My son just finished seventh grade, his first year of middle school. As a middle school educator in the same school district, it has been fun to see the world of middle school in a different light -- as a parent and through the eyes of my own child. With that in mind, I thought it would be valuable to share some of the things I have learned.
3 Pieces of Advice as a Middle School Parent
Support organization. Organization does not come easily to my 13 year old. And the systems put in place by the middle school he attends don't work with his natural tendencies. He's not going to write in a paper planner. He's not going to lug 4 different binders home in his backpack each evening. Some strategies that we figured out along the way:
Step back. Let your kid become a self-advocate. This one is hard, but really important. I mentioned in a post I wrote earlier this year that I think teachers should help students learn to be better self-advocates. And, I still agree with this sentiment. But at the same time, I think parents have an equal if not larger role in this effort. Parents need to encourage their kids to talk to a teacher about a poor test grade or a missing assignment. Practice these conversations with your child so he or she knows what to say. Encourage your child to stay after school for extra help. And move away from the keyboard...your child needs to be in charge of managing the teacher-student relationship and working through issues that come up -- your first instinct shouldn't be to shoot off an e-mail to a teacher anytime something goes awry.
Keep talking. My son gets home from school before I get home from work. One of my favorite times of the day is his phone call, letting me know that he is home. Could he text me? Of course. But I ask him for the phone call. And usually, we chat as I'm driving home -- he tells me about his school day, what happened in each class, how things are going; I tell him about what I did at work that day. For some families, this conversation might occur over an after school snack or at the dinner table. For others, perhaps it's right at bedtime when the lights go out. But it is key to keep talking through these middle school years.
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And then, once I thought about my own advice, I sat down and interviewed my 13 year old, asking him what advice he would give to someone just starting middle school in the fall. Here are his thoughts:
3 Pieces of Advice from My Middle School Kid
Get your work done on time. This means staying up-to-date on assignments, knowing what is expected, and when things are due. Some teachers want assignments turned in at the very beginning of class, others consider an assignment on time if it is handed in at any point on the day it is due. Make sure you know what each teacher wants and when they want it. Handing in assignments on time also means that your mom or dad will bug you less when checking the online grade book.
Come to class prepared every day. This one is pretty simple: Do your homework. Study for tests. Bring a pencil and your binder to class. If you're out sick one day, check Blackboard or Google Classroom so you know what's going on before you go back to school. Once you get behind, it's hard to catch up.
Don't goof off. Sit in your seat. Do what teachers ask. Kids have lots of different teachers in middle school and each class has different rules. Figure out those rules early and follow them. Sometimes it’s tough not to be silly, but when do you do goof off, try to reign it back in as best you can. Don't become "the kid that is always causing trouble."
What advice can you share? As a parent? As a student?
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