Home Schooling Thoughts – Tackling the ‘Lost Years’
I have been toying with the idea of homeschooling my kids during middle school since they were born. I have a few more years yet to decide. The reality is that we can try it and if it is not for us, just enroll the kids into the next school year. My good teacher-friend has labeled the middle school years (6 to 8 in the U.S.) as the ‘Lost Years’. Never hearing that term (he may have made it up) he explained that it’s when education takes a back seat to social conformance and puberty. Kids go through a lot in these years, shaping their identity and forming new pseudo family ties for security while at school. I’m learning that to me the ‘Lost Years’ of middle school is sounding like more than just puberty and cliques. From my readings below, looks like the nurturing goes out the window to some degree and schools start getting down to brass tax as they say – with grades, clubs and competitions. All good, all good. We want to hone winners. Although, it’s no wonder motivation for learning is down during this time not to mention having to go from 1 great teacher to 6 is a lot to take in (6 different personalities).
Research and reading into the Lost Years
Carl Pickhardt, PhD wrote several books on the topic but his article in Psychology Today struck me as WOW. In case you don’t have a lot of reading time or audio book time on your hands just take a look at this list. In his article there is an a non-exhaustive list of what preteens go through. The list of changes and obstacles that kids go through in middle school are VAST. You’ll be in sweats after you skim through it. Maybe have a few flashbacks. You may want to queue your therapist’s number now.
The take away: Be proactive and understanding. Just because your kids are not engaging you it doesn’t mean you stop trying or showing them you are their rock. They are going through a lot, remember to breath with them.
K-8 is Great (but where’d they go?)
K-8 and K- 12 schools were the norm until around the 60s in accordance with this article from Harvard Ed. Magazine. Middle schools became popular as the population grew by the 50s and they needed to build more schools. This model was born because at the time it made sense to have ‘middle school’ years after your primary education and before your secondary education. The article also speaks about evidence that model K-8 schools produce higher achieving students when compared to their counterparts in the grades 6-8 middle schools. Their findings state that kids academically drop significantly when having to transition to a 6th grade starting middle school and don’t see an improvement (back to where they should be academically) until 10th grade. It takes time to adjust. There are many ways and environments in which kids can thrive. Growing evidence is proving that giving kids one more year in the elementary school setting seems like a gift after reading all of this. Elementary is nurturing and focuses on kids learning new skills and mastering them. Middle schools are dynamically different because the elements of a larger student body, competition and grades are introduced all while one is experiencing puberty and hardcore social navigation is underway. Kids that have a fixed mindset seem to have a harder time of it. While kids who are encouraged to try try again and know that from past failure means you’ll make it, actually do.
The take away:
- make sure you’re asking your kids many open ended questions at any age they are at
- foster a growth mindset so that if you’re district does not have a K-8 model, they will be better equipped
- know that by the 6th grade all parents are embarrassing so keep your contact and communication with your kids at a minimum while on school grounds (this one is just funny but true)
- at any age, NOW would be a good time to teach them about mediation. Deep breathing is a coping tool for any stressful situation
“maturity is a high price for growing up.”
– tom stoppard
Next research item for me, HOMESCHOOLING RESOURCES.