24 October 2012

Who Cares About Middle School?

I've read a lot on early literacy and elementary-level skills.  And there's a fair bit out there about high school standards and curriculum.  Middle school, though?  Not much.  It's almost as though we want to pretend these kids don't really exist, or worse, pretend as though their academic and behavioural concerns rightly belong in the "high school" box.

Emperor will be my first middle-school level homeschooler if he remains with me next year.  I'm finding his writing is not what it could be.  But he does well with an organized, structured report on a given topic.  How do we get his writing to evolve from the simple paragraph to the several-page long college essay complete with thesis statement and footnotes?  There is a middle stage there somewhere.

In reading, he isn't using the baby readers, but hasn't quite progressed naturally to the full-length novel without much effort and help.  Yet.

I'm finding also that many of his interests (and those of Elf, for that matter) are childish and also very teen-like at the same time.  Elf and Emperor still enjoy Pokemon but also have started to understand more adult comedies and movies and appreciate them. 

I notice that even homeschool curriculum doesn't break itself down into elementary, middle, and high school levels.  It seems they'll cater to a given age range or a given grade.  I don't think I've ever seen anyone particularly pitch to the middle-school level for academics.  Preschool seems to be the latest-greatest thing in terms of making money (hey, parents are over-involved and ready to spend big at that stage), but middle school-level things don't seem to be particularly heavily promoted.

Why do you think that is?  I am going to guess that it is either that schools themselves started the distinction (and therefore homeschoolers hate it), or that middle school begins that time of student specialisation we see so clearly in the high school level.

8 comments:

  1. I can't offer any kind of help on this one. I still enjoy a lot of childish stuff myself.
    I'm not sure exactly what Middle School is, here in Australia we have kindergarten at 4-5 years, usually a separate institution, not even in school grounds and not compulsory. Then infant school starting at age 5 or 6, which is Grades one and two, then Primary School, from grade three to six in the Eastern States but from three to seven in South Australia. Why? Who knows?
    After that it's straight into high school for five years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh YEAH! That's right! In Australia, you go right from Primary to High School. It's way different here, River. Our district even presently has a "junior high" level for eighth and ninth grade. So theoretically children must change schools four times if they never move, and many more if they do... :)

      Delete
  2. With Sonlight, we do have Preschool/Pre-Kindergarten materials and stuff that fits the "high school" level... but we've got plenty of programs in between. Because we're literature-based, each program works with a span of ages, so you find the package that will best fit your family. I haven't seen a need to break our packages down into elementary and middle school. I guess there isn't much marketability in those terms. Haven't really thought about it... but I don't see very many families confused by the lack of a middle school label. Age/grade span seems to work just fine.

    Another reason for this, I think, is that--as a company--we want to get people started with us so they realize how fantastic we are and want to stay with us all their lives [smile]. So, we pitch the early programs (for those starting out). The programs in the middle are absolutely amazing... but who's the target demographic there? The majority of homeschool families will have already found materials that work for their families. So there isn't a clear market/need.

    Granted, we have run campaigns that ask something like, "Are you loving your homeschool? Because, if not, you should try Sonlight--the homeschool curriculum you'll love! Guaranteed." These are aimed at homeschooling families who have been homeschooling for a while but, for whatever reason, aren't loving their experience.

    Okay, those are some rambling thoughts off the top. You've always got such thought-provoking topics, Mrs. C [smile].

    ~Luke

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it makes perfect business sense to capture the market early. Make sure Moms LOVE Sonlight in the preschool years and that you set up forums and helps so that they never want to change.

      Just as a mom of middle-school aged children, it seems that the middle kids get forgotten in our big homeschool circles...

      Delete
  3. The answer to your question is this... Schools have decided that middle school is farrrrr toooo hormone laden to also teach kids any new things. Instead they keep them in a holding pattern academically, reviewing the same math and reading and writing skills over and over so they won't lose knowledge they have learned in elementary. They tend to pick up in high school where they left off. That's why some kids are so surprised that they actually have to WORK in high school.... they have spent the last 2 years scratching their butts.

    In all fairness, they do learn something in middle school. They get sex ed, and the math functions do get incrementally harder, but it is the same. Look at math Pre-algebra is a repeat of 4th and 5th grade math, only drill, baby, drill. The only new thing they learn is to convert fractions to decimals, to percentages, etc. Then they get a wee bit of Algebra in the 8th grade. If they are super smart, they might get Algebra in the 8th grade.

    And that's why I only let my daughter do middle school for 2 years. A 3rd year wasn't necessary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found middle school extremely difficult, but that was because I moved from an Australian high school into an American school. I dealt with the different culture and the lack of uniforms and had no clue what to wear so that I wouldn't stand out. My mom got me a pink tracksuit and my Nana bought me prairie skirts... it didn't work so hot.

      Delete
  4. After completing 'middle school' with my son this past school year, I have to say I didn't really think he learned a whole lot academically as far as 'state regs' goes. Sure, there was work to be done, but not a whole lot of new material like with the other grades. It felt much more like 'review' by the state standards...which is why I'm glad we homeschool. We pushed on, picked our own path and learned things that would soften the blow of entering 9th grade this fall. We did reading, writing and math work above what was called for because I knew that would feel like a brick wall otherwise. And some days, it does anyway. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So. You were deceptive with a state agency about what you were covering during your homeschool hours. You showed disrespect for the state's educational system and its record-keeping processes.

      Did I mention I love you?

      Delete

Non-troll comments always welcome! :)