Achieving School Success
Middle School is a difficult time for many emerging teenagers. During these years, children see incredible growth spurts and physical changes. Their bodies begin to mature, and adults begin to discuss all those “embarrassing” topics with them. As a result, middle school success can be measured in many different ways … how the kids are getting along with their parents and siblings, how they are managing at school, and how they are handling their new freedom. What are some of the things parents and young teens can do to help them succeed?
Parenting Middle School Students
Suddenly, that sweet, cooperative elementary school child can become an angry, sullen, moody teenager or pre-teen. They want to hole up in their room, listen to loud music, play video games, and doing anything else seems to “bore” them. What are some things that parents can do to ease the tension and help their students succeed?
First, try to keep your home life as organized and stable as possible. Students in this age group are very sensitive to change, and they are already going through plenty of it. As a result, the students who do best are going to be those who know what to expect at home … even if they say that it is “boring.” Do not feel tempted to suddenly create a lot of exciting changes for your middle school student. In order to maintain stability, have a plan each evening. Students should know what time they are expected home and that there will be someone there to meet them. Although it is tempting to believe that a student this age no longer needs to be supervised, this is far from the truth. Middle school is the age when many students later admit they first began to sneak into the liquor cabinet, smoke cigarettes with their friends, watch inappropriate videos and movies, and began to engage in other high-risk behaviors. If you do not want your pre-teen to begin experimenting with these kinds of activities, you need to make sure that they continue to have regular supervision throughout middle school.
In order to help them get organized, you might also get them a book from Amazon, such as: "The Organized Student." You'll find it very helpful.
Next, give your student some time to be active and burn off their energy, after spending all day in a classroom. Immediately after school may be a good time for them to participate in sports, or just have time for some outdoor free play after school.
Then, have a healthy family dinner. As an educator who has worked in middle schools, and raised four daughters myself, far too often I have seen kids who seem to eat nothing but junk food all day long. Although an occasional pizza or birthday cake on the weekends is fine, it is important that growing children have protein and an assortment of fruits and vegetables to eat every day. When they don’t, it is quite understandable that they may experience behavioral problems. To make the meals healthier and happier for everyone, keep the dinner table discussion friendly and pleasant. This is not the time to discuss bad grades, losing sports teams, or other disappointments. Instead, talk about upcoming family events, funny stories you heard on the news, or other light topics. When your children talk, parents should take the time to listen. You may be surprised to learn what they are thinking about!
After dinner, spend family time together while your kids study. Do not send them off to their rooms alone. There are relatively few 12 – 14 year olds who are mature enough to concentrate on their school work for any length of time if they are left alone in their own rooms. There are so many other things for them to look at and play with. Most children’s bedrooms are full of distractions! Instead, it is far better for the entire family to spend a quiet hour or two reading together, studying and using the computer. This also lets your teen know that you are interested in them, you enjoy their company, and you are available to help if they have a problem.
Finally, make sure they get a good night’s sleep and something healthy to eat in the morning. Your student is growing fast, and needs to have nutritious meals. Although it may be hard for you to control what they eat during the school day, you do have a lot of influence over what they eat in the morning and evening.
School Success for Middle School Students
While the parents can do a lot from home to help their kids succeed, this is the age when the students will need to take on some responsibility, as well. What are some things that middle school students need to know in order to succeed at school?
First, middle school is usually the time when students first begin to change classes during the day. Up until now, they have usually had one primary teacher with whom they spent most of their day. In elementary school, this teacher was the only one to assign homework, and she was the only one the parents had to contact if there were problems or questions. Now the student may have 5-6 different teachers, all giving homework and all having different classroom expectations. Students this age need to have a system to keep all their work organized. They may need one large binder with different sections for each teacher, or several small binders. Whichever system they use, they need to check each morning before they leave home, and each afternoon before they leave school, to make sure that they have everything they need. Their middle school teachers will not check their binders for them. This will be easier if the student begins to keep a daily planner where they list all their activities, all their classes, and all their homework assignments. This is a lifetime habit that will benefit them greatly.
Second, students in this age group need to practice paying attention in class. This can be very difficult for some of them, but middle school is a great time to begin preparing for high school.
Finally, middle school students need to spend some time each evening doing homework or reviewing what they learned in each of their classes. Even if they have a favorite subject, they cannot spend all their time working on that subject exclusively.
As middle school students and their parents begin to practice these habits, they will learn that middle school does not have to be the frightening experience that they feared!
If you are interested in reading more about family fun and safety for elementary and middle school children, you may be interested in the articles listed below:
Here's a Book to Help Get Your Student Organized
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