Growing Up: What I'm Doing with My Middle Schooler

matthewlegoYesterday, I shared a little about what I'm doing with my kindergartener. Today, I thought I'd share a little about what I'm doing with my 7th grader. Matthew is now 12 years old, right on the threshhold of his teen years. A couple of years ago, the Lord put it on my heart to begin preparing him for those years even though he was only about ten years old. In classical education terms, Matthew is entering his dialectic years, when all those facts and pieces of information that he has been collecting all along slowly join together to become the foundation of bigger thoughts and ideas. Yes, he knows about how God created the world in six days, but how does this impact his understanding of the value of people in God's image, stewardship of God's resources, and his beliefs about the origin of life? And so, this year, we are revisiting some of the things that we have learned in the past, but with a twist---enlarging his understanding and helping him to start integrating all those little pieces into his worldview and belief system.

That's big. But it's also very exciting!

Another goal we have for Matthew this year is exploring an area of personal interest and delving a little deeper. Right now, he has a couple very strong interests, building with Lego being one of them. I found this online class from Bridgeway Academy called Architecture with Brick Building part I that runs from Sept 30-Dec. 1 this fall. At this age, Janna began exploring her interest in graphic design with Photoshop. I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen with Matthew!

A third goal is learning some of the basic tools of study: taking notes, summarizing, skimming, and reading thoughtfully. Unlike his older sister who has preferred to study alone, Matthew and I have really enjoyed learning together. It took him awhile to learn how to read, but his comprehension skills were excellent, so he was often able to get through rather complex books simply by listening (I often served as his audio book!). But with a little brother coming up the ranks and a little sister who will need a lot of help, I have realized that my read-aloud days are numbered. I am actually really sad about this, as we have enjoyed our time together so much. And so this year, we will still be doing a little reading together, mostly history and science, but I will start releasing things to him.

A strictly academic goal this year is strengthening his writing skills. Like many boys, Matthew has really struggled with the language arts, both in coming up with ideas to write about as well as figuring out how to translate those abstract ideas into concrete words, sentences, paragraphs and essays. And so this year, we will continue to work on some of these skills, like spelling, vocabulary development, and grammar, as well as cultivating some stylistic techniques. Realizing that this is a struggle, I have taken this very slowly and am glad I did.

Lastly, we want to give Matthew an opportunity to continue cultivating his friendships and leadership skills. This past year, he has grown tremendously with a team of boys as they worked together to launch Team Malaria. The boys have become very good friends---not just Nerf gun buddies, but budding brothers in Christ. Matthew also has enjoyed playing volleyball with our neighborhood league. Generally, he rises as a leader each season, with both his coaches and teammates looking up to him. We hope to see that continue to develop.

I'm sure I could write many others, but these are my top five for this year. What are we using to get there?

Worldview: Apologia worldview series, volumes 2, 3, and 4. As he is on the older end and we got a late start, I decided to try to go through these at a faster clip this year so that he can move onto Summit Ministries' Lightbearers curriculum next year. He will be reading these on his own and practicing some of those reading skills!

Character: Bob Schulz's Practical Happiness. Moms of boys, if you have not read any books by Bob Schulz, I highly encourage you to check him out. This is our third year reading Mr. Schulz's books, and they have all been excellent. I wrote a review of the first one we read a couple years ago, Boyhood and Beyond.

Math: VideoText Interactive online, Algebra. I am so excited to be able to review this program! (Review will be coming at the end of September.) We just started and so far, we are loving it. We're taking the 2-year track, but when he is done, he will have credit for Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 by the end of 8th grade!

Science: We will be doing an eclectic selection using Apologia's General Science topics as our guide. We are starting the year off with Evolution: The Grand Experiment that we discovered from Sonlight several years ago with Janna. My hope is to be able to make science very hands-on this year, with the goal of developing his critical thinking skills. As I still have a subscription to Supercharged Science (a review I did this spring), I am going to utilize it to create our science program.

History: The Mystery of History, Volume 1, will be our spine, but my goal is also to explore the ancient cultures in more depth with supplementary books and historical fiction. I am so looking forward to this! My hope is that by studying these ancient cultures and times more deeply, we can have a better grasp on the Bible as well. Though I am not using Diana Waring's history curriculum directly, I like the way she structures these units---her method is inspiring me to create my own version!

Language Arts: we will be working through these various disciplines:

PE: FitDeck basketball, Bodyweight (strength training), Speed Ladder (agility), as well as volleyball league in fall and spring seasons.

Fine Arts: History of Classical Music Study Guide, from Beautiful Feet

All in all, it's a full year for Matthew. I have to remind myself that the goal is to enjoy our studies, even as we reach for our goals! I've learned that even though I plan a lot, it is okay to not do everything we planned. Ultimately, I have to remind myself that my goal is to disciple and train up a young man for God's service, not for my glory. All these curricula are tools to that end.

What are some of your goals for your middle schooler?