Much of the mystery and mayhem associated with the raging hormones of the middle school years can be mitigated by choosing to homeschool. While many of us remember the drama, tears, and embarrassment of attending public school in junior high, we can offer our own children a safe haven of support and understanding during these trying years. By investing in their emotional growth, self-awareness, and other-awareness, along with their education, we can make this a rewarding time for parents and offer an enormous boost to the personal confidence of our children. We often see the fruit and real rewards of homeschooling in these teenage years! They are not to be missed!
Flexibility is key to making it through middle school. Flexibility should be offered in morning start times since children during these years are in need of extra sleep to sustain growth; consider allowing them to sleep in, and start a little later. Teens are also trying to find their place so give them more choices, and therefore more responsibility and accountability, for their schedule and what to do for school. Allow flexibility for their learning styles and preferences and allow them to try new things, even if they fail. Let them pick some subjects of interest to them and create learning opportunities they will enjoy. Flexibility makes school more fun and less of a chore for you and your child.
Another key to success in middle school is to modify your own behavior in response to your child. Even though hormones and immaturity can make your child more volatile, you are an adult with more control and experience. Be sure to limit your assumptions about them. Instead, listen, try to understand, and don’t assume. Always be a willing ear and a trustworthy confidant, but also share your own stories and struggles when appropriate and helpful. Work on your relationship, and try to win their hearts rather than simply trying to control their behavior. However, don’t give them free rein. They’re still kids with under-developed brains and little common sense.
Another key to success is to create many opportunities for supporting their need for social interaction. Teach independence, but never neglect family time, which builds community through shared experiences. Schedule plenty of friend-time and age-appropriate field trips. Find a support group of like-minded families who can offer appropriate friend choices. A proverb says “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble” (Proverbs 13:20 NLT). Be sure that you are their primary influencer. Continue to build family memories with reading aloud, group memory work, and great discussions.
Although the hills and valleys can be drastic during middle school, the rewards of personally guiding your child through them with homeschooling will far outweigh the difficulties. If you remember to remain flexible, be their safe place, and create opportunities for social growth, you can navigate the middle school years with success and continue to homeschool.