View Full Version : Holy Crap, My Kid's Almost A Middle Schooler! Advice?

01-25-2016, 07:31 PM
What the heck happened?! Last week my DS was 3 years old and thought Wa Wa Wubbzy was the greatest thing on earth. Now he is almost in 5th grade, which (according to our semi-classical setup) will put him in MIDDLE SCHOOL. This upcoming school year has got me sweating bullets, because although I've been a pretty competent elementary school "teacher", I have no idea what to expect in the higher grades.

This kid is almost more than I can keep up with NOW. He literally rips through his scheduled assignments in an hour or two each morning. His grades are consistently high, too. And he swallows novels in a couple of days. I'm talking Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, here-- not Runaway Ralph. BIG books. Some books, he likes so much, he just reads them over and over in an endless loop.

I know I need to demand more of him in middle school, so that he can't just shred through it all in a couple of hours. It's supposed to challenge him, right? So I'm introducing a formal logic course, and a more demanding science curriculum. The trouble is, I don't know if I'm smart enough to teach logic, ha ha. My kid is officially smarter than me.

Also he wants more freedom these days, and seems to resent his assignments more than a little. I know that comes with him growing up. But I've got to keep upping the intensity of the schoolwork, so he can grow. Sometimes it's hard to be his mom and his teacher, too.

For those of you who've taught middle schoolers. How is it different than teaching younger children? How do you find a balance between "I love you, you're my mom" and "I sort of hate you because you're my teacher"? Any nuggets of wisdom?


01-25-2016, 08:02 PM
How old is he, chronologically*?

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is relearning the information just in time, or before I present it to him. I know a lot more about US history than I did before picking up Hakims books and making a habit out of history documentaries.
I took a logic class in college, I remember the types of things they talked about, and if my DS showed an interest in it, Id be pretty happy to relearn alongside him - modeling to him that I still like learning as well.

What do you mean, he rips through his scheduled assignments? Are they boring, busywork for him? Do you do them with him? And getting high grades? Im just trying to understand how youre doing school.

ETA: I ask the age because in July 2013 blog post you said he was 6... which makes him 8 now; I think the *Middle School Years* have more to do with chronological age than how fast you ran through a WTM cycle.

01-25-2016, 08:30 PM
Hah! Middle school: gateway to high school and OMG sh*t startz getting realz

Nah. Look up Piaget and brain development. If you're doing classical-ish, that logic stage basically = let's question everything my parent says to me, and throw some wee bit of attitude back at parent to keep parent hopping

oh and body changes and brain development and big feet

Oh and rushing through assignments because sheesh easy! and I want to do Minecraft with my own people

It is (IMveryHO) one of the easiest periods to school because they're still technically kids but you can start having a relationship with them that's a little more "normal" and not I am the parent and I know better, you are the kid and you just need to do it. You can both learn stuff together. That's why *I* think it's fun, and that's kind of what Alexsmom is saying (at least I think!) about reading the info a couple days ahead of presenting/learning about it.

Anyway from what you're describing, you're both on that bridge between the top=down parent teaching/assigning and the bottom-up kid learning/teaching the parent. At this point (with the logic stuff or with anything that makes them think a bit) I do the "well tell ME what's so awesome about Justinian. Why do we care what he did and when he did it" and she fast-flashes facts back at me about what she's spent the afternoon reading and diagramming. So I become more of her sounding board. Less of the wah-Wah teacher a la Charlie Brown. I mean, yes, I still have the job of directing what she learns, but she's become so much more independent in how she gets there.

01-25-2016, 09:39 PM
You can just pretend that you moved to another country. There is no "middle school" here. Junior high starts in grade 7, so your kid is still firmly stuck in elementary school and you have at least two more years before you have to worry about anything :)

01-25-2016, 09:55 PM
I would tend to agree with Avalon, that "middle school" is simply a choice of how to view things, particularly if you home educate, because in that case, you are as free to follow your child's individual development as you wish to be. In my area, they make "middle school" 4th grade and 5th, (so elementary is now Preschool-through-3rd grade!) and "Junior High" here starts in 6th!

Just over the bridge in another town, K-6th is elementary, and they have better schools.

In some places in the US, there was simply Elementary, Middle, and High, and Middle was 7th and 8th. In other places they break it down further, with Junior High as 7-8, Middle as 5-6th.

When my mother was a girl, High school lasted 3 years: 10th, 11th, and 12th. Before that, 7th, 8th, and 9th, were Middle School (what many places now would call Junior High) and then before that, 1-6, was Elementary.

It's all so very arbitrary.

01-25-2016, 10:53 PM
many private schools in my area don't even HAVE middle school. It's just elementary and then high school. Pretend you are a private school. :-)

01-26-2016, 12:43 AM
None of my kids ever went to middle school. The baby is 8 and he is in "ungraded elementary".

01-26-2016, 06:28 AM
That's funny because when I was in middle school I hated my parents and loved my teachers. My mom always says I was 12 for three years.

Isn't the age/grade range of middle school determined by the size and capacity of the buildings? My town's k-6 became a k-4 and they built another middle school, now two smaller 5-8 schools rather than one 7/8, to accommodate enrollment. My current city basically sizes schools by kid size and max student to teacher ratio. Generally starting middle school at 6th grade (when kids are taller, classes are bigger) which is 11 by Sept 1.

01-26-2016, 10:10 AM
I am assuming your son is 9/10 years old? They really are not "middle school" until about 12/13 and even then it really depends on where your child is at both emotionally, in addition to academically.

I don't think kids at that age need to have the extra pressure to perform at specific levels at that point. Since he is resistant to what is going on, I would change things up. He is still at an age where you and mix up what you are doing and not worry about it until he is 15/16, which high school for most kids starts.

He is at an age that he can have input into his education. What is he interested in, what does he like spending his time doing or what kids of topics would he like to explore? Those are the things I would be considering and seeing where he would like to go with them? Sometimes when we are in a rut, kids will rebel and creating fun projects with your child can help with that rut.

For example, if he is interested in cars, tigers or doing science experiments. Create a project that would focus on something very specific (you can look at project-based learning for ideas) and watch videos, read books, find websites that will help him learn about the specific topics and then he can create a project that demonstrates what he learned. A poster or booklet is common. Nothing fancy, cut and paste, poster board, etc. I guess if he is into computers, maybe a powerpoint, but a booklet or poster you can show people or hang on the wall and the kids are generally pretty proud of the project and what they learned.

01-26-2016, 11:46 AM
And he swallows novels in a couple of days. I'm talking Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, here-- not Runaway Ralph. BIG books. Some books, he likes so much, he just reads them over and over in an endless loop.

Just let him keep doing this! Reading is never a bad thing. My daughter refers to those she rereads over and over again as her "comfort books."

The trouble is, I don't know if I'm smart enough...

You don't need to be. We used the time they were 10-ish to high school to let the kids REALLY get into topics they like. For the most part, they self-taught themselves. For my daughter, this involved hours and hours of writing. My son taught himself programming. They both spent an entire year during that time frame studying WW II.

Also he wants more freedom these days...

This can be provided still under some guidance and supervision. At this age my kids became more involved in outside activities: STEM mentoring groups, 4-H, softball, volunteering at a local National Park, etc. Is it possible he could get a simple part-time job to give him a feeling of responsibility and independence? Raking a neighbor's leaves, walking someone's dog, etc?? Something that wouldn't take much time?

How do you find a balance between "I love you, you're my mom" and "I sort of hate you because you're my teacher"?

Honestly, some days you don't. Both of my kids had periods where they seemingly hated me as mom AND as teacher. You just have to consistently let him know you love him but have rules/boundaries for his behavior.

Enjoy this time as much as possible. It goes by much too quickly.

01-26-2016, 12:48 PM
He's 8? Middle school?

My advice....enjoy this journey, don't get ahead of yourself, and don't assume that whatever your situation is (ahead, behind, right on target) that it won't change. And besides, it's not like all of these changes (that you are concerned about) will happen at a magic age, grade, or reading level.

I agree with Crunchynerd, it IS all so very arbitrary.

PS: I'm thinking you didn't actually mean that he "literally rips through" his assignments. Because if you did, I'd say he might have anger issues! LOL! An hour or two at 8 years old is........average.