Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Eighth Grade Slump


I have survived three eighth graders.  Actually I am still trying to recover from the last one.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my eighth graders, sadly it is a time I don’t think they like (homeschooling) parents.  I would speak for other parents about this age but I have never had an eighth grader that wasn’t also a homeschooler.

This is what I think happens.  Eighth grader reads books and sees movies about life in high school.  They think they are going to go to their first day of 9th grade at the big public school and not only meet the love of their life but find out that he/she is a sparkly vampire and better yet… they are a werewolf!

Sadly, many of us old people know this isn’t true.  It usually involved eating lunch in a bathroom stall because you don’t know anyone other than the drug addicts who were the only people who would speak to you and they just wanted to know if you had or wanted to buy something most likely illegal.  Then after 8 hours of school you had to come home and homeschool yourself for another 4.  

Ok, ok, other than the last part, not every day is like that.  You do make friends.  Hopefully they are decent people, but we know that high school involves a lot of jumping through hoops and, on most days, looks like a scene out of Lord of Flies just with a lot more make-up and Axe body spray.

I have yet to find a cure for this slump.  You see, there is no way to completely shelter your child from these outside influences.  Well, there is, but it borders on illegal or will at the very least violate their human rights.  High school, even in films that portray high school as a downer, is glamorized.  Every book, movie, play about those years will make it look like it is the epitome of all you will ever have in your life.  For some people, they never do get over those high school years.

Every one of my older kids have thought about going to public school for high school.  I understand it.  I truly get it.  High school wasn’t all that bad for me.  Believe me, it wasn’t the greatest, but I was pretty safe at my little private school.  I have tried different tactics in trying to convince them that homeschooling is better.  Which helps, but not always.  There is no perfect cure for this slump. 

It is an age of rebellion.  It is a time where our children question us and it is not always vocal.  It is natural.  So it is our job to stay strong and to remember why we are homeschooling.  Make a personal list to remind yourself why you started homeschooling and why you should keep doing it!  This might be a good practice to do at the end of every summer or right before you buy your school books for the next year!

I have even had my kids write me a paper on why they want to go to the public school.  It can give you an insight and help you to discuss their concerns and yours.  Allowing them to write it out makes sure that their voice is heard and you can look it over without fear of your child seeing your reactions.  Which let’s face it, could involve some anger, resentment, and even humor.  It is important that they feel their opinion is valid and respected, even if there is no way you are going to send them to school with the gang bangers and the cop stationed at the front doors.  Because, with all honesty, we do respect their feelings -if you don’t, you need to rethink this whole parenting gig. 

Once they have written you this paper (hee hee, homeschooling), you can discuss their list calmly.  Maybe they want more friends, maybe they worry they have to go, etc.  Each of these things can be talked through.  End with your reasons and try not to say, “You will thank me one day!”  Because they will… well, most likely.

Stay strong is the only advice I can give you.  Don’t try to meddle too much and fuss with curriculum.  Use what works and don’t just let things go either.  Unless your teen is very motivated, trying to change course now can lead to big regrets and holes big enough to drive a truck through.  Stick to the basics and if one of your child’s concerns was wanting to learn underwater basket weaving and they could learn it for free at the local high school, then find a class!  Maybe there are some You Tube videos.  Wait, no… have them look into it!  High school should be a time of learning independence, fortitude, and resilience.  Have them take the initiative.

I have seen the other end of this tunnel.  It is beautiful.  There is a lot of light and a future filled with brilliance.  And yes, I have heard it said, “I am so glad I was homeschooled!”

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