Editor’s Note: 12 Surefire Ways to Prepare Your Middle School Students for High School is the third post in a series about preparing your middle school students for high school. Reading this series, you’ve read the benefits of teaching your middle school students to have ownership of and be responsible for their own work. You’ve also read about the best types of curriculum and methodologies to take advantage of your middle school student’s developing mental abilities.
In case you missed the first two posts about preparing your middle school students for high school, this post summarizes some of my prior ideas and add several others in a ‘nuts and bolts’ list.
Sometimes as a busy homeschool mom, you don’t have the time to study the theory of things—you just want a list of things you need to do!
So here is a list of 12 practical things you can do to prepare your middle school students for high school.
1. Teach your middle school students 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.)
Not only should they be taking care of these things, but they can also start learning how to cook, take care of the yard, the house, and the car. Start now and by high school, they should be able to do most of the things you do on a regular basis.
After all, if your goal is like mine was: to bring your kids’ homeschool education to life, while still taking care of your other responsibilities, you are going to need your kids to help! It’s good for you, but it’s also excellent life training for them.
2. Give your middle school students 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. Start showing your middle schooler how to find the answers herself.
Encourage personal devotions as well as family devotions. Continue to talk about current events and life in general through the lens of God’s Word.
Academically, discuss with your middle schooler the need to evaluate resources by asking: is this verified by other things I am reading? Does this author have prior knowledge, experience, and/or credentials in the field he or she is writing about?
Continue to teach your middle school student how to (safely) research online and how to use a dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, atlas, etc.
4. Read like crazy.
Make sure YOU are reading frequently in front of your children. Help your students learn how to pursue their own interests by seeking books on the subject(s). Strongly encourage reading for pleasure, every day. Below reading level is fine for free reading—just read, read, read!
5. Help your student make connections.
Learning takes place when we connect new information to what we already know. Here’s an example of how to do this.
You say The Roman Empire lasted about a thousand years. That is a long time! How long has our United States been in existence?
Do the math: If we take this year and subtract 1776… ????
And the light bulb goes on—your kids 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 your middle schoolers write about everything. You are ahead of the game if you’re using a literature-based homeschool curriculum instead of a dry writing program that has nothing to do with the rest of your what your kids are learning.
Have your kids write about the history, science, people, events, and books they are reading and learning about. About how to do a math problem. Have them write about how to do something, like make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Then you make it just like the directions. This is usually eye-opening for your student and a fantastic exercise in writing clear directions.)
Have your middle school students write reviews of books, movies, plays, music, video games. Encourage journaling, writing letters to Grandma, pen-pals, servicemen, thank you notes, etc.
7. Prepare your middle school students for high school by teaching them how to take notes.
Writing while listening is a complicated, acquired skill that takes LOTS of practice (and is still difficult for some children who have fine-motor issues).
Have your students start practicing 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 to have your Middle School students practice narration.
Teach them to tell you about what they read, what they have heard, and what they see. With practice, they’ll become much better at clearly articulating and organizing their thoughts and remembering details. And it’s those things that will help prepare your middle schoolers for the more academic writing required in high school.
9. Teach your middle schoolers to keyboard if they haven’t learned it already.
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. Prepare your middle school students for life by teaching them to be World Citizens.
Give your students a leg up on more advanced 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. Pinpoint where an event you read or heard about is taking place. Look up and map out where Christians are persecuted, where there are current military struggles, etc.
11. Move your middle school students to think 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
Along with self-absorption, this age group often experiences a lot of self-doubts. Make sure your middle schooler knows that you’re his biggest fan! There are tips for teaching your kids to believe in themselves here.
Teach your middle schooler that working hard to learn or accomplish things pays big dividends and even makes his brain bigger!
If you work now to prepare your middle school students for high school, you’ll have a much easier time teaching high school and your students will have a much easier time when it’s time to move on to college.
Praying for you,
*The first article of the series: Preparing Your Middle schoolers for High School – Part 1 – What Are His Goals….Really?
The second article of the series: Preparing Your Middle schoolers for High School – Part 2 – Taking Advantage of the Intellectual Growth Curve