Navigating the Pre-Teen / Teen Homeschool Experience, Including the Dreaded Pre Algebra
Children in Middle School are at a pivotal age where they need to start preparing for high school, adapt to physical changes, manage emotional changes, all while balancing still being a kid! Teachers in middle schools tend to be used to this. They know how to adapt to all of these changes, from years and years of dealing with middle school students. As a parent crossing these bridges for the first time, however, you might need a little bit of guidance.
Here are some top tips to help you succeed in homeschooling your teen or pre-teen (general tips plus specific math strategies that will help you get through Pre-Algebra)!
Move Towards Greater Independence by Explicitly Teaching Organization, Math Study Skills, and more...
Whether your middle schooler is moving on to the local high school soon or remaining in homeschool, he or she is at an age where greater independence needs to start to occur; because, believe it or not, they will be full-fledged high schoolers before you know it!
They need to gradually be given more and more responsibilities, such as managing time after school for homework, and preparing for tests and quizzes on their own.
The key word is gradual. Don’t just randomly set them free to figure out how to study for tests on their own! That could be setting yourselves both up for failure (depending on your child). So, teach them helpful study skills first, and over time move to letting your child choose when and how to study.
Teach your child specifically HOW to study in math. It's different than studying in other subject areas. You may find this skill pack handy (aligned versions for other subject areas are available for smooth integration as well!)
Set goals alongside your child
An important way to help your child move towards greater independence is by teaching how to set goals and work towards achieving them.
I believe it’s important to start with a self-evaluation. Before your child can really decide what they need to work on as a goal, they need to begin with a reflection of where they are now and how they did in each area over the past semester.
Then, comes the goal setting and planning.
When they are ready to choose a goal to formally write up, it can be helpful to review the "SMART" goal criteria. Goals should be:
- Realistic / Relevant
I created a doodle note sheet to help guide them through this process. Click here to download for free!
It’d be fun for you to set some goals for your own life alongside your child, as well!
Just like any life skill, modeling it is the best way to teach it!
Incorporate Problem-Based Learning
April Smith, from Performing in Education, shares a ton of helpful information about Problem-based Learning in Homeschool.
Here’s what it looks like in homeschool: “Project-based learning is a learning method where kids gain and apply skills by working on a long project where they complete an in-depth inquiry into a specific topic or question. Like all methods, it’s not standalone. It can be added to any homeschool curriculum or activities you are presently using. PBL allows for more real world application and in-depth understanding of concepts in math, language arts, social studies, science, art, and business.”
Read her post to get more specifics and learn the elements of PBL (modified for homeschool) and about how to find projects!
Along these lines, it's a great time to go more in-depth with teaching personal finance. By 6th grade, students are ready for the basics of consumer math. This incorporates problem-based learning experiences, real-life scenarios, and valuable lessons.
This finance unit is a great resource for homeschool, because your child will build a financial "life" and make decisions. They choose whether to rent or buy a home, lease or purchase a car, and even explore retirement, insurance, and other tricky concepts.
Plan Field Trips Whenever You Can
Incorporating field trips as much as possible is a great way to help your child succeed in homeschool. Field trips allow your child to get real-life exposure, while keeping them engaged.
The Homeschool Buyers Co-op provides a map of the U.S. that allows you to click and your state, enter your zip code, and links all field trip ideas in your area! You can even search by category or view popular field trips.
Make Planning Math a Breeze
Planning a homeschool curriculum can be tedious and time-consuming! Math tends to be the toughest content area for parents as children reach 7th grade and start diving into Pre-Algebra.
Make math curriculum WAY more simple and effective by using this Pre-Algebra Doodle Note Book. It offers all of the brain benefits of visual notetaking all throughout their coursework If you’re new to Doodle Notes, check out doodlenotes.org!
This guided, interactive book includes 170 pages of doodle note lessons covering each Pre Algebra concept (fractions, decimals, integers, percents, geometry, equations, inequalities, the coordinate plane, slope, graphing, systems of linear equations, functions, and more). Each chapter progresses through the lesson topics with guided notes, visual references, and graphic review sheets that follow the brain-based doodle note method.
The best thing about this book is that it covers all the key topics from 6th grade all the way up until your child is ready to begin Algebra 1! So you can use it for a few years. It’s kid-tested, and they LOVE this creative method!
And of Course… Don’t forget they’re still kids!
Don’t forget that they are still kids and need time to have fun! Make sure you are still fitting socializing, extra-curriculars they’re interested in, and time to be active into their schedule! (But this part, you already knew!)
I hope these tips help you make homeschooling a success!
What homeschooling tips do you have? Other readers would love to hear your tried and true strategies from in the trenches!
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