Four Ways to Encourage Independence in Your Middle Schooler

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The years before high school are important as building steps towards becoming a mature teenager and then grooming into adulthood. Parents often find this time period challenging, full of emotions and a great time to start homeschooling where distractions and peer pressure are removed from the equation. Whether your child has been in traditional school and is just now making the transition or you have been homeschooling for years, it is necessary to make some adjustments so they can start taking control and investing in their future.

One of the first things to realize is that pre-teens are changing physically, mentally and emotionally so open communication is the most important things to keep open and maintain in the relationship. When it comes to their education, parents should know about 7th grade homeschool curriculum offered by the program they select. It should contain the standard list of subjects such as math, English, history, science and electives along with a chance to start language credit. Discuss this with your pre-teen and get their input about the subject matter, their comfort level with the online portal and being homeschooled. Many students at this age enjoy learning at home because there is less stress and pressure than being in a traditional classroom but if social engagement is a concern then check out local clubs for sports and drama to keep them involved with others.

Study and learning habits may change during this time frame because of the other things they are experiencing. Parents should avoid creating a new schedule and dictating it to the student, instead they should allow the pre-teen to explore new options. Some students may want to sleep in and work later, take a break throughout the day or get up first thing and work until they are done but it may take several iterations until they find what works for them. Allow room for understanding and patience and encourage them to take the responsibility for their own instead of telling them what to do. This gives them the room to explore and make personal decisions that affect not just their education but all aspects of their life. They also have the chance to learn from their mistakes so they know what not to do the next time because it doesn’t work for them.

Some students are natural organizers which makes studying and working through the grades an easier process. If that doesn’t describe your student, then there are other ways to help them find their own version of organization. Take what you know about 7th grade homeschool curriculum and talk with your student about how to setup a schedule using the online lesson planner and see what they would like to add that isn’t in the form of a textbook or course. All kids enjoy activities whether it is sports, drama, art or music, so find what they enjoy and create a class period in their schedule they can look forward to as a chance to step away from formal studies yet still doing an activity that is educational.

Every kid needs to play hooky once in a while, so as the parent, keep an eye on their mood and progress to see when that day is best to take. It doesn’t work to force them to learn or study when they simply aren’t in the mindset because they will just have to redo the work, it is time wasted and it can be unhealthy for their physical and emotional condition. Let them know that hard work deserves a break and that stepping away periodically is healthy and necessary. In fact, you may want to leave the door open so they are comfortable in coming to you and asking to take the day off. This builds independent thinking and personal awareness so they know when they need to step away without having to be told. When you take this day, make it fun and ask them what they want to do and use it to build the relationship so that it can be stronger than before. You won’t find this in a lesson planner, but the most experienced homeschoolers recommend this approach for all kids, not just pre-teens.

As you give them more control over their school schedule, selecting elective classes and a stronger voice in their education, they will start to invest more and become owners instead of just participants. This is the goal every homeschooling parent should have because once a teen is invested, they are self-motivated to make the best decisions and excited about taking their education seriously. Start with small steps and discuss the process with your pre-teen to get their thoughts about it and then watch how they naturally blossom into an independent young adult who is more than ready to take on their future and decide what they want to do after graduation.

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