The Law of the Farm

If you are feeling overwhelmed or that you aren't accomplishing enough in your homeschool day, this tool will give you a better perspective.Farmers have to plan for the long haul.  They plant in the spring, water and tend their crops all summer in hopes that, come fall, there will be a bountiful harvest.  Can you imagine a farmer foolish enough to think he could go out and plant in October and harvest in November?
The law of the farm applies to many areas of life.  Parenting is just one example. As parents we repeat ourselves, endlessly.  Teaching our children to say thank you, to wait their turn, to ‘use their words’ and to share takes persistence and fortitude.
Parenting isn’t for the impatient.  You can’t hurry up the maturing process, and you can’t ignore your kids for years and cram parenting right before they hit 18.

The same holds true for teaching. The law of the farm can provide homeschool parents with a balanced perspective that can serve as a guiding principle.

My boys, four of them, entered college ready to take on the next phase of learning. Their preparation happened gradually over the 18 years leading up to their departure.

I’d like to say they were college successes because of my amazing teaching skills, or because we spent the money to buy the perfect curriculum, or even better because they are geniuses. None of that is true. They found success due to daily habits and steady plodding over weeks, months, and years.
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Hate history?

Ditch the textbooks and make history come alive!

 

Ditch the textbooks and make history come alive for your children!

Do you hate History? Did you watch the clock tick off each minute as your teacher droned on? Did you suffer through dry readings, memorize meaningless dates, and answer pointless review questions? Do you dread subjecting your child to the same boring process?

If so, I’m sorry. Believe me, it doesn’t have to be that way!

While in college I have a vivid memory of sitting in the library studying with some friends  for an upcoming test for World Civilization. We were reviewing English history during the 1500’s.  My friends were struggling with dates, names and seemingly unrelated events.

I wasn’t struggling. The reason… in high school I had read a series of historical novels set in the courts of England. Nothing boring or dry there. There had been romance, court intrigue, religious conflicts, betrayal, heroes and villains. I’d cried for Queen Catherine as she watched her marriage and family crumble because she couldn’t produce a male heir, and was horrified as her daughter, Bloody Mary, turned her reign into one marked by revenge, fanaticism and bloodshed.

I wrestled with the issues that caused England to break from the Catholic church and was fascinated by the complex and fragile allegiances that were formed to consolidate power. The characters I met were complicated individuals who were forced to make decisions that would affect whole countries, individuals often beset with self-doubt and questions. I found myself caught up in their dilemmas wondering what I would do, what they should do…and rarely finding a satisfactory answer. (more…)

Shakespeare Resources

Great tools to help you introduce Shakespeare to your kids.

Helps for teachers and parents who want to introduce Shakespeare to their students.

 

In a previous article I made the case for teaching Shakespeare to your students. If you haven’t read that article you can find it here.

Or if you are interested in background information that is helpful when teaching Shakespeare you can check here.

As promised, here are some resources I recommend

This is a wonderful resource. Brightest Heaven of Invention by Peter J. Leithart will give you all you need to teach 6 of Shakespeare’s plays. This is a Christian guide and one I refer to constantly.

I go back to this book each time I teach Shakespeare and each time gain something new. Teaching Shakespeare by Rex Gibson is a great resource to keep on hand.

Any of the Shakespeare Set Free series by Folger’s Shakespeare will walk you through teaching three Shakespeare plays.  The plays are chosen because of similar themes, and provide a natural contrast to one another. Highly recommend these.

Again, I’m a big fan of Shakespeare’s language, but if this is your first venture into Shakespeare, or if you have younger students, the No Fear series can be a great tool. These books have the original Shakespeare on one page, and on the opposite page is a modern English translation. Once students can follow the plot and understand what the characters are saying, they can read the original language, understand the new vocabulary, and appreciate the plays complexities with more confidence.

It’s never to early to introduce your children to the works of Shakespeare. Babylit board books are AMAZING. I’m a huge fan. They are board books based on great works of literature. There is a Romeo and Juliet one that is a primer on numbers. This one, inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a fairies primer. The illustrations and quotes are fantastic. If you need a creative baby gift check out all of the  Babylit books.

This series is written by a school teacher, and is for ages 7 and up. The books are written in rhyming couplets and introduce children to the plays in an accessible way. These books are also suitable for putting on a ‘theater’ production with small groups of children.

These tales are another perfect introduction to Shakespeare. Long considered classics in their own right, Charles and Mary Lamb vividly bring to life many of Shakespeare’s plays.  These paraphrases retain the beautiful language and the drama of the plays. These can be read aloud to younger children, but I find kids need to be in mid to upper elementary school to truly enjoy these re-tellings.

 

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Mistake #5 of our series, 5 Homeschool mistakes you don’t know you’re making.

Why using rewards can sabotage your efforts.

Do you use rewards for learning, you could be sabotaging you effortsDo you have some sort of reward system in place for chores?  Do you reward yourself when you lose a certain amount of weight or work out every day for a week? Do you pay your kids for good grades, or take them for ice cream if they read a certain number of books? When my boys were playing baseball, I knew a parent who paid their kids if they hit a home run. Perhaps you give your child a treat if they finish their veggies, or a reward when they finish their math.

Rewards are an odd thing. We’ve probably all used them at one time or another. You’ve probably read articles about using rewards to help establish new habits or change behavior.  The thing is, offering rewards can actually sabotage your efforts, and they should be used with caution and intention.

I’ve always been leery of rewards and have seen a great deal of negatives when rewards are overused. Let’s examine a few instances to see the danger.

The chore reward system, there are lots of these. In some kids put up stickers as they do their chores and earn a reward at the end of the week. In others, kids start out with a certain amount of money and if they don’t finish their chores, money is deducted from their ‘allowance’. In still others parents post jobs they want done with a dollar value attached and children can choose which chores they want to do to earn spending money. You can probably come up with many more.

In our house, every member of the family did some of the work, because we are a family. There were regular chores the boys did every morning and on the weekends there was yard work or cars to wash. I didn’t pay the boys for these things because they are part of the family and once they were old enough, they took on some of the responsibility and work to keep things going.

When I knew one of them was trying to save money for something (usually another musical instrument) I might offer to pay them for some work, but that wasn’t the norm.

I think I tried the pay system once or twice but abandoned the idea quickly because it led to an attitude of entitlement. It seemed that those systems quickly sent the message that they should be reimbursed for every contribution they made…and that wasn’t going to work for me. (more…)

Why Shakespeare?

To teach or not to teach Shakespeare that is the question.

Don't let your fear of Shakespearre keep you from enjoying and teaching it. I admit, I’m one of the nerds who loves Shakespeare. I was introduced to the Bard in Jr. High in a drama class, and was asked to compete in a Shakespeare Festival performing a soliloquy from King Lear. While I’m sure my performance was sadly lacking, I was able to watch performances by some very talented students, and I was hooked.

In high school I had excellent English teachers (Thank you Miss Irwin) who furthered my appreciation. Then, the summer after high school, I had the good fortune to travel and study in Europe. During that summer I visited Stratford (Shakespeare’s home town) studied Hamlet at Cambridge, and saw several productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was glorious and I was officially a fan.

Perhaps your experience with Shakespeare was a little less positive, and frankly, if you never have to read or see another play you’ll be perfectly content. You are certainly not alone

But, as Hamlet would say, “There’s the rub.” You’re homeschooling now. You’re responsible for your child’s education…and Shakespeare seems to be on everyone’s list of subjects that should be tackled. But why? Perhaps if you understand why Shakespeare and why a play, you’ll be motivated to give it another chance. And, at the end of this article, I’ll link you to a few excellent resources to help you in your endeavor.

Shakespeare deals with enduring themes that remain relevant to every new generation of readers. The emotions and situations that are explored are at once familiar and recognizable across time and cultures.

If you are human, the characters, plots, and themes are relevant. The plays explore family relationships, love, power, morality, politics, wealth, and death. Emotions such as hate, anger, despair, jealousy, courage, and wonder are examined and expressed with passion and empathy, (more…)

The Habit of Thought

What we think about when we are free to think about what we will - that is what we are or will soon become. ~ A.W. Tozer

At the start of a new school year we focus on creating a workable schedule, buying the best curriculum, and writing up lesson plans. As the school year progresses, we discover that curriculum choices and schedules are only a small part of our challenge as teachers.

Rather than struggling with curriculum, most parent/teachers struggle with their student. At one point or another we all hear:

  • “But why do I need to know this?” (Be sure to read that in a super whiney voice to get the full effect.)
  • “I just can’t understand math.”
  • “I hate to read.”
  • “Why do we have to write evvverrrry day?”

Dealing with the whining and complaints can be exhausting and leave parents feeling like they are failing at the educational task. It would be a mistake to think that the issues inherent in this sort of grumbling will be solved by switching up the school day, or making learning more ‘fun’.

The underlying issue here is a failure on the part of the child to self-regulate, or to see what needs to be done, and to have the internal fortitude to get on with doing the work with a positive attitude. Developing that ‘internal fortitude’ or positive attitude toward work, is going to be far more important for your child’s long term success than any of the academic skills you are working on.

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Why Geography?

Raising globally aware children should be every parents goal.

Why we need to raise geographically literate children.We live in a crazy and exciting time, the world is changing… daily. When I wrote up my Philosophy of Education, and looked to the future, one of the things I wanted to impart to my kids was a concern and interest about life outside of the United States.

With advances in travel, communication, commerce, and the internet, the world is literally, at our doorstep. As Steve and I sought to prepare our kids for the life God has for them, we felt a critical part would be helping them to develop a global perspective.

Now, I am very grateful I was born in this country, and have had the privilege of raising my children here. I think knowing our history, understanding our government, and expressing gratitude for our freedom is a vital part of our role as homeschoolers.

I also think it’s vitally important that our children know that we are only one part of a diverse and fascinating world. I was very concerned as the boys grew that they would be proud of their country and heritage, balanced and tempered by a concern and appreciation for other cultures and people. I wanted my children to be geographically as well as culturally aware. We spent time pouring over globes and maps. We spent time reading stories about people living in other parts of the world. We learned the history of far away places, and learned about other religions. We tried ethnic foods and did projects on various countries. We talked about what daily life would be like if they lived somewhere else. My hope was that all of this would translate into responsible adults who had a concern for the world beyond their borders.

Now part of giving our kids a global perspective is very practical. Many jobs of the future will include an ‘international’ component. (more…)

Mistake #3 in our Series, 5 Homeschooling Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

Bear the burden of reading with your child to keep their love of books alive.

Mistake #3 in our series, 5 Homeschooled Mistakes You Don't Know You're MakingIn our last post we discussed the importance of allowing children to read books that are too easy for them. If you missed it, you can check it out here. Today, we are going to explore another mistake we make when it comes to our child’s reading level.

The oldest of my sons was slow to read. He was also highly intelligent, had an expansive vocabulary, and loved learning. When he was in early elementary school I began checking out options for history and science. Mind you, this was before Homeschooling had really taken off, so my options were limited. A friend suggested I check out a popular Christian Textbook publisher. I was VERY disappointed in the material.

The history text was stories about community helpers; firemen, postal workers and police. It was cute and boring, so boring. The reason…the book was written for a 6 year old’s reading ability, and so the content had to be “dumbed down.” I couldn’t see my bright son being even slightly interested in the book.

My solution was to work on his reading everyday for about 20 minutes…and the rest of the time, I read to him. We explored all sorts of interesting people, concepts, places, and art. With me, standing in the gap, he was able to pursue information about anything that interested him. At the time the Ninja Turtles were huge, and so he poured over Art books about Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, and DaVinci.

Tim was a sponge. He could sit for long periods with books, even when he couldn’t read them. He would come to me with questions that illustrations had sparked and ask me to read sections.

During these years of struggle with reading, I was determined to keep his love of learning and books alive. While he may have made halting progress with phonics, in every other subject he was leaping ahead. When his reading skills eventually caught up I knew he would have a strong foundation and mastery of words and concepts to build on.

At the beginning of his 3rd grade year he was still sounding out most words, and reading quite slowly. Then, seemingly overnight (although it had been years of steady work) it clicked. Boy, did it click. By the end of 3rd grade he was reading at a 9th grade level.  When his reading skills synced up with all of the other learning he’d been doing he was capable of reading and understanding just about everything he picked up.

Even if your child is a whiz at reading, more than likely, in the early years, their comprehension will be greater than their reading ability. Don’t limit their science books to only those they can read on their own. Don’t limit their enjoyment of literature to graded readers with limited vocabulary. Read to your children all sorts of books! Their busy minds will love being fed a steady supply of fresh ideas, and their love of learning and books will continue to grow. They will want to become better readers because they will know, through you, the magic that books contain.

I had another student who was severally dyslexic. After years of testing and work, the conclusion was he was always going to struggle. You might think this limited him educationally, but it absolutely didn’t. His mother, and a younger sister read him all of his books. In High School I taught him Shakespeare, Chemistry, Biology, and History. He did great in each course.

He was able to enjoy the language and beauty of Shakespeare through others standing in the gap for him. (And he built me an amazing reproduction of the Globe Theater) He excelled in the sciences. He had the science series in an audio format and would work ahead so that he could do the experiments, work out all the kinks and do them in class for the rest of us. It was awesome.

I was so proud of him when he graduated. He hadn’t ‘just’ made it through high school, he’d thrived. With his family’s help, he’d received an excellent, well-rounded education, because his mom hadn’t let his inability in one area determine what he could study in other areas. She played up to his strengths and stood in the gap to help him in his weak area.

The point I’m trying to make is that, all children will probably experience a time when not all of their skills will sync together, growing in perfect harmony.  This does not mean they cannot continue to excel and grow in every other area of their education. With you, helping to bear the burden, they can continue to progress while you work on their weaker areas.

I’ve witnessed far too many students who have difficulty with reading, or a learning disability become stalled in every other area of their studies. Not being able to read well meant they did poorly with history, literature, and science. Not being able to read, could stall our student. They could be limited to remain at their reading level…but they don’t have to be.

No, we don’t want to do the work for our child, but there are certainly times where we can bear the burden with our child, and stand in the gaps so that they can continue to grow and enjoy their school years.

This doesn’t just make academic sense, it makes emotional sense.

A child who is slow to read can experience severe damage to their sense of self. They can feel stupid and less than their peers. I know adults who have never recovered from being in the ‘slow’ reading group in elementary school. At a young age they internalized the message that they are not intelligent, not good at school.

For most kids, that’s a lie. The problem is we expect children to all develop at an arbitrary rate, to learn in a steady progression upwards. For a percentage of kids that works, but for most they learn in a stop, start, 2 steps back, 1 leap forward individual pattern.  Each child has their own strengths, their own areas of intelligence and giftedness, it’s our job to nurture those areas, and work steadily where they struggle.

So, be aware of where your child struggles, get them assessed and helped if they need it. But also, don’t allow those areas to limit their education. Stand in the gap with them to be the bridge to the information they need while they develop the tools to build that bridge for themselves.

Oh, by the way, my son Tim graduated from college with an English degree and is now a High School English teacher.

If you’d like to check out the other posts in this series, here are the links.

Mistake #1

Mistake #2

Mistake #4

Mistake #5

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Mistake 1 of our series…5 Homeschooling mistakes you don’t know you’re making!

Mistake 1 of our 5 part series!

 

Help shifting from teaching a curriculum to teaching a child.The first and biggest mistake many of us make is teaching a curriculum, not a child. 

Let’s take math. Our child needs to learn mathematical concepts, so we choose a math program. Then, almost universally, we become focused on the curriculum instead of the student.

Have you ever become hyper focused on your child finishing that day’s math page.  We hound them by saying,  “Pay attention, we have to finish this!” We threaten and bribe to keep them on task.

The shift is subtle, but the math lesson is no longer about the child learning the material, it’s  about getting the lesson done. After all, our accompanying teacher’s manual says we need to do 4 lessons a week, with one day for testing! The curriculum has become our focus.

Completing the lesson, or the entire book, is of no value if your child didn’t master the concepts in the lesson. This shift in focus is sneaky, we don’t recognize it happening until 3 months down the line we realize our child is hopelessly lost.

As parents, we are not the only ones who get caught up in this trap. Our students are even more likely to commit this mistake. Unless you have worked hard to convince your child that the purpose of the lesson is to learn the material, and they have bought into the idea, they will likely rush just to finish. Most kids work as quickly as they can so they can be done.

Your job, as a parent and a teacher, is to help your students see that finishing is not the goal, learning is.

I understand the anxiety that comes when we know we won’t ‘finish’ in a timely manner. However, the world will not end, your child will not be a failure if they don’t finish their 4th grade math program while in the 4th grade. What will create problems is your child being pushed through a curriculum ‘on schedule’ but with little comprehension of the concepts they needed to learn.

Our focus needs to constantly be evaluated…are we developing our child’s understanding or working to finish a program. We need to stay focused on the purpose of education. Our child is the focus of our educational efforts. Their development and understanding is what matters.

Curriculum is a tool, nothing more.What is truly key to homeschooling because it's not curriculum.

Don’t allow the curriculum to become the mini dictator in your school day. Use the curriculum as you would any tool, to aid you in accomplishing your task, but don’t become so focused on the curriculum that you inadvertently switch from teaching your child, to teaching your curriculum.

When we really grasp this concept and apply it to our homeschool, it can change everything.

The pace that is pre-set in a curriculum is, to a certain degree, arbitrary. It will work for a percentage of children, but there will always be those who are bored because they are not challenged, and those who are frustrated, because they can’t keep up. As homeschoolers we can relax a bit. We can slow down when our child is struggling with a concept, and speed up when they are ‘getting it’.

So, as you begin this homeschool year, re-orient (or re-center if you use google maps) your teaching, so that your child is the focus and your curriculum is your tool.

If you don’t want to miss the next four mistakes that homeschoolers make, be sure to sign up for my email list. I’ll be sending out links to the other post in the series when they are all up.

Mistake #2

Mistake #3

Mistake #4

Mistake #5

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Advice for getting the most from those Junior High Years

What you need to cover in each subject area

So Just what do your kids need to do in Junior High?

What your child needs to cover in each subject area

In elementary school our children are learning the basic building blocks of education; reading, writing, and arithmetic. Their understanding of basic science concepts and vocabulary are growing, and  they are gaining a sense of the flow of history. Make this framework strong and solid so our children have a good base upon which to build advanced knowledge and wisdom.

In high school course schedules are basically set

In high school our children’s studies become more focused and intense. If they have that solid foundation they will be able to move, rather painlessly, into these more focused studies. Students at this age are expected to be able to work independently through material, to read, absorb, and analyze new information. By high school we should be past the ‘hand-feeding’ stage where a teacher is needed at every step. New concepts may well need explanations, but students have come to ‘own’ their education.

So, what about Jr. High?

Jr. High is a great opportunity to evaluate our child’s progress and to take 7th and 8th grade to fill in any gaps or weak points our child has. If we use a building analogy, in elementary school we are laying a solid foundation and getting the framing up. In Junior High we are making sure that all of that is solid and that the hidden systems, like electrical and plumbing all work seamlessly. If all of this is in place, then the finish work of High School will be solid, we won’t have to tear out walls to repair electrical connections that don’t quite connect.

I like to think of Junior High as an inspection stop. We have two years to make sure our child has all that they need to move on into the more advanced course work of high school. Of course, we will still be moving forward and adding new ideas, but we also have a bit of breathing room to evaluate and strengthen any weak areas.

So let’s examine each subject area.

Reading

By Jr. High your child should be reading fluently and comprehending most of what they read. In elementary school it’s important to give your child adequate practice at ‘easy’ reading so that they develop fluency, but in Jr. High it’s time to challenge them.

Think of the reading they will be doing in high school – Shakespeare, Steinbeck, and Fitzgerald – you don’t want them to jump from easy reading straight into these authors. In Jr. High ease them into classic authors and more difficult essays. Reading challenging works will improve their critical thinking skills and increase their vocabulary.

If your child is still having trouble with the basics of reading, it’s past time to have them assessed and give them the help they need. You might consider doing an intensive phonics review. I’ve used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with great success with older students.

Spelling

By Jr. High your child should be spelling most words correctly. Let’s be honest, many spelling errors are nothing more than laziness. If that is the case with your child, crack down now. If there are multiple ‘lazy’ spelling errors in their work, make them rewrite the entire piece. I’m normally all about making school enjoyable, but your child needs to give it their best effort. A few rewrites will usually work a quick cure (not erasing and fixing the word, a complete rewrite).

If the errors are a lack of knowledge you have two years to teach spelling rules and move quickly through a program like Spelling Power, Fourth Edition I like Spelling power because it can be used by any level power. It is more expensive, but it a comprehensive program that can be used from kindergarten through high school. Well worth the investment.

Writing

By now your student should be able to write a clear and concise paragraph that communicates clearly. They should be skilled  at writing summaries, book reports, letters, and fiction. Most Jr. High students need to improve these skills before entering high school and one of the best ways to do this is to get them writing.

I had my sons writing for 30 minutes a day…minimum. Much of that time they could write what they wanted, although sometimes I would assign a report to focus their efforts. If you use narration in your school day you should be requiring that some of their narrating be done in writing rather than orally.

There are many excellent writing programs if you feel this is not your best subject to teach. I would recommend looking into Susan Wise Bauer’s writing programs. They were designed for homeschoolers and are easy to follow, while holding up a high standard.

Math

I cannot stress this enough, your child’s basic math skills (addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, fractions, decimals, and place value) need to be absolutely solid by the end of Junior High.  It is best to stop for a period of time and really master these skills if your child is struggling.

Beginning Algebra or other high school math programs before basic math skills are automatic will cause unnecessary struggle and frustration. A solid foundation cannot be overstated. Every concept they will learn in the coming years will be dependent upon these basic skills.

If there is any chance your child will be moving back into the public school system during high school, you need to seriously consider using a Common Core edition of your math curriculum. Otherwise, the transition will be very difficult. Also, the SAT and ACT tests will be re-configured with Common Core standards as an element. Homeschoolers are often dependent on these tests scores for college admission. I’d recommend looking into Singapore’s Common Core series.

I understand that many parents wish to avoid Common Core altogether, but you need to be realistic. At the very least, educate yourself about the changes and how you can prepare your child for these future challenges.

Science

Hopefully, your child’s elementary school years were filled with exploration and wonder as they discovered the world around them. A nature walk, gazing at the stars, growing a seed, all provide a good foundation for high school science courses.

Curiosity is one of the marks of a great scientist, and all children are curious, so science is a natural subject for them to enjoy. This exploration should continue in Jr. High, supplemented with lots of hands on experiments and field trips. A carefully chosen text is helpful…just be sure you remember you are teaching a child, not a textbook. Adapt the textbook to fit your studies.

Very soon students will not have a choice and will have to work through a Biology or Chemistry book from start to finish…but for these years you still have a lot of freedom, take advantage of that. Personally, we moved into the Apologia Jr. High books. They provided a nice bridge between the exploration of elementary school, and the more stringent work of High School.

History

Often, even with our best efforts, history is a mish-mash in kid’s minds. While they have studied different periods, they are likely still fuzzy about where everything they’ve learned fits.  Jr. High is a great time to lay out a framework to organize all the knowledge they have been accumulating.

I would suggest making a timeline and laying out some of the key moments in history (there are a few excellent ones that are bound into books like the Homeschool History Book of Centuries: A Portable Timeline for Charlotte Mason and Classical Education Students (Real Life, Real Books, Real Learning Series) (Volume 2) ). Taking some time out to construct a time line and add in what they already know, including scientific advances, famous artist, writers, and composers will give students a better grasp of the flow of history.

Taking a few months to work on a timeline is well worth the effort.

Working Independently

My goal was that by Jr. High my sons would possess the skills to work independently. I wanted to be able to give them an assignment, and leave it to them to do. More and more the goal was for them to manage their own time, and when things were due.

If  your child is still dependent upon you sitting with them as they do their schoolwork, it is time to wean them off of your presence. Our goal is to have independent learners who will continue to learn for the rest of their lives. In High School, in many subjects, I gave my sons a syllabus, much like a college professor would do, and left them to it. Of course, I checked in, but I no longer micro managed their school time.

If this is new and/or difficult for your students start small. Give an assignment that can be done in 15 minutes, make sure this is an assignment that they won’t need you for, and tell them they have 15 minutes in which to finish. Giving a time limit does a couple of things, it gives them an ending time…they know they won’t be sitting there for hours…so they are more willing to focus their attention, and it lets them know that they don’t have time for staring off into space, sharpening their pencil, or texting a friend. Gradually increase the amount of their day they are working alone, offering encouragement and support when they need it.

Research and Study Skills

Often we overlook these basic skills that are going to be a key to success later in life. Our kids need to know how to study and how to discover information. Again, this topic deserves it’s own post, but for now let me just point out that your child needs to be doing their own research. Specifically assign projects that will require research, point them in the right direction, and let them do it. This is a crucial skill for life, too much help at this juncture will cripple your students later on.

Embrace the Argument

Your greatest asset during these years is your child’s curiosity and desire to argue…yes, argue. During the Jr. High years your child begins to develop a sense of self outside of family and they begin to question…well, everything. Oftentimes this can come across as argumentative, and while I’m not suggesting you should allow your child to be disrespectful, I am saying that this questioning is a natural part of their development. It is also a powerful learning tool; play devil’s advocate, make them defend their positions, and get them used to using those critical thinking skills.

They will enjoy expressing their opinions and having them heard. Engaging with them in this way develops their skill at expressing themselves, thinking logically, and lets you know some of what they are thinking.

Jr. High is an exciting and fleeting time, enjoy it.

Have you been teaching a Jr. High student? What challenges have you faced and how did you deal with them? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

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