When my boy was little I learned he had a “quality time love language”. Naturally homeschooling was a perfect fit to fill up his love tank since we were side-by-side all day long. All.Day.Long.
I even discovered lap-booking was perfect for the quality time child, so we did them. However, once we started middle school he hated them.
I was still reading lesson directions oblivious to the eye rolls. I found myself putting away books and materials frustrated he didn’t help me clean up. I was planning out his daily schedule and he would complain he hated doing math “first”. He would ask me how to cook something, and I would just lecture rather than let him try.
Middle School encourages independence.
Independence grows best with some space. I am a slow learner. It took me a little while to figure this out. Our sweet time together turned into sour moods and bickering because I was unaware of his growing independence. Truth be told, I was inadvertently stifling it.
One day I saw a picture of him on my own Instagram account that I felt the scales fall from my eyes. He looked so big. So grown up. He didn’t look like my baby toe-head anymore. He looked like a young man, but I was not treating him like one.
So I started off with this new independence thing all wrong. “Go ahead and get your work done.” I told him over breakfast. No direction. No expectation. Just a flip of the hand and smile. I was so proud of myself for being so fun.
No surprise he doodled superheroes in his math book for an hour, failed a writing assignment because he neglected to read the directions, couldn’t find his science book, and ended the day overly frustrated. We were both mad at each other.
Middle School is not high school or even college. Just give a little space a little at a time. No one throws the keys at a young driver without a lesson in the parking lot.
You do not have to …
hover over a middle school student ~ check in often!
plan every activity ~ offer some suggestions and allow them to pick something.
read every word ~ point out where the directions are to be found.
check everything ~ allow them the opportunity to grade/edit their own work.
Successful activities of growing independence will lead to great self confidence.
But if we constantly do the work for them we are only hurting them in the long run. We owe that to our children!
If you have a child who is not yet mature and needs more direction, give it to them! Do not compare to what other kids their age are doing. Everyone is different with unique gifts and talents.
Keep evaluating how they are doing and give them a bit more independence or scale back if it is too much.
It is very important to know your child (and how different they are from their siblings). Give your middle school student some space to grow into who God made them.
This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.
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