Surviving middle school
How parents can help their child handle the ups and downs of the middle school years
Sat, Sep 18th 2010 06:00 pm
by the Huntington Learning
As your child moves from
elementary to middle school, both of you may find yourselves struggling with
the transition. According to Nitasha Seth of the Kenmore Huntington Learning
Center, your role now is as important as it was during pre-adolescence. "Middle
school brings a variety of new social and academic challenges for children, and
while many parents think this is the time to let your child handle it all on
his or her own, it is crucial for you to stay involved," says Seth. "Helping
your child learn to make decisions on his or her own and tackle challenges with
confidence will serve him or her well in middle school and beyond."
How can parents help their
child thrive during the middle school years? Seth offers these four tips:
- Get to know the teachers.
Middle school is the first time that most children take classes from as many as
seven different teachers, all of whom have different teaching styles and
expectations. Encourage your child to ask questions during classes and visit
teachers afterward if he or she has concerns. Teachers will appreciate your
student's initiative in taking ownership for his or her academic achievement.
You can support your child by introducing yourself to teachers at the beginning
of the year and staying in contact. Ask for suggestions on how you can best
support your child's education and progress.
- Be on standby as your
child navigates the social scene. It's not unusual for adolescents to struggle
to find themselves in middle school, and in that quest, change friends
frequently. For parents, such a drastic change from elementary school -- where
their children had a stable of friends and little drama -- can be overwhelming.
You may even want to jump in the middle of friend issues and disputes to
assist, but give your child the opportunity to handle his or her own friend
problems. Be available when your child wants to open up. Even a simple, "I'm
here if you'd like to talk," may be less intimidating for a child who perceives
questions from mom or dad as intrusive, rather than helpful.
- Help your child learn to
balance his or her life. Without a doubt, middle school is more stressful than
elementary school. Students must handle more homework from different teachers
while also juggling more active social lives and extracurricular activities. Help
your child develop a daily and weekly schedule, blocking out time for all
school and other commitments. Your child's daily routine should always include
school, homework, dinner and plenty of sleep, but when adding in everything
else your child wants to do (including clubs and extracurricular activities),
is your child overscheduled? Avoid an exhausted child by teaching him or her to
manage time effectively.
- Develop trusted homework
strategies. Even the most organized elementary school student may struggle to
manage the increased workload of middle school. Work together to develop an
effective, efficient nightly homework routine. Help your child learn to use a
planner or notebook to keep track of assignments and due dates. Each night,
your child should go through his or her to-dos and prioritize. What assignment
is likely to take the longest? What is due tomorrow versus later in the week?
At parent-teacher conferences or report card time, talk with your child's
teachers about whether your at-home strategies are translating to classroom
success. What suggestions do the teachers have for adjustments?
Learning to shift your role
from that of the controller of your child's life to a backstage supporter is
not easy. "Middle school is full of change for parents and students," says
Seth. "Remember that teachers and counselors are available for guidance as you
traverse this unfamiliar landscape. Most importantly, remember that your job
now is to help your child grow into an independent, responsible person and student."
For more information,
contact Nitasha Seth at 873-4565.