a solid academic foundation. They are able to read and comprehend well. They have a working, functional arithmetic foundation and will begin to think more abstractly. They are able to put their thoughts on paper well enough to communicate with a general audience. In short, students by sixth grade are well on their way to becoming independent learners.
Although they have a foundation in the basics, academic material will become more challenging, However, it is not your job to teach them everything there is to learn. It is to teach them how to learn and to continue to encourage and guide them into more independent learning. Students during the middle school years will change rapidly and a wise parent will be there to help them navigate the wider world they are stepping into.
You Don't Have to Do It All
During the middle school years many homeschool parents find that some academic areas become increasingly challenging to teach. Evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses and find ways to properly work with both areas in regard to academics. There is a wide variety of resources available to supplement a student’s education, if necessary. Some possibilities include tutorials, co-ops, video teaching programs, supplemental classes, hands-on learning or even internships. A combination of work at home and outside supplementation often will meet a student’s higher academic needs.
Middle school is a great time to allow your student to explore the areas of personal interest to them. With the basics in place, many students enjoy pursuing subject areas in depth and often find their hobby or passion forms the basis for their future career or schooling. Work together with your child in planning your school year as this will help motivate them and give you an edge when it comes to choosing subject matter and curriculum.
Plan for the Future
While it may seem far away, it is during middle school that it is best to begin learning about high school education. Many students as they grow are ready and able to work on higher academic levels and should be given the opportunity to do so. Middle school can be thought of as a time for the student to strengthen academically weak areas and move on in academically strong areas. Many students are ready for high school level work by seventh or eighth grade and allowing them to move on will free them up later in high school to pursue early college studies or perhaps work or internships. The beauty of homeschooling is that each student is able to work at his or her own level. Whether it is a bit behind or ahead, give your student the opportunities they are ready for.
Finally, remember that it is during these years that your child will begin to transition into adulthood and will be facing a great many changes. Despite any challenges you may encounter, you will find that your child will need your continued support and guidance. Honest and open communication will allow them to grow into healthy, well adjusted students and some day fully independent adults. Enjoy this wonderful time of mentoring and discipleship!