Written by Purva Brown of The Classical Unschooler
I will admit that the beginning of this school year was a tad terrifying. After all, I was going to be homeschooling three children!
I had poured my heart into creating curricula and teaching my first two, and now I had to do the same with my youngest while not missing a beat with my older crew.
Life was going to get serious.
“Buckle down!” I warned myself.
And then a few months later I laughed.
Because the fact is, these years of teaching middle school have been the most fun years of my life.
They already know the basic information
When the children were in their elementary years, we used the time to get a smattering of everything. We memorized facts in math and other subjects. I call my style “classical unschooling,” and I have written a book (afflink) on how we follow the classical model for the most part while following the child’s lead on interests.
Because my older children have this wealth of facts and information and the basics are covered, in the middle school years, we delve into putting it all together.
We do still go back and review, too, but for the most part, they already know the basics, so the feeling I have in middle school is of having successfully completed one stage and moving on to the next level.
It’s good and satisfying.
They take ownership of their education
For me, it’s the baby years of raising kids that are the most demanding. Once we cross that labor of love, the real fun begins.
I feel the same way about teaching middle school. In other words, it gets easier.
The older children have taken more ownership of their education this year and it feels like a weight off my shoulders. It’s not that I don’t plan the curriculum like I used to – I absolutely do set my intention before the year begins, but it’s that I’m not the only one in charge.
They know their interests – my son can’t stop mouthing science facts. (“What is this kid? An encyclopedia?” a relative asked recently when my son gave him all the information he ever needed to know around a campfire about yetis.)
While the elementary years were spent introducing them to different topics, this year I have enjoyed watching clear interests and individual personalities grow.
Their curricula is no longer interchangeable. They do different things in their free time. And just like watching a photograph develop, it’s fun watching them come into their own.
Field trips rock
I remember my enthusiasm for homeschooling in the younger years. I wanted to start when my daughter was two years old! Looking back now, I realize all that excitement was misplaced.
Yes, teaching younger kids can be exciting, thanks to those “aha moments” that show fresh learning. But those moments are way more abundantly found in the middle years.
It is for this reason that middle school is the best time for field trips. There is less hand holding, less spoon feeding and you are there learning right along with them instead of dispensing information one drop at a time.
If someone had told me when we first started that homeschooling was going to get better and better, I would not have believed them.
Middle school in my head was all about books and protractors and microscopes. And sure, there’s that, but it’s so much more.
It’s wonderful conversations and explorations and looking things up. Middle school is learning things together and cooking food and finding new passions.
It’s playing games online and rescuing baby squirrels and waking up at 4 a.m. with my eleven year old daughter to feed it puppy formula because we checked online and figured out that’s the only thing the baby can digest.
Middle school is beginning to look more and more like the kind of homeschool I’ve always wanted for my children and myself. It’s joyful and it’s every bit as unique as our family and each of the children themselves.