How to Help Your Middle Schooler Prepare for High School

As homeschool moms, we plan for high school by educating ourselves about credits, transcripts, and course planning. Amid that learning curve, however, it’s easy to overlook preparing our students for this educational transition. Not to fear! I’m sharing five simple ways you can help your middle schooler prepare for high school.

How to Help Your Middle Schooler Prepare for High School

Five Ways to Help Your Middle Schooler Get Ready for High School

1 – Expectations

In the middle school years, I gradually begin to require more from my students. For example, when I assign a book to be read and completed within a particular time frame, I assist my students in the process. I usually give them a daily reading schedule broken down chapter by chapter in 6th/7th grade. I check back often to make sure it gets completed. 

In 7th/8th grade, I assign a novel, but this time, I ask them to create their own reading schedule checklist on the computer. I will randomly check in with them about the book to see how it’s going. 

By the 2nd half of 8th grade year, I pretty much can hand my student a novel and tell them it needs read by a particular date. I might suggest a reading schedule as helpful, but don’t require it. I ask my students to let me know when the novel is finished so we can discuss it.

Of course, I base this progression on each individual child’s capabilities. The key is that from year to year, I expect them to take more responsibility for completing the tasks I give them independently.

2 – Independent Learning

As a mom, I easily continue thinking of my kids as little kids. When I recognize, however, that they are growing and maturing every day, I realize they are often capable of more than I require. This year, I read TEACH: Creating Independently Responsible Learners by Dennis DiNoia.

It’s a great read that I highly recommend! It provided me with very practical ways I can help foster independent learning in my kiddos. 

As I still have an elementary-aged child that requires much one-on-one attention, I need my older students to be comfortable with completing much of their learning on their own. This does not mean I’m uninvolved. But, it means they bear the responsibility for learning the subject at hand. They can then show me what they’ve learned.

It’s challenging and requires thinking outside the box. It can feel uncomfortable (especially for those of us who went to public school!). 

Last year, my son told me he wanted to learn to draw 3-D. I’m a terrible artist, and this was an area felt totally ill-equipped to provide him with much assistance. However, in true homeschool fashion, we headed to the library! We found fantastic books on the subject, and my son worked his way through 30 minutes a day, every day. 

His 3-D drawings are amazing. I’m proud of him for learning this. He needed help getting started, but once he was well-equipped, he took it and ran. The way he exhibited an ability to learn independently in this area helped solidify my decision to allow him to take a high school level art class in his 8th grade year.

3 – Scheduling

Early in his middle school years, my son used a daily schedule that I wrote into a spiral notebook each night. Now, he has a weekly checklist. He knows what needs to be completed daily, two times a week, three times a week, etc. With this progression, I expect that next year, he will be able to handle creating his own schedule for high school. 

It can take time for students to mature enough that they are essentially running their own schedule. Don’t be discouraged! I used to wonder if they would ever be capable of this.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure my youngest son would be ready for a weekly checklist! He was often so easily distracted and unorganized. I knew that I needed to push him into more responsibility. After a few weeks of monitoring at the beginning of the school year, he no longer needs my oversight.

4 – Organizational Tools

Whether you use a weekly checklist, a planner, or an online calendar, getting your child familiar with organizational tools will help tremendously to prepare your middle schooler for high school. Try giving your student some options. If they aren’t big techies, they may despise an online calendar. 

Are they creative and enjoy writing? A paper planner or bullet journal with colored gel pens and stickers might be just the thing. Consider what your teen likes, provide options, and then give it a try. 

Don’t be discouraged if your child balks at the idea of a planner. I gave one to my oldest son when he started 9th grade, and I’m pretty sure he thought I was really taking the whole high school thing way too seriously! Now, with his busy life of school, work, church, etc., he’s understanding the value of a planner!

5 – Try A High School Level Course

This is something I regret not doing with my oldest son. It just wasn’t on my radar at the time and I didn’t think of it being an option. This year, however, my 8th grader is completing a high school-level art class. This was a good choice for him because he loves art and is motivated to improve his skills. 

I set the expectations for the class and provided him with a checklist to keep track of his class time. It’s been a good first step to get him used to the process of spending more time on subjects, keeping track of his class time, and independently progressing through his curriculum.

Preparing for High School

Helping your middle schooler prepare for high school doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated. In small steps, year by year, you can gradually adjust your homeschool to stretch and grow your teenager. When high school arrives, not only will your student experience a much smoother transition, but they will have a strong foundation to support them during these last few years of their homeschool experience!

Jamilyn Gay

About the author

Jamilyn is a mom of five and has been homeschooling for over 11 years. She's a fan of reading, running, gardening and chocolate. She's also passionate about helping moms homeschool, while caring for themselves: mind, body and soul.

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