Getting ready for middle school
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By GreatSchools Staff
Teach time management
Teach your child to make the most of his time by always carrying a book or review sheet with him. Then odd moments like waiting for the bus or sitting in the doctor's office can be used as productive study time. It's also important to help your child establish an evening routine that includes time for homework and any other obligations your child has. This will help avoid the middle school time crunch that comes from having more homework and more time-consuming extracurricular activities.
Stay on top of your child's class schedule
Your child may want more independence about choosing her classes, but you should check with a guidance counselor to be sure she's meeting all requirements and taking all the classes she'll need for high school.
Keep the lines of communication open
Even if it seems as if he doesn't want to talk to you, it's important for you to be available for your middle schooler. Psychologist and parent-child communication expert Dr. Lawrence Kutner recommends these strategies for talking to your middle schooler: Talk with your child frequently about small issues. If he won't tell you how baseball practice went, he won't open up to you about more important issues either. He also recommends that parents talk to kids while driving or cooking, instead of sitting down directly across a table for a chat. It can be less threatening for middle schoolers to talk if they don't have to make direct eye contact. He also encourages parents of middle schoolers to be persistent: "Parents aren't encouraged [by their kids] to keep communicating and kids might not look like they're listening, but they really are."
Beware the bully
Many children are afraid of being bullied in middle school, and it's a growing problem in our schools. Fortunately, many schools now have rules in place for preventing and managing bullying; be sure to find out if your school has such a policy. Teach your child what to do if a bully targets her. KidsHealth.org suggests telling kids to try not to show their anger in front of the bully, because that will just make the bully feel powerful. Children should ignore the bully and walk away if they can. They should also tell an adult they trust what is happening. You can emphasize to your child that it is not being a tattletale to tell an adult about bullying. Also let your child know that it is not a good idea to fight or bully back. It could get her in trouble, and it is hard to know how the bully will react. If there is a particular time or place when your child often faces a bully, suggest that she try to enlist a friend to be there with her. Bullies are less likely to target a pair.
For more advice on how to help your middle schooler, see Helping Your Child through Early Adolescence from the U.S. Department of Education.