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  1. #1

    Default Considering homeschooling for middle school. Completely overwhelmed by options!

    My son has been attending a very good public school for elementary school, but next year he will be in middle school. I don't love the public school option here and the private school option is ridiculously expensive. My son wants to go to the private school (where all of his friends are going), but he is also interested in homeschooling. I don't feel confident enough to teach him all subjects, so I'm looking into online classes for him, where he could be follow videos, etc online and supplement with reading or workbooks. How in the world do you choose from so many choices? Just wondering if any other middle school homeschoolers could provide thoughts on guidance? Thanks so much!

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  3. #2

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    One of our members, Farrar, out of Wash DC, has a great book on homeschooling middle school that can help.

    My kids are now in college, so middle school was several years ago. However, we used those years to let them start focusing on things that really interested them. So that can help guide some of your planning. Does your son like WW 2 history? Then let him study that. Does he like marine animals? Study oceanography. This is the age where my DD really started to write a TON. She's now a senior majoring in English and journalism.

    What topics DO you feel confident in teaching? I'd avoid anything online for things you can help with. For language arts, my kids typically read fiction that tied into other things (history or science) they were studying. You can usually find study questions online, but simply discussing the content works just as well.

    Maybe hold off buying a bunch of curriculum at once. Start with one topic, do some research, ask some questions here, then make a decision. Involve your son as well, especially as he's interested in homeschooling. He's old enough to be self-aware about how he learns best and what interests him.

    Sorry this reply is rambling. I'm sure others will have more concrete suggestions for you.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter (22), a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son (21), a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  4. #3

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    Seconding the advice on Farrar’s book. She always has sensible advice, and its nice to know that the author isnt going to show you how to incorporate bible thumping into your day.
    And also with the advice about no online stuff. Even you bumbling through subjects is going to be better than a non-interactive, impersonal computer program or recorded video. Approach each subject as if YOU are going to learn it alongside your kid. Books for him should be able to teach you, too, right? I remember learning way more about history when going through it with my oldest son than what was recalled from my high school and college years. (We just finished another pass through the Greeks and Romans, I feel that Ive doubled my knowledge of them again this last time through.) We are studying calligraphy together now, it doesnt hurt for him to see me struggling with making the letters clumsily at first and improving. We also went throgh a “Learn to Draw in 30 days” book, and before that, I was at the level of stick figures. You dont have to know already what he is about to learn.
    But - you being oresent with him, you can see if he is getting the concept, or distracted, or is fascinated in a worthwhile side-adventure of learning... something that an online course cannot do. (Todays side adventure for us started with the quality of Roman roads, then how the ruts meant all wagons had to have wheels the same distance apart, which led to why railroads have a 4’ 8.5” space between them - because it was the size roman chariots figured was needed to accomodate two horses butts. It makes a nice story, but then we went and checked it with Snopes. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/horses-pass/ )My point is, the story captured his imagination and engagement. An online class isnt going to get him that, and certainly wont shift into a discussion of what makes a credible yet false story.
    Anyways, dont give up on teaching him yourself. You can learn this stuff better than he can!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexsmom View Post
    Seconding the advice on Farrar’s book. She always has sensible advice, and its nice to know that the author isnt going to show you how to incorporate bible thumping into your day.
    And also with the advice about no online stuff. Even you bumbling through subjects is going to be better than a non-interactive, impersonal computer program or recorded video. Approach each subject as if YOU are going to learn it alongside your kid. Books for him should be able to teach you, too, right? I remember learning way more about history when going through it with my oldest son than what was recalled from my high school and college years. (We just finished another pass through the Greeks and Romans, I feel that Ive doubled my knowledge of them again this last time through.) We are studying calligraphy together now, it doesnt hurt for him to see me struggling with making the letters clumsily at first and improving. We also went throgh a “Learn to Draw in 30 days” book, and before that, I was at the level of stick figures. You dont have to know already what he is about to learn.
    But - you being oresent with him, you can see if he is getting the concept, or distracted, or is fascinated in a worthwhile side-adventure of learning... something that an online course cannot do. (Todays side adventure for us started with the quality of Roman roads, then how the ruts meant all wagons had to have wheels the same distance apart, which led to why railroads have a 4’ 8.5” space between them - because it was the size roman chariots figured was needed to accomodate two horses butts. It makes a nice story, but then we went and checked it with Snopes. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/horses-pass/ )My point is, the story captured his imagination and engagement. An online class isnt going to get him that, and certainly wont shift into a discussion of what makes a credible yet false story.
    Anyways, dont give up on teaching him yourself. You can learn this stuff better than he can!

    Why don't we have an option to LOVE a post?!? This one is great.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter (22), a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son (21), a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  6. #5

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    Thank you for taking the time to respond! I will definitely check out the book recommendation. I'm honestly not sure what topic I feel comfortable teaching, but definitely not the math subjects. I'm also hoping I still have time in my day to pursue my own interests as well. My youngest is in first grade and I've been a stay at home mom for almost 11 years now. I'm just starting to begin finding my own hobbies again and hoping to be able to still pursue them. Specifically, I'm into painting, which I feel I could do with my son at times to help him with art. I've asked him what learning style would work best for him and he says he likes a mix of online and books. He's very tech-oriented. Robotics and science are his strongest interests. He takes piano lessons, is on a lego league team and is part of a Scout group. He seems happy with this amount of socialization. My daughter (in first grade at public school and I plan to keep her there, because it's a phenomenal elementary school) and she has several after school activities and weekend activities. We have very busy evenings and weekends, so my time during the day has become sacred. I'm hoping I don't sound too selfish about my time, but I am hoping that if I choose to home school my son for middle school that there will be at least some things he can do on his own, so that I have time to continue my own endeavors. Am I kidding myself?

  7. #6

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    Thanks for your response. Do you find that you ever have any time to pursue your own interests? If I have to give up my time, I am willing to do that, but I really hope I don't have to completely give up my own hobbies. We have extremely busy evenings and weekends with kid activities and my days from 8:30 to 2:30 are crucial for me to accomplish most chores, hobbies, errands, etc. I do appreciate the pep talk though. I love the idea of being very closely connected to my son's studies, but I'm hoping there will be some things he can do on his own.
    Thanks again!

  8. #7

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    Im an avid quilter - sometimes I post my projects here in the Roll Call section. So yes, you will have time for your own things.
    My oldest son (7th grade) is terrible about doing quality work on his own. Ive recently gone to reading his history books aloud with him, because he wasnt understanding the concepts to my satisfaction.
    My youngest, in first grade, will happily work, without cajoling or manipulation, on finishing an assignment that we start together.
    So that level of work ethic will depend on your kid.
    We tried “time for learning” online stuff for a couple months - and it was a complete waste of time. He learned to game the program, and flew through 2-3 grades worth of work, without managing to learn a single thing. So a kid that isnt going to work for you as a parent is not going to work for a computer screen.

    That all said, it doesnt take very much time to get through a day’s worth of schoolwork, even when you go exploring the web for what units of measure ancient Romans used. Both my kids get through their lessons in the mornings, and that takes into account a generously late start time (Its after 8, im just getting going now.), and getting most of what housework I do done (and cooking two meals and dinner meal prep). (In fairness, my youngers work is usually done in the time my oldest is doing his math problems.)
    Independently, he reads his literature books and types out his writing (and does his math problems).

    Yes, you will have time for yourself! But - what your kid gets out of homeschooling is a direct correlation to what YOU put into it.

    (This part may seem a little harsh, please dont take it as an attack on you, a lot of people say “i could never teach my kids math”.) I dont know what to say about the reluctance to teach math. Calculus, yes, I can see that might be daunting. Arithmetic and pre-algebra? Is it some badge of honor to say you are terrible at math, afraid of fractions? Worst case, math books are designed to teach kids (Well, except for Pearson), you should be able to follow along and help him. There are also many well-liked homeschool math programs that appear to be far superior to what Pearson forces public schools to use, dont feel you need to stick with what *they* use.

    We understand the new-to-homeschooling anxieties and feelings of being overwhemed. From experience, we know it is not that hard, it doesnt take up that much time, and if it wasnt worth it, we wouldnt do it.

    Keep asking, sharing your worries!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  9. #8

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    Thank you! Could I ask what type of curriculum/schedule you use?

  10. #9

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    We have used the Build Your Library “curriculum” as our main source for the last couple years. It is a literature based, integrated program where language arts, science, and history are taught together. This year we are doing “History of the World through Science”; last year we did “World Geography”. Build Your Library – Secular Literature Based Homeschool Curriculum and Educational Products
    Our routine (because schedules arent flexible when you have to take the car into the shop, or its raining, or your mother in law wants to have breakfast, or your neighbors cat had kittens, or you slept late) for school days goes like this:

    Wake up, have breakfast. Make sure DS13 has list of schoolwork for the day.
    Go over math with DS13. DS6 plays outside or does reading game on computer.
    When DS13 does math, DS6 and I do math, reading, and writing. If we had a wimpy breakfast, we usually have a snack after this, otherwise DS6 is done and I go on to discussing the history/science lesson. He may have some independent work, where I might do housework or meal-related stuff. There is always a literature book to read, we discuss that, as well. The last thing I usually do with him is discuss whatever writing assignment he is working on.
    Then lunch, and our elective class (finishing up “art”, about to start Japanese). He reads and finishes his writing in the afternoon, while Im doing whatever else it is I do.
    DS13 spends many Fridays at Grandma’s, so when Im organized and there is something, I will give him a schooly assignment to do while there. (Often it is just to read his literature book.)

    Search in our archives for routines and schedules; everyone does things differently to suit themselves, and they change over the years.
    You will be reassured, though, that academic lessons dont consume our lives!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  11. #10

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    Just chiming in here for the how much time does it take it. I have homeschooled my 10.5 year old for the past 2.5 years. She is just going into her last year of primary (elementary) in the NZ system (school year starts Feb).

    Before we started, I was also worried about the time aspect. I work part time (self employed science editor) and I like my me time. My daughter has a pretty good work ethic and works well on her own. Our daily routine usually goes math (mostly taught by the curriculum she uses: Beast Academy); I mark and discuss the math with her; music or exercise on her own; a break; independent reading; writing (on her own or with me depending on what we are doing; foreign language (on her own); a break; and then science, social studies, or art (together).

    I have lots of time to do work (usually fit in about 3 h), do my exercise, and have hobbies (I take horse riding lessons).

    Also, on the online stuff, we also tried online at first because I thought it would be easier. It actually required a lot more input from me than our current system does. My daughter also did not like it. She likes doing specific supplementary things online, but not all her learning for either single subjects or everything online. I guess in school, online stuff might be the fun part of the day, so they gravitate towards that, but once they find they can direct their learning more, they find other types of learning are fun too.

    We do not use an overall guiding curriculum. We have curricula for math (Beast Academy, used all the time), writing (Bravewriter, used with a mix of other things), music (SQUILT, used with other things), science (Real Science Odyssey (used with other things). Then we just arrange things based on interest for social studies, art, and some science. We have made friends with our local librarians, which is great as we just tell them what DD is into learning and they source us a heap of books to use.

    Good luck figuring out what works for you. I found the best thing for us was to just start with what was important to us (math) and build up the rest over time.
    New Zealand-based. DD 10 (year 6 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 5 (year 1 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

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Considering homeschooling for middle school.  Completely overwhelmed by options!