Monday, October 10, 2016

Middle Schoolers Need Mom's Help, Too

My goal this year for our homeschool is NOT to change curriculum until we have finished a certain book or program. Changing curriculum is not always a bad thing, and sometimes it's necessary,  but the past year or so I have been too quick to change things.

I don't want to get into that habit.

Mikaela, my 8th grader, is about 3/4 of the way through with Principals of Mathematics- Book One. She started last year and after a short summer break, she picked it back up where she left off.

I like this curriculum. Really, I do. In fact, I ordered the exact same set for my 6th grader, Eli. He has been using it since August.

Mikaela has been struggling with it, though. I kept thinking "If I just get her something else...she'll get it." However, I remembered my resolve and restrained from purchasing anything different.

I asked her if she liked the program. She said she did, but she just couldn't "get" it. I kept thinking of what would help, I scoured Pinterest for fun math ideas, and I kept toying with the idea of buying something like Teaching Textbooks that would show her how to do the problems.

Finally, one day out of sheer frustration that she didn't understand what she doing and kept missing literally all of the problems in each lesson, I did something drastic.

No, not really. I did what any good homeschool mom should have done in the first place. I read the lesson aloud to her, did the practice problems on the whiteboard, and had her complete the first few problems in her lesson. And, guess what? She didn't miss any.

The next day, she asked me to please teach her again. She told me how much it helped to have the lesson read and explained to her and to have problems worked out on the board in front of her.

We have been doing this for two weeks now, and I have noticed a huge improvement in her math. She made 100% on both quizzes she had and she rarely misses a problem in her lesson. She is enjoying math and she "gets" it.

I have even started doing this with Eli some. He was having trouble with factor trees, so I did a few on the board for him. Now, he totally understands how to do it.

Why do we think our middle schoolers don't need us anymore? I was trying so hard to make them independent that I was making things too difficult for them. I didn't think I had time to teach them, too, what with teaching a preschooler, kindergartner, and 3rd grader. It takes me 15 minutes or so to teach Mikaela her math everyday, which is less time than it took to grade her lesson, have her correct {and re-correct} the problems she missed, and try to show her where she went wrong each day.

Plus, now that I've been teaching {and learning} her math lessons, I am very impressed with this book and so glad I didn't switch to something else!

So, my little piece of advice today is this: Don't be too quick to change curriculum. Sometimes, you just need to change the way you do things.

Also, don't be too quick to think your pre-teens and teens don't need you to teach them. Sometimes, that's exactly what they {and you} need.

What subjects do you teach your middle schoolers? What do they do on their own?


  1. I usually always school with my middles, too. I don't leave them independent until about 10th grade and even then, I'm checking in with them constantly :) I'm so glad that you are working with your daughter.

    1. There are some subjects she can do well by herself, like language arts and reading, but you know I love family style learning, and I guess it's passed on to my kids !

  2. I totally agree! I learned this lesson with math too. My oldest can do a lot independently, but he really needs me to stick close on writing and math. He gets frustrated less, and we get along so much better when I take the time. Thank you for voicing this. It's always a good reminder :)

    1. We are getting along so much better now, too. I can see why she was so confused and having such difficulty. It helps to have someone talk you through new concepts and show you how to work them out.

  3. Way to go mama! Sometimes, the best solutions are right there, but we have to search to find them. LOL! It's awesome that you figured out how to get through this without throwing in the towel. Just another reason homeschooling works: individual needs can be met so much more easily!

    1. Thank you! Yes, homeschooling works for so many reasons, And I love when I find yet another reason to keep homeschooling.

  4. Yes! I don't think we can help them too much when they need it. ♥

    We switched to MUS this year and I do less math instruction, but am there to help when needed. It seems like Malachi (6th) is moving towards being more independent, but I sit down with him once a week to check his work and make sure he understands everything.