Have you ever heard a parent say, "My middle schooler turns everything into an argument. They rebut everything!" Some good news exists - it's completely normal, and even better, we can teach them how to channel it!
Developmentally, your typical middle school student (5th-8th grade) is still excitable in their learning despite what they may imply, but they need challenges. They like to judge, critique, have debates, and show off their knowledge. They usually want to know the "behind the scenes" stuff and ask the curious "why" questions about most things. They even think they are more knowledgable than adults! Take all these unique characteristics of a middle schooler and add them to full-time home educating, and if you're like most parents, you will find yourself questioning why on earth you are doing what you are doing. Some begin to research alternatives and some quit altogether.
The descriptors of middle schoolers above are not wrong, nor are they character deficiencies, they just need to be properly channeled. Instead of forcing these characteristics out of our students, we use them to our advantage. Instead of squelching students' argumentative, sometimes "know it all" attitudes, we teach them to turn it into something extremely positive, something life-giving, that produces truth, goodness, and beauty.
With technology advancing before our eyes, we live in a world where the art of person to person dialogue is quickly dying. Much of our logic school program revolves around the lost art of dialogue. Students in our 5th-8th grade classes will learn proper arguing, respect, critiquing, analyzing, applying, and debating - across all subjects areas. If we graduate students from our homes and schools without the proper skill of dialogue, it becomes detrimental to their own souls, their families, their communities, their faith groups, and their workplaces.
At The Classical Academy, we build and nurture the art of dialogue by creating safe spaces for everyone to add their own meanings to a shared pool of understanding, and no matter how much we believe differently than one of our peers or teachers, we teach our students that their perspective only occupies some of the pool, not all of it. Why is this important? Because it teaches students to listen sincerely, to respect others, to practice cooperation, to seek out personal growth, and to learn about someone else, rather than just fighting to always be "right." We teach students not just to reload while someone else is talking, and to be vigilant against fear, dismissal, manipulation, and apathy - which will put an immediate stop to safe dialogue. As humans, we are naturally tempted to correct, disagree, or put ourselves at the center of someone else's perspective or experience. It takes a high level of skill, humility, empathy, and courage to dialogue in a way that is respectful, safe, and inviting. And, it takes practice and hard work. Logic school is where the beauty of classical education begins to really show itself. It's a markedly different approach to middle school years than traditional education practices.
Do you feel these types of conversations and teaching moments are nearly impossible to teach and re-create in a home education only setting, but you can't afford full-time, private classical education, and nor do you want your child spending all their hours away from home in a school setting?
Do you find yourself thinking, "There's no way my middle schooler would dialogue in a class of peers, led by a trained educator. They're too stubborn, too grumpy, too resistant, or too shy."
Come join us at TCA! We will teach your middle schooler that yes, it is still possible to hold a civil dialogue, with ideas out in the open, while staying reasonable, measured, and respectful in the midst of sometimes even charged conversations. Once you lay a feast of ideas consisting of truth, goodness, and beauty before a student, and begin showing him how to process them, think about them, dialogue about them, and persuade with them, you will be surprised what he can do. It may feel threatening at first, especially if the dialogue is controversial or shared between people of different beliefs. But isn't this the skill we want our students to have? To be able to intelligently, respectfully, and lovingly interact with others in their quest to share their perspective or persuade?
At The Classical Academy Logic School (5th-8th) we offer a one day program for our 5th-6th grade students that can be enrichment or fully collaborative between home and school (meaning we plan your curriculum for your at-home days so you don't have to). We also offer a two day program for 7th-8th grade students that is fully collaborative. Regardless of which way you choose to use The Classical Academy's program, one thing you can be sure of, is a top notch program designed to help your student discover the lost art of dialogue.
The Demise of At-Home Science
What is the subject area that fascinates and excites most young students? You guessed it, science! Kids are born naturally curious about the world around them and intuitively seek to explore it. They love learning about nature, volcanoes, planets, the human body, and all kinds of animals and plants. They get extremely excited watching science demonstrations and participating in science experiments. If given the opportunity, most kids would dive into science activities all day long.
It's August, and if you're like many home school moms you've started off the year "science strong." "This year, we are going to work through this science experiment book. My kids are going to love it. We'll have so much fun." Mom spends time gathering a beautiful, amazing spread of science materials, living books, hands-on materials, lap books, projects, and more. The dining room table is laden with this year's science plan and everyone is stoked.
It's September, and you've started off strong. You've managed one science demonstration a week so far and you surprised yourself that you kept your cool when your preschooler knocked over the entire experiment. "This is going so well," you say to yourself. "I got this."
It's October. Your enthusiastic science plans are morphing into chaos. You really are having trouble finding good time, space, and energy for the real deal. There's so many other things you need to do and instead. Now, when you start science, it takes over your whole school day. No problem, right? You posted about your science mayhem on social media and all your well-meaning homeschooling friends rightly encouraged you by saying things like, "Don't sweat it. Learning WAS taking place. And school schedule, phst! Isn't this why we homeshcool? To do what we want when we want it? Don't be too rigorous. Enjoy your days, have fun."
And....they're right. But as the person responsible for their education you know you can't always have mayhem over the attempted amazing science program that turns into an all day disastrous affair. Once or twice of week of that is enough to put any mom in the looney bin, on top of not being able to get other fun things and necessary things in.
Now it's November. You're exhausted. You've got several kids of different ages and just managing the core of their education is proving to be enough of a task in and of itself. Science is the first thing to go. In desperation, you log into Facebook and start posting in all the homeschool groups. Help! I feel guilty! I'm not doing my science. My kids are begging for science and experiments and demonstrations. We're barely getting through language arts! You receive several helpful suggestions such as, just follow their interest and read through all the library science books. Watch Magic School Bus videos, etc, etc. But still, these require a little more than you feel like you can even give this point. But, you try.... you make it three weeks with the new science plan. You bring all the kids to the library. Interest led science books. Again, mayhem. Books everywhere, kids everywhere. They change their interest led category fifteen times before checkout and before you know it, you're heading home with 32 books from the science section. Still not reality enough? Over the next two weeks you read maybe 5 of them.
By January, you've simply given up. You tell yourself they'll learn some science this summer. Or, that they'll eventually learn science in highschool when they're forced to sign up for a class somewhere, or forced to endure the boredom that is a dry, science textbook approach. But what else are you to do? As a home educating parent, you're in charge of everything! How can you possibly do everything? Well, you can't. And sometimes you just have to leave it at that. But sometimes, when it comes to things like your kids really wanting to do science and explore, and engage, and do hands-on activities, you don't forget it, and you don't try to be in charge of it yourself. You reach out and try something different.
At The Classical Academy your child will receive a big, wonderful dose of all things science in our science classes taught by Mrs. Cheryl Tomas. Students will enjoy a rich science class every week at school, full of demonstrations, hands-on activities, and much more! Mrs. Tomas will also plan at-home extension lessons for 3rd-6th graders as optional ways to increase science learning based on what they learned in class. She will also provide a full collaborative program for your 7th-8th grader. But the best part? Your students receive a full year of science requirements for their grade level and all the messy, lab material, hands-on science will happen at school! Your kids will love you for it!
There's still time to sign-up in time for the new school year! Have questions? Reach out to us on our contact form!