Junior High sounds daunting to plan, but I love home schooling the Jr. High years! It’s the time they move from being dependant on mom to independent learning. Yet, Jr. High is a time when many moms stop homeschooling for the simple reason that they do not feel adequate or prepared. These few tips can hopefully help you as you plan the Jr High years!
1. Set Goals – Ask yourself, what is my goal for the end of Jr. High? Do you want your child to be independant in their learning? Ready for High School? Able to tackle projects from start to finish on their own? By the end of Jr High, your student should be able to work on their own with just guidance and help from you. That way they are prepared for High School.
2. Don’t be afraid to look at high school curriculum now. In fact, it’s very important if you are going to home school all the way through! If you like a company’s High School program, try the program that group has for Jr. High. That way you aren’t switching programs in High School. This is most important for the academic core (non-electives). If they can follow the text in Jr High, they will be familiar with the format and able to follow it for High School.
3. State requirements – I have a list of what subjects are covered in what year in Jr. High. World History – 6th grade; Texas History – 7th grade; US History – 8th grade
I don’t follow this year by year, but when I plan the Jr High years, I make sure all subjects will be covered before high school. My reasoning behind this is simple – I like to teach History across different levels. If my High school student is learning American History, I teach American History to the whole family. This works for History, but not for Science.
4. Science – This is the only place I am naming what curriculum I use. For science, I love Apologia. In 6th grade, we use whatever curriculum the child is most drawn to. It’s the last year they have to pursue an interest before buckling down in the core curriculum.
7th – General Science; 8th -Physical Science
In the summers we pursue science projects – Just for FUN. One child might have an ant farm while another researches marine life and we end the studies with a trip to the beach. The summer project I’m excited about is kitchen science. One of my kids just got a new pet. That will make up a big part of our summer science FUN!
5. Language Arts – Read, write, respond (to literature and to your writings), and read some more! Pick a curriculum and stick with it. Don’t forget vocabulary and spelling. There are so many options for choosing a Language Arts curriculum. I start a required reading list for high school and challenge my kids to read the books starting in Jr. High. Those are just above and beyond reading – books that aren’t in the curriculum but recommended reading for their level and few grades above. *Keep in mind that choosing books above their reading level brings frustration. Don’t be afraid to challenge where they are currently reading, you can always put a difficult book back on the shelf until later.* I don’t test these books, it’s just for exposure. You do not need to test or assign a project for ALL books that are read. Let them read – just to read.
6. Math – Try different curriculum to see what fits your child best then use them for Jr. High. Some programs change dramatically from Jr. High to High School, so be aware. Check them out thoroughly You can also take courses in Math in the later years of Jr. High and count them towards High School. (Algebra) Don’t push your child to a math course when YOU are ready for it. Make sure they have the basics before you introduce higher level math courses.
7. Electives – Have FUN. That’s all I have for this one! 😉
Planning for Jr. High is practice for High School. It’s a great time to make mistakes and learn from them so when you get to high school, it’s not a huge set-back. Get in a routine so you will be ready for high school, but keep things light and fun. I’ll say it again – keep it fun. If kids are burdened, they won’t enjoy school. If they don’t enjoy school – oh, let’s not go there. Find something (anything!!!) that will bring FUN back to the FUNdamentals of learning.
And moms – don’t stress. Work on a plan and stick to your goals. Give yourself lots of freedom to make mistakes, yet keep striving for an education that fits your child the best.
The best education for your child sometimes requires you to learn all you can – about your child.