Lesson Planning Tips
Here are some steps to consider while creating lesson plans:
- Identify gaps and plan a way to close them. If your child has difficulty in a subject or two, decide how you will close that gap before high school. This might include doing school over the summer, taking “crash courses,” getting a tutor, or finding an alternative. Don’t be afraid to take one step back in order to take two steps forward.
- Develop independent work habits. Your student should be able to complete assignments after a brief explanation from you. Training your student in the discipline of coming to ask for help when needed is an important aspect of independence training. Also, help him or her learn how to temporarily divert to another task or assignment if you are unavailable to offer immediate help.
- Begin assigning grades. Opinions about grading vary. However, colleges and trade schools look at GPA, so your student needs to get used to receiving and maintaining grades before they reach high school and begin an official transcript.
- Provide more freedom. Allow your child to choose some interesting classes. Check your state requirements, choose classes that meet them, and then have your student offer input for remaining course slots. You can even allow some personal preference into the core classes. If the requirements do not state what kind of science to study and no prerequisites are required, let your child choose between general science or physical or other available scientific branches. (Just make sure to not neglect a foundation for required biology and chemistry courses.)
- Allow your student to have his or her own opinions. When discussing a matter of opinion such as art, music, or a piece of literature, validate his thoughts and opinions. Don’t say, “Well, actually, the author meant….” unless the author himself has said that. Anyone other than the author cannot dictate how the reader should interpret the piece.
- Allow your student to dislike a subject. Your student does not have to like every subject. Don’t be afraid to share what you liked and disliked about school at that age and how you overcame those preferences. If you can, give ways that learning disliked subjects has helped you. Ask your child about career interests; then point out how skills learned in this subject will transfer to that subject.
- Get your student’s input on scheduling subjects. If he or she wants to do math in the afternoon instead of the morning, try it out. You can always change later. Help him or her recognize personal natural rhythms.
- Use a weekly checklist. If he or she gets the checklist done and all work corrected early, reward the student with a Friday off.
Shift your expectations from Getting Excited (2nd-4th) to Beginning to Understand (5th-8th). Your student should now be moving from the fact-gathering stage to the pulling-it-all together stage. You will need to ask for different forms of output to see if your child is learning. Ask questions and expect projects like these:
In these years, when serious subjects replace fun and games, take joy in the ways that your student puts all the pieces together into a puzzle. If you have laid a good foundation and given a love of learning, your middle schooler will do wonders.