Homeschooling Middle School and Learning to Color in the Lines

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LS is my baby and the fact she is going into eighth grade is really freaking me out.  Luckily she loves being the baby and although she’s been working on her preteen snarkiness it doesn’t come naturally to her so I am cautiously optimistic I can pretend I still have a little kid at least for the time being.  It’s my last year of homeschooling middle school so I want this to be a special one.

For school LS is a challenge.  She is super smart and gets bored easily.  I think that might be why she wants to go to high school.  Or at least I tell myself that.  Really I think it might be because once ES goes to college LS knows its just Rick and I alone with her all day long.   I think that is every teenager’s worst nightmare.  I also think she is afraid of what types of adventures we might have in store if we aren’t reigned in by a school calendar.  As my youngest kid she is also my most travelled.  She always says she feels most at home rolling luggage through an airport so the idea of a normal high school experience is pretty exotic to her.  The grass is always greener I suppose. 

Anyway for her school I try not to plan too much ahead because I know she will love whatever I give her at first and then get bored.  So her school plan is thus a bit less structured and likely to change 300 times before Christmas.

For many years Moving Beyond the Page has been a large part of LS’s school plan.  It’s broken up into three week units so the curriculum is always changing and while easy to use it has a wide variety of activities that change from day to day.  In this last year of homeschooling middle school I am going to work in some of Literature Units starting with Abigail Adams and probably some of their history units to complement the Great Courses U.S. History that we will listen to in the car.   

Since I am buying the Homeschool Connections subscription for ES I am going to go ahead and use that for LS too.  She really wants to write a novel so I am going to have her do the series of courses on fiction writing.  Then we are going to start with a class in Ornithology because with all the road tripping I am sure we are going to do an awful lot of hiking so that’s a perfect science class for her first semester.  I’ll probably go with some more heavy science stuff in the spring too, but I think learning about birds is perfect for the fall trip. 

As I have said before Math is Rick’s department, but she will be doing Teaching Textbooks Algebra. 

I hate busy work and LS has a strong aversion to “coloring within the lines” so she always wants to change assignments or just do her own thing. I’m totally ok with that as long as she grasps the “important thing”.  (Have you ever read the kid’s book The Important Book by Margret Wise Brown?  I swear that book captures my entire business and educational philosophy…)  My academic goal for the kids has always been that they learn to learn rather than learn to follow directions so if she finds her own path that’s perfectly fine.  This philosophy works great if your goal is to raise independent creative adults capable of figuring out things on their own.  It doesn’t work too well when it comes to teaching them to deal with bureaucracy though.  And, honestly, rule following is a large part of being a member of a civilized society so despite my free spirit it is a very important component to my homeschooling grand plan.  For LS therefore, this last year of homeschooling middle school is the year of learning to color within the lines when necessary.   That means I am going to get her some live online classes for the spring with at least a little annoying busy work so she learns to just get stuff done when she has to.  It will be just enough so she knows sometimes she has to do things just because she lives in a civil society and the rest of the time she can think for herself.  I haven’t decided which classes though.    

Phys Ed will be done as I explained in my post about ES—running, swimming, cycling, hiking, snow shoeing, skiing etc.  Oh and ice skating.  She really loves ice skating.  We live two blocks from the National Gallery skating rink in the sculpture garden and one of my favorite parts of living here is taking her down there to skate in the winter.  It will be missed. 

Foreign Language is another tough one for me.  She does French at the Alliance Francaise here in DC.  Do you see why moving is so hard for LS and me?  I guess I will just stick with Duo Linguo for Fall and another great book Les Portes Tordues.  Then I will somehow find her an online class in spring.  Em took Russian for several years and also does Duo Linguo now so I don’t worry too much about her foreign language, but Lu and French at the Alliance Francaise was just wonderful.  Sigh. 

Next reads:

  • The Tips and Tricks page has some great ideas for teaching homeschool art.
  • See my resources page for lots of ideas about curricula I have used and loved through the years.
  • Visit Hoopjumping 101 to see how I planned my senior in high school’s year.
  • This post will help you plan your homeschool day.

About Mary

Mary Stephens holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Mary spent almost twenty years homeschooling her four children and is now navigating post homeschool life in Alaska. She offers personal insights, recipes, homeschooling tips and tricks and travel advice on her website Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

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