Back to school is right around the corner. Only this time your child is entering middle school – that rite of passage where they will undergo academic, social, and developmental challenges like never before. While your eager middle schooler is raring to go, you may be secretly asking yourself if you’re truly ready for this auspicious journey. The answer is Yes! With today’s challenges, middle school may seem like the new high school, but below are six tips on how to make the transition seamless for both you and your child. Get your brave on and learn how to survive (and thrive) as a parent of a middle schooler…
6 Steps to Swinging Into Middle School With Ease
Prepare: Middle school isn’t exactly The Hunger Games – but you will fare much better if you know the rules. Procure a copy of the school’s handbook and read it, ideally with your child. Be familiar with the school’s policies. For instance, does the school have a dress code? Is there a general class supplies list? What is the protocol for absences, medications, cell phone usage, etc.? Make sure to complete all emergency card information with several contacts and up-to-date phone numbers for easy communication.
Volunteer: Join the PTA, PTO, or Booster Club. Introduce yourself to the principal, counselor, and teachers letting them know you are available to assist wherever needed.
With school funding at a premium, some ways parents can help are volunteering in the computer lab, chaperoning field trips, selling concessions, leading a book club, or supervising dances. If working with students one-on-one, be sure to check the district’s policy on parent volunteer fingerprinting and/or background checks.
Be a Study Buddy: Check homework once a week or more if your child is struggling. Designate a study time and place free of distractions with adequate supplies, including pencils, paper, dictionary, and calculator. Calendar long-term projects, and be available for assistance or hire a tutor if needed. Many schools offer free after-the-bell tutoring programs or intervention services. Encourage and teach time management and organization skills – before social networking, cell phone, and television time.
Communicate: In elementary school, teachers call home if there is an academic issue, but in middle school the report card is often a parent’s first notification that their child is struggling. To avoid Report Card Shock Syndrome and address problems early on, attend Back-to-School Night and all parent/teacher conferences. Introduce yourself to your child’s teachers, provide email contact information, and let them know you want to work as a team. In middle school, each teacher has their own way of posting homework, grading, and communicating with parents. Ask for a copy of the class syllabus. Communication is key to your child’s success.
Get Social: Your child’s circle of friends will most likely be at the top of their priority list. This is a good time to rally your own parental BFF’s, if nothing else for moral support. In short, get to know the parents of your child’s friends. Arrange a lunch to establish common norms for sleepovers, social networking, etc. Discuss bullying and implementing appropriate safety precautions. Talk over the school’s vision and what you can do as parents to make it the best place it can be.
Be a Cheerleader: As your child enters middle school, he or she will tackle academic, social, and peer related issues. There will be laughter and there will be tears. Let your child know that you are their greatest fan and support. Encourage their strengths and interests with extracurricular activities such as clubs, sports, band, and foreign language. When a problem arises, be there to help but also just to listen. At the end of the day, sometimes a tween just needs a sympathetic ear. Middle school is a challenge, but never let your child forget that you are their ultimate BFF and secret cheerleader.