by Iram Shaukat | Edited by Eaman Elhadri
Being able to homeschool the middle school years is a blessing, mashAllah and Alhemdulilah. Homeschooling allow us the time to focus on both Islamic Studies and secular studies as well, from Hadith to business entrepreneurship.
Today’s world offers ample opportunities for homeschoolers!
Alhemdulilah! What a wonderful time we live in, to have the internet at our fingertips. You can look up anything online, can’t you?
Let’s first chat about researching homeschooling resources for your middle school child.
Homeschool Middle School Curriculum and Resources
When I first started homeschooling middle school, I began researching various resources and became overwhelmed, even though there weren’t as many options back then as there are now!
Trying to decide what middle school resources and curriculum to use was like being a kid in a candy store.
Imagine a young child walking into that candy store and staring at all of the different options. In no time, they’re jumping up and down, whining about how they want every single variety!
You can’t buy it all, but you don’t want to leave the shop empty handed. This is akin to the plethora of homeschooling resources at our fingertips today.
Tip 1 – Plan before you buy
No matter how delicious the candy display looks, you can only buy a few items.
Homeschooling resources, just like candy in a candy store, are endless. To know what to buy, you need to first understand the needs of your child.
Tip 2 – Observe your middle school child
Every child is different, even if they come from the same mother. 🙂 Prior to your middle schooler starting formal lessons, you must observe them and try your best to understand who they are.
This is part of the deschooling process that you must go through, especially if your child has been to traditional (public, private) school prior to this.
Deschooling may take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. Be patient!
I homeschool three children, alhemdulilah and mashAllah. I have one in high school, one in middle school, and one in third grade, Alhemdulilah and MashAllah.
SubhanAllah, all three of them have different personalities, learning styles, and interests, but I wasn’t able to understand this until after I’ve spent time observing them as a mother.
Tip 3 – Do your research
Read up on homeschooling middle school, especially if you’re new to homeschooling, to gain a general understanding.
Read all of my tips to homeschooling middle school here and if you speak Urdu, you can watch my LIVE VIDEO on homeschooling middle school here.
What is middle school?
The definition of middle school is as follows –
In the United States, a middle school is a school between elementary school (grades 1-5, 1-7, 1-6, 1-4 or 1-8) and high school (grades 9-12 or 10-12). Depending on location, middle school contains grades 6-8, 7-8, or 7-9. Middle school is also sometimes called an intermediate school, junior high school or just junior high.simple.wikipedia.org
What is curriculum?
Now that we understand what middle school is, let’s make sure that we understand what curriculum means. –
The subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college.Oxford
Most people view curriculum as the items purchased for homeschool.
Typically, a ‘boxed curriculum’ contains schedules and formal lessons where the child is sitting down for a period of time and the parent instructs them on their work.
The better definition of curriculum is the one given by Sarah Mackenzie, from the read-aloud revival. –
Curriculum is life. It can’t be contained within the pages of a book. Singapore Math isn’t the curriculum. It is the book we use to teach the curriculum, which is math.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to use curriculum interchangeably.
Regardless of what curriculum you choose, just make sure it aligns with your family values and goals.
Islamic Studies is the most important subject in our homeschool, however, since it’s a long post, it will be covered in in the near future, inshAllah.
English Language Arts
What does English Language Arts mean?
English language arts is the study and improvement of the arts of the English language.Wikipedia
Your middle school child, and every child, will continue to benefit from learning through literature, inshAllah.
My eldest was always interested in reading, mashAllah and alhemdulilah, while my middle child has always been hesitant to pick up a book and still requires gentle reminders to finish her reading goals.
Tip 4 – Read in front of your child
Here’s a trick that works wonders with children of all ages –
When we go to the library, I checkout books along with my children.
I intentionally read around them, without demanding they do the same. Next thing you know, they crack open their books and start reading as well!
They end up snuggling around me and we enjoy the peaceful moments of reading. MashAllah and Alhemdulilah.
Tip 5 – Make the reading experience comfortable and fun
Reading shouldn’t be thought of as a punishment, where the child is scolded and told, “You better read or else!” Reading is life.
Reading should be viewed as delightful.
Read-aloud time doesn’t necessarily have to include pretty tea cups and formal tea to be fun! Ask your middle schooler to set up drinks and snacks and watch everyone’s mood change, InshAllah! Don’t forget to have them clean up after themselves. 😉
Middle schooled children prefer silent reading. What’s great about that is they can pick up their book at any time and start reading from where they left off at; traveling to a far-away land in your own living room, mashAllah and Alhemdulilah!
Tip 6 – Continue to read aloud!
Your middle school child will still benefit from read-aloud time for many reasons!
Read more about how reading aloud benefits your middle schooler, in Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud handbook.
There is no concept of boredom when books accompany your child everywhere in their purse or backpack!
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”Anna Quindlen
Literature options for middle school children
Here are some popular options for your middle school children –
- Trade books
- Scientific information; reading of charts, graphs
- Trilogies and book series
- Fiction with themes tying in to current events/social justice
We try to find quality literature for our middle school children. Literature is still the best way to help children, even older children, learn new vocabulary and improve writing skills.
Little Worlds : A Collection of Short Stories for the Middle School by Peter Guthrie
Little Worlds is an example of a book geared for middle schoolers that contains various literature all in one –
Learn more about LIttle Worlds, or click on the image below.
Use caution with Young Adult literature
For more than a century, there have been vocal parents, teachers, and librarians who have spoken against books written specifically for teenagers. This is due to many reasons, but mainly:
- They aren’t the Classics
- They are full of bad that corrupts the young
Many of these books can have a negative affect on our teenage readers, may Allah SWT Protect us. Ameen.
Once you discover a book that doesn’t have shirk and haraam concepts, you can allow your middle school child to read it.
May Allah SWT Bless us with better, quality literature options for our youth. Ameen.
English Language Arts Curriculum and Resources
We’re eclectic homeschoolers, which means we mix multiple styles of homeschooling and use various resources. The following are multiple ways that I use to teach English language arts –
- Online programs
Textbooks can be expensive, especially if you order the teacher’s edition and Answer Key Books to go along with it. Consider buying used books from Amazon or elsewhere when possible.
One awesome thing is that curriculum suppliers have recently added a section in textbooks for Home Educators. This hasn’t always been the case! Alhemdulilah!
Below is our textbook choice for literature this year.
Literature Textbook – Glencoe Literature © 2002 Course 2, Grade 7 : The Reader’s Choice
You can purchase the Glencoe Literature Textbook here or by clicking on the image below.
Writing may be a simple task for a young person who is imaginative and loves expressing her thoughts and ideas through words, however it might be a challenge for other middle school children who have visual or auditory learning styles.
Writing Composition Resources
Below are a few examples of various textbooks, workbooks, magazines, and extras that we’re using this year.
Grammar Practice Book by Scott Foresman
You can purchase the Grammar Practice Book by Scott Foresman here or by clicking on the image below.
McGraw-Hill Education Vocabulary Grades 6-8, Second Edition by Gary Muschla
You can purchase the McGraw-Hill Education Vocabulary book here, or by clicking on the image below.
100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know by the editors of The American Heritage Dictionaries
You can purchase 100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know here or by clicking on the image below.
300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly
Gwynne’s Grammar: The Ultimate Introduction to Grammar and the Writing of Good English by N.M. Gwynne
You can purchase Gwynne’s Grammar here or by clicking on the image below.
ELA Online Resources
Below are a few of the ELA online resources that we use.
Teachers Pay Teachers
Sometimes I’ll print various worksheets from Teachers Pay Teachers for my middle schooler to work on.
Institute for Excellence in Writing
I’ve used IEW’s books in the past and their site offers tips and videos about writing. They offer a membership with forever Livestreaming and workbooks.
You can purchase their middle school curriculum books here or by clicking on the image below.
Julie Bogart has also published a book called The Brave Learner, which has been immensely helpful to me, alhemdulilah.
You can purchase The Brave Learner here or by clicking on the image below-
For math in the middle school grades, you’re going to want to review all operations with special emphasis on conversion of decimals, fractions, and percents.
Here are a few other concepts in math that middle school children will focus on:
- Mathematics set-making and attribute mapping
- The study of number patterns and sequences (i.e. Fibonacci, Binary, Geometric, etc.)
- Extensive and sophisticated use of geometric tools (compass and straight edge) to construct and organize space
- Development of a 30-word geometric vocabulary
- Mathematical conversations about the concept of zero and negative numbers
An eclectic approach to math
I like to use a mix of technology and formal lessons for math with my middle school child. An eclectic style of learning allows me to switch things up according to my middle school child’s needs.
Math Textbooks and Workbooks
Because we sometimes use the traditional method of homeschooling, my middle school child has two math textbooks.
You can purchase Kumon Pre-Algebra Grades 6-8 here or by clicking on the image below.
Math Online Resources
We use various math online resources for enrichment.
Below are a few that we use this year –
Khan Academy is an excellent resource to learn new math concept and complete various tasks online.
IXL has answered over 60 billion math related questions and offers a membership.
Math in Literature
Yes, your child can learn math from books! While it isn’t the only thing you should do for math, literature with math concepts are a necessary addition to your home library.
If you’re looking for a math book list that will enrich and enliven math for your kids, check out Sarah Mackenzie’s Math Book List! Sarah Mackenzie also has a podcast episode talking about delighting and learning math together through great read-alouds.
Read below about a few of our favorites –
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
You can purchase A Wrinkle in Time here or by clicking on the image below.
Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
You can purchase Math Curse here or by clicking on the image below –
The Wright 3 by Blue Baliett
You can purchase The Wright 3 here or by clicking in the image below –
It’s advisable to outsource math if has become a difficult part of your homeschool journey, or if it isn’t a strong suit of yours (just like me :)). You can hire an online or in-person math tutor for this.
I highly recommend hiring a math tutor to teach lessons to your middle schooler in person.
You can try a tutoring center such as Kumon, however they may not be as effective as a personal tutor.
If you have no other option, hiring a math tutor online is a possibility for your child.
Tip 7 – Create a flyer to find a personal tutor for math
Bear in mind that most tutors don’t ‘teach’ lessons and are typically used to just helping public school children with their homework. Therefore, it’s best to find someone who is willing to teach the lessons and be prepared to pay more for this type of tutoring.
To find the right tutor you will most likely need to create a personalized flyer and post it online and at public places around your neighborhood.
Be prepared to interview the person and see if they’ll be a great match for your child. You can test this out during one lesson to see if it’ll be a good match.
I recommend hiring a woman to teach your daughter and a male to teach your son. You can try to find someone at the masjid, or if you’re in the U.S., try out the Muslim Student Association at universities around you.
Homeschooling allows us to teach our middle school child more than just the basics. It allows us the freedom to focus on life skills as well, Alhemdulilah.
There is no denying that teaching our young adults financial literacy and responsibility is a lifelong skill that needs to be incorporated in their lives.
Here are some examples of topics that we touch base on this year –
- Personal finance
- Good/bad investments
Finance Online Resources
Below are some excellent resources that offer complete courses in a simplified manner for middle schoolers –
In Charge is an online resource that offers personal finance workshops and workbooks.
National Education Association
National Education Association offers lessons for teaching financial literacy.
Science for middle school focuses on introducing biology, physics, and chemistry.
Below is an example of how I like to organize middle school science topics –
Earth and Space Science
The topics include, but aren’t limited to –
- Geological processes
- Tectonic plates
- Phases of the moon
- Stars and solar system
Example topics –
The topics include, but aren’t limited to –
- Physical and chemical changes
Science is everywhere
Alhemdulilah, there is an abundance of homeschool science resources and curriculum in store and online, however don’t forget that science is all around us!
You can experience science just by stepping outside your front door! Leave it up to children to teach you how to explore soil and rocks; insects, snakes, and other animals; flowers and grasses; the weather; and the stars!
Although there’s nothing wrong with science textbooks and workbooks (we use them), science should be taught in multiple ways and environments.
Science Field Trips and Classes
My children and I love science field trips, such as classes at museums. Check out what your local museums have to offer and do some research to see if there are $5 days or free days for homeschooling families.
You don’t even have to leave your house for science!
There are tons of kitchen science projects for kids, and you only need simple household ingredients, that you already have on hand, to start off with!
Here are a few simple, quick kitchen science projects from Babble Dabble Do –
- Color mixing: Food Coloring + Water
- Volcanoes: Baking Soda + Vinegar
- Wizard’s Brew: Baking Soda + Vinegar + Dish Soap + Food Coloring + Water
- Ice Sculptures: Water + Food Coloring + Salt
- Bubbles: Water + Dish Soap (Dawn or Joy) + Corn Syrup
Your kitchen trumps any fancy science lab out there!
Below are some examples of our iodine diffusion experiments.
Science Online Resources
We do a lot of interactive learning through different online websites that offer videos, workshops, and courses.
Here is the description from the website –
The Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research. This research is made possible by volunteers — more than a million people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers. Our goal is to enable research that would not be possible, or practical, otherwise. Zooniverse research results in new discoveries, datasets useful to the wider research community, and …
PBS Design Squad
Description from the website –
PBS Design Squad empowers middle school kids to solve real-world problems and understand the impact of engineering in a global context. Refreshed weekly with challenges, videos, and activities, the website is one of the only places on the web where kids can share their engineering ideas with other kids
Pocket Labs App
Pocket labs is a science sensor app that pairs with our device and gathers data to analyze for inquiry-based learning. It has playground physics that helps older children discover and explore the physics in their everyday lives and their own movements.
Science Textbooks, Workbooks, and Magazines
Sometimes we’ll use textbooks and workbooks for reference.
Here are a few that we use this year-
Everything you need to ace science in one big fat notebook by Workman Publishing
Purchase Everything you need to ace science in one big fat notebook here or by clicking on the image below –
101 Great Science Experiments by Neil Ardley
It’s a great idea to own a few science project books because kids will naturally want to read them and conduct the science experiment on their own. This is awesome for us, mama, alhemdulilah!
You can purchase 101 Great Science Experiments here or by clicking below.
Social Studies is defined as –
various aspects or branches of the study of human society, considered as an educational discipline.Oxford
To practically apply social studies, it’s primary purpose should be to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of this culturally diverse world.
Social Studies Themes
- People, religion, and culture around the world (past and present)
- Global connections
- Civics (Government and Authority)
- Historical conflicts with a reflection on their resolution and impact (slavery, Native Americans, etc.)
The themes help the child understand the relationships between people and societies. They shed light on time, continuity and change in our world.
Geography Through Worldschooling
We teach geography through worldschooling and road-schooling. Read here to learn more about worldschooling, plus tips and if you speak Urdu, watch my LIVE VIDEO about worlschooling!
Black History Month
We celebrate and learn about diversity year long, but in the month of February we focus on Black History Month.
First, we took a fun road-trip to Niagara Falls, where we visited the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. Watch the video above where Visitor Experience Specialist Saladin Allah, elaborates on stories of courageous self-emancipation by Freedom Seekers.
Then we focused heavily on literature about Black History and literature written by Black authors.
Tip 8 – Seek Real Historical Truth
Not all history is real history!
The sad truth is that many, if not most, history books are pure lies. Be careful about the history books you choose for your homeschool.
If only a small section of the book contains lies, you may consider using that section specifically as an opportunity to show evidence of dirty history, and follow up with the truth about what truly took place at that time.
However, if the entire book is pure lies, you shouldn’t use it.
After all, we’re teaching our children not to blindly follow people and textbooks, aren’t we?
Tip 9 – Use history books written by scholars
It’s best to use history books written by Muslim historians and Islamic scholars.
You may use other resources to teach about culture, religion, and the way a government should work, however it’s best to steer away from mainstream history books altogether.
Because our history books tie in so well with Islamic Studies, I will be showing those to you in my Islamic Studies post and Facebook Livestream soon inshAllah.
Enrichment activities are an essential part of our homeschool because we want to focus on the whole child. We strive to ensure that all of our children have equal opportunities and access to engage in positive youth development, inshAllah.
Learning through educational games is a good alternative for visual learners. It is also a low stress method of testing your child to understand how well can they apply new skills.
There are many options out there that help develop abstract skills, thus promoting logical thinking and execution.
Try out some traditional games that you played as a child. You’ll find yourself chatting about childhood memories and your child will get to know you better, inshAllah. 🙂
Here are a few games that I’ve played in my childhood-
You can purchase Monopoly here or by clicking on the image below –
You can purchase UNO here or by clicking on the image below –
Audio and Visual Resources
Audio and video are great forms of learning engagement for auditory learners. We use educational audio options while doing chores, running errands, and during travel.
Documentaries or educational videos are also suitable at times when your middle school child needs to relax and take a break from mental work.
We are living at a time where there is a plethora of choices.
Here are a few resources that we use –
Audible is a membership that provides a huge selection of audio books that you can listen to anywhere, anytime with the free Audible app.
Although it isn’t recommended that you use audio books heavily with young children, Audible is a good option for older children that are on the go, keeping in mind that you shouldn’t get rid of printed books!
If you have Amazon Prime, check to see if you have any free books available.
TEDEd offers video lessons organized by subject. We love it, alhemdulilah!
i-Tunes – Apple
iTunes is a piece of software that lets you add to, organize and play your digital media collection on your computer, as well as sync it to a portable device. It’s a jukebox player along the lines of Songbird and Windows Media Player, and you can use it on a Mac or Windows machine. The most significant difference between iTunes and some other media players is the built-in iTunes Store
We use iTunes to download educational and Islamic podcasts.
Cyber school, or virtual school, is an educational process that allows children to take all, or most of, the required courses for a degree, diploma, or certificate online.
Cyber schooling is a great option for this age group because it’s very common that they like to be taught by other people at this point and don’t want to take too much from their parents. 😊
If you’re in the U.S., the simplest way to sign up for cyber school is through your state. Every state is different, however, most states offer everything for free. They will even send a computer and materials that you need, to your home.
In the U.S. there are two formats to choose from –
- Cyber schooling that allows your child to see the teacher in the video while she teaches. Your child will be able to interact with the teacher and the other students in real time.
- Cyber schooling that allows the child to watch the pre-recorded video of a lesson at their own time.
If you’re looking into other options, there are a few that homeschooling families use, such as Time for Learning. We have used Time For Learning in the past. That story is for another post, however it’s important to note that I don’t recommend it for younger children.
Keep in mind that the internet is an extremely suggestive medium and using it with responsibility is an absolute must. I wouldn’t suggest cyber schooling for an unattended middle school child.
My 7th grade middle schooler has a knack for art.
Art has been proven to be therapeutic and can help lower the “stress hormone” in the body, cortisol. Not to mention, it works very well as a distraction form everyday life, alhemdulilah.
In the elementary years we used to hold Friday Art Days. The children were free to paint and create using different materials; whatever satisfied their inner artist.
We would take our inspiration from nature and sometimes YouTube videos that taught simple ways to make impressive art pieces.
We have carried on this practice out into our middle school years and thoroughly enjoy it, alhemdulilah.
We don’t use a particular curriculum for art in our homeschool. My middle schooler knows that she can access all of the art materials whenever she’d like.
Tip 10 – Use caution with art resources and classes
We can appreciate most forms of art, however we shouldn’t’ be quick to sign up our middle school child (and all children!) for art classes without looking into what they’re offering.
Find out the exact details of the art resource or class because you are going to want to avoid haraam such as, but not limited to –
- Painting and/or sculpting images (with souls).
- Vulgar, haraam, naked images in art books, etc that art teachers normally own and use.
Our PE days are dependent on the weather and our mood. 🙂
Here are some of the activities that my middle school child enjoys –
- Various sports
- Nature Walks
And dear sisters, I leave you with one of the supplications of our dear Prophet (SAW) –
“O Allah, set right for me my religious commitment, which is the safeguard of my affairs. Set right for me my worldly affairs in which is my living. Set right for me my Hereafter in which will be my final abode. Make this life a means of increase in all that is good, and make death a relief for me from all evil.”Narrated by Muslim (2720)
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the required classes for middle school?
First check with the laws of your country/state. Otherwise, what is required is what you require and what your child desires. 🙂
Can you start homeschooling in middle school?
Absolutely! First check with the laws of your country/state, otherwise it shouldn’t be a problem. You will need to de-school, which may take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months.
What should a middle schooler’s homeschool schedule look like?
This will depend on your family and the needs of your child.
Here is an example of what has worked for us –
- Morning and afternoon hours are reserved for formal studies
- Keep a ‘time-slot’ in your day just for formal lessons
- Being flexible
- Plan field trips on weekdays or weekends if you want Abu to be involved
- Reserve evening hours for family time, chores, and read-aloud time
- Keep in mind that you will need to change your schedule according to classes outside of the home
Should I grade my middle schooler?
First check with your country/state laws. Next, pray istikharah and decide if grading is what’s best for your middle school child.
If you’re in the U.S., some states may require it. I live in New York, where they require us to submit quarterly reports. And at the end of the year we must enroll in –
- P.A.S.S. – personalized achievement summary system for grades 3 to 8
- C.A.T. – California Achievement Test
- If you speak Urdu, watch my LIVE VIDEO where I chat about our homeschool curriculum and resources!
- Read my 20 Tips to Homeschooling the Middle School Years here and if you speak Urdu, watch my LIVE VIDEO about homeschooling middle school!
- Want to know why I homeschool? Read about my story here and if you speak Urdu, watch my LIVE VIDEO about why I homeschool, plus tips!
- Are you new to homeschooling? Read our Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling for Muslim Homeschooling Families and watch the LIVE VIDEO of Sister Eaman explaining how she can see a new Muslim homeschooling mama from a mile away!
The last thing you need to know about Muslim homeschool middle school curriculum
- Choose the curriculum that is best for your child.
- It’s not always easy, but it is a big blessing to be able to homeschool the middle school years.
- Outsource when necessary. Homeschooling doesn’t mean we stay at home. If you can afford it, get a tutor for any subject.