Middle school is a transition time. Your student will leave behind the fun learning games of the elementary years and prepare for greater responsibilities in high school. You will watch your child mature physically, socially, and academically.
How can you set middle school goals that will help make these years the best years yet?
When compared to what homeschooling looks like during the early learning years and elementary years, it’s important to recognize that the middle school years introduce a significant shift in the overall academic workload of each school year as well as in the focus of how you spend your time each school day. Obviously, this will impact how you set middle school goals.
Let’s take a closer look.
Tips to Keep in Mind While Setting Middle School Goals
The key to setting middle school goals is to understand the reason you’re setting them in the first place. First, you are setting goals that help you make sure to meet the academic needs of your student. Second, you’re setting goals that will help guide you as you lay out benchmarks and create lesson plans.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you set goals, create benchmarks, and make lesson plans.
Identify gaps and plan a way to close them.
The middle school years offer a fantastic opportunity for closing academic gaps before high school. As you set middle school goals, pay attention to the subjects your student has difficulty in, and put special focus on those subjects to strengthen them before high school.
This might include reinforcing some subjects over the summer, getting a tutor, or finding an alternative approach to teaching challenging material. Don’t be afraid to take one step back in order to take two steps forward.
Develop independent work habits.
By this time, 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 them 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, high school transcripts require grades for GPA calculation, 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 student 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 history or science to study and no prerequisites are required, let your child gravitate toward a preferred history focus or 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 their own opinions.
When discussing a matter of opinion such as art, music, or a piece of literature, validate your student’s 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 student 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 they want to do math in the afternoon instead of the morning, try it out. You can always change later. Help them recognize personal natural rhythms.
Use a weekly checklist.
If they get the checklist done and all work corrected early, reward the student with a Friday off.
Teach planner usage and time management skills.
Next to core academics, establishing planner skills should take high priority when setting middle school goals. Their reading and writing skills are solid, they are growing in independence, and they can start learning to keep track of their own daily rhythm.
Teaching them how to combine all of these skills with planner usage will help them lay a very strong foundation for good time management skills in high school and adulthood.
Shifting Expectations While Setting Middle School Goals
As you set middle school goals and plan lessons, it’s also important to learn how to shift your expectations as your student progresses from the Getting Excited stage (2nd-4th) to the Beginning to Understand stage (5th-8th). Your student should now be moving from a fact-gathering approach to a pulling-it-all together approach. This means that you will need to ask for different forms of output to see if your student is learning.
Here are some suggestions for questions to ask and projects to incorporate throughout your school year:
- Can you group….?
- Draw a diagram of….
- Do you know of another instance where…?
- How is … similar to …?
- Create a lapbook for….
- Place these locations on a map….
- Predict what would have happened if…
- Write a research report.
- Summarize why…
- What was the problem with…?
- Why did…occur?
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.