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A Full Guide to Preparing for Middle School

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A Full Guide to Preparing for Middle School

The middle school years are a difficult time for children. Studies show that they are a transitional point in the academic career, one with a great deal of significance for future academic success or failure. It is a place where future habits and vices are formed. This is the place where children begin to get lost in the system, entering a cycle that can end in a complete loss of interest in school.

Drop-out students are made in middle schools when they get lost in the shuffle. Middle school can also be a place of great excitement for your child. It is a time that falls squarely into the abyss between childhood and adolescence; some children make it across that no man's land easily and some do not. One predictor of a child's success is their parents' involvement.

Prepare Your Child For Middle School

Preparing for the Period System

Middle school marks a significant change in most children's academic life. This is the first time that children are put into the period system. Changing classes multiple times a day offers children both more and less structure. Class times are rigid, but the breaks between classes offer new ways to break up the day. They have multiple teachers now, who may make competing demands on their time.

They meet many more people as their classes change with each period. The upshot is that life gets a lot more chaotic. Some children thrive on this change, but others are more likely to slip to the sidelines. You can help prepare your child for the change in structure by providing them with the tools they need to organize their lives and impose order.

You can also help by sharing your remembrances of school, providing access to a sense of what the new order may be like so that your child is not completely surprised by it. This type of conversation may also allow you an opportunity to explore your child's feelings about middle school and reassure them.

Visit The School Ahead of Time

You should make a point of arranging for your child to visit his or her new school before the new school year starts. Most middle schools offer some kind of orientation for their newest students; attending will help your child get a sense of the environment and learn the names and faces of teachers and counselors. It can also help your child begin to make sense of how to choose their classes, an important new skill.

Throughout this process you should be available in the background to support your child. If you can, stop by and meet the teachers and counselors for yourself so that you know who will be teaching your child and what their social and academic options may be. As your child begins to make the transition to middle school student, be sure to keep the lines of communication open at home and at school. This will help you stay involved in your child's educational success.  

Bullying and Middle School

Unfortunately, bullying is a common enemy that many middle schoolers face. As children get older and gain more insight into themselves, they begin to become interested in following a certain status quo. Whether it's how they dress, what hobbies they're interested in, or something else entirely, many middle schoolers want to adhere to a certain set of principles.

When they come across someone that acts in a way that contradicts the status quo, that person often becomes the target of teasing and mockery. It may be for a reason that adults find ridiculous, but that a middle schooler finds completely reasonable. As a parent, it's important to be prepared for whatever social challenges your child may face in middle school.

Keep lines of communication open with your middle schooler, and encourage them to seek you out if they begin experiencing any bullying. Begin by having a conversation with your child's homeroom teacher. If that doesn't solve the issue, escalate the matter to your school's principal. By proactively and aggressively tackling the issue of bullying when it affects your child, you can help prevent it from spiraling out of control.

If you become aware that your child is the bully, take steps to correct their behavior. Have a serious, but still age-appropriate, conversation with them about the effects their actions can have on another person. Ask them how they'd feel if someone mocked them for how they act or look. If necessary, consider removing certain privileges as punishment for this inappropriate behavior.

Middle School in the News

If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings that are relevant to your child, it's important that you follow the news cycle. While our news cycle is usually dominated by political and criminal stories, every now and again something relevant to your child's education will enter the cycle.

Recently, an article from We Are Teachers highlighted important qualities that make middle schoolers successful in school. The involvement of parents in their middle schooler's education was noted as highly important. The article discussed how parents should be in communication with their child and their teacher, but should avoid becoming overbearing. This is the time in your child's life when they're going to begin wanting some independence, so it's important to grant them some.

Motivation, respect for others, and emotional/social intelligence are other important factors that contribute to a middle schooler's success. These are all values that you can help your child develop at home. If their motivation is struggling, consider whether a mental health issue may be a contributing factor. Issues like depression and anxiety can lower a child's motivation for school.

Respect for others can be taught from an early age, and is easy to reinforce in the home. Emotional/social intelligence will develop over time, as your child ages and has new experiences. When they experience something new, help them understand how to navigate it in a healthy way.

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