While the exact grade levels can vary by location and school district, elementary is usually considered kindergarten through 5th grade, and middle school usually encompasses 6th through 8th grades. The transition from elementary to middle school represents a huge jump for your child both in the material and rigor of their academic coursework and their own personal development. Here’s a brief overview of the common changes from elementary to middle school, specifically focused on the online homeschooling environment.

Curriculum Changes

1. Increasingly difficult course material

The purpose of middle school is to prepare your child for high school, which means that the classes are going more in depth into the subject matter and may require more of the students when it comes to papers, projects or just the sheer volume of material. This is a great time to introduce your child to a planner and help them find time-management and organizational strategies that work for them.

2. Challenging Reading Material

Literature aimed at middle schoolers often starts to deal with more challenging topics related to ethics and real-world issues. These books may deal with issues immediately relevant to your child, such as peer pressure, but may also explore greater ethical dilemmas — think The Giver and Tuck Everlasting. If you want to make sure you’re dialed in and ready for the conversations and questions that may come up, reading — or rereading, as the case may be — these books at the same time as your child can help you be prepared.

3. Less opportunity for parental help

Middle school has changed a lot since you were in it. Academic standards and instruction delivery, in particular, are very different now from what they were just a 10 or 20 years ago, and that can mean middle school is when you start having difficulty helping your child with every part of their homework. While this can be frustrating for parents initially, it’s actually a great opportunity for your child to take on more responsibility for their education, and online schooling options like iCademy have teachers and tutors ready to step in and help bridge the gap.

Developments in Your Child

1. Physical and behavioral changes as puberty approaches

Some of the most easily noticed changes in your child during this time will be physical. You may turn around one day to find your child suddenly looking you in the eye instead of having to tilt their head up. Children of this age may also suddenly put on weight or go through growth spurts as their bodies deal with the hormonal changes happening. While you may find your tween pushing back against your routine or family rules, it’s important to remember that this is normal and the best thing you can do is enforce reasonable boundaries firmly and consistently and remember this too shall pass.

2. Increased awareness of peer pressure and an increased value put on social acceptance

Middle school can be a challenging time for students socially. It’s an in between state where children often feel pressured to be more grown up or to act older while still feeling a pull to their now “childish” interests or hobbies. It’s also when children begin to pay much more attention to what their peers think of them and to fitting in. Your child may suddenly want to do more group things or join interest clubs as part of their online schooling experience.

3. Increased need for independence

In a few short years, your middle schooler will be graduating high school and going off to college or a career. It’s common for children of this age to start asking for — sometimes in not the most pleasant of ways — more independence. One of the major benefits of online schooling is that it lets you satisfy this need by giving your child more autonomy when it comes to dealing with their school and extracurricular schedules and ensuring their work is done on time and accurately.

If you’re interested in learning more about online schooling options for your elementary or middle school aged child or are just looking for resources on how you can support your child through this time, check out iCademy for more information.