Getting ready for middle school
Prepare your child for the changes and challenges of middle school with these tips.
By GreatSchools Staff
As your child gets ready to enter middle school, both you and she both probably have some concerns. As a parent, you're concerned about her learning enough to be prepared for high school. She's worried about finding her way to English class. You want to be sure she's safe as she travels to and from school by herself for the first time. She's worried about whether she has the right haircut. You both hope she'll fit in, make new friends, and not be too overwhelmed by middle school homework.
As a parent, your concerns are likely to be about the big picture, such as whether middle school will prepare your child for a successful future. She's probably more worried about basic concerns, like knowing how to open her locker on the first day of school. Recognizing this difference in her worries and concerns will help you support her while keeping your eye on her overall progress. Here are some tips to get you both ready for this new adventure:
Help your child get oriented
Call the school to see if there is an orientation for new students, and encourage your child to attend. If there's no orientation, ask if you and your child can go look around a day or two before school starts. Together you can locate important places like the office, his locker, the cafeteria and restrooms. Lockers often top the list of middle schoolers' worries. Buy a combination lock for your child to practice with over the summer. This will keep your child from fumbling with his locker the first day and help him get to class on time!
Practice getting to school and plan for emergencies
If your child will be getting to school on her own, practice the route a few times before school starts and talk about places she could get help if she needed it. Businesses, bus drivers, or homes of people you know are good possible spots for help. Be sure you and your child are both confident in her ability to get to school alone.
Encourage the buddy system
If your child is worried about facing the first day of school alone, encourage him to call a friend from elementary school who'll be attending his middle school and arrange to meet before school or at lunchtime. Making plans for lunch will calm fears he might have about facing a crowded cafeteria alone.
Practice wardrobe wisdom
Shopping for school clothes with middle schoolers can be difficult. Striking a balance between setting limits and giving your child some autonomy can make it easier. First, check with the school to see if there is a dress code. Many middle schools prohibit tank tops, short shorts or clothes of particular colors. Then let your child consult with her friends to see what everyone else will be wearing. It's also a good idea to not buy everything before school starts; this gives your child a chance to see this year's must-have fashions before the clothing budget is exhausted. Give her as much freedom in selecting her wardrobe as you can, but reserve the right to have the final say on what is appropriate.
Learn about school rules
Before the first day, check with the school about policies regarding dress codes, cell phone use, and whether there is an open campus at lunch time. This will help your child avoid accidentally breaking the rules. And knowing ahead of time how the school manages behavior problems like bullying might help your child feel more secure right off the bat.
Help your child get organized
Help her start a to-do list in a day planner or small notebook. This will get her organized for the new responsibilities of middle school. You'll also want to check in with your child about her assignments fairly frequently. She may have more long-term projects or assignments than she did in elementary school or have several tests to study for at the same time. She might need your help at first to figure out how to get it all done in time. This doesn't mean you should do your child's homework. She needs to learn to own her work but may need advice about how to approach it.