Homeschool Planning for Middle School

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It is that time of year when most homeschool moms begin thinking about homeschool planning.
It hit me last week — Ben is now a 7th grader! For some reason that sounds so much older (and more pressure-inducing) than 6th grade. I think it’s because when I was growing up, 6th grade was still elementary school. We still had recess, never changed classes, and had the same teacher for every subject. We were still in the throes of childhood.  

But then the time came when we joined the ranks of junior high school, with different teachers for every subject, changing classrooms every hour, and the deletion of the blessed recess time. 
It was official; we were growing up. 
And the realization hit me — Ben is growing up. And in just two short years, I will be teaching a high school student. I suddenly felt the weight of that amazing task fall onto my shoulders like a ton of bricks. It’s time to get serious. It is time to really think about homeschool planning. 
I’m not a planner. I’m pretty sure I have established that in the past. But at some point, I need to buck my natural tendencies and realize that Ben needs for me to do this for his good. Homeschool planning is something I must do, whether I want to or not.
I began thinking about goals for the remainder of Ben’s middle school years, knowing that my primary responsibility is to prepare him for high school, by laying down a firm foundation, both spiritually and educationally. I jotted down a few things that I want to make sure I’m focusing on: 
1. I want to provide more opportunity for Ben to practice using independent study skills, with the goal of producing quality work. 
2. I want to provide more opportunity for Ben to hone his research skills. 
3. I want to spend more time focusing on the 3Rs of his education — making sure that he has down the basic tools of math and writing, as well as literature analysis.
4. I want to continue to train Ben to become more self-motivated and self-sufficient. 
5. I want to provide more opportunity for Ben to develop computer skills, including keyboarding, software use (Word, Power Point, Excel, and Publisher), as well as programming.
And because homeschooling is really just an extension of life, I will include these goals for Ben’s spiritual growth as well — 
6. I want to help equip Ben for a lifelong love of God’s Word by training him more thoroughly in Bible study and Scripture memorization.
7. I want to help Ben understand more about what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself.” We are looking for ways to serve in our community on a consistent basis, and I have the goal of the two of us taking a foreign mission trip during the next two years. 
8. I want to usher Ben through puberty with a better understanding of biblical manhood. Of course, his dad will take the reins with this more than I. 
9. I want to train Ben in a more thorough understanding of self-government, in all areas of his life. 
10. I want to help Ben grow in his prayer life. 
I’m only beginning to explore exactly how we’ll go about meeting these goals over the next two years. There will be bit of a change in our curriculum choices. Rather than all unit studies, I do have some curriculum we have received through our reviews with the Schoolhouse Review Crew and other review opportunities that I believe will aid in the independence factor. They include:
1. Notgrass America Is Beautiful history (I can’t wait to share this review with you next month!)
3. Math Essentials (read my review)
4. Life of Fred (not a review item, just something we have found works well for Ben)
5. Apologia Who Is My Neighbor (read my review)
6. Supercharged Science (read my review) and Project EEME (read my review). 
7. Philippians in 28 Weeks for Bible memorization (this review will be coming in September!)
We’ll be working through this curriculum with a 4-day homeschool week, so that one day a week is left for Ben to explore according to his interests and passions. It will surely help me with the homeschool planning if I know that one day per week I can still fly by the seat of my pants. Also, two afternoons per week, Ben will attend a homeschool cottage school program for extra math instruction and some time with friends. 
However, in order for us to do this successfully, it will be very important for me to make some changes in the structure of our day as well, so that our goals can be achieved and so that enough can be accomplished in 4 days. 
I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve simply not been very successful at keeping to a schedule whereby I am able to complete my work hours (paid jobs and blog) of about six hours per day, and homeschool effectively. So I have come up with a new schedule we are trying out currently. Rather than working in large chunks of hours, I am dividing my time into 2 hour increments, three times a day (early morning, late afteroon, late evening), so that during Ben’s homeschool hours, I am completely available to him. On the day he’s at the cottage school program, I’ll have exactly 2 hours to work at a nearby coffee shop. 
I am excited for these changes in our coming year. I’m proud of myself for even considering homeschool planning. Did I mention I’m even going away overnight with some homeschool planning experts to work on these tasks together? I even have this Homeschool Planbook to use! Hopefully, we’ll get much accomplished, but I have a feeling there will be as much fellowship as anything. I’m okay with that, too. Because I know that even having a plan in mind is a giant step toward a successful year for Ben. 
How about you? Are you busy with your own homeschool planning? Are you making any changes this year? 

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