When you’re homeschooling, you get a wonderful opportunity to help your child through the most difficult stages of growing up. For Dynel Fuller, the transition from sixth grade to seventh grade has been her biggest challenge in homeschooling her ten children.
This shift is full of good changes but can make homeschooling more difficult for you partially because your children’s studies become more application focused in each subject. In addition, with the onset of puberty come strong emotions and, hopefully, a better understanding of their purpose in God’s plan. But as your children mature and make more choices independently, they still need your guidance and input.
Here are some of Dynel’s suggestions. Combined with prayer, these can make this transition smoother and easier for you and your children.
Teach them to take notes from their textbooks.
As the academic rigor of the textbooks increases with each new grade, studying directly from the textbook will become more difficult. The student needs to learn how to find key ideas within the wealth of information in each chapter. Dynel has found that taking notes from the textbook allows her children to practice recall while sorting through the information for key ideas.
Chapters in textbooks usually divide into clear sections that form a basic outline. All your student needs to do is write the section heading down and fill in the key idea or ideas from that section.
Since you’re both parent and teacher, it’s twice as important for your student to feel comfortable asking you questions. A child who knows that any academic discussion can easily rabbit trail into a life lesson may avoid asking questions about schoolwork if something else is disrupting your relationship. Praying with that child daily about the struggles he faces, no matter how big or small, assures him that you know and understand what he’s going through. Listening to his prayers may also give you insight into issues that he hasn’t been willing to share yet.
Put academic struggles in context.
With the influx of emotion that comes hand-in-hand with puberty, small issues appear a lot bigger than they are. Struggling to grasp a new concept may lead some students to conclude that they aren’t smart enough or that you’re disappointed in them. In context, any new concept is supposed to present a challenge, so it’s OK if it takes them time to understand it.
Dynel has been able to put her students’ academic struggles into context by marking up her Teacher Edition with a student’s name and the date to keep track of the concepts that she’s taken time to explain. When another student has similar questions, she shares how an older sibling had the same problem and overcame it.
By being a wise counselor in this phase of your students’ lives, you will not only strengthen your parent-child relationships, but you will also encourage them to be more confident individuals—confident their studies and confident in their relationship with God.