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Is Your Child Ready for Middle School?
< School Success

Is Your Child Ready for Middle School?

How is Middle School Different?
  • Middle schools usually start in grade six (but can start in fifth grade) and go through grade eight (as opposed to junior high, which starts in grade seven and goes through grade eight or nine).
  • Middle school routines, schoolwork, campus, teachers, friends and fellow students are usually very new. With peer pressure and academic demands, this new world can be overwhelming.
  • Middle school students experience a number of physical, emotional and mental changes as well. Your child will experience fluctuating emotions and motivation levels.
  • Middle school students need more space and independence to discover new interests and build skills and knowledge, but they also need continued support and guidance from parents.
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How Can I Help My Child Transition to Middle School?

You can help your child make this transition by:

  • Attending an open house.

Help your child become familiar with his or her new building, classrooms and lockers.

  • Meeting with your child's school guidance counselor.

Ask the counselor's advice on how to help your child transition into his or her new school.

  • Exposing your child to a broad range of experiences

and programs.

Help him or her explore new interests (in school, community involvement and sports) and start to consider future plans.

  • Setting ground rules for your child.

Make sure your child knows what time to get up, when to be ready for school, and when to do homework. Also let your child know that he or she is expected to do his or her best in school.

  • Helping your child get organized.

Help your child learn good study habits such as doing homework at a certain time, talking about assignments, writing assignments in a calendar, going to the library, and cleaning out his or her backpack.

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How Can I Keep My Child Motivated?

You can help your child do his or her best in school or outside activities by:

  • Showing love.

Provide support and encourage your child to develop his or her interests.

  • Teaching responsibility.

Encourage your child to be responsible for chores, completing homework assignments, taking on community activities, and acknowledging good and bad decisions that he or she has made.

  • Being a role model.

Show that you value education and exhibit the values and behavior you hope your child will develop.

  • Providing your child with a range of experiences.

A range of experiences in sports, music, volunteer activities, travel, etc., will allow your child to discover and develop his or her strengths.

  • Setting limits.

Discuss what TV shows, movies and video games are appropriate for your child to watch or play. Know what music your child listens to and which magazines he or she reads. Be aware of your child's activities and friendships.

  • Talking to your child.

Talk to your child about his or her day, activities, schoolwork, friends and interests. Listen to your child and discuss the subjects that are important to him or her, even if those subjects do not seem important to you.

  • Being aware of potential issues.

Know and understand the problems and pressures your child may face, such as drug use, depression, eating disorders and poor school performance.

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How Can I Stay Involved?

You will need to give your child more independence in his or her early teens, but it is still important for you to remain involved and interested in his or her after-school activities.

  • Learn about your child's school.

Ask your child's principal or school guidance counselor for a parent handbook or manual. Ask what classes the middle school offers and what classes your child will need to take in middle school and high school.

  • Keep in touch with your child's school and teachers.

Attend parent-teacher conferences, read school newsletters and stay in regular communication with your child's teachers. Maintain communication by phone or email if possible.

  • Attend school events.

Go to sports events and concerts, PTA meetings, back-to-school nights and awards events to keep up with school activities and your child's interests and hobbies.

  • Volunteer in your child's school.

Look for ways to help out at your child's school, such as serving on school committees, making phone calls, assisting your child's teachers, or acting as a parent chaperone.

  • Stay aware of your child's homework and school demands.

It is important for you to keep track of your child's homework load and deadlines. However, do not do homework for your child. Encourage your child to do his or her best work on homework assignments.

  • Monitor your child's progress.

Be aware of your child's progress on schoolwork, tests and grades so you can address any potential problems or issues before they become larger.

  • Remember your child's next transition - to high school.

Make sure that your child is aware of the classes and programs he or she will need to take in middle school to prepare for high school and beyond.

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For more information:
  • Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence (U.S. Department of Education, 2002)
  • Helping Your Child with Homework (U.S. Department of Education, 1995, revised 2002)
  • National Middle School Association
  • Family Education Network
  • Tips for Parents on Keeping Children Drug Free