You’re not raising children, you’re raising adults. What better place to teach independence and responsibility than in your homeschool? Here are three ways you can help your middle schooler be more responsible.
Allowing your middle school student to help choose his courses of study (after the non-negotiables are decided upon) will help increase his interest in the topic. It will also teach him diligence and responsibility as he’ll have to complete the assignments knowing that it was his choice to begin, and only himself to blame if it’s not as interesting as he’d first thought.
On the other hand, it teaches him responsibility in that if he does enjoy it as much as he thought, he’ll take pride in having chosen and accomplished the assignments.
As an adult, he’ll have to make informed decisions and follow through with them whether or not they look so good after the fact. This is a “safe” way to begin learning and practicing the character trait of personal responsibility.
Once the curriculum choices have been made, allow your young teen to outline his own lesson plans. Teach him how to take those long term goals (finish the book in 36 weeks of school) and break it down into weekly and daily assignments. Find a planner here.
Help him create a way to assign due dates and work dates for assignments and projects, so that all can be finished in time, if he works the plan he sets. Help him see how to plan for flexibility or a Plan B in case of upsets in the schedule and how to evaluate and re-schedule assignments when this happens. This activity is essential to real life, for from here on out, a capable adult must be able to take big goals and break them down into smaller short term goals with action steps and deadlines.
Setting a weekly calendar and goals and having a weekly accountability meeting with mom or dad also helps him practice for real life as an independent adult. The goal is for him to be able to look at the family calendar and his own work/activity calendar and his assignments for the week and plan when to do what to get it all done.
This is easiest to do, in our experience, if you down together on Sunday nights and go over the assignments for the week and the family schedules and allow your teen to fill in his own daily schedule. Then he is responsible to complete those assignments and activities at the prescribed time and in the prescribed way to get them done before the next accountability meeting.
This also takes the daily “nagging” pressure off of mom/dad and improves the relationship. Usually if the teen is found “goofing” off, all that is needed is a reminder to “check your schedule. Is this what you’re supposed to be doing right now?” and it will put him back on track. Sometimes, teaching him to set an alarm on his watch, kindle or phone also helps keep him on track with the schedule he’s set for himself.
Accountability time happens at the end of the week as you prepare for the following week, and consequences for incompletion should be clearly laid out in advance, but I think you’ll find they’re rarely used. As you teach your middle schooler to be more independent, he will embrace it and prove more and more responsible.
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