The following is a post from contributing writer Mary Prather.
Just when you know what you are doing in your homeschool, something changes. We hummed along for two and a half years in our homeschool. I had figured out my children’s learning styles, what really made them tick, and which activities were sure to engage and excite them.
I had no idea, however, just how much I DID NOT know until my oldest hit sixth grade.
I am not speaking of the classic adolescent parent/child struggle. I am referring to the tremendous change that took place in my child as a LEARNER, and ultimately as a precious soul whose education falls on my shoulders. My background as a degreed educator and all of the reading I had done about middle grades education could not prepare me for the changes that would take place.
Are we ever prepared for the changes our children go through? After seeking advice from veteran homeschool moms, reading everything I could get my hands on, listening to my child, and a lot of PRAYER, I am able to articulate some ways I feel we, as the homeschool parent, must change with our middle grades child.
Give your child the independence they crave.
Children this age NEED to be independent. I had been so used to guiding my child through everything that it was hard for me to accept this independence, even if it meant her failing sometimes. I’m also striving to find activities which are just HERS, an anchor if you will.
Make them accountable.
My daughter has a daily and weekly checklist. She can complete her work in the order she pleases, but it must be done by Friday. I also try and give her some larger assignments (projects and papers) to complete by a certain deadline.
Embrace Interest Led Learning.
We have always done a lot of unit studies, but they were normally driven by my interests. Now, I try to let my daughter decide more of what she would like to learn. For example, she takes a special interest in the biology and anatomy, so we are doing a large unit study about Galen, the ancient Greek physician, and she is loving it.
Keeping reading out loud to them.
Kids can ALWAYS learn from a quality read aloud. Read alouds are a way we have always connected. Who doesn’t love a fabulous story curled up with their favorite fleece blanket and a cup of tea? (You know, I’m a HUGE read aloud fan!)
Be willing to change your educational philosophy, sometimes drastically.
I just heard Susan Wise Bauer say this, and it’s so true. What works at the age of 8 may be the WRONG thing at the age of 11. A departure from something does not mean it (or YOU) was wrong. It just means a change was in order.
You can get through it, but it won’t look like just what it looks like now. Parenting is like holding a butterfly – amazing and beautiful, but if you hold it too tightly you’ll have a real mess on your hands.
Blessings to all my fellow parents of middle grade students, as you handle your precious butterflies!
Mary is a homeschooling mom of an 11 year old, Anna and 8 year old, Grant. She prides herself on her ability to CHANGE! She is a musician, reader, and lover of all things education! Visit her at Homegrown Learners.