Middle school is an exciting and often scary transition for many kids. It marks the time in their academic lives when they no longer spend much of the day in one or two classrooms and instead must visit up to seven classrooms with seven teachers each day. The five tips below will help you prepare your child for the changes to come through responsibility, organization, and sheer excitement.
#1 – Teach Organization and Time Management
Organization and time management are things that your child must practice in order to master, and while you can’t practice for your child, you can give him or her the necessary tools. An academic planner can be a tremendous benefit at this age, but you will need to show your child how to use it. For example, teach your child to not only write down project due dates, but to also block out periods of time for working on that project in the days or weeks beforehand. Teaching your child how to create and arrange folders electronically – or how to manage paper folders in a binder – will go a long way, too.
#2 – Encourage Independent Reading
These days, far too many children view reading as a chore – something that takes them away from more enjoyable activities. To prevent this, and to help develop a love for reading independently, try to stay on top of the latest and greatest authors that cater to pre-teens. There are several classic and new book series that 11- and 12-year-olds are sure to love, so don’t be afraid to try a few out and see what your child loves best. Another way to encourage your child to read independently involves allowing him or her a public library card. Of course, you are still responsible for the materials checked out, but your child may feel more independent with his or her very own card.
#3 – Practice Study Skills
It’s a common complaint among middle and high school students – teachers seem to assign homework without considering other teachers’ assignments. When your child feels overburdened by reports, homework, and even projects all due at the same time, this is a great opportunity for you to teach study skills. Time management is only a part of this; you will also need to help your child understand how to make the most of the time he or she spends studying. Studying in a quiet space and taking frequent breaks are excellent examples.
#4 – Encourage Healthy Sleeping and Eating Habits
Middle school kids who sleep less than 9 or 10 hours a night struggle with their schoolwork more than those who get an adequate amount of sleep, and the same can be said for students who do not eat a healthy, balanced diet. Though one or two missed hours of sleep every few weeks and one missed meal here and there may not have a direct impact on your child’s academic abilities, these actions can easily become habits, and that’s what you should avoid. Encourage your child to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and provide a variety of wholesome foods for your child throughout the week.
#5 – Take a Tour of the School
If you ask middle schoolers about the scariest part of their transition from elementary school, most will tell you they had a significant fear of getting lost inside the school while moving from classes to lockers and other areas. The best way to prevent this is to take a tour (or a couple of tours) of your child’s new school. If possible, get a copy of his or her schedule and try to find the classrooms ahead of time. This can ease your child’s fears when the big day comes.
Middle school is a huge transition, and while kids are certainly excited to be moving on from elementary school, many still have their concerns. These tips and tricks will help make your child far more comfortable on his or her first day of junior high.