When our oldest began his middle school last year, it was difficult for me. I had known this day was coming, but I wasn’t fully prepared. I wasn’t prepared for how much he would change – physically and emotionally. I had younger brothers, but I didn’t pay much attention to the changes that happened to them, so yes…I was clueless.
I began planning his sixth grade year, just like I had any other. However this time I was met with resistance from him. We were adding more subjects and he was complaining about most of them. I was so excited about them, so I didn’t understand why he wasn’t. That was until I realized…this was a big change. A change in the type of curriculum as well as the amount.
So, we made some changes. I adjusted what I was doing to make the transition to Middle School easier for him, and me both. These are the steps I took and my best advice for to help make the transition smoother.
5 Ways to Make the Transition Easier
Let them choose – I found with my oldest that it is important to let him be involved. He wanted to look through some of the curriculum options and have input in the decision process. So, we let him. We have a few curriculum options set in stone (i.e. CTC Math), but for the others we narrowed the choices down and he chose from there. It really made so much difference in his schooling this pas year, because he was genuinely interested in the ones he chose.
Don’t add every new subject at once – We are very laid back during the elementary years and more of an unschooling family, except for Math and Language Arts. Everything else we learn organically, as we come across something that peaks their interest. So when our oldest started Middle School this past year and we talked about all the new and exciting subjects he would have, he kinda freaked. Okay…he really freaked. So, we did a little adjustment to our schedule and started the year with only 3 subjects (Reading, Math & Science) and then gradually added in the others. It made the transition less of a shock and he acclimated very well.
Follow a Block Schedule – If you have strict state guidelines on your homeschool, or just need a more structured schedule from the beginning, try block scheduling. We have used it in the past and it really is a great way to start with all subjects without being overwhelmed. There are several options here, depending on what your child needs. You can do the core subjects daily and alternate between the extras or you can do what we’ve tried in the past and do Math & Reading every day, while alternating Science/History (not on the same day) and Language Arts/Foreign Language (again, not on the same day).
Give more independence – I wouldn’t say I was a helicopter parent, but I did hover over my children to help keep them focused and on the right track, so they would finish their work each day, or at least by the end of the week. Starting in 5th grade I stayed back a little more and just gave him pushes when he needed them. Now that he is in middle school, I write out all the assignments for the week and he is responsible for reading them and completing them. I still get him started in the morning, because…well, he’s 12 and let’s face it, there are days he would rather sit in front of a game than do his schoolwork. However, it is up to him how he paces himself during the day. If he piddles around during the day, he might not finish until dinner time. But if he stays on task, he often finishes before lunch. This has been good for him this past year as he has learned the consequences of not staying on task and having to finish his work – a real life lesson.
Independence doesn’t mean letting them roam free and do what they want without consequences. It means teaching them how to manage their time, stay on task and complete what is given to them.
Don’t leave out the Fun! – I have to admit, I’m not the most “fun” Mom in the world. I do not like crafts or paint. I like things neat and tidy, but with 5 kids…that rarely happens. That’s one reason I love to create the fun printables I do. However, I overlooked this for quite a few months this past year and I felt terrible when my son pointed it out to me. Just because he was now in 6th grade, didn’t mean it was all business. Make sure to keep some of the fun, whether through nature walks and fun explorations or just allowing them to choose an area to study. Learning is fun and it needs to stay fun, no matter their age.
If you’ve been around here for even a little bit, you know I have created a plethora of printables for PreK-5th grade. This past year, my oldest told me he felt left out now. He loved working on some of the printables I have created over the years and now that he was in middle school, they were just gone. He said, “I miss the fun!”
So, I have decided beginning in August, I will be adjusting my schedule to include new printables geared toward Middle and High School. I am excited about these, as I am also working on a new and huge product for this age-group that I hope will be out later this year or early next year. Even though I will be creating new products for the upper grades, I will not abandon the PreK and Elementary grades.
What can you expect?
As I mentioned, with the new format I will still continue to create printables. I will also continue the Marriage & Motherhood Mondays series. So, if you are looking for PreK-Elementary printables, be sure to check in on Wednesdays each week and if you’re looking for Middle and/or High School printables, check in on Fridays.
Even though I have quite a line-up of new printables in mind, I am always open to suggestions. So if you have suggestions for any age/grade, don’t hesitate to let me know!