how to structure a twelve year old’s personalized homeschool education

Structuring a home education for a twelve-year-old? Your twelve-year-old and MY twelve-year-old aren’t the same.

In fact, I’ve had four twelve-year-olds living in the same family and they aren’t the same either. So take my suggestions with a grain of salt, but gather your ideas for your twelve-year-old.

You can’t teach the same way to each child. They’re different. Your goal is to tailor an education for each of your kids differently.

I’d like to introduce a case study: my twelve year old.

Madelyn December 2014 184

She’s entertaining. 

She spends her extra time these days learning card tricks. But she also enjoys her cursive practice joke book. Her mind is filled with good jokes. And though she doesn’t understand every word, she uses big ones in dry humour and uses them correctly.

She’s logical.

“Bang! I can’t cook something out of nothing!” This is her statement comparing her activity in the kitchen with the Big Bang Theory (not the show, the theory).

She’s funny.

Out of nowhere, she’s singing, “Eat your cousin”, a rap by a white pre-teen. She’s got a word that puts us in stitches: “Joni”. Yeah, I know. What does that mean? I have no idea. But she inserts it at just the right time and it strikes us as funny. She’s that kid. But if you meet her, you wouldn’t think so. You’d think she was the shy kid.

Madelyn with fake teeth

She’s helpful.

She’s the first one awake, and usually has her morning routine complete before I wake, which allows her to be the go-to girl if I’m in need of help each morning.

She’s thankful.

She uploaded her iPod pics to my computer and I found this:

Dear God, I just want to take a minute not to ask you for anything but to simply thank you for all that I have“.

Yup, she’s that kid. The one that is a role model to her mommy. Thankful, almost always kind, and happy.

Madelyn and Rachel hanging out

She’s neat and strives for organization and perfection.

Her cursive is pretty, her room is tidy, she grades herself with A+ or A- (I don’t grade) and she wants tests. She likes to please, so she likes to get stuff done correctly the first time.

So you might not be surprised that academically, she could excel in a schooled setting. She performs, not wanting to disappoint. Her only downfall is her penchant for perfection. She’ll eagerly encourages others when others make mistakes, but she is frustrated that she has missed one question. Tripping on her worry, she thinks she might not be able to outperform herself the next time.

“If the purpose of learning is to score well on a test,

we’ve lost sight of the real reason for learning.”

Jeannie Fulbright

Then, why you ask, would she not enter the conventional education system if she’s a natural academic? I could write an essay on this, but I’ll discuss just one point.

What is a real education?

Is an education just learning information to regurgitate it in two weeks… for the purpose of doing well on an exam… that will contribute to an impressive letter grade… that will contribute to a grade level… that will contribute to an impressive GPA and transcript… which will contribute to an entrance to the best post-secondary institution… which will contribute to a job deemed by society as important/successful/impacting… which will enable an impressive income, a home with an attached garage, two cars, two kids, yearly vacations, and a retirement fund to golf or park a motorhome in Phoenix for the winter?

Jeannie Fulbright

Can we determine what is an education anyway?

I recall something my uncle asked as we were driving by a cemetery. “How many people are dead in there?” My siblings and I tried to quickly scan the horizontal and vertical rows to give an approximate answer and guesstimated. His self-entertaining response: “All of them.”

Indeed. This life will surely pass, as all lives pass before us.

Since this life doesn’t go on and on, and always concludes with a bracingly finite end, shouldn’t our goal be to live our lives? Like really live our lives. So we can find out why we specifically were placed here, and pursue the interests and curiosities we were born with.

“Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist: it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges: it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.”

John Taylor-Gatto

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Teresa Wiedrick

I help homeschool mamas shed what’s not working in their homeschool & life, so they can show up authentically, purposefully, and confidently in their homeschool & life.