When I was choosing homeschool curriculum early on, I was trying to spark creativity and a passion for learning. As I began to get more attuned to my teaching style and my little learners’ preferences, I made a few adjustments (sometimes very expensive) adjustments. This has happened mid-year and during the summer (also known as mom’s in homeschool planning mode). I usually still have an eye on basic skills and enrichment. As my kids move from littles to middle school, I have to take a step back and really think about the big picture. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Check out my full disclosure here.
The time we have to homeschool our kids is so short. When I started, it felt like middle school was far away but it sneaks up quickly. As middle school approaches, I ‘ve had to stop and really think about what they need to know. Unfortunately, I don’t know many 11 year olds that can tell you exactly what they will be doing in twenty years. My 11 year old wanted to be a chef last year, but now he thinks maybe an engineer or musician. Do you see what I mean? I think we all need to consider our role in preparing them to have options in the future.
If my kids want to go to college, tech school, or an apprenticeship I don’t want them to say that dear old mom kept them from going. I want to teach them what they need to know in order to be able to get in AND be successful. Did you notice the AND? I have been involved in secondary education a long time and getting in doesn’t seem to be the hard part for many students the issue is achieving success (and ultimately completion of their program). I have already talked about 5 Reasons Kids Stumble in College Science Courses and some of the ways to address those issues. Now let’s talk about long term homeschool planning that we can do to help keep our kids options open.
Get to know the people who can guide your homeschool planning.
First, I am not a guidance counselor. In my previous life (before I decided to leave my full time job) one of my roles was an academic advisor. I worked with a lot of students that did not take the courses that they needed in high school. There were lots of reasons, but the result was the same – added time, money, and a heaping dose of frustration. I encourage you to work with your guidance counselor at your umbrella school and the admissions officers at some schools your child might be interested in someday (even if they are 11). These people have valuable information and can help you make educated decisions.
If your child has an interest in a career (or careers) connect him with people who are doing those things. The people who are active in the industry (especially younger people) can tell you what they did to prepare. Shadow programs are excellent at helping students filter out things they do or don’t want to do. Volunteering can also be helpful, but I don’t think that is a substitute for the other things mentioned. Volunteer programs can sometimes have such a limited scope that they don’t give a broad view of the profession.
Don’t forget the basics.
Don’t forget the importance of basic skills. These include both academic, social, and life skills. Something as small as answering the phone politely could be important as they make contacts in the future. Be wary of social media, because HR departments and admissions counselors are looking. Make sure that your student has study skills and note taking skills that will be beneficial. Math and reading should be continually emphasized (I would suggest a speed reading course if possible). Poor confidence in math and reading can be just as detrimental as poor skills. My personal goal is to be their coach. The best coaches possess a mixture of encouragement and accountability of their players. That is what I am striving to achieve.
A word to non-traditional homeschoolers
If you are homeschooling in a non-traditional way, I am still speaking to you. We are somewhat non-traditional, but I will still be using these principles. My kids (like most) have uneven development so may not be ready to start pre-Algebra in 7th grade (for example), but if I know the long term goal is Calculus (if my son sticks with engineering) it will help me to understand what path we are taking. Some kids blossom in an area and will fly through multiple levels of a subject in a short time. I know a kid that went from basic math to Algebra II in about 18 months. Knowledge about what is involved for a certain career path is always good.
This printable planning sheet may help you get started. I would fill out one of these for each interest the student has and then see how the plans may overlap. Keep in mind the years are just a way to divide coursework and not set in stone. I would love to hear from you. Are you implementing changes in your planning as your student moves into middle school? Please connect with me using the share buttons below.
Update: I love everything I learned in Kristi Clover’s Homeschool Organization course! It is on sale until October 3 at 10 PM PST for $37! It has made planning and teaching so much easier. You can read more about my experience here.
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