Routines, routines, routines. It may sound humdrum and dull to our middle school students, but it is so important for them- and as they say: “Mama knows best.” We have to begin the process of teaching them routines early on, and the tween and early teen years is an especially good time to establish this.
Body Care Maintenance Routines (for Middle School Students)
Need I really talk about this? Although we homeschool moms like to only think of academics when it comes to routine-establishing, believe me- you’ll be glad you went over the basics of this first step!
Forgive me if I seem crass, but it really is important that our teens learn all about deodorant and 5 minute morning showers. If you have girls, five minutes may be a stretch. That’s why it’s important to teach routines, see?
I have daughters and I understand the dilemma girls face. Showers, hair, makeup…it can take a really long time. And for boys, maybe it’s the opposite problem (not in the shower long enough)? Because many homeschool parents aren’t accustomed to rushing the kids out the door early each morning, it can be easy to allow some of the minor maintenance routines slip.
For example, when one of my daughters went to school briefly a few years ago, I was pretty adamant about making sure her 10 minute showers were no shorter, no longer, and that she washed her face, brushed her teeth, gargled with mouth rinse, styled her hair, and had picked out clean and unwrinkled clothing the night before. It’s amazing how I stewed over my kids when before it was time to go out in public, and how organized our body care routines were during those school days. But once we started homeschooling again, the routine began to slowly fade away as we casually climbed out of bed later and later.
In middle school, the goal for me was to encourage independence in that area. For us, it has been a successful venture. Maybe having a girl has something to do with that- though I’m not sure that’s the only reason. She loves to look good and smell good before she dives into her school work for the morning, and I’m guessing most of that is intrinsically motivated more than it has anything to do with me helping her to establish a routine. However, it’s great to know that you want the routines to be there, and to see your kids follow through.
Create a Get-Going Morning Routine
After my daughter showers and has breakfast, she begins her morning school work. This is not something I need to constantly remind her to do every morning. I don’t treat her like I did when she was seven.
We have a morning meeting together as a family, usually, where I meet with both kids for bible study (using Grapevine Studies). Then my teen takes off to either the office or her bedroom where she puts on her soft study music and gets started on her assignment list for the day.
When we establish morning routines to get going for the day, it makes the day run smoother. All expectations are laid out on the table and there is no confusion about what to do. And it’s great practice for high school.
Daily School Routines Without Mom
On occasion, I have a doctor appointment and can’t be home in the mornings when my daughter needs to get up and get going. That’s when it’s important to be able to establish trust with your student, that while you’re gone she’s going to be responsible enough to get some work done. This comes with practice and repetition.
At times I would leave for just an hour and see how it goes. When I realized she could be productive in one hour I was more likely to leave her a bit longer. (Just in case you’re wondering, I’m referring to mature teens who can handle being home alone for a bit). While I’m away (with dad at home telecommuting many times), I keep checking in from time to time to get an update on how school’s going.
We started this checking-in commitment when my daughter was in Connections Academy for 7th grade. I realized how essential this was for developing her personal study habits. Many of the Connections parents worked full time while their teen students were at home working on courses. I had always wondered how this could be possible.
Was it neglectful? Weren’t students at risk being home alone? Would they get anything done at all for school? Does this really help to develop responsibility in students?
I wouldn’t answer a straight yes for every middle schooler, but I do think many tweens and teens are capable of learning the responsibility of staying productive and busy completing assignments while parents are unavailable temporarily. As long as they are physically safe, mentally capable, and emotionally mature, a quiet (and well guarded) home with plenty of rules in place can help a young teen to develop study skills without overbearing mom over her shoulder every second of the day.
In my next post in this series on homeschooling middle school, I’ll be talking about the routine of establishing the habit of homeschool commitment. It’s similar to some of the things I mentioned in this post, but with a few extra details that I hope are helpful to you!
Let me know how you enjoyed this post! (Leave a comment- I love to chat!)