If you’re homeschooling tweens, then you’re probably all too familiar with the struggle of tweaking things to reflect your child’s new learning style, learning interests, and all things in between. Just like their change in development, there is no exception to the changes that will (and should) occur in your homeschool when your child reaches their tween years – between ages 9 – 12.
10 Tips for Homeschooling Tweens
Although these may seem like some of the most challenging years in your homeschooling journey, they can also be some of the best. One of the biggest perks to homeschooling is, and always has been, the ability to adjust to the various phases your family will go through.
There are a few things you can do to help your tween adjust to their new interests, emotions, attitudes, and other life-changing things they’ll encounter during this time.
Allow them to pursue more independence
Your tween can most likely tell you what they like and dislike, as well as what they’re interested in learning and not. When you’re homeschooling tweens, give them more independence.
Allow them to pick their own reading and writing assignments, projects, and/or unit study topics. If your tweens don’t love reading, let them select one or two graphic novels for middle school to replace their seventh-grade booklist. Or maybe let them choose their own middle school homeschool curriculum for one year. One semester, we used creative writing prompts for middle school as a morning activity. Even my 10-year-old loved it!
Here’s another example. My daughters LOVE music, classical, country, and today’s top pop songs too.
We did a lyric study unit, and they chose the songs to study. It was perfect because several of them were songs with figurative language, so we could discuss the various literary devices (such as metaphors, similies, and personification) used.
And encourage them to organize their school supplies and routines.
Put them in control of their schedule
Of course, you don’t need to completely rearrange everything. Instead, look for ways to give your tween a chunk of time and the responsibility of planning their schedule within it.
For example, tell your tween they have a certain number of assignments to complete. Then set a specific amount of time to get them done. Give them ideas of how to plan their homeschool work, and the freedom to arrange it.
Give your tween more sleep
As your child nears their teenage years, they’ll most likely hit another growth spurt or two in which extra sleep could do them some good. Although sleeping until noon may not be ideal, when homeschooling tweens, it’s a good idea to recognize their changing physical needs. Then adapt your homeschool schedule to it.
Get your tween involved
If possible, get your tween involved in more homeschooling group options with social-minded kids. This can even be online, especially during COVID (i.e. through Outschool or Brave Writer classes).
Some tweens feel more introverted during this time. And that’s okay, as long as they still learn the social skills needed to function in today’s society.
Homeschooling tweens need hands-on learning opportunities
Kids between the ages of about 9 and 12 have developed enough intellectually to handle more complex hands-on learning.
Homeschooling tweens gives parents the opportunity to include more hands-on and practical homeschooling lessons. These lessons include important life skills such as cooking, homemaking, and basic home maintenance skills such as gardening.
Learning additional hands-on skills such as woodworking, mechanical problem-solving, crafting, etc. can even develop into future businesses or careers.
In fact, this is the perfect time to be guided by their interests while keeping an eye on possible careers. And homeschooling tweens gives them the opportunity for a “deep dive” into their own interests and fosters excitement about learning.
Get your tween involved in your home-based business
If you run a home-based business, look for opportunities to include your growing child. Give them small tasks that will teach them a variety of business skills. These can also replace some of the traditional tween homeschooling lessons.
For example, my eleven-year-old has worked hard at her keyboarding lessons all year. Now she can write short assignments, social media posts, and image captions.
She also helps create images in Canva for our various online websites.
Prepare for their changes
This is where the saying “pick and choose your battles” comes into play, and rightfully so. You may find your tween being rebellious when in all actuality they would like a little space, or maybe a little more time to complete a task. Regardless, prepare for their changes in temperament. And know they will come.
Perhaps your child who always loved math games with you prefers to do math drills solo now. On the other hand, a couple of my children really began to communicate verbally well as tweens.
This was the age of great book discussions, and long conversations about the movies, music, and art they liked (and didn’t like.) Some of our most spirited discussions were about the pros and cons of various books made into movies.
I’m finding homeschooling tweens really get the chance to let their own unique personalities shine.
Over the years (my eldest children are now in their thirties,) I realize that when I use more casual language as I talk to my tweens, including the current phrases and expressions, It seems they’d feel more comfortable about going through whatever physical, emotional, or social changes they were experiencing.
My intention as a parent is to create a safe space that would give the children the security needed to talk, knowing they’d be heard.
This is the age where you can begin having those “real” conversations. Often, what starts as a conversation over a movie scene, music lyrics, or relationship in a story turns into a discussion of values, worldview, and philosophy.
Give your tween outlets
I think we sometimes forget that our children have not experienced this age before. They haven’t yet been ten, or eleven, or twelve, and everything is new to them. And they aren’t always sure what to expect.
Just like we love to have parenting manuals, our children would probably love to have a tween handbook that tells them any and everything they could possibly experience. However, without that, we can still prepare them for the season by giving them constructive outlets to share their thoughts, feelings, and even frustrations. These outlets could include journaling, freehand sketching, playing physical education games or sports, or even getting involved in extracurricular activities.
Embrace the tween years
As difficult as this may be at times, these years are still worth embracing. They will quickly come and quickly go. Instead of focusing on the negatives or what could be going wrong, focus on building their character and preparing them to become thriving adults.
These are the years of all things self-motivation and responsibility. Tap into what these years have to offer. Then use them to help your tween work on becoming a meaningful member of society. Yes, let them go through the trial and errors of life, but be there to gently guide them along the way. Remember that they still need you.