10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Middle School
10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed In Middle School
Middle School, you're thinking....I thought your son was ONE! I like to plan ahead.
Actually, I have been a middle school teacher for 8 years, and it is a time when I see parents become very confused about how to help their child meet with success. So, I thought I would take a break from new mom posts, and share some insight on middle school children....
1. Get organized.
Middle school usually brings about multiple teachers, increased homework, clubs, sports, and more! With all of those exciting changes come PAPER (and lots of it!). Without places to put all of that paper, your child will quickly become disorganized, which is frustrating for them and leads to a lack of success. On many occasions, students will go to the effort to complete work, but simply can't find it to turn in. A large binder with dividers for each class (in the order that they occur during the day) is very helpful.
2. Use an Agenda or Planner.
Many middle schools provide these for students now, but if not, this is a must for your child. Students should be writing down the daily objectives from each class as well as homework assignments. Make it a habit to review the agenda with your child each evening, and encourage conversation about what they learned that day. Even if you meet with resistance, they secretly love that you care. Also, have your child check off homework assignments as they complete them, so they don't forget anything.
3. Find Anything that your child likes to read, and encourage reading daily.
Some children naturally love to read, and others would rather do anything else. Regardless, there is usually SOME book that each child will find interesting, and practicing reading is key to success in middle school. Speak with your child's reading or language arts teacher for suggestions on books that appeal to students this age. So much of all the courses that students take in middle school are grounded in reading, that success lies in good reading comprehension.
4. Teach your child to use a combination lock.
Lockers are usually new to students, and they really struggle with how to open their locker. Sometimes, students will even have multiple lockers for gym, music, and academics. If a student cannot open the locker, they risk being late to class, and are often embarrassed. You can find the locks at a grocery store or office supply store, and this will really help your child feel more confident.
5. Talk to your child about peer pressure and bullying.
Unfortunately at this age, children can be cruel. They are all struggling with self image, and it often plays out in very hurtful ways. Only you know your child best, and giving them coping strategies will help them know how to react to these situations. Also, stay very aware of who your child is friends with, and get to know the parents of your child's friends. Membership in a positive peer group is crucial.
6. Encourage independence in your child.
Once your child makes the initial transition to middle school, begin motivating your child to take responsibility for grades, assignments, paperwork, and communication between school and home. Caution: This is where many parents go wrong. Because middle school children start to look very adult, parents often assume that they are more mature than they are. While you should encourage your children to speak for themselves and be self-motivated, it is crucial that you continually check progress and monitor their achievement.
7. Volunteer in the school.
For some reason when parents leave elementary school, they feel like they aren't as welcome to volunteer and be present in the middle school. Do not fall into this myth! Middle school teachers usually teach over 100 students per day (sometimes more!), and really need help. Papers need to be copied, children need help reading, there are concerts to help with, sporting events to coordinate, and much more. Even if you work, there are often ways that you can help from home (managing a website, send in donations for the classrooms, etc.). Don't be shy...we really need you....even if your kids are begging you not to darken the schoolhouse door.
8. Don't always assume that the story you hear is the correct one.
Middle school is a time when children start to stretch the truth, because they do not want to be in trouble (and do not want to lose that precious cell phone!). If your child comes home and tells you something, please communicate with the teacher and have an open mind. The vast majority of us joined the profession for the right reasons, and we truly care about your child.
9. Get your child involved in an extra-curricular activity.
Social development is HUGE at this time in a child's life. Getting your child involved in music, sports, theater, art, etc. will help develop the "whole" child. This is a great way for you to have some control of your child's social circle, and let them meet with success is something other than academics. These activities teach commitment, team work, discipline, and develop self esteem. Don't go overboard, as the work load in middle school can be demanding, and you don't want to stretch your child too thin.
10. This too shall pass.
Middle school is a time of very high highs and very low lows. The emotional rollercoaster can be quite draining on you as parents. Remember that your child is experiencing a lot of change, and hormones are crazy things. Patience, kindness, and listening to your child can go a long way. Usually the typical tween just wants their opinion to be heard, even if they don't get their way. If you have a particularly challenging situation, seek the help of other parents, the school guidance counselor, or even an administrator. These adults want your child to feel comfortable and safe at school, and are willing to help in any way we can.
If all else fails, just blog about it. The best therapy there is!