Our homeschooling journey didn’t start from the very beginning. I did not have years of experience before we entered the middle school years on our own, and there are many times I wish I did. I believe there are steps that you make as each year passes, knowing what to expect and what new goals you have for both yourself and your child. Well, as someone who didn’t have that previous knowledge to work with, and knowing many people are pulling their kids out of school near the middle school years, in sha Allah these lessons learned provide some help and support to get you on the right foot.
Think *years* ahead
I’ve heard so many homeschool moms say they plan year to year, but when I look back, I don’t think any of those homeschool moms were teaching beyond elementary grades. The early years are pretty forgiving, as long as you are covering math and reading well. Once you get to middle school, it is very helpful to have a 2-4 year plan. You want things to start falling in a logical sequence, and normally that means finding a curriculum publisher and sticking with them for a couple years. You may pick Saxon for math, IEW for writing, or go with a boxed curriculum. Whatever you choose, look at the years ahead and try to find something that will fit your family for a few years. Trust me, life is so much easier that way.
Tailor their curriculum
If you’ve been using boxed curriculum up until now, at least give it some thought into branching out for different subjects. My oldest daughter started with the K12 virtual school and she hated literature. She’s still not a fan of literature, but I’ve found a curriculum she can tolerate. She puts more effort into her work now, I am therefore more satisfied grading her work, and we’re all happy. Also, when your teen has to battle through a curriculum they hate, it takes their energy reserve from things they like doing. Even if it means more research time on your part, give them a little bit of a break and find curriculum that both of you can live with.
Keep expectations reasonable
I learned the hard way that in order to see progress and deeper thinking in my child’s work, I had to let her know I was expecting it. Often I would look at a question that was presented, know how I would answer it, and not understand why she wasn’t answering it in a similar manner. She wanted to keep answering like a 4th grader would because she was always told how great her 4th grade answers are. In order to shift your expectations, you have to communicate them, and you have to allow your child time to really grasp it and take on the new habit. Seems so simple, but it was a hard lesson learned.
Don’t let grading slack
I hate grading papers, with a passion. I have teacher friends that tell me that’s pretty normal across the board, but that doesn’t make me want to do it anymore. In the elementary years, and sometimes in the middle school years, you can grade as you go. Once your child reaches high school and they are much more independent, it’s easy to forget about grading. That task you hate doing? Spending 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon doing it is awful. Just get it done every week, in sha Allah.
Start record keeping early
For most people, your child’s 9th grade year is too late to start keeping records. It’s a lot of work to keep on top of grades, and having a system in place to make sure you get everything recorded. Give yourself a year, or more, to get acquainted with grading systems, find something that works for you, a routine for handing in completed work, and work that needs to be redone.
Of course, all families are different, and some adapt to the upper grades easily or hold less value on grades or curriculum. If you are heading toward the upper grades in your homeschool, make sure to check out my Pinterest boards for middle school and high school for more tips and advice in the last leg of your homeschooling journey, in sha Allah!
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