Tips for Homeschooling Middle School Students

by Andrea Hogue

Tip #1: What to Do When

Choose the two hardest subjects and do those first. At most, spend one well-spent hour per subject. Don’t do more. Assess why there is work left. Was too much work assigned? Was the student wasting time? Decide: Should homework be assigned? Should your expectations change for tomorrow? After the first two subjects, allow a 30-minute break. Then, have them accomplish one easier subject before lunch.
Take an hour lunch break: eat, and do an activity of their choosing (nap, tv, video game, whatever)
After lunch, tackle the 3rd hardest subject. Same one hour rule.
Then just complete the rest of the subjects one at a time. At the end of the day assess the “homework” and don’t start in until after dinner.

Tip 2: Use a timer

Students at home can really struggle with time awareness. Timers will be your lifesaver! Kids know that it feels like it takes forever to unload the dishwasher or fold a load of clothes. Adults know that each of these jobs takes less than ten minutes. An hour of math might feel like forever to your young teens, but a timer lets them know that they are done with the job when it goes off and prevents constant clock-checking in for the duration.

Tip 3: Find their motivator.

What is the thing they will look forward to doing once they are done with their work? That becomes the reward for the work completed. We call this the Responsibility before Reward rule. I use it every day. Once you get done with this (whatever benchmark it might be), you can spend an hour doing that. Establish the principle of work before pleasure from the get-go.)

Tip 4: Keep their stuff together.

Papers, and folders, and books, oh my!!! Designate for each student a “locker” space. This may be a bookshelf, a closet, a corner of a room. They need a place where all of their stuff is stored and they need to put it back there at the end of the day. Keeping track of their papers can be a nightmare. They also need a system for storing their accomplishments for each subject every day. You can use a manilla envelope or a clipboard for their daily work, or store it by subject in folders. You can set up a binder and store work there either by the week or by the subject. This also creates a quick way for you to look over their work and verify that it was actually completed.

Tip 5: Set clear expectations and measurable goals

Ask your students about their expectations. How much math do they believe they can do in thirty minutes if they are really concentrating and working on it? Set a goal that stretches them a tiny bit, but not to the point of frustration. Be clear about what assignments and chores should be completed in order to be done for the day. Let them know this is all new for you too, and that you also need grace! When our kids are invited into the bigger work of the family, it empowers them to play their part

Tip 6: Reward the behavior you want to encourage.

If you find yourself in a constant correction cycle, adjust your mindset. Make an effort to praise and reward the things that your students are doing well, whether they are little or big. You can go a step further and create a reward system in which they earn points and get an ultimate reward (extra free time, screen time, an actual prize). This may seem elementary, but it works for all ages.

Tip 7: Enjoy your kids!

This is a time of discipleship, and God is equipping you for this good work every day. Seek the Lord about how He sees this moment and how He sees your child. Pray into that and trust that you are being empowered to do the good work He has set out for you in these weeks!

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