Saturday, February 25, 2017

Homeschooling the Middle Grades

If I was to come up with three words to describe my daughter and son this year it would be goofy, sleepy and driven (but driven only to do the things that they want to do). Given the choice, my son would do art and music all day long. My daughter would dance and do little tiny writing projects. They still are compliant and do what they must ~ but with a bluster of whining and pleading for the torture of school to end. I have wondered what is going wrong lately. Then it hit me -- they are young teens. My Mother reminded me the other day that the middle school years are the toughest to teach. The hormones are raging, they are growing like weeds and there is so much to figure out socially. Their minds just aren't on the Three R's right now. So what is a homeschool mom to do?
Should I throw in the towel and let them do what they want? That really isn't my style. I am not a true un-schooler at heart. I also really don't think it works for most special needs kids -- especially those that struggle with time management, self direction, and some academics. So, I am trying to meet them where they are, do more field trips, go at a slower pace (although the pace this year seems tediously slow to me), do lots of life skills and go heavy on their passions ~ art, dance and music. My mantra this year is make each day be filled with quality and all will work out.

Sewing lesson number two

This week did go better. I really concentrated on saying yes more to their desires. We went outside every day, struggled to get in bed at a decent hour and stopped everything else when we just needed to concentrate on emotions.

Dean had primary-colored fan blades in his Lego-themed childhood room. Here he is painting those blades a teenage black!
The highlight this week was a field trip to Thomas Wolfe's home and a field trip to explore graffiti art and street murals with their art teacher.
They watched their Cover Story lesson on the laptop.
The tour was interesting. Thomas Wolfe grew up in his mother's boarding house. It was amazing to imagine making meals twice a day for forty (or more!) boarders. After the tour, we enjoyed a picnic. We wrapped the day up with Cover Story in the park. Where better to write poetry than in nature?

They loved, LOVED their field trip with Miss Laura to look at graffiti and street murals.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, shoes and outdoor

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Homeschooling is a journey and education looks different through the years. Are they learning? They are drinking in lots of knowledge every single minute. Sometimes I get worried about whatever subjects they are behind in, but then I remind myself of my mantra. Make each day be filled with quality and all will work out!

What we did accomplish this week ~
  • An awesome art field trip
  • Learned about shading and blending in art
  • Two lessons in Cover Story (English)
  • 14 Math Mammoth pages for Anne
  • 11 lessons in the Are You a Math Genius? book for Dean
  • Sewing for Anne
  • Painting bedroom fan blades and bedroom door for Dean
  • Tour of Thomas Wolfe's Home (U.S. History)
  • 13 hours of dance for Anne ~ She was picked to be the princess in the upcoming production of The Little Mermaid. Our dance studio follows the original story, not the Disney version.
  • Five hours of dance for Dean ~ He is working on choreographing a partnering piece with a young lady for the upcoming showcase. 
  • A geology lesson ~ intro to geology
  • CNN Student News daily
  • Anne completed copying The Declaration of Independence.
  • Four hours of drawing for Dean and the completion of two drawings
  • Robotics Club for Dean
  • A guitar lesson for Dean and hours of practice through the week
  • Dean filled out a long application to volunteer this summer.
  • Anne completed chapter one with notes of the book, Girls Gone Green (taking care of our environment).
  • Nine chapters from our family read aloud, Bessie's Pillow: A Young Immigrant's Journey
It is good.

Blessings, Dawn


  1. I agree with you. It certainly seems good! Love the peeks at your weeks and your heartfelt commentary.

  2. Congratulations on her role as the Princess!! It looks like a good week. I too have to remind myself that my girls are kids/tweens/teens and that I need to give grace in some areas. We're finished Bessie's Pillow and loved it!

  3. Okay, so it's not just me. I've always said 8th grade is when my kids lose their minds. Teaching becomes Not Fun, and I have sent them all off to high school elsewhere because I thought that was our new normal. Jack seems to have hit it a little early, as he's 7th grade, and I'm really feeling the, "He needs someone else to be telling him what to do" these days.

  4. It's great that you've been able to meet the kids where they are. Congrats to them on all their accomplishments.

  5. Oh this makes me feel so much better; we're part way through 7th grade and I have been feeling like I am doing something wrong! Schoolwork is like torture lately and I feel like retention is missing... mostly because he'd rather be anywhere else doing anything else!

  6. It's not just you! I am kind of pleased that we have given the teens so much freedom because they really are enthusiastic when learning what they deem necessary. That said, Charlotte constantly bemoans the usefulness (or should that be uselessness) of algebra, and hates maths with a passion. She does half an hour a day and we call it good :)

  7. Wow. Like several of your other commenters, I could have written this post--the apathy, the inattention, and yes, the wondering where I went wrong. I have taken the same approach, slow down, away from the table more, and focus more on passions. It is manageable, if not the most fun years I have ever had #homeschooling, but I will still wait for that season of buy-in for their own future's sake--that's the honey hole!!