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What You Need to Know About Homeschool Middle School
Maybe you look back on your own middle school experience and remember feeling awkward, like you really didn’t fit in anywhere. Perhaps you are new to this homeschooling thing and have no idea what to expect. Or you’ve loved teaching elementary ages so much, you’re sad to see those years disappearing. Whatever the reason—many parents dread the thought of homeschooling middle school.
We have good news! You can homeschool middle school with ease and confidence by knowing a few things about the middle school years and incorporating some of our practical tips.
Understanding Your Middle School Student
Metamorphosis is the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages.
Consider what happens when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly.
After experiencing rapid growth—up to 100 times its original size—the caterpillar then forms a cocoon around itself. During this time we can’t really see what’s going on, but big changes are happening inside. When the time is right, a butterfly emerges, ready to fly.
Your middle schoolers are going through a similar process. They are in transition. They’re no longer children, but not really teenagers either.
When you look at a group of middle schoolers, some look like they belong in elementary school while others could be mistaken for a high schooler. They seem to put inches on overnight! Emotions are often high and changing on a daily basis—moving from one extreme to the other in a matter of minutes it may seem.
And this is perfectly normal.
Puberty begins between the ages of ages 8 and 13 for girls, and between 9 and 14 for boys. There’s evidence that their brains are literally being reshaped during this time. It’s a stage triggered by an influx of hormones. According to Harvard Health once puberty hits, “The production of testosterone increases 10 times in adolescent boys.” Is it any wonder that they get a bit moody? Is it surprising that they don’t seem to know what to do with themselves?
By accepting and expecting this, you can make a plan to help them during these transitional years.
Tips for Homeschool Middle School
When you homeschool middle school you have to consider more than your tweens educational needs—although that’s obviously an important part of homeschooling. However, to homeschool middle school, you’ll also need to think in terms of their physical, emotional, and relational needs as well. Here are some tips to help you do just that!
With their rapid growth and changing bodies, it’s important to consider what middle schoolers need to be healthy.
Make sure your middle school students are getting plenty of rest. What that looks like for your tweens will be different than when they were younger, but they still need their sleep! It may mean sleeping a bit later in the morning instead of having an earlier bedtime like when they were young, so play around with their school schedule to see what works best for them.
Keep healthy snacks on hand. It may seem like they are always hungry. Guess what? They are! By having nutritious and filling snacks on hand you’ll be providing the fuel they need. On weekends you and your preteens can prep vegetables for the week so they are ready to grab and eat. Fruit, nuts, cheese sticks, boiled eggs are also great choices.
Be intentional about exercise. You can do this as a family by going on walks or riding bikes, or your kids can participate in a sport they enjoy. But tweens need to move. Many families even get a trampoline so their kids can go jump around between subjects. Even if you take short breaks and have them do jumping jacks, they will benefit greatly!
Emotional & Relational
All of those hormones wreak havoc on our tweens. But you can help them navigate this time by being intentional to care for their emotional and relational needs.
Give them a plan for dealing with their emotions. Talk about the fact that what they are feeling is perfectly normal. Instead of responding in anger when they are struggling to control their emotions, give your middle schoolers an “out” when their emotions are high—such as permission to simply go to their rooms and take some time alone.
Be specific in praising them and let them know you’re their biggest fan. They need to hear what they are doing right. They may not be able to see their gifts and talents and special qualities. By speaking truth in their lives about who they are and what you see in them, your tweens will eventually see those things in themselves.
Cultivate strong family ties. Have fun together, enjoy family nights, and eat together as many nights as possible. Use those times to simply have fun and to talk. Ask questions, and learn to listen to your tweens so you have conversations. It’s so easy to talk at your kids instead of talking to them, but they need you to listen as they develop their own ideas and beliefs.
Give them opportunities to socialize. They need like minded peers, and it’s natural for them to be pulled more toward their friends during the teen years. Help provide opportunities for them to build these relationships through co-ops, homeschool groups, activities, clubs, classes, etc.
Of course, we’re talking about homeschooling here at Homeschool Mastery Academy. But before we can think about the school part, we have to lay a strong foundation of physical, emotional and relational health. That’s why we began there. When those needs are taken care of, it’s easier to take care of their educational needs.
Teach middle schoolers to take on more responsibility before throwing them in the deep end of the education pool. It’s not unusual for students this age to still need a little hand-holding some days, and take off on their own other days. Remember this is a time of transition. Prepare them for high school by focusing on how to study, how to manage their time, and slowly give them more and more responsibility in those areas. But you have to teach them HOW first!
Continue to make it fun. Don’t start thinking school has to look serious now that they are teens. Be sure to still have fun—be creative and think outside of the textbook-box. Nature walks are still beneficial, art and music are important, and hands-on-learning is effective!
Be intentional about teaching soft skills. Some of the most important skills teens need to develop don’t fit neatly into a specific subject. Skills in leadership, communication, collaboration; the ability to work hard and be dependable and have a positive attitude—these are all important to becoming healthy, productive adults. Consider what characteristics your teens need to work on and include the development of the skills in your educational plan.
Homeschool Middle School with Ease and Confidence
Embrace the middle school years. Your tweens are going through a different season, of course, but each season has its own beauty and its own joy. When you homeschool middle school, you have an opportunity to set your child up for success as they continue to learn and grow throughout the rest of their school years. You can continue to help them lay a strong foundation as you consider their physical, emotional, relational, and educational needs.
So be your middle schoolers biggest cheerleader and give them a lot of grace. You can walk through this time together and not just “get through it”—you all can THRIVE.