/ / How to Foster Independence in Your Middle Schooler

How to Foster Independence in Your Middle Schooler

Need some ideas to foster independence in your middle schooler? Read on for some practical tips!

The middle school years can be pretty tough, and it’s partly because kids in this age group are starting to desperately want to be independent, but they still need a lot of help. They’re wanting to act more like adults (when it suits them!) and are learning to be responsible for their stuff and their time.

It’s also a valuable time for preparing kids for that next level in their schoolwork, when high school credits matter and they are making decisions about college and careers. During middle school, most students can transition to learning quite independently, and are able to make more decisions about their schoolwork and how to manage their time.

3 ways to foster independence in your middle schooler | homeschooling middle school

How to Foster Independence in Your Middle Schooler

Here are three areas where your homeschooled middle schooler can be developing independence:

Time Management  –  This is such a valuable skill for all of us, and getting some practice during middle school will really benefit your teen! It can be as simple as getting chores and school done before playing video games; but there’s also the aspect of being realistic about how much time is needed to do tasks well and planning ahead.

With schoolwork, start trusting your kid with the assignment list – make sure they know what they are to do and what the deadline is, and let them figure out how to get it done. This is new ground for many kids, so you could start with just one subject and ease into it, or even just one set of assignments at a time. Try to allow them control over as much of the school schedule is practical. You may need to dictate some parts of the daily schedule if you’re actively teaching subjects instead of having them work on their own, or if your family works as a group on some subjects.

Perhaps sit down with them and help them figure out a daily routine that will work for them. If they’re not already doing it, show them how to keep track of the time spent on schoolwork, especially subjects like Phys.Ed. or Music, since they may be earning high school credits for those based on credit hours.

Responsibility  – We all want our kids to be responsible, but the tricky part is gradually handing over that responsibility and letting them rise to the challenge. It helps to be clear in your expectations of what needs to be done and the deadline. A constant battle at our house was getting the dishes done. When we were specific about who washed and who dried, what was involved in completing the job, the time frame for it being done, and the consequences if it wasn’t done right, then there was a much higher probability that the job got done.  It wasn’t a guarantee, but it sure helped! They knew how to wash dishes long before they were middle school age, but at that point they were taking responsibility for getting it done. The same can apply to schoolwork. Given a clear list of assignments and due dates, most kids know how to do those assignments. Now they are ready to start taking on the responsibility for working at the list and asking for help when they need it.

Making Decisions  – This may be the hardest for parents, because it involves stepping back from managing your kid’s life so they can make more of their own decisions. Think of yourself as more of a life coach. Teens are ready to be coached in making wise choices rather than having their choices dictated to them. They can grasp the reasoning behind the standards of behavior we expect, and can apply principles in real life situations. And they need practice making those decisions while Mom and Dad are still available to guide and advise.

These years are prime for developing a good work ethic, learning how to be respectful of those in authority, gaining confidence, and honing their talents and skills. Being trustworthy and handling themselves well as they help out in the church or in the community might translate into a valuable reference or experience when they are ready to get a job. In school, continue customizing their studies to their interests and needs, and give them the chance to apply themselves and find their own motivation. Most kids need to know the reason why they have to learn stuff that seems useless, even if the reason isn’t much more profound than the fact that it’s a required credit they need for graduation.

By the time they go to college, they will need to be able to manage their study time, their money, and even their laundry on their own. As parents, we really are working ourselves out of a job, and if we can make that transition gradual it’s less traumatic for everyone!

Yes, there’s a lot of drama and upheaval happening during those middle school years, but thankfully homeschooling gives plenty of opportunity to work through the rough spots in the security of the home and family. Gradually handing over responsibility for schoolwork to your teen can pave the way for handing over other responsibilities as they mature, and it may just be that the middle school years are actually joyful and rewarding!



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  1. I was just saying to my husband last night that I wished my middle school and high school boys were more independent; they are so reluctant to take the reigns. I’ll have to try implementing some of these suggestions. Pinned.

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