Implement four basic steps for a successful year in middle school:
1. Maintain routines. Routines give structure to their day and help them stay organized. Develop some commonsense school-year rituals and stick with them. Make sure you establish a morning, after-school and evening routine for your child.
2. Get involved at school. It’s not always easy to stay connected to the middle-school classroom, but do it anyway. Getting involved shows your middle schooler that their education matters. Make an effort to participate when you can.
3. Stay informed. It’s easy to miss the fliers or handouts stuffed in your middle schooler’s backpack. So ask them every day whether they have brought anything home that you should see. The same goes for schoolwork. Just skimming their notes can fill you in on what’s happening in class.
4. Support your child. Your middle schooler may act like they are “too cool” to need your love and guidance, but they're not.
from the September 2009 issue of Parents Still make the difference! ® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2009
Homework in middle school as opposed to elementary school can usually be summed up with the word - MORE. There is more of it, it is given more frequently and it is more complex.
You can help your child make a successful transition if you:
• Know what your child is doing after school. If you are not at home, have a system through which your child checks in frequently.
• Make sure your child has a place that suits them for doing homework. Their nook should be comfortable and well lit.
• Tell your child that their schoolwork is important to you because your family values education.
• Set up a schedule. Some children don’t need this, but many do. Homework is more likely to get done if the words: “Do homework from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.” are written down in a prominent place in your home.
• Encourage your child to set goals. Example: Do five math problems daily for weekly assignment. If I complete this goal, I will be done with math by Friday and have my weekend free.
• Teach your child to plan ahead for large assignments. Have a calendar for writing down due dates.
Break up the assignment into chunks and have a due date for each chunk. That way your child will not be doing everything the night before the project is due.
from the September 2010 issue of Parents Still make the difference! ® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2010
Reading for pleasure will help your child build the comprehension and vocabulary skills they will need to tackle more difficult material. Here’s what you can do to promote reading:
• Continue reading aloud. Try a short newspaper story about a topic of interest to your child.
• Build on their interests. Go to the library together and select a variety of books.
• Expect some online time to be reading time. The computer should not be just for emailing your child’s friends. Encourage them to find online articles about their interests.
• Don’t worry if they aren't reading classics. If you feel your child’s selections have too much violence or adult content, discuss your concerns with them. Otherwise, be happy they are reading.
• Write to your child. Give them short letters, lists of things to do, friendly written reminders, and notes that say, “I love you,” or “great job!” This reinforces to your child that reading is a way to receive information and pleasure.
from the September 2005 issue of Parents Still make the difference! ® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2005
While it’s true that negative peer pressure can lead to trouble, there’s such a thing as positive peer pressure, too. Unlike its negative counterpart, positive peer pressure may encourage kids to:
• Work hard (or harder) in school.
• Try a new sport or other healthful activity.
• Develop a good attitude about school or themselves.
• Behave more respectfully toward teachers and other adults.
One way to help your preteen enjoy the benefits of positive peer pressure is to nudge them toward honest, decent friends. You can’t choose their friends, but you can influence the sorts of kids they select if you:
• Talk about what makes a good friend. “Would a friend put you in a dangerous situation? Would they enjoy seeing you get in trouble?”
• Reinforce your values. “A real friend stands up for you when someone else tries to force you to do something. They want you to do the right--not the wrong--thing.”
As great as positive peer pressure is, don’t rely on it constantly. Whether it’s joining the drama club or trying out for wrestling, your preteen’s reasons for pursuing something should go beyond “because all my friends are doing it.”
from the October 2009 issue of Parents Still make the difference! ® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2009