Welcome back to my 5-day series on middle schoolers! In my last post, I talked about our teens’ ability to keep up with body care and homeschool routines independently.

On this post I’ll be getting more in depth about homeschool commitments and the habits that our middle schoolers should learn in order to be successful in high school.

Middle schoolers should commit to the process of homeschooling.

More than anything, when young adults (or in this case young teens) begin to grow into adulthood, learning the importance of commitment to tasks and assignments is huge.    Homeschooling is much more than a bunch of assignments, though.  It includes working through a batch of objectives and tasks which all correlate to a much larger, future goal. If your kids can see the importance of working toward that larger goal, their ability to commit to the homeschooling process will be that much easier.

This doesn’t mean that your kids have to know exactly what they will be when they grow up. My daughter is currently thirteen years old and has several ideas of what she might do in the future, but hasn’t narrowed it down yet. And that’s okay.  Until then, we’ve decided to work toward the goals of processing her through middle school courses.

I’ve talked to her about the “how and why” of these courses (history and geography, language arts, foreign language, music, art, math, science, current events, bible) and what makes them important to learn about.

Because we always talk about the significance of material we study, she understands the process.  She knows why she is studying the subject, how important it is to her personally, and what she must do to achieve her goals for the course.

It’s important to lay out expectations.

Some kids will need a set of course expectations for each subject so that they’ll be clear on what is expected, per class.  Some kids will even need a contract for the duration of the school year to agree that homeschooling is a process they will commit to.

Whatever you need to do to ensure that students understand what is expected of them, you should do that.  As kids get older, its important that they begin taking full responsibility for their own learning endeavors.  When they know what’s expected they have a measuring rod to determine whether they have passed or failed, and they can then judge their own work more accurately.

This kind of contract-based relationship can also help prepare them for high school and college level work since they will need to understand a course syllabus later on.

Commit to the process of study.

Studying is a discipline, and it typically doesn’t come naturally- especially with all the modern distractions our kids are dealing with nowadays.  We can teach our kids to commit to the process of study by helping them learn good study habits.

Habits like taking notes is a great start.  Whenever my daughter watches a history movie on Discovery Streaming, I have her take down notes.  We use the note-taking as a kind of dictation exercise as well as a note-taking exercise.  This habit will prove beneficial for college.

I also help her with memorization– like with her Latin vocabulary, geography terms, or bible verses. We might use a variety of methods: recitation or games.

Sometimes copying sentences (typing or writing them), or reading aloud passages onto a voice recorder helps significantly in memorizing and retaining information.

However, it’s important to note that studying is not all about memorizing but about learning. If a student knows how he learns best, he can then figure out ways to help him learn better.

Give your student plenty of opportunities to figure out how he learns best.  Have him take personality tests like the Myers Briggs or learning style tests. Both of my daughters took the Kaleidoscope Profile which helped me to figure out ways to present content to them best.  This is especially helpful for older kids who are learning how to learn.

One of my kids is a tactual, concrete global/abstract sequential, intuitive feeler. On another test she scored body smart, word smart, music smart. What this means  is that if we figure out ways to help her learn kinesthetically and musically, learning becomes easier.  For example: skipping while reciting, singing memory work, or watching history videos and discussing her feelings/opinions on how history affects people.

When a student knows how he studies best, he feels more in charge of his own education and begins to take complete ownership of it.

Be clear about heart commitments and attitudes.

More important than learning how to learn is the attitude of the heart. As Christian parents, we want to see that our kids have a godly attitude about the content they’re learning.  It’s not just about learning, but it’s about how we react to challenges.

My daughter, upon entering Connections Academy (an online school she attended in 7th grade), knew that she was about to embark on a journey that would consist of many challenges: the biggest being time management.  She knew this going into her journey and was prepared to face many days when academics took up the bulk of her day.  Later when she finished the school year and decided to go back to a more traditional homeschooling approach, she knew that although time management would be less of a problem this school year she’d have other challenges: like more advanced classes and learning Latin (in Classical Conversations) and learning to play the violin, which is no easy feat.

We encouraged her to keep a good heart attitude.  When violin practice gets rough, hang in there. Don’t give up.

When Latin declensions are mind-boggling, keep up the practice of declining daily in school. Don’t give up.  

When putting together an airplane structure, if the wings fall apart in the middle of your project, don’t give up.

Try again.

In the next part of my series on homeschooling middle school, I’ll be talking with you about why homeschool socialization is important.  Thanks and let me know how you’re enjoying the series so far.

 

 

About Demetria Zinga

Demetria is a homeschooling mom and "mompreneur" who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, two daughters, and a Shih-Tzu. She currently runs two podcasts for moms, blogs, writes music, and spends lots of time at coffee shops. Her goal is to be an encourager and motivator of women, helping them to find success and joy in homeschooling, business, and motherhood.

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