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Pressing through the middle years of homeschooling: how do you do it?

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I just read my weekly email from Simple Homeschool, and this quote really jumped out at me:

 

But all three kids are in middle school now and, like the middle pages of a story I love, I’ve found that this season presents new challenges.

I have to discipline myself not to become bored, irritated, or anxious to skip ahead in this chapter of homeschooling.

I remind myself that there is much to learn in the middle of things.

 

(here is the URL for the full post: http://simplehomeschool.net/middle-years-homeschooling/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SimpleHomeschool+%28Simple+Homeschool%29

 

 

Thinking a bit more about this (sorry! I'm flipping between a few different screens.)  I have not had nearly the angst in the middle school years as I've had in the high school years. I feel like I still have so much time to cover the content and teach the skills. Sometime in high school, though, I start to feel like the window is closing and, if a child is not where I want them to be character-wise or academically, well, I can start to breathe a bit heavy at that point. But middle school? No. If there is one thing I learned to do in the middle school years it is to continue working on skill, skill, skill and let content be the sieve for skill application.

 

 How do you maintain high expectations and the sweet spot of offering them things that make them stretch and grow, without pushing?  Anybody feel like talking about this?

 

 

That's the push and pull all through growing kids to launch. All the way through high school. I don't do this perfectly, but I do best when

 

1) I'm a student of my child. Like 8 fills the heart wrote, none of my kid have learned the same way, respond to the same motivation or have matured at the same rate. 

 

2) I see what others are doing but then put the blinders on.  It's good to know what is developmentally appropriate and what is possible. BUT. It is only frustrating when I superimpose another student's amazing achievements on my child.  I'm here right now and it stinks when I get this messed up.  I want to motivate and encourage but  ... well, see #1. 

 

3) I remember growing to adulthood is not linear. Add that to things I wish I knew as my first was growing up! One day, I stand back just amazed at something my teen stepped up and did and the next, I'm wondering what in the world s/he was thinking. (Though this is mostly a *he* issue in our house.) So, in addition to the mix of finding the sweet spot between high expectations and keeping them challenged while not overly pushing/causing conflict and frustration, you have to take into account that -- given the emotions and hormones and fears and distractions of these years -- they are not the same person day to day.  

 

Lisa

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What helps me not expect too much is looking back at how much my kids have grown through the years. I feel peaceful and encouraged when I consider that the difference between 11 and 18 must surely be as profound as the difference between 4 and 11. That is really saying something, right!? They are turning into such interesting people! We have arrived...at where we are now! :) 

 

Also, I have a lecture that my kids know by heart and can parrot back to me at will, complete with eye rolls. It goes something like... You have the rest of your life to be a grown up. Once you are a grown up, that's it. No more childhood. You can't go back. There is no rush. There will never be another chance at this, so do not wish it away. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. LOL So I figure if I am dishing out that (totally awesome!! :tongue_smilie: ) advice to my kids, I should be sure to take it on their behalf. 

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3) I remember growing to adulthood is not linear. Add that to things I wish I knew as my first was growing up! One day, I stand back just amazed at something my teen stepped up and did and the next, I'm wondering what in the world s/he was thinking. (Though this is mostly a *he* issue in our house.) So, in addition to the mix of finding the sweet spot between high expectations and keeping them challenged while not overly pushing/causing conflict and frustration, you have to take into account that -- given the emotions and hormones and fears and distractions of these years -- they are not the same person day to day.  

 

Lisa

 

Lisa, I love this!  Our parenting mantra, since the girls were tiny, has been "Progress is not linear."  It got us through lots of sleepless nights, teething pains, bedwetting episodes, and early puberty.  I'm sure it will get us through many more parenting adventures!

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Rose, for science could you do the foundational work but then link different units to issues in the news to give them excitement/relevance.  Like after you study DNA and the cell, you could have her research and write a paper on cloning.  Perhaps that approach would help *both* of you keep the joy going as you dig deeper into complex issues after studying foundational material. 

 

Chemistry in the Community, written by ACS, takes this approach with Chemistry.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Well.   We had a big day today.  We've been studying LOTR, part of a big Fantasy Lit plan I put together this summer.  We did The Hobbit, that was great.  We did Fellowship, using the end of chapter study notes in LLLOTR and by the end, it was starting to drag a bit.  We took a break to read and study Macbeth (her theater group will be performing it) and meanwhile I asked her to start reading The Two Towers.  I noticed it was going very slowly . . . so I asked her what was up, if she was enjoying it.  She said yes, but - she was really dreading having to go through it chapter by chapter.

 

Well ok.  Dread of a favorite book of mine was *not* what I was going for.  I told her no worries, we'll drop it - read it on your own, or not, as you like.  But, I said, I do need you to choose some more challenging books to read and study this year - it can't be all Harry Potter and Percy Jackson all the time! So I said, come up with some things you'd like to read instead.

 

She thought for a minute or two, and then rattled off this list:  Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The War of the Worlds, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Odyssey.

 

Um, Ok.

 

This was really a huge breakthrough for both of us.  I'd been telling her that I was open to her input, but in its absence, I've gone ahead and planned things.  I'm so glad to have her speak up and suggest some stuff she wants to read!! It's what I've been hoping for.  Yay autonomy!

 

It makes me think of a quote I wrote down recently:  "To enforce self-determination is a contradiction in terms; to impose autonomy constitutes a usurpation of it.."  Harold N Boris.  Pair that with another favorite, from Schumacher: "Perhaps we cannot raise the winds. But each of us can put up the sail, so that when the wind comes we can catch it."

 

I think we caught some wind today at our house!

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Bumping on the 4 year anniversary of original posting of this thread, as it is a really worthwhile topic to revisit. ?

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12 minutes ago, cintinative said:

Thanks. @Lori D. do you have a corrected link for Nan from Mass' post quoted on page 1?

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/68058-to-all-you-people-with-8th-graders-or-there-abouts/?hl=+nan%20+mass


"To all you people with 8th graders or there-abouts"

It is also linked in the pinned thread at the top of the high school board: "High School Motherlode #1", on page 1 of that thread, under the subheading of "Addressing Fears About Homeschooling High School". ? Here's the "table of contents" of topics in that pinned thread:

CONTENTS: HIGH SCHOOL MOTHERLODE #1:

page 1 topics:
High School Time Table (what to do/when for each year of high school)
Teaching Executive Function Skills
Preparing for High School
Addressing Fears
Getting Started
Books & Resources
Making a High School Plan
Time Management
High School on a Budget
Expectations/Attitudes
Accreditation / Cover Schools

page 2 topics:
tests -- info and comparisons on:
PSAT  (National Merit Scholarship qualifying test)
ACT / SAT  (frequent college entrance requirement)
SAT Subject  (also called SAT II)
AP  (Advanced Placement courses & tests)
CLEP  (college credit by exam)
GED  (high school diploma equivalency test)
ASVAB  (military entrance exam)
Compass/Accuplacer  (college placement test)
IB (International Baccalaureatte program / diploma), and comparison with AP

You might also find some past threads of interest at the top of page 5 of the pinned thread "High School Motherlode #2" -- threads on specific subjects (such as Writing, Math, Science, etc), and also on making your own "Do It Yourself" courses. Happy reading! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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12 hours ago, Lori D. said:

You might also find some past threads of interest at the top of page 5 of the pinned thread "High School Motherlode #2" -- threads on specific subjects (such as Writing, Math, Science, etc), and also on making your own "Do It Yourself" courses. Happy reading! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

Thank you! I am still working through the Motherlode #1 thread. ?  

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

That thread has so many great posters who I miss reading their thoughts and experiences. 

I wonder how Rose's (from this thread) dd is doing. Miss her, too.


Also hoping Rose and family are doing well. She has started SO many great threads of thoughtful conservations on these boards. 

One thing I very much enjoyed about re-reading this thread is seeing where all those then-middle school students and their moms are now. So many of these moms are posting on the college application threads going on over on the high school and college boards, as they are about to graduate those students! You go, ladies! (:D

Edited by Lori D.
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Hi guys! What a fun and bittersweet thing it is, to read these old threads. My first thought is what a difference a few years make: my second dd is now in 7th grade, and what a different kid she is, what a different teacher I am, and what a different life situation we're in now. The things that felt totally overwhelming to me a few years ago just aren't that important at this point: grappling with a kid's 2 years of chronic illness definitely puts their essay-writing challenges into perspective.

Shannon is still struggling with Lyme disease, although she is in a better place than she was a year ago. We essentially had to take last year off from school, she was too sick to function. This year is a lighter, kinder, gentler re-do of 10th grade, and she's doing ok with it. But I've had to step away from the homeschooling boards, and especially the High School board where a lot of my peers are hanging out these days, because the stress of seeing what everybody else is doing and the temptation to compare and feel inadequate is just a stress that I don't need.

Relevant to this thread, I'm happy to report that Shannon has become a writer, so my fears about that were unfounded! She has submitted several short stories to youth competitions and won, and won an honorable mention in an adult sci-fi writer's competition this fall. She's submitting stories to magazines and is working on a novel. And the skills transfer: she did the Bravewriter Lit Analysis class on Gatsby this fall and did the writing assignments pretty effortlessly. She's done most of the BW Expository Essay classes too, that turned out to be a really excellent thing for her.

My younger dd is getting a more distracted, but more relaxed teacher. We've been all over the map with writing, but what I learned with her sister was to trust the process: keep reading, keep discussing, and the writing skills grow along with maturity. Last year I was worried, but this year she can sit down and whip out a short narrative or descriptive paper, grammatically correct and entertaining. We'll get to thesis-driven essays, but I'm not in a hurry, I've learned that when the maturity of thinking of there, the writing follows, and to trust that it will develop as she does. 

Anyway, I miss you guys, but the time I used to spend obsessing about homeschooling, I now spend obsessing about Lyme treatment. I just don't have the bandwidth to participate here the way I used to. I participate in a book group club, but that's about it. But I treasure the conversations, and the words of wisdom I've gathered from you all over the years! Nice to "see" some old friends again.  

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Rose, I was just wondering how you were doing! Thanks for the update! Glad y'all are doing ok. Sorry the Lyme road is so hard!

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So good to read your update, Rose. I am thankful to read that Shannon is improving. Her writing awards in the midst of her struggles are amazing. I hope she conquers Lymes and is able to resume a normally, healthy life soon.

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So glad to "see" you again, Rose. Glad Shannon is doing better.

It is amazing to read old threads, old worries, and either smile at your old self for worrying or weep to know you've struggled for so long with the same problem. (I mostly do the former but have read some journal entries where I realize some daily struggles have been ongoing for 6 or more years.) It gives perspective to look back.

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Welcome back Rose! I have been wondering about Shannon. I am sorry about her health struggles, but congratulate her on her awards! Great job!

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I miss our conversations, Rose.  I too have posted less here as years have gone by.  Although I read every day, I feel that the longer I homeschool, the less I know and the less certain I am about advising others. I am so glad that your dd's writing is taking off, that is just so amazing and encouraging.  Good luck to you, mamma, as you guys climb the large cliff that is Lyme recovery.

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So good to hear your update. You were one of the first posters when I "lurked" on the boards who gave such great information and advice. Your posts  positively influenced my decision to homeschool and helped me understand my own philosophy of homeschooling. I am so grateful! 

I hope Shannon continues to improve, and congratulations on her writing successes! 

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Definitely miss your presence here! I'm so glad that Shannon is feeling a little better and that she's finding her way into the writing world. Wishing you and your family the very best in all. 🙂

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On 11/12/2018 at 2:38 PM, Chrysalis Academy said:

Hi guys! What a fun and bittersweet thing it is, to read these old threads. My first thought is what a difference a few years make: my second dd is now in 7th grade, and what a different kid she is, what a different teacher I am, and what a different life situation we're in now. The things that felt totally overwhelming to me a few years ago just aren't that important at this point: grappling with a kid's 2 years of chronic illness definitely puts their essay-writing challenges into perspective.

Shannon is still struggling with Lyme disease, although she is in a better place than she was a year ago. We essentially had to take last year off from school, she was too sick to function. This year is a lighter, kinder, gentler re-do of 10th grade, and she's doing ok with it. But I've had to step away from the homeschooling boards, and especially the High School board where a lot of my peers are hanging out these days, because the stress of seeing what everybody else is doing and the temptation to compare and feel inadequate is just a stress that I don't need.

Relevant to this thread, I'm happy to report that Shannon has become a writer, so my fears about that were unfounded! She has submitted several short stories to youth competitions and won, and won an honorable mention in an adult sci-fi writer's competition this fall. She's submitting stories to magazines and is working on a novel. And the skills transfer: she did the Bravewriter Lit Analysis class on Gatsby this fall and did the writing assignments pretty effortlessly. She's done most of the BW Expository Essay classes too, that turned out to be a really excellent thing for her.

My younger dd is getting a more distracted, but more relaxed teacher. We've been all over the map with writing, but what I learned with her sister was to trust the process: keep reading, keep discussing, and the writing skills grow along with maturity. Last year I was worried, but this year she can sit down and whip out a short narrative or descriptive paper, grammatically correct and entertaining. We'll get to thesis-driven essays, but I'm not in a hurry, I've learned that when the maturity of thinking of there, the writing follows, and to trust that it will develop as she does. 

Anyway, I miss you guys, but the time I used to spend obsessing about homeschooling, I now spend obsessing about Lyme treatment. I just don't have the bandwidth to participate here the way I used to. I participate in a book group club, but that's about it. But I treasure the conversations, and the words of wisdom I've gathered from you all over the years! Nice to "see" some old friends again.  

 

Hi Rose,

It’s great to hear from you and learn how things are going. I’m glad Shannon is writing.

I wanted to link a friend whose daughter has Lyme and a cohort to the essay Shannon wrote about being sick and the bicycle, but I could not find it. 

You could perhaps join the Middle and High Schoool with Challenges group and maybe keep in touch with less sense of people moving on ahead while Shannon is sick. 

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32 minutes ago, Pen said:

 

Hi Rose,

It’s great to hear from you and learn how things are going. I’m glad Shannon is writing.

I wanted to link a friend whose daughter has Lyme and a cohort to the essay Shannon wrote about being sick and the bicycle, but I could not find it. 

You could perhaps join the Middle and High Schoool with Challenges group and maybe keep in touch with less sense of people moving on ahead while Shannon is sick. 

 

Here is a link to Shannon's piece (her pen name was Laika). ETA: Actually the link takes you to the judge's comments, but if you click on the title "Tomorrow" by Laika you will land on the piece.

I will look for the Challenges group, that sounds like a good place to engage. Thanks!

Edited by Chrysalis Academy

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