12 Surefire Ways to Prepare Your Middle schoolers for High School
This article is the third* and last in a series about preparing your middle school students for high school. In this series we have discussed the benefits of teaching your middle school students to have ownership of and be responsible for their own work. We have also explored and described the best types of curriculum and methodologies to take advantage of their developing enhanced mental abilities.
This article will summarize some of our prior ideas (and add several others) in a ‘nuts and bolts’ list. Sometimes as a busy homeschool mom I don’t have the time to study the theory of things—just give me a list of things I need to do! So here is a list of the practical things you can do to get your students ready for high school.
1. Teach some plain old “life skills”.
Let your students get themselves up in the morning. Help them to learn to organize their own space and time—planning for schoolwork, chores, and outside activities. Guide them in making, tithing, and saving their own money AND let them start paying a portion of the cost for their outside activities. If your student has a pet, it is time for him to take care of it. (Mom and Dad should not have to feed, water, walk, brush, bathe, pick up the yard, or clean the litter box on behalf of a pet, unless they want to.J)
2. Give plenty of face time.
Talk to him about what he is doing, his friends, what he is reading about, what he likes, dislikes, what you are learning about, what God is teaching you, what you’re interested in, what you are doing at work, what you are reading…etc. Solidify those relationships.
3. Show how to find the answers.
Encourage personal devotions as well as family devotions. Discuss how to evaluate resources by asking: is this verified by other things I am reading? Is this author knowledgeable, experienced, and/or credentialed in the field he or she is writing about? Teach how to (safely) research online and how to use a dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, atlas, etc.
4. Read like crazy.
Help them pursue their own interests by seeking books on the subject. Strongly encourage reading for pleasure, every day. Below reading level is fine for free reading—just read, read, read!
5. Help make connections.
Learning takes place when we connect new information to what we already know. Example: “The Roman Empire lasted about a thousand years. That is a long time! How long has our United States been in existence?” The light bulb goes on—they suddenly have an appreciation for how long the Roman Empire lasted now that they can compare that information with what they already know about the U.S.
6. Learning = writing.
Have them write about the history, science, people, events, and books they are reading and learning about rather than following an isolated, dry writing program. Have them write reviews of books, movies, plays, music, video games. Encourage journaling, writing letters to Grandma, pen pals, servicemen, thank you notes, etc.
7. Teach them how to take notes.
Listening while writing is a complicated, acquired skill that takes LOTS of practice (and is still difficult for some with fine-motor issues). Practice taking notes from sermons, oral instructions, the TV news, books, and from non-fiction movies/videos. (These are good to start with because you can pause easily!)
8. Continue oral narration.
Teach them to tell you about what they read, what they have heard and what they see. With practice, they become much better at clearly articulating and organizing their thoughts and remembering details—all of which will help them be ready for the more academic writing required in high school.
9. Go Mavis Beacon!
Keyboarding is another acquired skill that pays great dividends, especially for many reluctant writers. Learning how to use a basic word processing program now will save time and effort later.
10. Be a world citizen.
Give them a leg up on geography studies by regularly incorporating them into your day. Look on a map/globe to see where your friends/relatives/missionaries live or are traveling, where an event you read or heard about is talking place, where Christians are persecuted, where there are current military struggles, etc.
11. Move them beyond themselves.
Middle schoolers can be very self-centered without much effort. Make sure they’re involved in serving others through ministry, family needs and even working with siblings. You don’t want to wait until high school to instill this value!
12. Encourage, encourage, encourage.
This age is greatly known for having self esteem issues. Make sure your middle schooler knows that you’re his biggest fan and appreciate it when he takes responsibility for himself and his education.
Praying for you,
*The first article of the series: Preparing Your Middleschoolers for High School – Part 1 – What Are His Goals….Really?
The second article of the series: Preparing Your Middleschoolers for High School – Part 2 – Taking Advantage of the Intellectual Growth Curve