How much freedom do you give your middle school child when it comes to homeschooling? Does your tween get to choose when to wake up, what to wear, and what order to study different subjects? Does he create his own research projects and find extra books to read or documentaries to watch? It's during these middle grades that most parents begin to foster greater and independence by offering more decision making power to their tweens and teens.
When it comes to shopping for homeschool curriculum, do you make the decision all by yourself? Or do you look for input from your child, discuss the options, and let your tween or teen help make the final choice?
Benefits of Choosing the Curriculum with No Input from Your Child
As parents, we often have different objectives for curriculum than our children would have. While our children often rank the fun factor as the number one consideration, we moms usually have a more holistic approach, weighing multiple factors at once.
To benefit the family
If you’re homeschooling more than one child, you may choose a curriculum that can be used for several of your children at the same time so you don’t have to spread yourself so thin. You can add in age appropriate math and language arts for each child but cover history, literature, and science with all of your kids at once. Some programs, like BookShark, work really well for multiple ages of children while others aren't nearly as flexible.
To suit your child
You may chose a curriculum that will stretch your child academically, knowing that the curriculum will ultimately be best for your child. During the process, your child may not agree. Many kids would naturally prefer a lighter, fun curriculum than one which challenges them.
To prepare for higher education
When a child graduates and goes to college, she won’t be able to choose the curriculum that the professors use. If she is not consulted on her choice of curriculum throughout her homeschooling career, she won’t be bothered when she has no choice of textbook in college.
To avoid pressure
Some children really don’t care and don’t want to be consulted about homeschool curriculum choices. There are so many curriculums available, the choice can be overwhelming for adults. Imagine how a child must feel with this responsibility! Making this call on your own saves your child from the pressure of making a bad choice and fearing the subsequent blame when it doesn't work out.
Benefits of Letting Your Child Help Choose the Curriculum
There are also many benefits to letting your child have a say in choosing her own curriculum.
To create a love of learning
If your child picks a curriculum she’s excited about, you may very likely create or foster a love of learning that will sustain her throughout her educational career.
To play to your child’s strengths
Each of our kids is unique, and as homeschoolers, we can cater to that uniqueness as well as their personal interests. If your child loves science and learning about scientists, BookShark’s Level 8, History of Science and Literature would be an ideal fit. If he is fascinated by American history, you will want to find a program on his level that delves into Colonial America, the Civil War, and modern history.
To minimize battles
Let’s be honest; the tween and teen years can be tough on a family. There may sometimes be battles over seemingly minor issues. If you let your child have a say in her education, that’s one item you may not have to battle over.
This is a lesson Jane wished she had learned earlier. Jane is homeschooling a 7th grader. She picked a language arts curriculum she thought would help her son become a better writer. What she didn’t realize is that the curriculum she chose relied on the student sharing personal feelings and experiences which her son hates to do. He fought against the curriculum the whole year because he was not comfortable sharing about himself.
If you do ask for your tween's input, I suggest giving a few boundaries. Offer a stack of three or four catalogs or websites to narrow the options. Otherwise, the choice becomes a huge burden instead of an exciting opportunity.
Deciding whether or not to let your child have a say in his curriculum largely depends on your child’s preference, your objectives for your homeschool, and your expectations for your child’s education going forward. There is no right or wrong choice; simply choose what works best for your family.
About the Author
Melissa is a homeschool mom to three kids. BookShark is her primary curriculum, and she and her kids love it! When she's not homeschooling, she's either shuttling kids from one activity to another or working from home as a freelance writer. You can read more about Melissa's homeschool journey at her blog Moms Plans.