We are in our eighth year of homeschooling (yes, we were homeschooling before it was cool). And since we started when my daughter was in kindergarten, that means that (gulp!) we have a seventh grader this year.
This is the point in the educational journey when a lot of homeschool parents start to think about sending their kids to “regular” school, whether private or public, for two big reasons – content area and hormones. Whether it is the more challenging subject material or the more challenging age, middle school is just that – challenging!
I love it, though! Long before I was a homeschool mom, I was a middle school teacher, so I guess it’s part of me, and getting to teach my own daughter during these amazing years is even better than when I was in a classroom!
Here are my top five reasons why I love homeschooling my middle schooler.
I love the time I get to spend with my middle school daughter. If she were at school eight hours a day (in pre-COVID days), over the course of middle school, that is 4,320 hours she would spend away from home – the equivalent of 180 full 24-hour days. Instead, we get to spend that time working at the academics, yes, but also on activities that draw us closer as a family, on projects that serve our community, and in development of her own interests; activities that we might curtail if we had to worry about early wake-up times.
We have a running conversation in our home. In a time of life when kids often start to clam up (“What did you do in school today?” “Nothin’.”), we are constantly talking with each other, discussing things, debating topics, and sharing what is going on in life. Homeschooling creates an atmosphere where we can do this more easily, and my daughter is at a point where she wants to talk to me – so I let her! Listening to her now earns me the right to be heard later.
When tween issues crop up, we can address them, here, at home, in a loving and safe atmosphere. One thing we use to make conversations easier about issues like hormones, friends, and feelings is a dialogue journal. This is simply a composition book that is an ongoing correspondence between us. I write her a note on a page with a question or a comment about something going on, and put it under her pillow. A few days later, I might find it back in my room with her response.
Academically, her dad and I are on her team, choosing her curriculum, working with her to master hard subjects. If she were in school, I might be more in the dark about what she is learning and what she needed to work on. I know that teachers do their best to include parents, but I remember also what it is like to be a middle school teacher and how little time I had to make everything happen when I was one. But as her teacher at home, I know what she is learning about, how much she actually understands, and where we are going next.
There is so much misinformation flying around these days. I relish the opportunity to speak Truth into my daughter’s life; truth about who she is, who God is, and what is most important in life. These are precious and fleeting moments in her life, and I know that all too soon the day will come when she is ready to fly on her own. Having extra hours and days now, while she is still open to listening to my voice, is irreplaceable.
Are you are a parent of a middle school student and facing lots of additional hours at home together this fall? Whether you are homeschooling or doing virtual school at home, I hope you, too, can see the silver lining of this cloud in the extra hours you have with your child as he or she approaches the teen years.