7 Ways to Prepare Your Middle Schooler for College

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Do you have middle schoolers at home, who are thinking about the college option? 

The other day I spoke with a homeschooling family, whose middle schooler was interested in going to college, when the time came.  

She was thinking about college for her daughter, and she wondered if there were things that she could do now, to help prepare her young teen with that future goal.

During our discussion, I came up with seven factors to look at, for your middle schooler, with the college option in mind.

Let's start with English skills: 

1. Whatever English curriculum you are using, take time to discuss what you read, using some literary analysis.

Does your curriculum, whether published or homemade, include critical thinking questions to discuss?  Is your child beginning to analyze what they are reading?  

There are, of course, many options for middle school English.  In our home, we used Oak Meadow, and also 7 Sisters Literature and English courses and lit guides.

Oak Meadow English 8 is all about introducing the components of good literature to your middle schooler.

We love Oak Meadow's focus on hands on learning, and how it works to meet the child when he is: head, hands and heart.

"Through this course, literature became something that my daughter looked forward to each day....She enjoyed learning about plot, setting, point of view, and characterization. But she when she got to symbolism, and foreshadowing, she was..." click here to continue with my review   

For many more ideas for middle school english, go to The Curriculum Choice, and search for middle school English.

2.  Write a lot! 

Encourage all kinds of writing, fiction, essays, reports, biographies, autobiographies, etc.

We all know how important writing skills are to the college student.  How is your child doing with their writing?  Do they have a chance to practice different types of writing? Are they finding a way to express themselves in the  written form? Use their interests to craft writing assignments which will be meaningful to them.  

One year, my daughter was really interested in airplanes and the airline industry, so that became the focus of her research report that year.  Another year, she was wanting to try her hand in story writing...so we focused on that, but still asked for some essay writing, to continue to build on those skills, too.

One of my favorite simple resources for writing, is the Spectrum Writing series.  I liked it was simple to use, and was full of writing prompts throughout the book. include different types of essays to write.  There are easy to follow instructions for each assignment, and they include a wide variety of writing skills to practice. 

The Curriculum Choice has many helpful reviews of writing curriculum, including IEW, etc.

3.  Consider using a composition evaluation service.

How do you know how your child is doing with their writing skills?  One resource that we found for that was from Write Shop, who will evaluate essays that you can send in to them.

4.  Encourage free reading.

Kids who read a lot, develop strong vocabularies. We  know that.  That will help a lot with college entrance testing, SAT, ACT, and college itself.  My daughter loved reading science fiction and adventure stories, and we encouraged that.  It doesn't have to be limited to good literature.

5.  Math - Get Pre-algebra done.

Most colleges ask for algebra 1 in 9th grade.  So a good understanding of pre-algebra during middle school can really help.  We used Teaching Textbooks, then went to Switched-On-Schoolhouse's, which helped my daughter with retention. There are many great resources for pre-algebra. 

6.  Consider providing practice in test taking.

We used hands-on approaches in our homeschool, with lots of unit studies.  But somewhere in 7th grade, we began to incorporate some quizzes and tests. 

Test taking skills are key to success in college.  And starting in middle school gives your child plenty of time to practice.  I hated to add this in, but starting in middle school gave my daughter plenty of time to get used to tests, and not be anxious about them.  Knowing how to take tests has helped her so much in college.

7.  Encourage their budding interests.

It's never too early to encourage our young teen's special interests.  And isn't this one of the reasons that we homeschool,anyway?  

My daughter's interests in irish dancing and student government activities, with Youth and Government, helped her get into college.  There are many ways to show your child's leadership skills, volunteering at church, assisting in a class in co-op are just a few.

Colleges want to know what your child is really about. They see lots of applications from students who are just doing activities to build up their applications.  But they want to see students who have interests that are real, and our homeschoolers can excel in that.

These are my favorite tips for preparing your middle schooler for college, while keeping the flavor of your homeschool strong.  

What would you add to the list?  Homeschooling is a great way to educate our kids, and to prepare them for future endeavors in their life, including the college option.

Below is a picture of my daughter's first day on campus, after graduating from our homeschool.  

Have you seen my book mentioned above called Homeschooling High School with College in Mind?

Heidi, from Starts at Eight says: 

"If you are planning on homeschooling high school then Betsy's book is the one that you want to have on the shelf"  

Click here to read the rest of her review."  

Available on Amazon.
Subscribers get the first chapter free. 

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

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