From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


12/17/2009 10:11:34 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter--December 2009

HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter
December 2009--Making the Most of the Middle School Years

Dear Friend,

If you homeschooled your child through the primary grades, you may
find that you initially experienced moments of self-doubt, but you
managed through the first year (or two or three) and gained confidence
to educate your child at home...until now!

It is not uncommon for parents to second-guess themselves all over
again as their children approach the early teen years, and the parents
feel inadequate to prepare their children for high school. And if you
are just beginning to homeschool at the middle-school level (usually
grades 6-8*), you may be jumping in already at the second-guessing

Take heart--you can do this!

The subject matter will be more complicated as he enters junior high
school, but remember that it is not your job to teach your child
everything there is to learn; it is your job to:

1. Teach him how to learn;
2. Reinforce basic knowledge and basic tools of learning;
3. Instill in him good character;
4. Encourage him in the way he is to go; and
5. Provide materials and opportunities for further learning.

Know Your Strengths and Limitations

Evaluate your own skills and knowledge, and be willing to utilize
other resources as needed to meet your student's higher academic
needs. Some options include:

> Textbooks designed specifically for homeschoolers, written to the
student in a conversational tone with all explanatory material
included, or written with scripted teaching material for the parent
> "Living" books
> Tutors (including relatives or parent trade-offs)
> CDs
> Videos
> Supplemental classes (either local or online)
> Tutorials
> Co-ops
> Hands-on experiences or internships

Strengthen the Basics

I call these the 4 Rs: Reading, (w)Riting, 'Rithmetic, and

> At this stage, you'll want to review and strengthen his arithmetic
skills and computation speed so he has a solid foundation for algebra
and geometry in high school.

> Composition will be transitioning from the report-writing stage to
the essay-and-analysis stage, so this is a good time to reinforce his
reading comprehension, grammar, and basic composition skills. If you
don't feel comfortable evaluating his writing at this level, you may
know of a friend or tutor who would be willing to help in this area.
The constructive criticism of a writing club can be positive motivation for
some students at this age level.

> Your goal as a parent is to eventually work yourself out of a job!
Life skills and time management training will serve your student well
in the future, both immediate and long-term. Young people at this age
are usually able to be given increasing control over their schedules
as well as some input into subject matter choices. This may take a bit
of patience on your part--and training in diligence and thoroughness
on your student's part--but it will eventually be worth it.

Let Him Explore His Passions

One benefit of homeschooling is the flexibility to incorporate
opportunities for your child to pursue his passions, interests, and
talents. Many students dabble in entrepreneurship and develop talents
or hobbies that could blossom into future ventures.

Look Ahead to High School

While some students use these years to solidify earlier concepts,
others are ready to move into some high-school-level work during
junior high years. Many families will begin high school studies in the
8th grade, giving the student an extra year for in-depth studies.
Wherever he falls on the timeline, you'll want to check out HSLDA's
Homeschooling thru High School webpages
(, bookmarking your favorite
pages from our high school coordinators!

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

This may be a time of great transition
for your young person--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It
can be a challenging age, but she needs your affection, communication,
and understanding even more than ever. It is not uncommon for students
in this developmental stage to have spiritual questions; don't take
them personally but do take them seriously. What a wonderful
opportunity to mentor and
disciple your child!

Whether you find yourself partway through your first year or simply
need some encouragement as you continue on a homeschool journey of
many years, be "confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun
a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ...."
(Philippians 1:6 KJV). You are not just equipping your child with
knowledge and skills--you are nurturing his lifelong relationships
with you and with God!

May you have a blessed Christmas and a new year filled with the joy of
the Lord,

Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years coordinator

*The term middle school is often used interchangeably with junior high
school and usually denotes grades 6-8, depending on the school

Adapted from the Home School Legal Defense Association Early Years

Word of Encouragement

Homeschool graduate Rachel Ramey, in See, I Told Me So!
(; edited by Tammy Cardwell),
encourages parents of middle schoolers:

"[Before homeschooling,] my family did not have my heart; my friends
did. Though I had a better-than-average relationship with my parents,
I had been in government school for six years, spending more time with
my friends than my family. I had become peer-dependent ...
Homeschooling--and all the family time that came with it--allowed my
mom to change that .... [My parents] persevered. Mom could have put me
back in school, deciding it was much too wearying to fight with me
everyday. She could have given in to the friends and family who
insisted that she was too hard on us, that we weren't going to be
'socialized' enough, and that one needs a teaching degree in order to
teach effectively.... But if she had given up, she would never have
drawn my heart back .... Don't give up. Do not 'grow weary while doing
good, for in due season [you] shall reap if [you] do not lose heart.'
(Galatians 6:9 NKJV)"

For more middle school resources, see
-> What do you look like when you get out of bed?

It's hard to look our best all the time. HSLDA works to present
homeschooling in an engaging, dynamic, and informative light to
the public news media.

More reasons to join HSLDA...

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