I began this series going backwards in time–part one deals with being done with homeschooling, and reflections on the later years of our educational journey. Today I am thinking about the middle years, when the kids could read well, were learning how to think well, and a whole world of knowledge was opening up to them. Some homeschool moms are asked during this time, “Just how long are you going to do this homeschool thing?” as if it were only appropriate for preschool and early elementary ages. We were blessed not only with a lack of criticism, but with good friends who homeschooled as well. Not that my children didn’t have any other socialization–my husband was a youth minister, and we took our children with us everywhere we went. My senior-in-college daughter wrote a paper the other day about her socialization experiences, and asked me why not much of the teen culture had rubbed off on her. I told her I thought it was for two reasons: because she was younger and not their peer, the teenagers talked to her as a child, and also because she frequently had her nose buried in a book, oblivious to the verbal chaos around her. No doubt the lack of a TV in our home also had something to do with it. It was a concern for us as parents, though, and we tried to encourage our children to be who God wanted them to be, and ignore what the world had in mind for them. We did not hide the ugliness of sin from them, but used it as a teaching tool.
So, on with our list of things learned during the middle years:
1. You should make Bible study a priority.
I’m not saying that you just now begin studying the Bible…this is something you have done from the beginning. But with basic Bible knowledge in their minds, you can expand on that and get to some of the meatier topics that require deep thought. We did a study of Proverbs during these years, and were amazed at the understanding and conclusions of our kids. This will help prepare them for thinking through decisions later down the road.
2. You should consider their opinion.
When I first thought of this point, I was thinking of their opinion on curriculum–letting them help you choose teaching materials that they think would be most useful to them. Now that you have given them the basic skills for learning, your role is changing from “teacher that knows it all” to a facilitator who puts them in touch with what they need for self-learning. Granted, this is a gradual process, and is modulated by their growth in maturity. You know your child best, and know if they need to work on self-motivation, which must be in place before self-learning.
This is also a good time to consider their opinions about other things, such as their clothes, their books, and their activities. I am not at all saying that you are giving up your parental authority here–you still have the final say. But this is a time for them to “learn to discern” while you are still there to help them. Use that Bible knowledge and show them how it applies in their everyday life, in what they wear and read and do. A child who has never learned to make good Bible-based decisions is not prepared for adulthood.
3. You need to be teaching them life skills.
Now some of you who read this have been doing this since they were toddlers–good for you! I did not do this on a consistent basis, probably because I am not a very consistent housekeeper. My children learned their work ethic from their father, thankfully. Either way, in these middle years of homeschooling, you will find your children capable of more and bigger responsibilities. Putting them in charge of certain tasks will teach them that the world is not all about them and their needs. Cooking is one area where I wish I had taught my children more before they left home. There are 1001 little habits and tidbits of knowledge about working in a kitchen that are best learned by example. (As you can see by the photo, I did teach them how to bake cookies–a very important skill!)
4. Please treasure these things in your heart.
The longer you homeschool, the more likely you will be to receive compliments on your children that are directly related to their character or knowledge–the very things you have been working on so diligently. Be humble, say thank you, give glory to God…and then treasure these things in your heart, as Mary did. “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19 ESV
If you are a visual person and not that great at remembering words, jot them down in a notebook. Because hard days will come, days where you question whether you are doing things right, or wonder if problems will be overcome…and then you can pull out your treasures and read them again. Ponder them and feel their blessing again.
Homeschooling in the middle years is great! Help your children climb into the big wide world of knowledge, carrying God’s Word with them as their guide.